By Shastri Ramahandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
MUMBAI (IDN) - All these years, if India could bat above its league on the world stage, it is not only because of being favoured – over other, more powerful developing countries – by the Anglo-American axis. The dominance of English and, rightly or otherwise, the values and versatility associated with India’s English-speaking elite, including officials, have contributed greatly to India’s acceptance at high tables.
More than any of the above, India’s distinctive edge in world affairs is because it is a robust, if flawed, democracy: a liberal, tolerant, pluralistic Union with enviable political, social and cultural diversity. India may be a “Third World” economy, but it is valued as being home to minds and human resources that can match, if not excel, the best in “advanced countries”.
So when Narendra Modi rode to office on the promise of development and growth, the expectation abroad was that India would now add to its democratic strengths and attractions by improving economic performance and minimising corruption.
By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
COLOMBO (IDN) - When President Mahinda Rajapakse was toppled by a “peoples’ power” anti-corruption vote on January 8 there were messages from Western leaders and op-eds in newspapers in London, New York, Toronto and Oslo welcoming the success of another “regime change” campaign to overthrow a leader who was hostile to the West and cuddling with the Chinese.
By Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
COLOMBO (IDN) - Be it with “pinch-hitting” and “sling bowling” in cricket, eradicating a ruthless terrorist group, winning Asian games gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 metre races running barefoot or electing the world’s first woman prime minister, Sri Lankans always excel in using unorthodox means to achieve their objectives.
On January 8, they added another – using a candidate with no party affiliations or tested election machinery to overthrow an “invincible” autocratic President through a largely peaceful election.
The world is desperately looking for a template to overthrow corrupt politicians and political structures as seen by the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in the Middle East which has sadly transformed into an Arab Winter and Thailand’s ‘Shutdown Bangkok’ protests, which led to the overthrow of a democratically elected government to be replaced by a military regime that is becoming increasingly autocratic.
While millions of Afghans have fled to Pakistan over the past four decades, Pakistanis are flocking to Afghanistan. There are not only those who flee Pakistani military operations in Waziristan, but also Pakistani Balochs who say that they flee from repression by the Pakistani government, linked to latest Baloch insurgency activities. In Afghanistan, they live in precarious conditions. The Afghan authorities seem to exert a hand-off approach, and the UN sees them as a marginal issue.
By Monica Bernabe* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
KABUL (IDN | ANA) - Abdul Waheed’s mutilated corpse was found on December 1, 2010, 20 kilometers from the town of Kalat, in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province, the largest, but least populated of the country.
By Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN) - The year 2014 was one of the most hectic years for international politics. Although every year is characterized with a host of important and determining developments in international arena, there were two major developments in 2014, which were not only “important,” but also “surprising.”
One of these was the rapid and surprising rise of a new player in an already tense Middle East region under the name of the “Islamic State,” which led to many fundamental changes in political equations in Syria and Iraq.
By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - President Mahinda Rajapakse’s proclamation on November 20 last year decreeing a Presidential Election two years before the expiry of his second term of office has provided the voters of Sri Lanka with an unexpected opportunity to make a unique democratic choice on January 8, 2015.
With the Sri Lankan voter enjoying universal adult franchise from 1931 – even when the country was a colony of Britain – this island nation has, since gaining independence in 1948, changed its rulers through the peaceful use of the ballot a total of nine times. The choice has been between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) or coalitions led by each of them.
LAHORE (IDN) - The government of Pakistan, after the terrifying attack on a Peshawar school on December 16, which took the lives of 132 school students and nine staff members, and left numerous injured, decided to reinstate capital punishment.
No doubt, the whole nation is in great agony and grief. I, first of all, want to condemn such terror attacks and wish for this country to find a way out of this terrorism curse soon and we all shall resume peaceful and prosper lives.
By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
MUMBAI (IDN) - There is more to China’s Silk Route Project — from the sea lanes of East Asia through South and Central Asia to Europe — than is generally perceived in India.
India has been invited to join the project for rebuilding the ancient Silk Road that connected India, China and Central Asia to Europe and reviving the Maritime Silk Route for linking countries in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean. Most of India’s neighbours see it as an opportunity that should not be missed.
By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
SINGAPORE (IDN) - Pope Francis is due to make a three-day visit to Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka with the highlight of the visit being the canonization of Joseph Vaz, an Indian born 17th century Catholic missionary who spent most of his life in Sri Lanka to help Catholics persecuted by the island’s Dutch rulers at the time.
The canonization and Pope Francis’s second visit to an Asian country has created much controversy, which fortunately for the Vatican, has been drowned out by the intensity of the presidential election campaign in Sri Lanka. The election is scheduled for January 8, just five days before Pope’s scheduled arrival in the island on January 13.
About 70 percent of the Sri Lankan population is Buddhists, while the Catholics account for just 6 percent. But, they are a powerful minority that is well connected to international Catholic networks.
The haste at which The Vatican in close collaboration with the local Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, has arranged this visit setting aside many protocols and by-laws from Rome has added to Buddhist suspicions that this visit is designed to promote proselyting activities not only in Sri Lanka but also in the South Asian region. The Catholic Church however claims the visit is for promoting reconciliation and religious harmony in Sri Lanka.
By Neena Bhandari* | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature
SYDNEY (IDN) - Sue Coleman-Haseldine, a Kokatha-Mula Indigenous woman, was about three years old when the United Kingdom began conducting Nuclear weapons tests in Australia’s Monte Bello Islands, off the Western Australian coast, and Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.
By Shastri Ramachandran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have been the toast at the high tables from BRICS and ASEAN to G-20 and the East Asia Summit, but nearer home, in the neighbourhood, his 56-inch chest impresses few. The stark truth that India does not draw much water in the region was driven home unmistakably during the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu.
The November 26-27 SAARC Summit was dominated by India’s futile effort to check China’s influence in SAARC and over its member-nations. In this contest, China and its “all-weather friend” Pakistan not only got the better of India, but also won over others – such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives – to their case.