SOUTH ASIAN DIGEST

470 kms of rivers to be dredged with BD-India joint financing

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Bangladesh on Monday approved 'Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade' under which 470 kms of rivers will be dredged with joint financing of Bangladesh and India. According to the deal, India will provide 80 percent of the dredging cost, while Bangladesh 20 percent. The approval came at the Cabinet meeting held at the Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the... More

India, Russia banks discusses rouble-rupee trade

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Representatives of atleast three Russian banks operating in India, including Vnesheconombank, Sberbank and VTB, has met executives from top Indian banks in Mumbai on Monday to discuss rupee-rouble settlements between businesses of the two countries. According to sources close to the development, the meeting was organised by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) also saw participation from the RBI and Russia’s central bank representatives. India and Russia... More

Kerung-Kathmandu railway should be built with Chinese grant: Nepal

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Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to operate electric freight train the very next day. Four points of the 10-point MoU signed during the China visit of PM Oli were related to railways. China had already completed preliminary study of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway by the time the MoU was signed. China Railway First Survey Design Institute Group had completed a week-long field study... More

Bhutan economy sees 4% growth, GDP per capital crosses US$ 3000

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Bhutan’s economy grew by over four per cent last year as compared to 2016. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown steadily since 2013. As per the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), the country’s GDP recorded a growth of 4.63 per cent last year. In current price, the size of the economy saw an increase of more than Nu 15bn  in 2017. Read Also: Conjoined Bhutanese twins... More

MPs back repeal of anti-defamation law

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A majority of lawmakers backed Monday a bill to repeal the draconian anti-defamation law as pledged by president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. After a debate, MPs voted 48-17 with two abstentions to accept the bill. It was sent to a committee for review before a final vote. The repeal legislation was submitted in the wake of the joint opposition candidate’s decisive victory over President Abdulla Yameen in... More

Sri Lanka PM, 44 ex-MPs defect from party led by president ahead of election

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Sri Lanka’s new prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and 44 former lawmakers have defected from the party led by President Maithripala Sirisena, splitting with the president barely two weeks after he installed Rajapaksa in office. Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night and called a general election for Jan. 5 in a move that has drawn international criticism as it is likely to deepen the country’s political... More

Khalilzad meets with Ghani on first leg of regional visit

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President Ashraf Ghani met with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday night, the presidential palace said in a statement on Sunday. According to the statement, Ghani was briefed on the envoy’s schedule over the next week, which will see him visit a number of countries in the region. Ghani thanked Khalilzad for the work he’s doing to bring about peace and... More

Pakistan increases contribution to help Palestinian refugees

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Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi handed over the country’s enhanced contribution for Palestinian refugees to the representative of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), the branch of UN working to provide relief in the region. Speaking on the occasion at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, ambassador Lodhi said this was done on the instructions of the government of... More

Myanmar Def College delegation visits Fort William

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A 38-member Myanmar delegation led by Major General Myat Kyaw, Commandant of National Defence College, Myanmar visited Eastern Command headquarters at Fort William here Saturday, a Defence spokesman said. The delegation members were updated on various dimensions of operational environment of Eastern Command including aspects of multilateral initiatives of military to military cooperation between two armies and their constructive role in promoting India’s ‘Act East’... More

TODAY'S NEWS

TOP NEWS

Suu Kyi seeks Asean support on Rohingya return but also faces censure


Aung San Suu Kyi is attending the Asean meetings in Singapore this week, seeking support from her Asian allies in dealing with the country’s Rakhine crisis. She especially wants... More

As poll fever grips Sri Lanka parties, Sirisena says parliament dissolved to stop horse trading  


Former Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), which earlier moved the Supreme Court to challenge President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament, has begun making... More

REPORTS

Lanka awaits Supreme Court verdict on constitutionality of parliament dissolution


Sri Lanka’s political upheaval that began with President Maithripala Sirisena’s lightning sacking of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointing ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM on October 26, has entered a new phase with... More

Taliban will only talk to Kabul if timeline exists for US troops’ exit, says...


The Taliban movement stated it was ready to talk with Afghanistan's government only after agreeing with the United States on a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, Russian... More

India’s Modi to get a test in state votes as general election looms


India began on Monday (Nov 12) the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he... More

India hopes to restart its projects in Maldives


India will seek to kickstart its projects in the Maldives during PM Modi’s daylong visit to Male on November 17 to attend Ibu Solih’s swearing-in ceremony. The projects, including in the defence... More

ECONOMY

Trump’s trade war could dent China’s domestic consumption, dragging down the rest of Asia


Much attention in recent months has focused on the U.S.-China trade war's impact to global supply chains, and how that could hurt many Asian economies. That's one way the region may be dragged... More

VISTA OF VIEWS

Let judges do their job


President Maithripala Sirisena has, true to form, cut the Gordian knot once again. He used Article 33 of the Constitution (Sinhala version) in justification of the dissolution of Parliament. His action has stirred up... More

ISSUES

Pakistan needs to make CPEC an engine of innovation


A recent research carried out by a team of economists at the Harvard Business School has summarised the future trajectory of innovation and business productivity for US firms. According to the arguments, businesses unite and evolve within geographical... More

Russia’s Afghan shift worries Delhi


The just-ended Moscow peace conference on Friday on Afghanistan is seen to have led to a further convergence in the positions of host Russia and Pakistan, which will be much to India’s discomfiture. India had participated in... More

Russia’s growing clout in Asia-Pacific


In their strategic calculus, major Asia-Pacific powers do not consider Russia to be a major military power in the region. Although these Asia-Pacific countries understand Russia’s military clout in Europe and the Middle East, they somehow fail... More

Belt and Road rethink in Southeast Asia: Will India change its mind?


From the gleaming new city of Khorgos sprouting out of the desert in Kazakhstan to the kilometres of shinny steel rails being laid in the countryside in Laos, China's trillion-dollar signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is... More

DEFENCE

Corruption scams have hurt India’s defence policy


It was February 1988. I was part of a group of journalists accompanying Rajiv Gandhi to Stockholm. It was snowing outside, but inside, the officials from India appeared to be sweating. The long shadow of Bofors, which... More

US sanction cloud hangs over India, Russia arms deal


Although New Delhi has been granted exemption from US sanctions for purchase of Iranian crude, there is no word from the Trump administration for a similar waiver of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act (CAATSA) for... More

Did China get Sri Lanka to cough up a port?

“CHINA got Sri Lanka to cough up a port,” said the New York Times in a widely quoted article published recently. The article claimed that “every time Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes. “Yes, though... More

COLUMN

Afghanistan: The big story of massive aid waste

There are ghost soldiers; ghost police officers; ghost clinics and even ghost patients in Afghanistan. There are billions of dollars spent on papers, but there is very little on the ground. As such, despite spending billions on controlling narcotics to improving health conditions and the state of security, Afghanistan remains a country with too many ill-conceived programs and too little progress made on every front. The story of the massive... More

Parties over people

With elections to Bangladesh’s JatiyaSangsad (National Assembly) now declared to be held on December 23, the political scene in the country will enter a new phase. The announcement was sudden but not really unexpected given the way politics developed over the past few weeks. The Awami League is not in a mood to listen to the others. Her main opponent, the JatiyaOikkyo Front, led by Dr Kamal Hossain and... More

Ensuring challenges provide opportunities

The situation in our country in the wake of global and internal changes affecting Pakistan has evoked multiple challenges. Not to get bogged down by their sheer number it seems important to analyse each and every challenge that the country is facing. These need not only a reaction from the state to tackle them but as an opportunity for developing new vistas of understanding for responding to the problems... More

Mixed messages from Myanmar’s bye-elections

Analysts are pouring over the results of Myanmar’s bye elections in Myanmar, vainly trying to read the tea leaves, and perhaps reading too much into them. But it was certainly a wake-up call for both major parties – the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and the previous governing party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – but the lessons that can be drawn for the future are... More

The Eurasian concept

When continents are defined as “mainly continuous expanses of land” one is left wondering why Europe and Asia, though very much a continuous land mass, have been perceived through centuries as two separate continents. One major reason may be that the western end of the Eurasian landmass took a very different turn in its development, with renaissance, scientific and industrial revolutions and ‘modernity’ changing its economic, social and intellectual... More

VIDEO-INTERVIEW

OUTCOME AND FUTURE OF BMISTEC? & WHAT’S ON THE BALANCE?


The fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), held in Kathmandu on August 30 and 31, was “not fruitful” because of the inherent “weakness” of the regional inter-state institution,... More

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Who profits from the end of the mid-range nuclear treaty?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its Doomsday Clock to only 2 minutes to midnight. It might be tempting to turn this into a mere squabble about arrows and olives if this wasn’t such a terrifying scenario. US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, secretary-general of the USSR, signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 1987. The Arms Control Association was extremely pleased. “The treaty marked... More

In Jammu and Kashmir, the road to disaster

We have a new governor of Jammu and Kashmir, a new chief secretary, a new director general of police and a new adviser on security. The best outreach to the people of J&K (especially the Kashmir Valley) that they could come up with was to hold elections to the local bodies (panchayats and municipalities) in the state. The outreach was met with a rude rebuff when, in... More

New Silk Roads define brand China

The New Silk Roads symbolize way more than high-speed rail lines crisscrossing Eurasia, or a maze of highways, pipelines and port connectivity. They represent a Chinese alliance with at least 65 participating nations, responsible for 62% of the world’s population and 31% of its GDP. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it’s formally known, is not a “road” or a collection of roads, like the Ancient Silk... More

Why China buying up ports is worrying Europe

There is rising concern about whether China will use its commercial acquisitions of overseas ports for military purposes, under its drive to put civilian technology and resources to military use. Under its trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” – a blueprint announced in 2013 to boost trade and connectivity in Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond – China has significantly increased its global investments, particularly in maritime infrastructure. Pioneering Chinese companies... More

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Recovering India’s stolen art pieces

Two rare 12th-century stone statues originally from India, which were on display in museums in the United States, have returned home. They were handed over... More

The lost verse: Why is Iqbal going out of fashion?

Once upon a time, once upon a recent time in fact, young Urdu poets frequently used to talk about Iqbal’s poetry in both formal... More

A portrayal of Pakistan as a rich tapestry of cultures

If you are looking for a nice bedside reading or something to occupy you during a short-haul flight then pick Raza Rumi’s Being Pakistani.... More

The Reality of Narendra Modi’s foreign policy failures laid bare

If Bharat Karnad didn’t exist we would have to invent him. He is the one person who consistently and intellectually challenges every government on... More

Ayodhya dispute: A saffron twist

The Sangh Parivar interprets the Supreme Court’s verdict declining to revisit its 1994 observations about the place of mosques in Islam as a major... More

‘Why should I feel scared?’

Prof. K.S. Bhagavan, 73, is a well-known Kannada litterateur based in Mysuru. He taught English at the University of Mysore for 37 years before... More

Kulsoom Nawaz: The silent partner

It is unfortunate that Kulsoom Nawaz has not been spared even in grave illness. The three-time first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form... More

Jailing of Reuters journalist ‘hammer-blow’ to Myanmar’s fragile press freedom

A Myanmar court’s decision to jail two Reuters journalists for seven years a week ago represented a near-fatal hammer-blow to the country’s fragile press... More