MonitorsPublished on Oct 10, 2014
The electorate of two Indian states -- Maharashtra and Haryana -- is going to cast their votes on October15 to choose their government for the next five years. The big question is whether it is going to be government(s)
Twin State assembly elections a test for  Prime Minister?
< class="heading1">Analysis

The electorate of two Indian states -- Maharashtra and Haryana -- is going to cast their votes on October15 to choose their government for the next five years. The big question is whether it is going to be government(s) headed by the ruling BJP at the Centre, or a coalition arrangement led by the party or it would sit in the opposition.

The election results on 19 October will provide an answer. These two States have Congress-led governments at present. While in Maharashtra, it was a Congress-NCP coalition until they fell out over-seat sharing ahead of this polls, Haryana has a Congress government led by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

In the light of the BJP’s sweeping parliamentary poll victory across the country in May, in both these states, the electoral contest appears to be between the BJP and the rest of the political parties. The two assembly elections have gained considerable traction and attention because these are being seen as the test of popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP has declared its chief ministerial candidate neither in Maharashtra nor in Haryana. The ruling party in New Delhi is heavily depending upon the electoral appeal of the Prime Minister, whose pre-poll nomination as the party’s choice for the Lok Sabha polls, had made the BJP win an absolute majority in the general elections. Modi is campaigning extensively in the two states, hence, addressing multiple public meetings daily. In short, the Prime Minister’s words and face seem to be the mainstay of the party and a big electoral appeal.

Heavy baggage

While Maharashtra has been ruled by the Congress-NCP alliance for the last 15 years, there has been a Congress government in Haryana for the last 10 years. The Congress is fighting these elections with a heavy baggage of corruption and other charges, including anti-incumbency.

Both States have very different political history and dynamics. In Maharashtra, whose capital Mumbai is also known as the finance capital of India, the BJP has been in the government in alliance with the regional outfit, Shiv Sena, during 1995-99 but as the junior partner.

The BJP had an alliance with the Shiv Sena for 25 years, which broke last month as the two parties failed to reach an understanding on the number of seats that each wanted to contest in the assembly election. Another issue that brought the two parties apart was that of the chief ministerial chair.

The Shiv Sena has had its nominee as chief minister in the alliance government in 1995-99. The original understanding reached between the two during the life time of its founder Balasaheb Thackarey was that Shiv Sena would contest more number of seats in assembly elections while the BJP would contest more for the Lok Sabha. The Shiv Sena would be the junior partner at the national-level while it would be the big brother in Maharashtra and would have its nominee as the chief minister if and when the alliance formed the government in the state.

The Shiv Sena was a part of the BJP-led NDA government between1998 and 2004 and also in the 13-day government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee earlier in 1996. The Shiv Sena, despite breaking of the alliance between the two, continues to have its minister in the council of ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Differences between the two parties began immediately after the announcement of the Lok Sabha poll results. The BJP won a massive majority on its volition at the national-level under Modi’s leadership, reducing the national party’s dependence upon its coalition partner. In Maharashtra too, the BJP won 23 seats and the Shiv Sena 18.

The BJP began to say that its strike-rate in the past elections since 1990 has been far higher than that of the Sena. The BJP’s average strike rate in these elections has been about 46 percent while the Sena has had a strike rate of around 35 percent. The strike rate is the formula that tells the ratio of the number of seats a party won over the number of seats it contested.

The BJP began to argue that it should be given more seats since it has far superior capability to win these seats. The Shiv Sena refused to accept the BJP’s demand for more number of seats and the 25 year old alliance collapsed.

Obvious advantage

In Haryana too, the BJP has been dependent on its allies in the past and has been the junior partner in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)-led state government under chief minister Bansi Lal and Om Prakash Chautala. The BJP has had alliances with non-Congress Haryana-based parties in the past but for the first time, it is contesting assembly elections on its own strength.

Electoral contests are multi-cornered and in absence of opposition unity, the BJP has an obvious advantage over its political rivals both in Maharashtra as well as in Haryana. The BJP is leaving nothing to chance and is claiming that it would win absolute majority in both these states and this would form the government.

But poll calculations and surveys are predicting that the BJP is likely to emerge as the single largest party and thus may have to cobble alliances to form the government in the two states. The extent of popular vote and the actual number of seats won would decide whether Modi continues to be the winning mascot of the BJP or not?

The election results will also be an indicator of the national mood as performance of the BJP in bye elections in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat etc in the last four month left much to be desired.

A victory of the BJP with good number of assembly seats will go to the credit of the Prime Minister but if the BJP performs below expectations, then it would be widely interpreted as the beginning of the decline of his popularity and mass-appeal which would in turn give opposition parties an instrument to attack him.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives: Now, human rights panel goes global against Supreme Court

N Sathiya Moorthy

After seeking to ’discipline’ the nation’s independent Elections Commission at the height of the delayed and controversial presidential polls late last year, the Maldivian Supreme Court has now directed its attention towards the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), another constitutional entity as itself. In doing so, the court has taken note of the adverse HRCM report against the nation’s highest judicial forum, presented to the half-yearly meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

The broad-spectrum criticism of the HRCM is based both on procedural and factual elements. On the procedural front, it relates to the propriety of the HRCM going global against the Judiciary without taking the Maldivian Government of the day into confidence - or, seeking redress from it before approaching the UNHRC. On the factual front, the court has observed that the HRCM report is based on the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriella Knaul in 2013. As the Apex Court has observed, the Knaul report had been ’rejected’ then and there, and the HRCM had erred in basing news findings on the same. No sooner did the HRCM went to the UNHRC with the ’Universal Periodic Review’ (UPR) the Supreme Court hauled up all members, starting with Chairperson Mariam Azra for contempt of court. Through subsequent hearings of the move initiated in September 2014, the court has charged the HRCM with ’undermining the Constitution and sovereignty of Maldives, by spreading lies about the Judiciary in the UPR’. According to Minivan News, the Judges also denounced the HRCM’s statements on the judiciary as "dangerous", "irresponsible" and poorly-researched.

The HRCM, according to Minivan News, ’denied all charges, saying the commission’s observation - that the Supreme Court controlled and influenced the judiciary to the detriment of lower courts - was based on the Knaul report, as well as reports by International Commission of Jurists and local NGO Transparency Maldives’. That was also the crux of the matter. Thus, in response to the HRCM’s submissions, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, heading the Supreme Court Bench, said that the ’Judiciary had rejected Knaul’s report as invalid and reprimanded the HRCM for its alleged failure to fact-check the findings of reports by other institutions’. Chief Justice Faiz also pulled up the HRCM ’for failure to ask the Supreme Court’s opinion on reports which were critical of the judiciary’, the Minivan News reported further.

Undermining sovereignty

As may be recalled, the Maldivian Government, then under President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, said in June 2013 that Gabriella Knaul’s report undermined the nation’s sovereignty. The report outlined political, budgetary and societal challenges facing the judiciary and wider legal community, as well as the politicisation of the judicial watchdog body and the failure to appoint qualified judges as per the Constitution.

As Minivan News pointed out, the HRCM case is only the second suo motu case initiated by the Supreme Court under its own regulations for the purpose. The first one in March this year saw the Supreme Court sack Election Commission’s President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice-President Ahmed Fayaz for contempt of court.

In the present case, the HRCM has since told the court that it had submitted its report to the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) and the Attorney-General’s office before forwarding the same to the UNHRC, but no comments were forthcoming. By implication, the HRCM seemed to admit that it did not seek the Supreme Court’s opinion in the matter. Chief Justice Faiz has since indicated that the court was not pleased with the HRCM’s claims that the UPR did not ’negatively refer’ to the Supreme Court.

Though the Apex Court it yet to fix a fresh date for the next hearing of the case, it remains to be seen what shape does the future proceedings take. It remains to be seen if President Yameen would seek to bring the current controversy to a happy closure, either through direct intervention or indirect nudging.

The problem is that the issue is not just about what the HRCM has said - or, not said. It is also about the report getting on to the UNHRC’s record - that too as a part of the once-in-four-years UPR for every nation in rotation. Though the Maldivian Government can agitate the same in other UNHRC forums, a review or rebuttal by the HRCM in future is possible only four years from now at least as far as the UPR goes.

The question arises if the HRCM’s report flows from an over-arching sense of righteousness of the institution and its members in these years after multi-party democracy movement in the country. Or, if it (also) owes to the relative ignorance on the part of the HRCM and its members that they should not have rushed to the UNHRC and other international organisations, where they find what they see as an anomaly to get it set right without further loss of time. Or, is it the ’politics of human rights’ that some sections of the pro-democracy movement in the country continue to play in their political games for electoral supremacy?

It’s all this - and at times, more. Most constitutional institutions acquired a new meaning and relevance in the democratisation era, and they have come to assert their relative supremacy viz such other constitutional entities. This was the problem with the Election Commission and a few other constitutional institutions, including certain parliamentary committees, which had made a habit of challenging the supreme authority of the nation’s higher judiciary.

In doing so, they all seemed to have misunderstood or not understood the cardinal democratic principle that the Judiciary is the watch-dog of constitutional democracy, and should be given a certain leeway unavailable to other pillars of the government under a democratic Constitution. Granting the argument that the nation’s Judiciary has not been impartial even under the democratic regime, they still need to believe in the dictum, "Democracy is not the best form of government. It is however still the best available form."

On the issue of the HRCM going global, to the UNHRC with its report purportedly against the nation’s Judiciary, they did not seem to have looked at precedents or larger issues of ’sovereignty’. There does not seem to be any case of the kind - other than in the case of UN/UNHRC member-nations in the midst of a coup-like situation -- that a nation’s internal, constitutional institutions have gone to international organisations with their woes of complaints, against their own government.

Democratising problems

Is there politics behind the current human rights concerns of the HRCM? It is difficult to draw a conclusion, but it is not so difficult to conclude that the possibility cannot be ruled out entirely. As observers of the post-democratisation Maldivian scene would agree, when Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Mohammed Nasheed replaced the well-entrenched Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as the nation’s President in 2008, it did not facilitate socio-political reconciliation as the incumbent had wished but only to deepen and widen the chasm.

That constitutional institutions consciously empowered by the Special Majlis while drafting the democracy Constitution of 2008 got divided on political lines - and not just beliefs - should go without saying. Nothing explained the widening/remaining chasm than the Executive-Legislature deadlock over the nominations for the seven-Judge Supreme Court Bench under the new scheme.

Though glossed over at the time as the nation set the unprecedented record of President Nasheed ordering the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) to shut down the Supreme Court, political perceptions carried over from the pre-democratisation era has found a nestle in the Judiciary for ideological forces to fight their political battles from time to time. Thankfully the Supreme Court shut-down ended in a day, but the re-ordering of the seniority in the Bench, without the new President and his Government having any leeway to effect a wholesale change of the Bench has left residues that refuse to go away.

The democratisation politics and process in Maldives has had its origins in the prison-death of Evan Naseem, 19, an alleged drug-peddler with no democracy credentials to call his own in September 2003 may also have something to do with the post-democratisation politics, both of the electoral and other kind, in the country. ’Human rights’ as a cause, particularly viz the established institutions of the Maldivian State, has continued to remain in the focus of pro-active sections of the civil society, too.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Paghman rapists executed

Five men from Paghman province, who were convicted in September of robbery and the kidnapping and rape of four women, were executed by hanging at the Pul-e-Charkhi prison this week. The incident had caused outrage throughout the country. Habibullah Estalifi, notorious for being the ringleader of a kidnapping group and who once topped the country’s list for being the most wanted man, was also executed along with the five other convicts.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Paghman Rapists, Habib Astalif Put to Death" Tolo News, 8 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Afghanistan to release top TTP leader

Ashraf Ghani has reportedly agreed to hand over a top Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) leader, Naib Amir Maulavi Faqir Mohammad to Pakistan under UN rules. Pakistan has linked the transfer of this TTP leader to the handing over the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, whose release has been sought by the Afghan government for years.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "President Ghani to handover top TTP leader to Pakistan", Khaama Press, 5 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan accused of violating trade agreement

Afghan traders accused the Pakistan government this week of not adhering to the terms of the bilateral transit trade agreement. They insisted that despite the fulfilment of all commitments by the Afghan government, Afghan traders continue to face a number of problems across the border. Such problems have included lack of easy access to the Pakistani market, higher taxation and the sale of Afghan products under Pakistani trademark.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Afghans Say Islamabad Shirks Afg-Pak Trade Agreement", Tolo News, 6 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NYT reporter allowed to return to Afghanistan

The new Afghan government issued an order welcoming back the New York Times reporter, Matthew Rosenberg, who was expelled from the country in August. Mr Rosenberg had been expelled at the time for writing a report that claimed that Afghan government officials were planning to stage a coup and form an interim government due to the failure to resolve the political impasse.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New President of Afghanistan Welcomes Back Times Reporter", The New York Times, 5 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US urged to resume GSP facilities

Bangladesh has urged the United States Trade Representative (USTR), a US government agency for developing and recommending trade policy, to consider the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) review for Bangladesh. Withdrawal of GSP by US has emerged as a major irritant between the countries which many perceives to be politically motivated. GSP facility is important to Bangladesh as it allows the duty free access to its products to US markets.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "BD urges US to resume GSP facilities" Prothom Alo, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian alerts on terror strikes

At the aftermath of incident of bomb blast in Bardwan in Indian state of West Bengal Indian intelligence agencies have cautioned its Bangladeshi counter parts regarding possible terror strike in the country. India informed Bangladesh that bombs being assembled in a house in West Bengal were meant for terror strikes in Bangladesh. This incident has not only led India to think about reviewing its entire border management in the India and Bangladesh border but also establishes cross border links Bangladeshi terror organisation. Meanwhile, Bangladesh government has expressed its willingness to help India

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India alerts Bangladesh about terror strikes", Dhaka Tribune, 6 October 2014; "Bengal Blast: Bangladesh willing to help India in it wants", Zee News, 8 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sino-Bhutan border talks begin

An eight-member Chinese delegation from People’s Republic of China is in the country for the technical expert group meeting on the Bhutan-China Boundary, starting 9 October and would go on till 12 October. The international delegation would be led by secretary for International Boundaries, Dasho Pema Wangchuck and the Chinese by the Councilor, Huang Xillian.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Border talks today", Kuensel Online, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan, Swiss sign visa agreement

Bhutanese and Swiss officials will not require visas to travel to either country after the two governments signed travel agreements on 8 October. Switzerland is the first country outside the region to sign an agreement with Bhutan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bhutan-Switzerland sign visa exemption agreement", Kuensel Online, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet gives nod for ratifying UNCAC

The cabinet on 7 November approved the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)s proposal to ratify United Nations Convention against corruption. Bhutan has been a signatory to the 2005 convention but had not ratified it.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Cabinet approves proposal to ratify UNCAC", Kuensel Online, 10 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI to sell government securities worth Rs. 1000 crore

RBI will sell government bonds worth Rs 10,000 crore next Monday as the central bank may not be comfortable with falling bond yields. The central bank wants to keep rates high to win the battle against

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "RBI to sell government securities worth Rs 10,000 crore via OMOs on Monday", The Economic Times, 9 October 2014; "RBI to sell govt securities worth Rs10,000crore on Monday" Livemint, 8 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Low crude oil prices come to the rescue of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs)

Shares of state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) were trading higher after international crude prices touched a four-year low. Brent crude prices, the world benchmark for oil, touched $88.11 per barrel, lowest since 1 December 2010, as rising supply and a weakening global economic outlook stretched the slump in oil prices

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Oil marketing companies gain as Brent crude prices hit 4-year low" Livemint, 10October 2014 "PSU oil marketing stocks rally on declining crude oil prices" The Hindu Business Line, 8October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Election campaign becomes contentious in Maharashtra

Major political parties stepped up campaigning in Maharashtra and accused each other of poor performance and failure to deliver on past promises. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered important speeches, drawing criticism from rivals for ignoring important duties as Prime Minister. In turn, he accused the incumbent Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of ignoring critical water issues affecting the farmers, and using the sugar industry for political mileage. He also invoked Marathi pride through the message, "Chhatrapati Ka Aashirwaad, Chalo Chalein Modi Ke Saath" (With the blessings of Chhatrapati Shivaji let’s march with Modi). Both Uddhav and Raj Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena criticised Modi of dithering on his promise of implementing Hindutva policies, and sabotaging Maharashtra’s economy to favour Gujarat.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Maharashtra campaign reaches fever pitch", The Hindu, 9 October 2014; "Maharashtra BJP leaders stabbed us in the back, says Sena chief Uddhav", The Times of India, 4 October 2014; "Bookies out of the ring in ’unpredictable’ Maharashtra polls" The Hindu, 4 October 2014; "Is BJP firm on Hindutva?", "Is BJP firm on Hindutva?", "Modi attacks Pawar in NCP strongholds", The Hindu, 6 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Delhi High Court directs Chautala to surrender

The Delhi High Court has summoned Om Prakash Chautala, leader of the Haryana based Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) to personally appear in court. He former Haryana Chief Minister, who is serving a ten year jail term for his role in a teacher recruitment scam, was earlier granted bail on health conditions. However, the he presided over several political rallies, promising his supporters that he will run the office of Chief Minister from jail, drawing the judiciary’s ire. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held rally in the state and criticised the past rule of INLD and Indian National Congress.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "PM Narendra Modi Kickstarts BJP’s Election Campaign in Maharashtra, Haryana" NDTV, 4 October 2014; "Delhi HC directs Chautala to surrender before jail authorities tomorrow", The Indian Express, 10 October, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi speaks to the nation through radio

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation through radio for the first time. His speech, titled, "Man ki Baat" - Talk from the heart - was broadcast in state radio and various private FM channels. Modi used the occasion to popularise the recently launched "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan" (Clean India Campaign). He also evoked the Gandhian symbol of khadi, an apparent reference to promote local manufacturing and spoke about the importance of poverty reduction. Radio has a much wider and diverse audience that other forms of media, and Modi has promised to use the platform to address the nation once every month.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "In First Radio Address, PM Narendra Modi Urges People To Join Clean India Campaign", NDTV, 3 October 2014; "We must realise our internal strengths? the power of 125 crore people: PM Modi in radio address" The Indian Express, 3 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Signs of de-escalation along India-Pakistan border after nine days of intense firing

Shelling across the International Border and Line of Control ceased after nine days of regular exchange of heavy weapons and mortars that had led to the death of eight persons and caused injuries to 90 others. The volume of fire is the most intense since the ceasefire was brokered in 2003. In fact, more than 32,000 people living in affected parts along the border have migrated to safer regions. Both sides accused each other of escalating the crisis and firing without provocation. While it is difficult to ascertain the cause of the recent crisis, some analysts point that India’s decision to cancel talks has prompted Pakistan to use coercive diplomacy to force it back to the negotiating table.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Nine days and eight lives later, Pakistan holds fire along border", The Hindu, 10 October, 2014; "Jaitley warns Pakistan, Modi praises troops as ceasefire violations continue", The Indian Express, 10 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Action against extremist practices

Upholding the law of the land, the Government has cautioned legal initiatives against extremist practices, many of them based on religion, like unregistered marriages, non-vaccination and non-schooling of children, as they were criminal offences under child protection, family, public health, and religious unity laws as well as the penal code.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Law and gender ministry threatens legal action against extremist practices", Minivan News, 5 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">12 pc GST on tourism notified

The Government has since gazetted the 12 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST), imposed on the tourism sector, with effect from 1 November.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Government gazettes 12 percent GST regulation for tourism sector", SunOnline, 9 October 2014; "Finance Ministry requests offices to submit details of Audit Report issues", Sunonline, 9 October 2014; "Cashiers should be Maldivians- Economic Ministry", Miadhu, 10 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US naval ship on call

Now on a visit to Maldives, crew members of the US naval vessel, USS Rodney M Davis, will work with the Maldivian Coast Guard, to improve regional security, according to a statement issued by the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF).

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US Navy frigate arrives in Maldives", SunOnline, 6 October 2014; "U.S. Sailors Visit Orphanage, Clean-up Beach In ViliMale", Miadhu, 10 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India to supply medical equipment

As part of ’Defence Cooperation’ with Maldives, India will supply an MRI and CT scan machines for the India-funded Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male, the nerve-centre of medical facilities in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "New equipment to IGMH with help of India", Haveeru Online, 9 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Thai PM to visit Myanmar

Thailand’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha will arrive in Myanmar on 9 October, making it the first official visit to a foreign country after assuming office. Thailand PM will be signing 3 MoU’s in the presence of Myanmar President, Thein Sein.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Thai Prime Minister to Meet President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw", The Irrawaddy, 9 October 2014; "Myanmar, Thailand to Twin provinces", Mizzima, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sri Lankan fishermen stranded in Myanmar

Over 150 fishermen are said to have been stranded in Myanmar waters after drifting due to bad weather. According to a spokesperson of the Sri Lankan government, 3 boats and 15 fishermen are already in custody of the Burma Coast Guard and about 30 boats and 150 fishermen are drifting in the same area.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Bad weather strands 150 Sri Lankans in Burmese waters", The Irrawaddy, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rohingyas allegedly harassed in Myanmar

In what is said to be the worst persecution of the Rohingya minorities in the northern tip of Arakan state, the immigration, border guards and some alien task force are said to have sealed villages, beat and arrested few people who refused to register themselves with immigration officials.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Burma blockades Rohingya, Tries to erase name", The Irrawaddy, 9 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal, Japan to increase cooperation

Nepal and Japan are preparing to form a foreign ministry level mechanism to further strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the two friendly countries. This was decided during a meeting held between Foreign Minister Mahendra Pandey and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on October 8.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal, Japan mull mechanism to promote cooperation, Republica, 10 October 2014; Nepal, Japan to strengthen bilateral ties, eKantipur, 10 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal to export herbs to Europe

Himalayan Bio Trade Private Limited (HBTL), French company NATEVA and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have agreed to export semi-processed herbs of Nepal as an ingredient for cosmetic products in Europe.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Pact to export Nepali herbs to Europe, eKantipur, 10 October, 2014; Project to export semi-processed herbs from Nepal, Republica, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CA to give more time for consensus building

The Constituent Assembly (CA) is likely to provide more time to Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC) to find a point of agreement among the political parties on contentious issues of new constitution.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : CA likely to give more time to PDCC for consensus building, eKantipur, 9 October 2014; Prez urges parties to resolve differences through dialogue, eKantipur, 9 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Malala Yousafzai becomes youngest ever Nobel Prize winner

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to 17 year old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their work in promoting children’s rights. Malala is the youngest person to be awarded the globally prestigious annual prize.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Malala Yousafzai becomes youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner", The Express Tribune, 10 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India’s hegemony on border will not be accepted: Nisar

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that Pakistan will not accept India’s hegemony on the border and will reply "befittingly" to India’s violation of ceasefire.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Indian hegemony on the border will not be accepted: Nisar", The Express Tribune, 10 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ban Ki-Moon urges India, Pakistan to engage in dialogue

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed concern about the recent escalation of tension on the Indo-Pakistan Line of Control and Working Boundary. He has urged the two countries to engage in a dialogue to resolve differences.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "UN Chief urges Pakistan, India to resolve all issues through dialogues", The News International, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Zarb-e-Azb: Offensive will continue in winter

A senior security official has said that the ongoing offensive targeting militants in Pakisutan’s North Waziristan Agency will continue during the upcoming winter months dispelling rumours that the harsh weather might force authorities to halt the Operation.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Zarb-e-Azb updates: Offensive will continue in winter, says official", The Express Tribune, 15 June 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">It’s ’differentiating’, UNHRC told

Responding to the two-day UNHRC discussion at Geneva, on the human rights situation in the country, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative, Ravinatha Aryasinghe, that the Government was not shying away from making considered choices, but was only differentiating, in the best interests of its people.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "SL not shy away from making considered choices", Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014; "We are not judging SL : UNHRC chairman", Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UNP challenge real, says Basil

With rumours flying high that President Mahinda Rajapaksa might order early presidential polls next year, his brother and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has said that the ruling combine would not take the Opposition United National Party (UNP) to order early national polls next year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Basil says will not take UNP challenge lightly", Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014; Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014; The Island, 8 October 2014; "UNP coup in Uva PC flops as JVP refuses to support", "UNP coup in Uva PC flops as JVP refuses to support", "No discussion within TNA on Presidential poll", Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RSS pooh-poohs BBS plan

India’s Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological forebear of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, has termed as ’mischievous’, claims by Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the hard-line Buddhist group, that the two outfits were in high-level talks as part of an alliance for establishing a "Hindu-Buddhist peace zone in Asia".

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian Hindu nationalists say ’no’ to alliance with BBS", Daily Mirror Online, 8 October 2014; "BBS seeks ties with Hindu nationalists (RSS) in India", The Island, 7 October 2014; "BBS wants Sri Lanka named ’Sinhale’", Daily Mirror Online, 8 October 2014; "Modi is coming but not so soon", The Island, 8 October 2014

Primary Documentation


Joint Press Release of the Visa Exemption pact between Bhutan and Switzerland, Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 October 2014


Digvijaya Singh (Rajya Sabha), "History, battleground for politics", The Hindu, 10 October 2014

Speech by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the closing ceremony of The 11th Metropolis World Congress 2014, website of the President of India, 9 October 2014

Text of PM’s first address to the Nation on Radio (in Hindi), website of the Prime Minister of India, 3 October 2014


Statement of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Thant Kyaw in Hluttaw Session about the Ratification to Biological Weapons Convention, Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 October 2014


Press Release on Hon. Foreign Minister’s Programme in Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 9 October 2014

Press Release on Hon. Foreign Minister’s Programme, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 7 October, 2014


Meeting of National Security Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 8 October 2014


Pakistan Lodges Protest with India over Ceasefire Violations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 6 October 2014



Opinion Pieces

"The Remnants of a Foreign Policy", The Economist, 11 October 2014

Aarya Nijat, "Afghanistan’s New First Lady", Foreign Policy, 9 October 2014

"Grim Executions in Afghanistan", The New York Times, 9 October 2014

Aryaman Bhatnagar, "A Fragile Arrangement", The Indian Express, 8 October 2014

Christian Bleuer, "To Syria, not Afghanistan: Central Asian jihadis ’neglect’ their neighbour", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 8 October 2014

Ben Farmer, "Afghanistan War in Numbers", The Telegraph, 7 October 2014

Thomas Ruttig and Kate Clark, "Three Birds with One Stone: Signing the BSA and NATO SOFA to project reliability", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 6 October 2014

Ali Reza Sarwar, "The Afghan Unity Government’s Three Perils", The Diplomat, 6 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Spreading the success", Kuensel Online, 7 October 2014



Simon Denyer, Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2014

Badri Narayan, Kanshiram: Leader of the Dalits, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2014

Deepak Nayyar, Catch Up: Developing Countries in the World Economy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014

Indira Hirway et al, ed. Growth or Development; Which Way Is Gujarat Going?, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014

Opinion Pieces

Nishank Motwani, "Searching for A Response: India’s Muddled Strategy on Pakistan ", Foreign Policy, 8 October 2014

Ana Swanson, "Dispatches From the Front Lines of Indian Democracy (Book Review) ", Foreign Policy, 8 October 2014

Christophe Jaffrelot, "The other saffron ", The Indian Express, 6 October 2014

Jayant Prasad, "Taking ties beyond the Beltway ", The Hindu, 6 October 2014

Ananya Vajpeyi, "Gandhi, morality and political legitimacy ", The Hindu, 4 October 2014

Jason Burke , "Modi launches Indian clean-up drive by telling officials: get sweeping ", The Guardian, 2 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Vani Sathisan, "Rights-complaint investment needed to keep SEZs fair for all", Myanmar Times, 6 October 2014

Sithu Aung Myint, "Yangon mayor misleads on new city project", Myanmar Times, 6 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Biswas Baral, "Grand designs", Republica, 9 October 2014

Hari Bansh Jha, "Whither Madhesh?" Republica, 8 October, 2014


Opinion Pieces

Khaled Ahmed, "Cultivating conspiracies", The Indian Express, 10 October 2014

"Take a step back", The Indian Express, 10 October 2014

Siddharth Singh, "Playing poker with Pakistan", Livemint, 7 October 2014

Major General (Retd) Ashok K Mehta, "India cannot give Pakistan Army befitting reply", The Economic Times, 10 October 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Jehan Perera, "Govt.’s tightrope walk between international pledges and electoral pressures", The Island, 7 October 2014

Kelum Bandara, "Papal visit SLFP in a dilemma over setting date for election", Daily Mirror Online, 9 October 2014

Kumar David, "Lanka bristles with expectations of change. Can Ranil surf the post-Uva tide?" The Island, 4 October 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, N Sathiya Moorthy, The Sunday Leader, 5 October 2014


"The UNP must not miss this opportunity-Karunasena Kodituwakku" The Island, 9 October 2014

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

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