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Popular Tamil leader Mysooru mallige Jayalalithaa is no more

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap] he most important Tamil leader and Chief minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa who worked several hours every 24 hours, showed sympathy for the poor of the state through important economic measures and fought for the rights of her state until her last breath, is no more.

Popularly known as the iron lady in saree, Jayalalithaa, showered the poor with populist programs, and died in a dramatic twist of fortunes after battling for life for 75 days at a private hospital in Chennai. Jayalalithaa 68 died around 11.30 night on December 05 at Apollo hospital in Chennai, fighting for survival in order for serving her remaining life also for the uplift of the people of Tamil Nadu and India. The mortal remains of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa were on Tuesday morning kept in state at Rajaji Hall here for the public to pay their last respects.

From the night of September 22 when she was hospitalised for fever and dehydration, various union ministers and film personalities, besides well-known people from various walks of life, had visited the hospital to enquire about her health.

Cries of ‘Amma, Amma’ from hundreds of AIADMK supporters rent the air outside Apollo Hospitals where J Jayalalithaa breathed her last after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. Chest-thumping and wailing, men and women could not come to terms that their beloved leader was no more as the ambulance carrying the late Chief Minister left the hospital to her Poes Garden residence.

Draped in her favourite green color saree, after having discharged form Apollo hospital, Jayalalithaa’s body was taken from her Poes Garden residence early this morning to Rajaji Hall where hundreds and thousands of supporters queued up to have a last glimpse of their ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’ (Revolutionary Leader Amma).

As the casket carrying the body of historic six-time TN chief minister was placed on the steps of Rajaji Hall, in the heart of the city off arterial Anna Salai, four Army men covered it with the national Tricolour.

Tributes

Personalities of Tamil movie fraternity paid homage to their forerunner Jayalalithaa. President of South Indian Film Artists Association actor Nassar said with the departure of Jayalalithaa, a void has been created and it is difficult to fill up that.

Top national leaders have paid rich tributes to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and hailed her for being powerful voice for the weaker sections. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, while condoling Jayalalithaa’s death, said, “I am deeply grieved to learn the passing of Selvi J Jayalalithaa. ” Jayalalithaa lived her entire life with the same indomitable courage with which she battled her illness. As the leader of AIADMK and four-time CM of Tamil Nadu, she had a unique and deep empathy with the needs and hopes of the people, and put in place policies that immeasurably improved their lives. “Whether it was her welfare schemes for the rural and urban poor, her swift relief measures in the aftermath of tsunami, or her vision of Tamil Nadu’s industrial development, her leadership qualities and administratively abilities were truly outstanding,” Sonia said.

A seven-day state mourning has been declared from Tuesday morning to mourn the death of the beloved six-time Chief Minister and a three-day holiday has also been announced for educational institutions in the state. In a press statement, the government declared a holiday today for all government offices, including state owned Public Sector Undertakings and educational institutions.

Kerala and Pondicherry governments have declared holiday. Central government declared state mourning today in view of demise of TN CM Jayalalithaa. National flag on all government buildings to be flown at half-mast. Centre to accord state funeral to Jayalalithaa.

President of India Mukherjee, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, PM Modi, Delhi CM Kejriwal, among other dignitaries send messages of condolence on Jayalalithaa’s demise, will attend the funeral. Most leaders in the state including DMK chief M Karunanidhi condoled Jayalalithaa’s death; say her fame will remain forever. Kerala mourns Jaya, government offices and educational institutions in Kerala will remain shut on Tuesday as a mark of respect to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who passed away after a prolonged illness.

Meanwhile, Paneerselvam, whom the governor Rao administered oath and secrecy, assumed CM of the state and a seven-day state mourning has been declared from today morning to mourn the death of five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. A three-day holiday has also been announced for educational institutions in the state. The Tamil Nadu government has announced a seven-day State Mourning from Tuesday in view of the demise Jayalalithaa.

End with honor

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was cremated with full state honors at Marina Beach on Tuesday at 5:15 pm, attended by the nation’s political top brass, among others, former PM Deve Gowda, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, TN governor Vidya Sagar Rao, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala governor Sadasivam, Kerala Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, central ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Radhakrishnan, Vaiko, former TN governor Rosaiah.

Preparations were on in full swing for the cremation of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa at the Marina Beach in Chennai as huge crowd including VIPs and VVIPs from politics, government and other various fields are expected to bid their last respects to the departed soul.

All necessary arrangements have been put in place for Jayalalithaa’s cremation. Helicopters were deployed by the Tamil Nadu Government at the area to conduct aerial surveillance. On the ground, there is heavy presence of personnel from the Rapid Action Force, the army, as well as the Tamil Nadu Police.

As the procession was moving along the Mount road towards Marina Beach, thousands came out on the streets to pay their last respects and have a last glimpse of their leader popularly known as Amma. Jayalalithaa was buried next to the memorial of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder and her mentor MG Ramachandran at Marina beach.

Jayalalithaa has been accorded a state funeral and will be honored with a gun salute at the time of her burial. The late AIADMK supremo’s body is being carried to the burial site by officials of the armed forces.

Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi, Delhi CM Kejriwal, Orissa CM Patnaik, UP CM A. Yadav, came to Chennai and placed a wreath on the mortal remains of Jayalalithaa at Rajaji Hall. In a series of tweets last night, the Prime Minister, who enjoyed a good personal equation with the late leader, had said that he was “deeply saddened at the passing away of Selvi Jayalalithaa. Her demise has left a huge void in Indian politics.”

An inconsolable Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hugged Narendra Modi emotionally on a couple of occasions as the Prime Minister approached the casket containing Jayalalithaa’s body to pay his last respects. The atmosphere was surcharged as Modi, amid tight security, walked into Rajaji Hall, where the AIADMK supremo’s body is lying in state.

J. Jayalalithaa was most dominant political personality of Tamilnadu in last 25 years. Jayalalithaa was an iconic leader, devastating loss to the state and the nation. A humane visionary, Jaya always worked for the benefit of the poor and needy. She has left an indelible mark in Tamil Nadu politics with her enduring legacy. Selvi Jayalalithaa was one of the most iconic political figures of India who had an enormous impact on the people of Tamil Nadu.

Under her stewardship, Tamilnadu was regarded as among the better governed States. She brought a hard uncompromising style to politics and governance that won praise and criticism. She was a person of indomitable spirit, fearless courage and an innate determination to do what she had decided to do. She faced many political and personal challenges, but rose up to occasion with each one of them

Popularity

Freebies galore and populist schemes under the popular ‘Amma’ brand became the hallmark of late Jayalalithaa’s tenure as Chief Minister, helping her steamroll arch-rival M Karunanidhi’s DMK in this year’s Assembly polls.

From the Amma canteens to Amma gymnasiums and parks, the brand became synonymous with her name. Karunanidhi may have revolutionized the freebies culture in Tamil Nadu but Jayalalithaa mastered the art right under his nose, showering a slew of freebies in 2011 and 2016 on voters.

However, Jayalalithaa always took exception to the term ‘freebies’ and chose to call them free of cost, insisting that the populist schemes were aimed only at helping the lower rung masses. In the battle of freebies that intensified in 2006, Karunanidhi’s masterstroke of free color TV scheme among others launched DMK into the ruling saddle but in 2011 and 2016, Jayalalithaa emerged triumphant wooing voters with her own brand of welfare schemes.

Combined with anti-incumbency, Jayalalithaa checkmated Karunanidhi in the 2011 elections with a slew of announcements including providing free rice, laptops to students, milch cows and goats, mixer-grinder, and gold for ‘thaali’ (mangal sutra) and pushed DMK into the third place in the Assembly, making then ally DMDK main opposition.

Jayalalithaa further consolidated her welfare icon image with her Amma brand subsidy-oriented schemes like Amma Canteen, Amma Mineral Water, Amma cement and Amma salt.

During the 2016 elections, Jayalalithaa expanded her populist portfolio, including free 100 units of power for domestic users, free mobile phones and 50% subsidy for women to buy two-wheelers.

She subsequently led her party to a historic successive term in May 2016 Assembly polls, breaking a 32-year-old jinx where a ruling party could seldom retain power.

Observation

From being a traditional dancer to be able to decorate the Madras Fort in Chennai as the bold CM of Tamil Nadu to protect the genuine interests of the state, Jayalalithaa had a long splendid life, giving hopes and guidance to women in the state and elsewhere.

Over two tons of flowers from several destinations were used by about 40 workers who worked for 10 hours to prepare the Army truck and gun carriage for the final journey of Jayalalithaa. Thousands came out on the streets to pay their last respects and have a last glimpse of their leader popularly known as Amma. Jayalalithaa was buried next to the memorial of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder and her mentor and former CM of TN MG Ramachandran at Marina beach.

Death of charismatic Jayalalithaa leaves a vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics.

In fact, the entire nation is shocked and deeply saddened by her demise. She will always be remembered not only as Amma, but a leader that ordinary people could reach out to

Now the stage is set for political maneuvering in the state as both Congress and BJP are out to improve their poll position in Tamil Nadu in the absence of tallest Tamil leader Jayalalithaa. .

The Pannerselvam government has a big responsibility on its shoulder. AIADMK must carry on and provide a government for remaining over 4 years and win the next general parliamentary and assembly polls.

End of an era in Tamil politics and has no parallel in Indian politics today.

If any positive development is to be encouraged to benefit the poor and common people, those who serve the public honestly should be rewarded. Jayalalithaa surely deserves Bharatratna posthumously for her work for the state and people. Her commitment to national development and public life deserves to be recognized. Instead of wasting nation’s top civilian honors on fake sportsmen like cricketers who get 100s etc on prior fixings with bowlers directly and through mafia, such public leaders could be considered instead. After all, not every political leader in fact thinks about the plight of poor and help them economically.

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South Asia

The “Neo-Cold War” in the Indian Ocean Region

Kagusthan Ariaratnam

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Addressing an event last week at London’s Oxford University, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said some people are seeing “imaginary Chinese Naval bases in Sri Lanka. Whereas the Hambantota Port (in southern Sri Lanka) is a commercial joint venture between our Ports Authority and China Merchants – a company listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has denied US’ claims that China might build a “forward military base” at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port which has been leased out to Beijing by Colombo. Sri Lanka failed to pay a Chinese loan of $1.4 billion and had to lease the China-developed port to Beijing for 99 years. Both New Delhi and Washington had in the past expressed concerns that Beijing could use the harbor for military purposes.

Image courtesy of Google

The USA, China, and India are the major powers playing their key role in the “Neo-Cold War” in Central Asian landmass and the strategic sea lanes of the world in the Indian Ocean where 90% of the world trade is being transported everyday including oil. It is this extension of the shadowy Cold War race that can be viewed as the reason for the recent comment made by the US Vice President Mike Pence that China is using “debt diplomacy” to expand its global footprint and Hambantota “may soon become a forward military base for China’s expanding navy”.

According to some analysts, the deep-water port, which is near a main shipping route between Asia and Europe, is likely to play a major role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In his book “Monsoon” Robert D. Kaplan (2010), a senior fellow at the Centre for a New American Security notes the following:

[…] the Indian Ocean will turn into the heart of a new geopolitical map, shifting from a unilateral world power to multilateral power cooperation. This transition is caused by the changing economic and military conditions of the USA, China and India. The Indian Ocean will play a big role in the 21st century’s confrontation for geopolitical power. The greater Indian Ocean region covers an arc of Islam, from the Sahara Desert to the Indonesian archipelago. Its western reaches include Somalia, Yemen, Iran, and Pakistan — constituting a network of dynamic trade as well as a network of global terrorism, piracy, and drug trafficking […]

Two third of the global maritime trade passes through a handful of relatively narrow shipping lanes, among which five geographic “chokepoints” or narrow channels that are gateway to and from Indian ocean: (1) Strait of Hormuz (2) Bab el-Mandab Passage (3) Palk Strait (4) Malacca and Singapore Straits and (5) Sunda Strait.

While Lutz Kleveman (2003), argues that the Central Asia is increasingly becoming the most important geostrategic region for the future commodities, Michael Richardson (2004) on the other hand explains that the global economy depends on the free flow of shipping through the strategic international straits, waterways, and canals in the Indian Ocean.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)  report published in 2017, “world chokepoints for maritime transit of oil are a critical part of global energy security. About 63% of the world’s oil production moves on maritime routes. The Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca are the world’s most important strategic chokepoints by volume of oil transit” (p.1). These channels are critically important to the world trade because so much of it passes through them. For instance, half of the world’s oil production is moved by tankers through these maritime routes. The blockage of a chokepoint, even for a day, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs and thus these chokepoints are critical part of global energy security.  Hence, whoever control these chockpoints, waterways, and sea routes in the Indian Ocean maritime domain will reshape the region as an emerging global power.

In a recent analysis of globalization and its impact on Central Asia and Indian Ocean region, researcher Daniel Alphonsus (2015), notes that the twists and turns of political, economic and military turbulence were significant to all great players’ grand strategies:

(1) the One Belt, One Road (OBOR), China’s anticipated strategy to increase connectivity and trade between Eurasian nations, a part of which is the future Maritime Silk Road (MSR), aimed at furthering collaboration between south east Asia, Oceania and East Africa; (2) Project Mausam, India’s struggle to reconnect with its ancient trading partners along the Indian Ocean, broadly viewed as its answer to the MSR; and (3) the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, the USA’s effort to better connect south and south east Asian nations. (p.3)

India the superpower of the subcontinent, has long feared China’s role in building outposts around its periphery. In a recent essay, an Indian commentator Brahma Chellaney wrote that the fusion of China’s economic and military interests “risk turning Sri Lanka into India’s Cuba” – a reference to how the Soviet Union courted Fidel Castro’s Cuba right on the United States’ doorstep. Located at the Indian Ocean’s crossroads gives Sri Lanka the strategic and economic weight in both MSR and Project Mausam plans. MSR highlights Sri Lanka’s position on the east-west sea route, while Project Mausam’s aim to create an “Indian Ocean World” places Sri Lanka at the center of the twenty-first century’s defining economic, strategic and institutional frameworks. Furthermore, alongside the MSR, China is building an energy pipeline through Pakistan to secure Arabian petroleum, which is a measure intended to bypass the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca altogether.

A recent study done by a panel of experts and reported by the New York Times reveal that how the power has increasingly shifted towards China from the traditional US led world order in the past five years among small nation states in the region. The critical role played by the strategic sea ports China has been building in the rims of Indian Ocean including Port of Gwadar in Pakistan, Port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Port of Kyaukpyu in Myanmar and Port of Chittagong in Bangladesh clearly validates the argument that how these small states are being used as proxies in this power projection.

This ongoing political, economic and military rivalry between these global powers who are seeking sphere of influence in one of the world’s most important geostrategic regions is the beginning of a “Neo-Cold War” that Joseph Troupe refers as the post-Soviet era geopolitical conflict resulting from the multipolar New world order.

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South Asia

IMF bail-out Package and Pakistan

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Pakistan may approach IMF to bail-out the current economic crisis. It is not the first time that Pakistan will knock the doors of IMF. Since 1965, Pakistan has been to IMF 17 times. Almost all of the governments has availed IMF packages. Usually, IMF is a temporary relief and provide oxygen for short time so that the patient may recover and try to be self-sustained. The major role of IMF is to improve the governance or reforms, how the ill-economy of a country may recover quickly and become self-sustained. After having oxygen cylinder for 17 times within 5 decades, Pakistan’s economy could not recover to a stage, where we can be self-sustained and no more looking for IMF again and again. This is a question asked by the common man in Pakistan to their leadership.  People are worried that for how long do we have to run after IMF package? The nation has enjoyed 70 decades of independence and expects to be mature enough to survive under all circumstances without depending on a ventilator.

The immediate impact of decision to approach IMF, is the devaluation of Pakistani Rupees. By depreciating only one rupee to US dollar, our foreign debt increases 95 billion rupees.  Today we witness a depreciation of rupee by 15 approximately (fluctuating), means the increase in foreign debt by 1425 billion rupees. Yet, we have not negotiated with IMF regarding depreciation of Rupees. Usually IMF demand major depreciation but all government understands the implications of sharp devaluation, always try to bargain with IMF to the best of their capacity. I am sure, Government of Pakistan will also negotiate and get the best bargain.

IMF always imposes conditions to generate more revenue and the easiest way to create more income is imposing tax on major commodities including Gas, Electricity and Fuel. Pakistan has already increased the prices of Gas, Electricity and Fuel. It has had direct impact on basic necessities and commodities of life. We can witness a price hike of basic food, consumer items and so on. Except salaries, everything has gone up. While negotiating with IMF formally, we do not know how much tax will be increased and how much burden will be put on the common man.

We believe, our rulers know our capacity and will keep in mind the life of a common man and may not exceed the limit of burden to common man beyond its capacity. We are optimistic that all decisions will be taken in the best interest of the nation.

It is true, that Pakistan has been to IMF so many times, so this might be a justification for the PTI Government to avail IMF package. But, there are people with different approach. They have voted for change and for “Naya” (new) Pakistan. They do not expect from PTI to behave like previous several governments. If PTI uses the logic of previous governments, may not satisfy many people in Pakistan.

Especially, when Pakistan was in a position to take-off economically, we surrendered half way, may not be accepted by many people in Pakistan.

The government has explained that other options like economic assistance from friendly countries was also very expensive, so that they have preferred IMF as more competitive package. I wish, Government may educate public on the comparison of available options, their terms and conditions, their interest rate, their political conditions, etc. There might be something confidential, Government may avoid or hide, one may not mind and understand the sensitivity of some of the issues. But all permissible information on the terms and conditions of all options in comparison, may be placed on Ministry of Finance’s website or any other mode of dissemination of knowledge to its public.

Against the tradition, people of Pakistan have voted Imran Khan, who so ever was given ticket of PTI, public has voted him or her blindly in trust to Imran Khan. A few of his candidates might not be having very high capabilities or very good reputation, but, public has trusted Imran Khan blindly. Imran Khan is the third most popular leader in Pakistan, after Jinnah the father of nation, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1970s.

People of Pakistan have blindly trusted in Imran Khan and possess very high expectations from him. I know, Imran Khan understands it very well. He is honest, brave and visionary leader and I believe he will not disappoint his voters.

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South Asia

Now India denies a friendly hand: Imran Khan debuts against arrogant neighbors

Sisir Devkota

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Imran Khan is facing the brunt for overly appeasing its arch rival-India. On September 22, Khan tweeted that he was disappointed over India’s arrogant reply to resume bilateral talks in the UNGA and that he had encountered many “small men” in big offices unable to perceive the larger picture.I am observing a south Asian order changing with Khan’s rise in Pakistani politics. We in Nepal need to grasp the possible reality before circumstances shall engulf our interests.

Observation 1

Narendra Modi was undoubtedly “The Prince”of South Asia from Niccolo Machiavelli’s 16th century classic political narrative. I sense the old prince acting in distress over the rise of a new one. Imran Khan’s invitation for a ministerial level meeting in New York; amidst the eyes of foreign diplomats could not have been a better approach by Pakistan in a long time. Instead, Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj dismissed the offer, blaming Pakistan’s double standard in killing Indian forces and releasing Burhan Wani’s (India’s terrorist and Pakistan’s martyr) postal stamps. Khan did not sanction the postal release, but as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he must be held accountable for failing to stop the killings,just when talks were supposed to happen. He should have addressed the highly sensitive Indian government. But, I do empathize with Khan’s statement, “small men in big offices”; as he clearly outlined the exact problem. He directly called upon the Indian government to think bigger and escape circumstances to solve historical problems. Narendra Modi has developed a new rhetoric these days; that India is not going to keep quiet over Pakistan’s actions. It fits the nature of Machiavelli’s Prince as an authority which can maintain national virtue. Unfortunately, I do not buy Modi’s rhetoric. The Prince has come a bit late in his tenure to act for Indian virtues. I am sure many at the UNGA would have noticed India’s apprehension in the same manner. I suspect that the ex-prince is facing insecurities over the fear of losing his charisma. Nepal, in particular was charmed by his personality when he first visited our capital, with promises that flooded our heart. And then, we faced his double standard; right after the massive earthquake in 2015. Nobody in Nepal will sympathize with Swaraj’s justification of cancelling the meeting.

Observation 2

Let me explain the source of insecurity. Modi has thrived by endorsing his personality. A tea man who worked for the railways under great financial hardships, became the poster man of India. He generated hope and trust that his counterparts had lost over the years. His eloquent stage performance can fool the harshest of critics into sympathizing his cause. People have only realized later; many macro economists in India now argue that demonetization was, perhaps, one of the worst decisions for India’s sake. Narendra Modi is India sounds truer than Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India.

Imran Khan, a former cricketer does not spring the same impression as Modi. Khan, a world champion in 1992, is known for his vision and leadership in Cricket. Comparatively, Khan does not need to sell his poster in South Asia. He does not cry over his speeches to garner mass euphoria. Ask anybody who’s into the sport and they will explain you the legend behind his name. I suspect that Modi has realized that he is going to lose the stardom in the face of Pakistan’s newly elected democratic leader. After all, the Indian PM cannot match Imran’s many achievements in both politics and cricket. I suspect that Modi has realized the fundamental difference in how his subjects inside India and beyond are going to perceive Imran’s personality. I expect more artificial discourses from India to tarnish Imran’s capabilities.

Nepal & Pakistan

You will not find Pakistan associated with Nepal so often than with India. Frankly, Nepal has never sympathized with Indian cause against Pakistan. We have developed a healthy and constructive foreign relations with the Islamic republic. However, there has always been a problem of one neighbor keeping eyes on our dealings with another. Indian interests have hindered proximity with past governments. Now, Imran Khan has facilitated the platform for deeper relations. He does not carry the baggage of his predecessors. He is a global icon, a cricket legend and a studious politician. He is not the result of mass hysteria. Imran Khan has pledged to improve Pakistan’s economy, reinstate foreign ties and boost regional trade. For me, he is South Asia’s new Machiavellian prince; one that can be at least trusted when he speaks.

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