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South Asia

Popular Tamil leader Mysooru mallige Jayalalithaa is no more



[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.


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


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.


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

India’s Military Spending and South Asian Security



Over the past several years, unprecedented military modernization in Pakistan’s immediate neighbour, India, has worsened South Asia’s security environment. India’s heavy military spending and its unstoppable quest for the acquisition of sophisticated weapons have threatened regional stability. Indian desire to acquire global power status through military means has further been intensified as a result of US assistance particularly in former’s defence sector. Within quick span of time, defence trade between India and the US has shot from $1 billion to over $15 billion leaving other regional powers in the state of security consciousness.

India’s obsession with its military build-up doesn’t end here. According to the Stockholm International peace Research Institute (SIPRI) a prestigious international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, India, once again tops the list as world’s largest weapons importer. This is not a new development as previously, India also topped the list for the same reason.

As per SIPRI estimates, Russia remains top arms supplier to India. However, surprisingly arms deliveries from the US increased more than six-fold in the five-year period to the India. This trend in long run will definitely reduce market space for Russian arms and ammunition to India.

Despite the fact that, India’s unbridled military modernization is the primary impetus behind South Asian instability, global power’s economic expediencies in South Asia also undermines delicate conventional parity between India and Pakistan. For instance, Indo-US strategic partnership, which apparently touted as US’ China containment policy, seems more of a Pakistan containment policy. Much of the US provided weapon-tech to India is more useful against Pakistan in a conventional warfare. Almost 70% of Indian military troops and weapon system are deployed against Line of Control, (LOC). Interestingly, peaceful settlement of Docklam issue between China and India as well as sky-rocketing bilateral trade between both countries, which has reached to $84.44 billion last year, makes prospects of conflict almost impossible.

However, in contrast to aforementioned facts, the influx of massive military hardware from western capitals to India continues and in certain cases the flow of arms has gained momentum. There are two primary motives behind India’s overwhelming spending in defence industry.

First, India aspires for greater role in global environment and in certain ways it has been demonstrating its will and capability to influence global dynamics. India’s successful test of Agni-5, a long-range ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear weapons with a strike range of more than 3,000 miles, is a practical demonstration of its military capabilities to influence other powers around the globe. For hawkish policy makers in New Delhi, a strong military power can extend India’s global influence.

Secondly, India is following a policy of coercion at regional level primarily, against Pakistan which shares history of hostility and violence due to longstanding territorial disputes such as Kashmir. There is growing perception in New Delhi that militarily strong India can dictate South Asian affairs. That’s why India has been consistently opposing diplomacy and dialogue for peaceful resolution of disputes. Therefore, to meet its foreign policy goals, which are based on coercion and usage of hard power, India spends massive in military build-up.

Ironically, South Asia is called as nuclear flashpoint due to history of animosity and violent conflicts between India and Pakistan. With its mighty military power, India has emerged as the most potent threat for not just Pakistan but also a security challenge for other powers in the region.

Given the advantage it has in terms of nuclear missiles, military hardware and submarine fleet, India has been trying to create an environment conducive to wage limited war against Pakistan. For that, India has not just developed its military doctrine, Cold Start Doctrine, but also initiated and sponsored sub conventional war in Pakistan’s chaotic province, Balochistan.

In such circumstances, Pakistan needs to maintain delicate conventional military balance vis-à-vis India. Despite the fact, Pakistan has been facing number of issues at national, regional and international levels which include on-going military operation in tribal areas to hostile border skirmishes; a robust military modernization plan has become inevitable. A militarily strong Pakistan will be able to maintain its territorial integrity against aggressive yet militarily mighty India.

It’s an open fact that Pakistan has consistently called for peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes and it has offered to resume diplomacy and dialogue over Kashmir dispute. Unfortunately, India’s cold response has not only restricted Pakistan’s peaceful overtures but also refused to accept third-party mediation in peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue. This clearly shows that, current ruling regime in India is not serious for peaceful settlement, rather more inclined to use of force and coercion. Under such circumstances, Pakistan needs to strengthen its force posture to pre-empt any kind of misadventure from its adversary. However, Pakistan, as it has done in past, must embrace peaceful overtures to bring stability in the region.

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South Asia

US Call for a New Relationship



U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad

‘Trust, but verify’ an Old Russian proverb that President Reagan liked to repeat often. Trump is neither the first President nor he is going to be the last to criticize Pakistan of deceit and threaten to cut off American assistance. Notwithstanding, the last six decades of the US support, the US has failed completely in cultivating an ally in Pakistan nor has it meaningfully changed the nature of its relationship with Pakistan, which can be best described as ‘transactional’. A quid-pro-quo relationship between the two has never been established with regards to the assistance they both offered to each other. In truth, United States has never really trusted Pakistan.

President Trump avowed in his New Afghan Strategy that the US has been paying Pakistan ‘billions of billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting for’ but the mantra should be put to a halt. Likewise, the US must be conveyed boldly to stop continuing its false claims that Pakistan shelters the ‘agents of chaos’ and be reminded that friends don’t put each other on notices.

Similarly, statements and avowals that India now is a strongest ally to the US, disturbs Pakistan, chiefly because of the irony at Trump administration’s part which only sees the glittering Indian market but pay no heed to the growing Indian cease fire violations across the LoC and the atrocities India commits against the unarmed civilians of the Indian held Kashmir.

The recent visits and statements however by the senior US officials and Trump’s aides reflect the US call for a new relationship between the US and Pakistan, which once used to be close allies in the US led ‘Global War on Terror’.

Pakistan’s foreign policy makers at this point in time must be mindful of the fact that the US is a major trading partner and should adhere to a relationship more than ‘transactional’. Moreover, the risks and fears at the US part of ‘rampant destabilization and civil war in Afghanistan’ increments further the region already devoid of trust. For, nobody actually knows whether the US will stay or eventually leave Afghanistan.

The Afghan war has now become a war of logistics, in words of Sun Tzu ‘the line between order and disorder lies in logistics’, Pakistani supply lines thus provide Islamabad with a leverage in absence of shorter, cheaper and acceptable alternative routes. Given these circumstances, Pakistan should make best use of the US call towards a more robust bilateral relationship.

The move for a ‘new relationship’ and improved ties began last week with senior Trump aide’s visit to Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani leaders.  Earlier also the impressions that Pakistan and the US were on a collision course were dispelled by a top US general. Likewise, US department’s acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells asserted that the US was not thinking of cutting its ties rather assured that the US still cogitate Pakistan indispensable to the resolve in Afghanistan.

The aforesaid developments clearly indicate that the strained US-Pakistan relations would improve soon and that the suspension in the military aid is also not permanent.

To conclude, achieving long term stability and defeating the insurgency in the region will be difficult without Pakistan’s support and assistance.

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South Asia

Special Economic Zones and CPEC



Economic Expansion, high prices and inflation are the issues on which one can talk for hours. The scarcity of resources, energy crises and lack of industrial modernization are the challenges which Pakistan has been facing for past many decades. Despite the advantages of geographical setting, the country could not sufficiently expand its economy until 20thcentury. However, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought with it various infrastructural, energy, and industrial projects that show smooth progress in these sectors. One of the most significant developments is the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC.SEZ is a physically protected area with definite geographic boundaries under which the investors and the developers enjoy duty free benefits and streamlined procedures, set up by the government.  After the successful completion of the Early Harvest Program (EHP), the governments of China and Pakistan aspire to complete the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC. As a key route to success, the LTP has been divided into three phases and the work on the first phase has already started. SEZs are on the first priority list of the first Phase of LTP. While utilizing the strategic location of Pakistan and the rich resources, the SEZ will contribute a framework for Pakistan’s domestic industries, and local economy.

The government has planned to establish nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all the four provinces, federal areas and Gilgit-Baltistan under the framework of CPEC, which would be completed in a period of three years. Pakistan has conducted feasibilities of 5 SEZs which focuses only on the infrastructure. The three prioritized SEZs to be completed in the first phase of LTP are M3 Industrial City in Faisalabad, Punjab, Chinese SEZ Dhabeji, Sindh and Hattar SEZ in KP province. While the remaining six sites include Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1 Noshera, Bostan Industrial Zone District Pishin, AllamaIqbal Industrial City, Moqpondass SEZ in Gilgit-Baltistan, ICT Model Industrial Zone Islamabad, Development of Industrial Park on Pakistan Steel Mills Land at port Qasim near Karachi, Special Economic Zone at Mirpur AJK, Mohmand Marble city.

Although, there are general misunderstandings regarding the industrial ramifications of the SEZ’s under CPEC due to large number of Chinese firms and the exemption in the tax rates offered to them. However, the LTP of CPEC shows that these SEZ’s will offer the country with a great opportunity to accelerate industrialization because they are beneficial for all the international and domestic investors. So far in the history, SEZs have been the reason of economic boost in countries around the globe. Now this is a matter of concern that either these SEZs will make Pakistan a center of economic modernization and trade ventures or not. The economist and financial experts are optimistic about Pakistan’s emergence as one of the fast growing and promising global economy.

While stepping towards the era of industrialization, Pakistan faces a number of issues that have so far refrain the industries to understand their growth potential. Some of the chief hindrances to investment in Pakistan include poor security; non-availability of infrastructure and power crises, rent-seeking regulators, and cumbersome tax administration, etc. among many others.

Likewise the entrepreneurs in Pakistan have certain reservation with the incentives proposed by the government and SEZs for the investors and enterprises including ten-year exemption from all taxes on imported capital goods and exemption from tax on income accruable from development and operations in SEZs for a period of ten years. Although these incentives will be beneficial for the foreign investors at large but at the same time it will provide Pakistani enterprises with the opportunity to collaborate with the Chinese firms and launch joint ventures of mutual interests and benefits. This will be further beneficial for the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of Pakistan. Moreover it will bring Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country thus generating the foreign revenue.

Subsequently it is significant to keep in mind that in Pakistan there are certain security and political factors due to which the SEZ’s may face challenges. Hence forth to conquer these challenges provincial harmony among all the provinces and mutual consensus between the public sector and private sector is needed. SEZs under CPEC will be a life-time opportunity for Pakistani companies to work together with Chinese companies for the development of export-oriented manufacturing industries. Therefore, Pakistan should increase its products in the Chinese market and raise the ratio of its export while decreasing the trade deficit by lowering the imports.

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