Friday, August 26, 2016

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Lost sense of belonging must be restored

Shahid Islam
 
What one sees, hears and digests is an imagery needing decoding. It’s time the leadership coterie steering Bangladesh’s politics, economy and the society question themselves what is so grossly wrong.  If the speeches of the pundits, policy makers and the politicians about creating public awareness against the sweeping jihadi cult that seems to have pervaded into every veins of the Bangladeshi society are to be swallowed, government should display more accountability in governance and, the hybrid propaganda gyrations it had stirred lately must stop forthwith.
Full Story
Shahid Islam
 
What one sees, hears and digests is an imagery needing decoding. It’s time the leadership coterie steering Bangladesh’s politics, economy and the society question themselves what is so grossly wrong.  If the speeches of the pundits, policy makers and the politicians about creating public awareness against the sweeping jihadi cult that seems to have pervaded into every veins of the Bangladeshi society are to be swallowed, government should display more accountability in governance and, the hybrid propaganda gyrations it had stirred lately must stop forthwith.
Peoples’ concerns
People at home and abroad are aware and concerned that the governance is too lax and cavalier about how the ordinary people live and think.  A stock of the week’s major happenings show how precious little is being done to address the ongoing miseries of the masses. Things are getting more precarious by the day.
On Monday, an unexpected gas leakage in a Chittagong fertilizer factory had left scores sick and hospitalized, while waters around have been polluted within ten miles radius; resulting in an environmental catastrophe.  Dead fishes and other water-dependent creatures are making affected water bodies more poisonous.  Moreover, inland water-borne commuting services had suspended operations in demand of pay rises by low-paid employees. And, braving police brutalities, Dhaka’s Jagonnath University students have been on streets for days in demand for dormitories. One of the students had exploded in anger and said:”We can’t rent rooms as bachelors since the terror attack in Gulshan. Where shall we live in this city?” Thousands of students chanted: “We want halls (dorms).” As if that were not enough, flash flooding across the country had left many cities and rural habitats drowned and impassable. Usual complaint from the victims is: “All the drains and canals have been taken over, filled, and constructions imposed by influential land grabbers of the ruling cabals.”
With over two million tourism and hospitality workers having already faced redundancy since the terror attacks in early July, and, over four million farmers mourning the losses of crops to the flooding, livelihood of marginally subsisting people have been axed abruptly. In the real estate and construction sectors, growth is almost stalled and properties previously built stare helplessly, un-sold.
Added to over 15-30 per cent rises in the prices of all the essentials since early August, a truly precarious socio-economic crisis had gripped the nation. Revenue is on decline from corporate, agriculture and individual inputs.
 
Victim of hegemony
As well, palpable agitation is being observed in the outlook of the educated Bangladeshis at home and abroad who find the construction and the operation of a coal-based power plant in Rampal of Khulna not only unacceptable, many feel the government of Sheikh Hasina had stepped into a mouse-trap by signing an agreement with India about the project while similar project near any conservation site is restricted by court orders in India.
Besides, Indian silence about what is brewing in neighbouring Bangladesh is as mysterious as it is menacingly dangerous for regional and global peace. Not only ordinary citizens within Bangladesh are hounded by the fear of incessant police invasions in search of suspected johadists, any venture into streets is proving more hazardous.  Over 400 people die per month in road collisions and run-over, average yearly total surpassing 5,000 in fatal crashes across the country.
More alarming is the fact that the nation had become a big prison, with more than 150,000 political prisoners awaiting justice.  The just by-gone week had kicked off with hundreds of more arrests across the country of suspected Islamists who may or may not subscribe to militancy and terrorism.
And, a former Brigadier General of the army, Abdullah Hil Azmi, whose only known fault lies in his being the son of the deceased Jamat-I-Islami leader, Golam Azam, has been reportedly grabbed from his Mogbazar residence by the DB, as is claimed by his family members, about which police never even bothered to make a formal statement.  Many wonder if General Azmi too turns out to be a kidnap and killing victim, like the many who had similarly vanished and the police never admitted of arresting them.
 
Economic sovereignty
With respect to street fatalities, some experts have begun to point fingers at faulty Indian cars, trucks and auto rickshaws flooding the nation’s streets, No wonder increased Indian vehicle import had aggravated bilateral trade balance to over US$7.8 billion in India’s favour.
While added to the transit facility granted to Delhi to ply Indian vehicles across Bangladesh to the land-locked north eastern Indian states, and over 70 per cent energy-dependency already stitched with India through  scores of inter-connectivity schemes of electricity production and distribution, the entire Bangladesh economy has become hostage to Indian sleight of hand and maneouvring. A series of compromises on national economic sovereignty are visible in so far as dealings with India are concerned.
In the end, all politics are economics, as can be gleaned from the evolution of a horrid political scenario in Bangladesh wherein a virtually un-elected government enjoys full Indian blessings; unbeknownst that the democratic practices that had kept an otherwise heterogeneous India together is not even allowed to be emulated inside Bangladesh. Until today, Delhi never called on the AL-led regime in Dhaka to hold an inclusive election sooner, as did the EU, USA and the totality of the enlightened global voices.
Overcoming such stagnant, crippling and regressive socio-political dynamism rests fully on the decision of the political and economic leaders. It’s time to decide whether to accept irreconcilable Indian hegemony in all spheres of life, or slowly wriggle out of the tight loop that Delhi had gradually laid out over the years against this small, over-populated nation.  This ubiquitous India factor, coupled with poor deliverance of public good by the incumbent AL regime, lets one to surmise that the prolonged lapses in effective leadership had unleashed a stoic feeling within Bangladesh, which,  by definition, and of necessity, means more cloudy signs of doom and gloom to further overcast the sunny political landscape of this once vibrant nation; unless the conscious citizenry gets back to its lost sense of belonging.

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Disappearances and unlawful detentions in Bangladesh
By The Editorial Board The New York Times 
Aug. 23, 2016
 
The use of unlawful detention and disappearance has become the tactic of choice in Bangladesh for dealing with anyone deemed a threat, including political enemies of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. These practices are a violation of due process and are a mockery of Bangladesh’s laws.
Full Story
By The Editorial Board The New York Times 
Aug. 23, 2016
 
The use of unlawful detention and disappearance has become the tactic of choice in Bangladesh for dealing with anyone deemed a threat, including political enemies of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. These practices are a violation of due process and are a mockery of Bangladesh’s laws.
In June, nearly 15,000 people were arrested in response to attacks by militants who killed more than 40 writers, openly gay men, foreigners and members of religious minorities. The arrests, however, seem aimed less at bringing the real culprits to justice than in cracking down on Ms. Hasina’s political opponents. Her government has admitted that only some 194 of the thousands arrested were confirmed militants.
Similar motives lie behind the killing of 22 people in June “shootouts” involving Bangladeshi law enforcement. Among the victims were two student opposition political leaders.
Unlawful detentions and disappearances have become routine in Bangladesh. Authorities act with impunity even when under the international spotlight. Such is the case with Tahmid Khan and Hasnat Karim, who survived a terrorist attack at a restaurant in Dhaka on July 1 and then disappeared after being detained by authorities. The police now admit they have the two in custody, but have produced no evidence either man is guilty of involvement in the attack.
Earlier this month, two other men, Mir Ahmed Bin Qasem and Hummam Qader Chowdhury, were picked up in Dhaka by men in plainclothes, one plucked from his car, the other from his home. Authorities deny either one is in custody, but both men are sons of prominent opposition political leaders and their disappearance smacks of political vendetta.
A thorough reform of law enforcement in Bangladesh is in order. A good place to start would be to release all those detained without charge or a magistrate’s order after 24 hours, as Bangladeshi law requires.  The use of plainclothes officers, in an attempt to disguise official involvement, plus a failure to punish police and intelligence officers who participate in such abuses, feeds a culture of impunity. As Ms.  Hasina struggles with the militant threat, it is crucial to restore faith in the rule of law.

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Kashmir, world’s largest militarized zone, needs healing
Dr. Abdul Ruff in New Delhi
 
Troops patrolling a Srinagar street during curfew as protesters enforced strike in the city.
Kashmir has been bleeding for years now as the occupation forces from India continue to kill the youth of Kashmir with a view to silencing them from their struggle for sovereignty from Indian yoke. India officially invaded and brutally occupied Jammu Kashmir since 1947 soon after it obtained sovereignty from Great Britain.  Like blood thirsty creatures in deep forests, Indian soldiers, having obtained blanket approval of the federal government in New Delhi for killing as many Muslims in Kashmir valley as they could, keep pouncing upon the Kashmir people for their blood and flesh.
Full Story
Dr. Abdul Ruff in New Delhi
 
Troops patrolling a Srinagar street during curfew as protesters enforced strike in the city.
Kashmir has been bleeding for years now as the occupation forces from India continue to kill the youth of Kashmir with a view to silencing them from their struggle for sovereignty from Indian yoke. India officially invaded and brutally occupied Jammu Kashmir since 1947 soon after it obtained sovereignty from Great Britain.  Like blood thirsty creatures in deep forests, Indian soldiers, having obtained blanket approval of the federal government in New Delhi for killing as many Muslims in Kashmir valley as they could, keep pouncing upon the Kashmir people for their blood and flesh.
’World listens what India says’: Swaraj
At least 100,000 innocent Kashmir Muslims have been butchered by Indian military by using the special powers granted by New Delhi, while the UN still pretends nothing very serious has happened in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Whenever Kashmir’s people, separated by the artificial line of control (LOC) maintained by Indian military, come to meet their relatives in Kashmir, India calls them “terrorists” and ”infiltrations” and kills them like solders kill birds. Kashmiris want the LOC removed so that they can live together. Occupation of nature at Siachen glaciers is not good for India.
Unless the USA makes India realize the impending nuclear dangers to the region as well as entire world by occupation of Kashmir, there is no way India would ever free the Kashmiri nation. Of course meanwhile bilateral and multilateral dialogs on sovereignty for Kashmir people should continue.
Both the imperialist USA and its ally fascist Israel assist Indian terror strategy with advanced technological help, targeting the Muslims of Kashmir valley making it a place of secret graveyards.  When, therefore, Indian president and PM, among other Indian leaders, who share the guilt of state crimes in Kashmir, keep announcing that Kashmir is an “integral part” of India they must be meaning these secret graveyards being a integral part of Indian Union.  Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has made it clear that world listens to what India says which would mean world won’t listen to what Kashmiris complaint against India mainly because it regularly conducts fake polls under military “supervision” to claim legitimacy for its misrule of Kashmir and justification for all its crimes against humanity.
Like Israel that employs oppressive methods and terror attacks even on children to silence the Palestinians. India also has been extra ruthless in attacking Kashmiri Muslims, by employing its favorite fake encounters.
 
J&K CM proffered dialogue
Recently, two BSF terror personnel and a Kashmiri activist were killed, while at least three BSF personnel sustained injuries in the gun fight in an encounter near the Line of Control in Machhil Sector in Kupwara district.
Following that, Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting to review the situation in the Kashmir Valley arising after killing of a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen activist Burhan Wani on July 8 at Kokernag by Indian occupation forces, though Indian government supplies liquor almost free of cost to them to drink and enjoy life.  Military Minister Manohar Parrikar, Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also attended the meeting.  Jammu & Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti said that India must assure Kashmiris of their right to live in India and added that resuming dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir issue could act as a bridge between the two nations. Talking to reporters after the two-hour review meeting, CM Mehbooba also hinted at resuming a dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir issue saying the state could act as a “bridge” between the two nations. “I believe there is a need to heal the wounds of people, to initiate dialogue with the people of Jammu Kashmir. These are our own people. If process of dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir can improve the situation in valley, we should do it...There is a need to apply balm to the wounds of Kashmiri people,” she said.  The JK Chief Minister said during the one month of unrest, which started after the killing of popular Kashmir youth Wani, 55 people lost their lives and referred the deceased as “our own boys”.
Withdraw army:
Indian MPs
She said: “People will keep dying if we don’t take initiative to bring normalcy. We want peace. There is an opportunity for dialogue and we should avail it. We have seen agitations in the past like in 2008 (Amarnath land row) and 2010 (over fake encounters by army). Our children have been killed. Our families have suffered. I don’t wish to see any more killing”.
Mehbooba said “Indian PM has a huge mandate in the present Lok Sabha and he should seize the opportunity created by the unrest to win the hearts of the people and solve their problems, the way former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did,” she said. “I am hopeful that the Prime Minister will take this as an opportunity to initiate dialogue with people to address their problems. There is a need to take the same initiative of winning hearts of people, which was taken during Vajpayeeji’s tenure,” she added.
Opposition members in the Parliament (Upper House) Rajya Sabha urged the government to call an all-party meeting to discuss the Kashmir issue. They also suggested sending an all-party delegation to Srinagar to take stock of the situation. Raising the issue in the Zero Hour, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed concern over curfew imposed in some parts of the Valley. He said the curfew is continuing for the first time for a longer period. He said more than eight thousand people were injured in the violent incidents.
Sitaram Yechury of CPI (M) said everything is paralyzed in the Kashmir Valley which is a paradise on earth where great profits lived and dies, and suggested use of pellet guns should be withdrawn. D.  Raja of CPI demanded withdrawal of armed forces and urged the government to initiate the political process. Sharad Yadav of JD (U) demanded a discussion on Kashmir issue in the House.
 
A deadly flash point
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the only Muslim face in the Modi government, said the government is ready for the discussion and he will convey the feelings of the members to the Home Minister.
India possibly is eager to resolve the Kashmir issue not by dialogue. Knowing the Indian mindset, Pakistan too, has not yielded.  In the process it made South Asia a deadly flash point. Indo-Pakistani tensions are fueled by global arms merchants, especially the US and Israeli that are thriving today on sale of terror goods to third world fighting each other at times without any reason.  Armed with huge arsenals, including nukes, bought from every possible region, India has already murdered over 100,000 Kashmiri Muslims since it considers its prerogative to deal with those sections of Kashmir population that still refuse to accept Indian occupational tactics. Yet, Kashmiris could not be silenced by military brutalities.  They seek complete sovereignty. India thinks since Pakistan also has been occupying other part of Kashmir as Azad Kashmir and it does not talk about its own plan for an independent Kashmir, it would not have to vacate Kashmir at all.
Earlier, USA had supported the Kashmiri corporates closer to India by huge investments in USA, but later with Indian diplomatic tactics, bringing American corporates closer to Indian cause through huge investments in USA and purchases of US-Israeli terror goods, Washington began taking a neutral position.  In an effort to totally conquer the nature and militarize it, India and Pakistan jointly also occupy the Siachen glaciers of Kashmir. India occupies the highest point in Siachen glaciers, the Saltoro Ridge which is located at 23,000 feet. If we vacate the position, the Pakistan enemy can occupy the position and they would have the strategic advantage. We know the experience of 1984 (Siachen conflict).
 
’Pakistan can’t be trusted’
“The position is very important from the strategic point. I don’t think anyone in this House can take Pakistan’s words for granted,” Defence Minister Parrikar said during Question Hour. The statement comes few weeks after ten soldiers were buried alive under snow after their camp in the northern part of the Siachen glacier was being hit by avalanches. India had declared it will not vacate Kashmir or the Siachen glaciers, come what may, as it does not trust and it may occupy the strategic location once India vacates.  Kashmiris don’t need just lip sympathy from the UN, UNSC and other world bodies whose duties include protection of humanity form enemy attacks but promptly proper action to end India occupation of Kashmir and return Jammu Kashmir to its rightful owners- the Kashmiris- most of them are Muslims by faith.  Indian soldiers have no right to kill Kashmir Muslims just because they have got a plenty of terror goods in its colonialist arsenals.  South Asia requires peace and a free and sovereign Kashmir is the key to regional peace.
 
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, is a former university teacher, investigative journalist, columnist, an expert on Mideast affairs;
Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); author
of eBooks; Editor: International Opinion, Foreign Policy; Palestine
Times: website:  http://abdulruff.wordpress.com/  email
abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com;Phone*:91-8129081217*

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Brazilian coffee

Fakir Syed Aijazuddin
 
How do you take your Olympic coffee – white, or black? In Rio, coffee is prepared from beans imported from countries across the world–
Boliviaa, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Kenya, Australia, even Thailand. Its percolating machines filter them, a metaphor for the transient internationalism of the Olympic Games themselves. Never before, though, in the history of the Olympic Games has the subject of colour and race been given such inordinate exposure by sports commentators. Until Rio 2016, certain categories of sport were reserved, like the poorer seats at the end of a segregated bus, for coloureds and blacks. It has been a given that any sport requiring equipment or facilities could be pursued only by those who could afford it.
Full Story
Fakir Syed Aijazuddin
 
How do you take your Olympic coffee – white, or black? In Rio, coffee is prepared from beans imported from countries across the world–
Boliviaa, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Kenya, Australia, even Thailand. Its percolating machines filter them, a metaphor for the transient internationalism of the Olympic Games themselves. Never before, though, in the history of the Olympic Games has the subject of colour and race been given such inordinate exposure by sports commentators. Until Rio 2016, certain categories of sport were reserved, like the poorer seats at the end of a segregated bus, for coloureds and blacks. It has been a given that any sport requiring equipment or facilities could be pursued only by those who could afford it.
Sports such as archery, canoe/kayak, cycling, equestrian, rowing, modern pentathlon, sailing, shooting and triathlon squads were, as one commentator put it, blindingly white. The blacks were good for running and boxing.
Nothing proved this point than the statistic that out of all the gold medals won by runners, more than half have been by African athletes, and in boxing Africans alone have won 40 medals. Or that, in 1960 Rome Olympics, the winner of the show-piece marathon Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, ran his race barefoot. Rio 2016 has changed that, irreversibly. Black is the new gold.  The western media crew of voluble sports commentators have yet to adapt to the new paradigm. A young American girl wins a gold medal in the 100 metres freestyle swimming, and she is touted as the first black/Afro-American girl ever to win such an event. Her compatriot Simone Biles wins four gold medals in gymnastics and the media marvels at how a black girl can break the colour bars, horse and rings. Daryl Hanes gains a silver medal in the men’s sabre fencing, and his achievement carries the addendum that it is the first time in 112 years that a black/Afro-American has won in this category.  Almaz Ayana secures the gold for 10,000 metres long distance run, but then, she is from Ethiopia. And when a young woman Ibtihaj Muhammad appears – in a hijab - to compete in a fencing match, the attention of the viewers is drawn not to her skill with an epee but her decision to hide her hair.
No hijab will ever be large enough or thick enough to hide the bias of some of the more raucous elements of the reporting media.  Their remarks about black/Afro American female sportspersons remind one of Dr Samuel Johnson’s famous observation about female preachers.  Told by James Boswell that he had heard a woman preach, Dr Johnson retorted:  “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
For one particular contestant – Yulia Refomiva, from cold-shouldered Russia – the Rio Olympics were another battle-field.  Rio was awful, she lamented, it was war. To be booed after four years of preparation, effort, training and high-pressure performance was more than a waste of adrenalin. It was a negation, a perversion of the Olympic spirit. The spectators became judges, and the judges spectators.
If the Russians are to be believed, the United States has conspired to hamstring Russia. Whether Russia could have posed a serious challenge to the US or for that matter Great Britain in the medals table is now a matter of Monday morning conjecture. It would appear though that both Russia and China have lost interest in the Olympics. They no longer see it as an arena in which they need to prove themselves. In Beijing 2012, China could not afford to lose. In Rio, China did not care if it did not win. That is not to say its Olympic team did not give their best. They did. But the embers of Beijing had been banked, its fire tempered. The colour of the medal no longer drove the Chinese.
India had sent the largest Olympic contingent in its history to Rio. Over a billion Indians hoped for a richer trawl of medals than one silver and a single bronze - the first for badminton and the second for wrestling. The silver came as a hard-won surprise. The latter was to be expected. After all, India has had enough practice.  It has wrestled with Pakistan for 69 years over everything – Sir Creek, Rann of Kutch, a seat in the UN Security Council, a place in the ECO, and perennially Jammu & Kashmir.  If only the statue of Christ the Redeemer above Rio could be transposed to Wagah border. With one arm outstretched into Pakistan and the other into India, who knows? He might perform the miracle for them he did for the Brazilians. They are still celebrating their soccer gold by crying into their coffee.
Courtesy: Dawn

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John Kerry arrives on Monday
Shakhawat Hossain
 
US secretary of state John Kerry is arriving in Dhaka next Monday to discuss bilateral issues, especially America’s cooperation in addressing militancy in Bangladesh. He is coming at the invitation of Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali extended to him last year. As per the Travel schedule, John Kerry will be arriving in Dhaka from Geneva only for a day before he moves to New Delhi.
Full Story
Shakhawat Hossain
 
US secretary of state John Kerry is arriving in Dhaka next Monday to discuss bilateral issues, especially America’s cooperation in addressing militancy in Bangladesh. He is coming at the invitation of Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali extended to him last year. As per the Travel schedule, John Kerry will be arriving in Dhaka from Geneva only for a day before he moves to New Delhi.
The US secretary of state will be here in the morning of August 29 and leaves for New Delhi later in the evening. In Delhi, he will attend a function on August 30. During his brief visit, Kerry will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali. He will also meet the members of the civil society.
Though there is no official announcement of the visit a yet, this will be Kerry’s first visit to Bangladesh which will take place amid US security concerns in Dhaka following the July 1 terrorist carnage in which 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, were killed. Kerry is the second secretary of state of the US to visit Bangladesh in the past five years following his predecessor Hillary Clinton. She was on a two-day visit to Bangladesh in May 2012.
US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat has been having a series of meetings lately at the foreign ministry, the latest being with the foreign minister Ali last Sunday, but did not indicate any such high-level visit.
However, the foreign ministry official said the imminent visit was a sudden development and that the US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat’s meetings with the foreign ministry in the last weeks dominated the issue.
Kerry, during his day-long visit, will hold discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues, including security, with his Bangladeshi counterpart AH Mahmood Ali. Bangladesh Ambassador in Washington Mohammad Ziauddin will also be in Dhaka during the visit.
Apart from issues of terrorism and militancy, democracy, good governance, development, trade, human rights and freedom of expression may come up for discussion.
International Relations experts think that the visit bears special significance and John Kerry may also focus on democracy, elections and human rights issues. Since he is going to Delhi immediately after the visit, he may also want to know the views of India about the Bangladesh situation.
After the July 1 militant attack in a Gulshan cafe, Kerry had phoned Hasina and sent the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal to express Washington’s solidarity with Bangladesh.  Biswal, during her visit, offered the US expertise to build Bangladesh’s capabilities in countering terrorism. The government said it would take cooperation from all “friendly” countries to root out terrorism and extremism.

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Nepali political parties fighting in the home front

Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Nepal has claimed that last week’s visits by two of its deputy prime ministers to India and China were ‘fruitful’ as well as ‘highly successful’. A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday concluded that relations with the two giant neighbours have reached a new dimension after the visits of two DPMs, Bimalendra Nidhi and Krishna Bahadur Mahara to India and China respectively.
Both Nidhi and Mahara briefed the Cabinet about their discussions with senior officials in New Delhi and Beijing and their response towards Nepal’s willingness to strengthening their bilateral ties with them.
Full Story
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Nepal has claimed that last week’s visits by two of its deputy prime ministers to India and China were ‘fruitful’ as well as ‘highly successful’. A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday concluded that relations with the two giant neighbours have reached a new dimension after the visits of two DPMs, Bimalendra Nidhi and Krishna Bahadur Mahara to India and China respectively.
Both Nidhi and Mahara briefed the Cabinet about their discussions with senior officials in New Delhi and Beijing and their response towards Nepal’s willingness to strengthening their bilateral ties with them.
Mahara returned home from China on Sunday while Nidhi from Delhi on
Tuesday
Nepal PM to visit Delhi
Meanwhile Nepal’s new Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is leaving for India on September 15 in an apparent bid to please New Delhi. When he was elected the prime minister for the first time following the dissolution of Nepalese monarchy, he chose to visit Beijing in keeping with his political commitment. However, this time around his return to power is said to have been orchestrated by Indian lobbyists in Kathmandu and in keeping with the political reality, he has decided to visit New Delhi first.
The details about his program in New Delhi are now being worked out and would be announced in due course. However, it was known in Kathmandu’s political circles that his ability to manoeuvre has largely been clipped by the country’s realpolitik.
The two Deputy Prime Ministers reported on return that both Beijing and New Delhi appreciated the political process carried out by the new government in Kathmandu and positively responded towards exchanging high-level visits.
While briefing newsmen about the two DPMs’ India and China trips, Information Minister Ram Karki quoting DPM Krishna Bahadur Mahara on his China trip as saying about his meeting with the senior Chinese leaders: “I found Chinese president was eager to visit Nepal and we have agreed that Foreign Ministries of two sides will do the necessary arrangements to finalise the date and agendas.” While Delhi’s response was equally positive, albeit different. DPM Bimalendra Nidhi reported to the cabinet: “India is all set to host our President and PM”, and added that he also conveyed that Nepal’s readiness to welcome the Indian President and Prime Minister at a mutually agreed time.
 
Talks on Constitutional amendment
Meanwhile, in  the  home  front, governing parties  in  Nepal— CPN (Maoist Centre) and Nepali Congress—and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) are expected to start fresh negotiations, possibly from next week, to find a political solution to the Tarai crisis, for which the government has pledged to a constitutional amendment in Parliament by mid-October.
Top leaders of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, held a meeting on Wednesday to forge a common position on contentious issues of the constitution. The meeting has been planned just as the Morcha and the governing parties prepare to start negotiations for constitutional amendment.
“I have heard the government is planning to register an amendment
proposal before Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to New Delhi. We are hoping that the negotiations will start soon,” said Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato.
Morcha’s bid to hammer out a common position on key issues has become imperative in the wake of divergent views from its constituents.  Besides, the governing parties and the Morcha are planning to form a joint task force to iron out differences, and the Morcha is under pressure to have a common view for sending members to the task force.
Redrawing of provincial boundaries with at least two provinces in the Tarai plains is one of the key demands of the Morcha. It has also demanded that its concerns regarding proportional representation and citizenship among others be addressed.
“The Maoist Centre and the NC look positive about addressing our
concerns. There has to be give and take on both sides,” said Rajendra Shrestha, Co-chair of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Nepali Congress Parliamentary Party on Tuesday concluded that the government should hold “interim local elections” under the existing structure in view of confusion over the number of local units in the federal set-up.
 
Reaching a consensus is difficult
Holding local level elections is a key to implementing the constitution, and failure to do so could throw the statute implementation process into limbo. Some NC lawmakers also called for “scientific and rational” restructuring of local bodies, saying LBRC’s proposal “is not only illogical but also impractical”.
In order to hold “interim elections” of local bodies under the existing structure, the party has decided to hold talks with other political parties. On Monday, during the meeting of NC’s district presidents and central committee members, most of the leaders had called for having at least 1,000 local units across the country.
During Tuesday’s NC parliamentary party meeting, party President Sher Bahadur Deuba reiterated that since holding elections of local bodies is a must for implementation of the constitution, the country should go for local polls under the existing structure “if political parties cannot agree to the proposal of the LBRC and any other alternative”.  “Once we reach consensus on a particular number or any other alternative, elections can be held again. For now, we have to go for elections, even if they have to be conducted under the existing structure,” he said.
Under current structure, there are 3,157 village development committees and 217 municipalities.
On Tuesday, LBRC Chairman Balananda Poudel had explained to the Congress lawmakers the basis for proposing 565 local units. “The objective is strengthening and empowering the local bodies,” said Poudel, adding that in the new set-up, present Village Development Committees will be turned into wards, which will function as quasi-judicial bodies.
NC lawmaker Minendra Rijal said the narrative of the restructuring should be changed and that population, geography and human development indices should be taken into account while determining the number and boundaries of local units. “The question is whether we can deliver services and facilities to the people,” he said.
‘We have to go for local level elections even if they have to be conducted under the existing structure. There is no alternative to local polls’ said Sher Bahadur Deuba, President, Nepal Congress.

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And then they came for Amnesty and Seema Mustafa

Lalita Ramdas
Countercurrents.org
 
It was a matter of time – one by one, the most outspoken and critical voices in the media, in civil society and in standing up for human rights are being picked out and attempts being made to silence them.
Full Story
Lalita Ramdas
Countercurrents.org
 
It was a matter of time – one by one, the most outspoken and critical voices in the media, in civil society and in standing up for human rights are being picked out and attempts being made to silence them.

Just confirming that Seema Mustafa – good friend, outstanding journalist and a fearless activist for the Idea of India as laid out in our Constitution has also been included in the list of those targeted by the ABVP FIR against Amnesty International for their hearings on Kashmir.

Seema has clearly been in their sights for a while and this provided a perfect excuse. Seema was among the better known faces invited to moderate one of the conversations with Kashmiris at the day-long event held at the United Theological Institute at Bangalore on Aug 14. Martin Niemoller’s prophetic words constantly come to mind …
“First they came for the Communists, I did not speak out- because I 
was not a communist,
“Then they came for the socialists, the trade unionists, the Jews –
I did not speak out,
“Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak up for me …….”
And let us no longer blame only the present regime.
Uday Kumar and thousands in Tamil Nadu were charged with sedition in the period of Congress and UPA I with ample and ready support from the T Nadu administration. Their only crime – the longest, non violent, peaceful, Gandhian protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant.
 
Congress introduced SFSPA in ‘58
The tendency to clamp down on dissent – and all those who differ with the policies of the state began many decades back. Let us not forget that draconian legislation like AFSPA was brought in 58 years ago by the Congress regime.
It has just become more blatant, the impunity is up in your face, and also now is immeasurably strengthened by the overt participation of the private sector and powerful interests who collaborate to stifle dissent from all those affected by extractive industrial activity across the lands and forests of indigenous peoples.
The IB report naming many well known public figures associated with anti nuclear, anti mining, anti AFSPA campaigns, groups and issues, was also leaked in the dying days of UPA II. None of that has been retracted.
It is a time for unity of action, for solidarity and strategic thoughtful response. But is no longer a time for silence, or for sitting on the fence. Action like the PIL filed in the Supreme Court against the anti deluvian law of sedition by Prashant Bhushan and Uday Kumar – is a fine example of legal action.
In solidarity with Seema Mustafa, with Aakar Patel and Amnesty, and those many many others – unnamed yet targeted unfairly for sedition –when they were protesting – a right conferred on them by the Constitution of India.
 
Lalita Ramdas is former Chair of Green Peace International & Nominee for the 1000 Women for Nobel Peace Prize

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Indian must treat cow as mother
Scroll.In reports
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a closed-door meeting with nearly 400 top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party last Tuesday, bringing to an end a 15-day patriotism drive that had been aimed at asserting the party’s ideology across the country. At the meeting, according to various reports, Modi called on his party to continue playing the nationalism card as much as possible, since it is central to the BJP’s ideology.
Full Story
Scroll.In reports
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a closed-door meeting with nearly 400 top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party last Tuesday, bringing to an end a 15-day patriotism drive that had been aimed at asserting the party’s ideology across the country. At the meeting, according to various reports, Modi called on his party to continue playing the nationalism card as much as possible, since it is central to the BJP’s ideology.
“Nationalism has been our core identity and our strength,” IANS quoted him as saying. “We have only one goal and that is nation-building,” was the quote in the Telegraph. NDTV reported that Modi called nationalism “the bedrock of our ideology”. And the Indian Express had probably the most telling reference: “Rashtravadi toh hamare saath hain, humein Dalit aur pichchde ko saath lana hai.” The nationalists are with us, we need to bring Dalits and backward groups.
What better way to encapsulate who the BJP means when it speaks about the “nationalists”? Those people are already with the party, Modi says, now they also need to bring in the Dalits and the poor, downtrodden – who are evidently not nationalists. One could read that as just being poor enunciation, as his compatriot Prakash Javadekar was “amused” to be accused of on Tuesday.
Or one could see it as an admission of just whom Modi and the BJP refers to when they constantly harp on nationalism, a message that has been confirmed time and again by the party’s actual approach to Dalits, the poor and minorities. Modi has often been accused of using dog-whistles, like the “pink revolution”, but it’s clear that his party and the Sangh Parivar are sending as coded of a message when it makes it clear who it thinks deserve to consider this country their own.
In case that wasn’t clear enough, Jharkhand Chief Minister and BJP leader Raghubar Das spelled this out a few days ago: “Those who consider India as their country will treat cow as their mother.” Even as it struggles to reach out to Dailts and the downtrodden, those who don’t have a similar reverence for the cow evidently can’t consider India their country.

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