India Confronts Reality at Shanghai Summit

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By Shastri Ramachandran*  | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

CHENNAI, India (IDN) - The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional forum where India may not be able to have its way against Pakistan. To the contrary, Pakistan – which also became a full member of the SCO along with India on July 10 in Ufa (Russia) – may be better placed in the six-member regional grouping dominated by China and Russia.

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Mapping India-China Cultural Links Crucial For Asia’s Emergence

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on May 14 in the historic city of Xian, at the start of his three-day visit to China, he was almost immediately taken by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Wild Goose Pagoda that symbolise the two countries’ umbilical cultural ties, thus setting the tone for the important visit. Xian is where the ancient Silk Route began.

This Buddhist temple which is today a major tourist attraction in China, and where the Chinese Buddhist scholar monk Xuanzang spent many years of his later life translating some 35 volumes of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese that he collected during 16 years he spent at Nalanda University in India in the 7th century. It is these volumes that helped to spread Buddhism across much of East Asia and later helped Indian scholars to find out about Nalanda University after Muslim Turkic invaders burned Nalanda into ashes in the 12th century.

Thus these two-way civilizational exchanges are significant milestones as Asia’s two leading civilizations led by two visionary leaders embark on building a new economic and cultural relationship that could transform the world.

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Sri Lanka’s Souring ‘Revolution’

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

COLOMBO (IDN) - It was a well-spelled out 100-day program to rid the country of endemic political corruption presented to the electorate by challenger Maitripala Sirisena that helped to topple Sri Lanka’s powerful president Mahinda Rajapakse in a shock vote on January 8 this year.

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India-Denmark Relations at Their Lowest

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By Shastri Ramachandaran | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN) - The Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi is a reminder that Denmark has fallen off the map of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Neither the change at the helm – from Manmohan Singh as prime minister to Narendra Modi – nor foreign secretary Sujatha Singh being replaced by S Jaishankar has altered Denmark’s situation.

The Government of India (GoI) barely acknowledges the Danish embassy as a diplomatic entity, which is kept out of official programmes. However, the embassy does not deny a visa to any Indian, including journalists, who want to visit the land of Hans Christian Andersen, known for famous fairy tales, including The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

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OECD Urges Reforms for More Inclusive Growth in Japan

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By Taro Ichikawa | IDN-InDepthNews Report

TOKYO (IDN) - The 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has called for narrowing “gender inequality” as part of “reforms for more inclusive and stronger growth” in Japan. Presenting the OECD’s 2015 Economic Survey of Japan, the influential economic bloc’s Secretary-General Angel Gurría also pleaded for boosting productivity that, he said, was “key to unlocking stronger growth”.

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Crude Antics Dent India’s Image Abroad

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By Shastri Ramahandaran* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

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.

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Sri Lanka: New Government Makes U-Turn To China

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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.

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Sri Lanka’s ‘Peoples Power’ Faces Big Challenges

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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.

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Pakistani Balochs Seeking Shelter in Afghanistan

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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.

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Iran’s Important Role in International Relations

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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.

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Sri Lanka Presidential Election: A Third Term Or A Fresh Start?

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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.

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