COLUMNS

Unstable Nepal appears to be heading for fresh elections

Columns
By P.K.Balachandran
Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has reappointed K.P Sharma Oli as Prime Minister three days after he lost the post following his failure to win a vote of confidence in parliament, known as the House of Representatives. The general feeling is that the re-instated Oli government is unlikely to show majority support by the 30-day deadline which has been set. Therefore, Nepal seems headed for fresh parliamentary polls, though the coronavirus pandemic is raging. The pandemic has already affected 430,000 people and claimed 4466 lives. ...Continued

China’s wolf diplomacy receives setback in Bangladesh

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By P.K. Balachan
China’s outspoken diplomacy, initiated by President Xi Jinping to counter the West’s aggressive diplomatic posturing against it, received a setback in Bangladesh this week. The Sino-Bangla spat over the US-led “Quad” indicates Bangladesh’s determination to conduct its foreign policy independently. The spat could also work to the advantage of India which is defending its South Asian turf against China’s intrusions. When asked to comment on the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe’s reported request to Bangladesh not to throw in its lot with the US-sponsored Indo-Pacific ...Continued

AIA DMK retired hurt, but Not-Out

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By Dr. Valsan Vethody
The alliance led by DMK along with 12 other parties including Congress, CPI, CPIM, Vaiko’s MDMK, two major Muslim parties AlUML and MMK, and 6 other minor parties won the recent Assembly election in Tamil Nadu. Despite the presence of two major Muslim parties in the alliance, ironically they call it ‘The Secular Progressive Alliance’ (SPA). They won 159 seats out of 234, forty-one more than the required number for an absolute majority. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by AIADMK along with BJP, PMK ...Continued

Understanding the hold of Islam on Maldivian society and politics

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By P.K Balachandran
Colombo, May 10: The three arrests made thus far in the case relating to the bid on the life of the Maldivian Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed in Male on May 6, show that Islamic radicalism is alive, kicking and deep-rooted in the Maldives. According to the Commissioner of Police, Mohamed Hameed, the three suspects arrested, Adhuham Ahmed Rasheed (25), Mujaaz Ahmed (21) and Thahumeen Ahmed (32), belong to a “dangerous extremist ideology”. Hameed stopped short of identifying their ideology, but it is ...Continued

China learnt lessons from SARS, but not other countries.

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By P. K. Balachandran
As on May 6, the internationally accepted pandemic figures were as follows: the US, 32.6million infections and 579,000 deaths; India, 20.7 million infections and 226,000 deaths; and China, 90,721 cases and 4636 deaths. The contrast is clear. The main reason: China had greatly improved its public health infrastructure following the SARS pandemic in 2002-2003, while others were negligent. In an article in The Conversation dated November 3, 2020, Elanah Uretsky, a Brandeis University Professor and an expert on public health in China, had said that ...Continued

Former Indian National Security Advisor’s view of China and it’s...

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By P.K.Balachandran
“India and Asian geopolitics: The past, present” by Shivshankar Menon (Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC, 2021) may, at first glance, appear to be primarily on India. But it is about Asia as a whole, its past, present and future in the context of global developments. In this context, China’s growth, problems and prospects in a changing regional and global context figure prominently in it. Menon, who was India’s Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisor, and envoy in China and Sri Lanka, says that one of ...Continued

Takeaways from the Indian elections: an overview

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By P.K.Balachandran
Although the elections just held in four States and one Union Territory in India were provincial, they had immense national importance because national issues and national conditions impinged on them in addition to local issues. Firstly, the elections forcefully brought into West Bengal State politics, a new force, “Hindutwa” or political Hinduism, professed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prior to 2019, the BJP and the ideology of “Hindutwa” were not evident in West Bengal as it had ...Continued

Rescuing Lankan rural women from the debt trap

Columns
By P.K.Balachandran   Colombo, April 24: In the recent past, a number of media reports have shone a light on the plight of Sri Lankan rural folk, mostly women, who are caught in a debt trap, having taken loans from Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) at interest rates ranging from 40 to 220%. The lenders’ aggressive methods of loan recoveryhave only added to the women’s agony, which has, in many cases, led to suicide. The International Peasant Movement in a report in  www.viacampesina.org dated March 18, ...Continued

Stiff opposition to implementation of political victimization commission’s report

In Perspective
By P.K.Balachandran
The opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has said that the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government’s bid to nullify court rulings and to impose civil disabilities on key opposition leaders on the recommendationsof a Special Presidential Commission on Political Victimization, is tantamount to over-riding the judiciary and therefore unconstitutional.    The Special Commission had indicted 22 political leaders and individuals associated with the previous government (some of them are top leaders of the Opposition now) for the violation of the Constitution in establishing or being part of the ...Continued

Queen sits alone as she bids farewell to Prince Philip

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Clad in mourning black, the Queen struck a solitary and sombre figure as she sat in St George’s Chapel to pay a final farewell to her husband of 73 years. The seat next to her, normally filled by Prince Philip during seven decades of royal weddings and funerals at the 15th-century chapel, was empty. As was the one next to it. The row behind her, also. The nearest royal to her was the Duke of York, who was well out of arm’s reach. So, without ...Continued

Strong evidence’ Covid-19 predominantly spreads through air, says Lancet study

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There is consistent, strong evidence to prove that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, behind the Covid-19 pandemic, is predominantly transmitted through the air, according to a new assessment published on Friday in The Lancet journal. The analysis by six experts from the UK, the US and Canada said public health measures that fail to treat the virus as predominantly airborne leave people unprotected and allow the virus to spread. “The evidence supporting airborne transmission is overwhelming, and evidence supporting large droplet transmission is almost non-existent,” said Jose-Luis ...Continued

Long-range narrow body planes “Not ideal for us” -Sri Lankan...

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Being an island nation, Sri Lanka’s national airline has an international focus. Sri Lankan Airlines’ destinations range across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East. But despite the airline casting its eye over a range of new planes, it has no interest in acquiring any of the new generation long-range narrow bodyaircraft to fly these routes. Long-range narrow body planes “not ideal for us,” says Sri Lankan Airlines CEO, Vipula Gunatilleka, was questioned about Sri Lankan’s fleet’s future direction at an online CAPA Live ...Continued

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