The news reports

Dramatic Change in Sri Lanka : Will it foster better ties with India

21 01 2015

 
ASHOK B SHARMA
Recent political developments in Sri Lanka have drawn the attention of South Asian countries and the world at large. The credit goes to the people and the political spectrum of the island country for dislodging a despotic and arrogant President Mahinda Rajapaksa in what can be termed a bloodless coup, albeit through the ballot box. Importantly, Rajapksa’s exit is expected to usher in a process of further democratic reforms in Sri Lanka.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendrabhai Damodardass Modi  promptly congratulated new President Maithripala Sirisena and not only assured to work with him but also invited him to visit India. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj too called on her counterpart Mangala Samaraweera and invited him to visit India, which was accepted. Samaraweera is expected to visit India on Sunday 18 January, his first foreign tour. On its part New Delhi wants Sirisena to settle down and fulfill the people’s mandate.
Undeniably, Rajapaksa had created concerns for India. Despite New Delhi asking him to devolve political and financial powers to the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces as per the 13th Constitutional Amendment. But the former President arrogantly  refused.
Worse, after the brutal decimation of one of the world’s deadliest guerrilla group, LTTE, and killing of thousands of innocent Tamils in the process, Rajapaksha was slow and tardy in his rehabilitation plan. Notwithstanding, India extending financial support for the rehabilitation of Tamils.
Further, he also refused to allow an independent inquiry into the 2009 horrific massacre, no matter the human rights violations invited global concern and was debated in the UN Human Rights Council. Even as New Delhi but India hoped good sense would prevail upon Rajapaksa sooner than later.
Hopes abound that Sirisena might take steps to address the concerns of the international community. The UN Human Rights Council is likely to take up this issue in its next session in March in Geneva.
Bluntly, had Rajapaksa been allowed to remain in power and continue with his arrogant attitude, he would have invited sanctions from Western powers, thereby further dwindling the island country’s economy. Moreover, his despotic nature knew no bound. Just to annoy India, he planned closer links with China even at the cost of South Asia.
Both Sirisena and new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have criticized Rajapaksa for inviting huge loans from China for building roads, ports and other infrastructure. They have opposed the building of another port in Colombo with Chinese assistance as it would amount to huge ecological damage. Recall, despite New Delhi’s protests, Rajapaksa allowed Chinese submarines to dock at Colombo port twice and threatened to turn Sri Lanka into a strategic asset for China at India’s expense.
Remember, after the 2009 massacre, Rajapaksa bounced back to power for the second successive term in 2010, but he did not prove well for Sri Lankan democracy. Add to this, post the Parliamentary elections in April 2010 which gave his Party two-third majority he decided to amend the Constitution which stipulated only two terms for a President.
Why did he do this? Primarily, Rajapaksa felt that the Buddhist-majority population would reward him for the 2009 massacre by bouncing him back to power many times. His other interests was to protect himself and his coterie: brother and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, army generals, officials and hosts of other Rajapaksas from possible war crimes. But unfortunately for Rajapaksa, Sri Lankans were not too happy to tolerate his game any longer.
The 18th Constitutional Amendment gave sweeping powers to the President in the appointment of heads and members of major institutions like Election Commission, Public Service Commission and Anti-Bribery Commission.  Rajapaksa trampled upon the independence of judiciary and removed Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and appointed Attorney General Mohan Peiris in his place.
But over-confident Rajapaksa met his fatal consequences when he declared his decision to hold Presidential polls after completing four years of his six-year term. His colleague Sirisena defected to become the joint opposition sponsored Presidential candidate. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike of Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) along with others came out to lend support to Sirisena, who also got support from Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Besides, Sirisena had the support of Muslims and some Sinhalese outfits who were fed up with the dictatorial and corrupt Rajapaksa regime. This ensured Sirisena’s victory.
Significantly, Sirisena has promised to abolish the executive powers of the President and return to the Westminster style of parliamentary democracy. This would amount to scraping the 18th Amendment and bringing in further amendments to the Constitution. Towards this end, he would have to mobilise numbers in Parliament and possibly have to rely on Rajapaksa’s SLFP or depend upon further defection from the SLFP. Clearly, a hard task.
As for the devolution of powers to Tamil provinces, Sirisena is better equipped with the 13th Constitutional Amendment already in place. TNA while extending support to Sirisena had demanded devolution of powers to Tamil provinces on the lines of that enjoyed by State Governments in India.
But Sirisena during his campaign, with a view to placate Sinhalese outfit, promised not to withdraw the army from Tamil provinces. One should not forget that Sirisena is also perceived as a Sinhalese hardliner.
Additionally, Sirisena has won with the support of several forces who were opposed to Rajapaksa’s style of functioning and his corrupt regime. His first priority will be to introduce necessary democratic reforms and ensure a corruption free regime.
Notably, India has always attempted to have better relations with Sri Lanka. Its economic engagements with its island neighbor, including the free trade agreement between the two countries, could help Colombo to graduate to the status of a developing country from a least developed one.
One hopes Sirisena will better its relationship with India. Rajapaksa had obliged India by his presence at Modi’s oath-taking ceremony in May. But his approach did not move further from this gesture. It now depends upon how much Prime Minister Modi and President Sirisena work out their relations to the mutual benefit of the two neighbours, SAARC and BIMSTEC groups in which both are active participants.
(Ashok B Sharma is a senior columnist based in New Delhi, India. He writes on strategic and policy issues in many Indian and foreign newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at ashokbsharma@gmail.com His mobile phone no 09810902204)





Finals of the inaugural Cairn Juniors Hockey cup to be played tomorrow at the Shivaji Stadium

21 01 2015

New Delhi, January 20, 2015: SS Mota Singh will take on GBSSS, Saket J Block and GBSSS, Khanpur will fight it out with VCS Agriculture, Khera Kheri in the finals of the inaugural Cairn Juniors Hockey cup 2015 in the Junior (U-17) and Sub Junior (U-14) categories respectively.
In the first Juniors semifinal SS Mota Singh, Janakpuri took on Modern School, Barakhamba Road in which the boys from SS Mota Singh made a remarkable comeback to beat Modern School 3-1. Modern School took the lead in the 10th minute through a goal from Captain Keshav Kanodia and maintained the lead till the 46th minute when Deep from SS Mota School scored the equalizer. He scored another goal in the very next minute to give SS Mota the lead. Naveen scored the third for SS Mota to clinch the game. SS Mota will take on GBSSS, Saket J Block in the finals tomorrow. GBSSS Saket, J Block beat GBSSS, Mahrauli 2-0. The boys from Saket dominated the proceedings and in end was an easy victory for them. Pawn and Sonu scored a goal apiece for Saket.
In the first semi-final of the Sub Junior category, VCS Agriculture, Khera Kheri completed a comprehensive victory over SBV, Ashok Nagar 2-0. Mohit and Kunal scored scored one goal each for VCS. They will take on GBSSS, Khanpur in the final who beat Yogi Arvind SBV, Ambedkar Nagar 1-0 in a closely contested match. Suraj Kumar scored the winning goal for the GBSSS, Khanpur.
Finals Fixture:
Sub Junior (Under 14)
15:00 hrs GBSSS, Khanpur VS VCS Agriculture, Khera Kheri
Junior (Under 17)
16.00 hrs SS Mota Singh VS GBSSS, Saket J Block





India likely to cross China’s projected growth rate: IMF

21 01 2015

International Monetary Fund (IMF) today said, India is expected to grow at 6.3 per cent this year and 6.5 per cent in 2016 by when it is likely to cross China’s projected growth rate.Terming the new government’s reforms as promising, the IMF said in 2014, India’s growth rate was 5.8 per cent against China’s 7.4 per cent. The report released by IMF added that implementation is key for the Indian government. The report said global growth will receive a boost from lower oil prices.





ISIS demands $200 mn ransom

21 01 2015

Jan 20

The Islamic State militant group has released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless it receives a USD 200 million ransom within 72 hours, but Tokyo has vowed not to give in to terrorism. The video shows two men believed to be Haruna Yukawa, who was captured last year, and freelance journalist Kenji Goto, both wearing orange clothing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demanded IS immediately free the two hostages unharmed. Mr Abe was to make the short drive from Jerusalem to visit Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah before cutting short his tour to fly home to Japan. On Saturday, while in Cairo, Mr Abe promised USD 200 million in non-military aid for countries fighting Islamic State. The Islamic State allegedly targeted Japanese nationals for Japan’s involvement in the international campaign aimed at destroying the militant group.





EU to launch anti-terror projects with Muslim countries

21 01 2015

Jan 20,
European states have agreed to launch anti-terror projects with Muslim-majority nations and improve Arabic skills in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini made the announcement after talks in Brussels, but did not give any details.

Security officials would be appointed at some EU foreign missions and skills in Arabic language would be boosted. Recently, Islamist gunmen had killed 17 people in twin attacks in Paris this month. Two of the Paris gunmen had links to groups based in the Middle East. These gunmen had said that they were avenging cartoons on Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine.





Hiring for post of Fellow in Pahle India Foundation

21 01 2015

Hiring for post of Fellow in Pahle India Foundation for the Financial Sector Research Unit. Person must have 6-8 years of work experience and/or research in financial sector, technical knowledge of financial sector in India, critical research, analytical, strategising and project execution skills. Excellent verbal and written skills must. CTC at INR 12lacs per annum. Those interested may please mail CV to neenavbhatia@gmail.com

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