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Ruling AIADMK faction in Tamil Nadu wins back ‘Two Leaves’ symbol

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The combined E Palaniswamy-O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK that now rules Tamil Nadu has won on November 23 the two-leaf symbol after months of infighting.

The Election Commission of India (ECI), after studying the issue vey deeply for months, ruled the flag symbol in favour of the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam camp, saying that the unified AIADMK is the real AIADMK.

 What might come as a setback for V Sasikala, who is currently lodged in a Bengaluru prison, the ECI declared that the ‘two-leaves’ party symbol belonged to the E Palaniswamy and O Panneerselvam faction and not the VK Sasikala-TTV Dinakaran camp that had claimed they would get the symbol.

 The verdict was happily welcomed by the EPS-OPS faction.

 On November 8, the EC had concluded hearing the AIADMK symbol case. The EC had frozen the party symbol after OPS walked out of the AIADMK. The merged factions of the party had moved the Election Commission in September.

 The poll panel also said that VK. Sasikala, now jailed in Bangaluru jail for disproportionate assets, and her nephew Dinakaran who runs the show on her behalf, did not have party support.

 In fact, initially two factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala had staked claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had frozen it, pending a decision on their pleas. Sasikala has chosen Palanisamy for CM post as she was denied that privilege due to the disproportionate assets case for which s he was sent to jail.

Later, a large group of legislators led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala, who is in jail in a graft case, and announced a merger with Panneerselvam faction for a stable government.

 Resolutions ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and her nephew Dhinakaran as her deputy were also adopted at the party’s general council meeting held on September 12. On September 14, representatives of Dhinakaran had approached the EC urging it to declare as invalid the general council meeting, citing a high court order that said any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.

Verdict reminiscent of 1988 tussle between Jayalalithaa-Janaki

 With the EC restoring the “two leaves” symbol for the ruling faction of the AIADMK, the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam faction is now the officially recognised AIADMK.

 The entire drama, as it unfolded since the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year in a mysterious circumstances (now the reports suggest that she had died long before but Sasikala and co deliberately concealed that for some conspiratorial reasons-) is reminiscent of how MG Ramachandran’s widow Janaki Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa sparred to control AIADMK after MGR’s death in 1988. They too, like EPS-OPS and Sasikala, fought over who should use the AIADMK symbol.

 The power tussle between Janaki and Jayalalithaa, the party’s propaganda secretary, broke after a little after ten days of MGR’s death. The fight over who should head the party protracted into a months-long struggle before the EC stepped in and froze the symbol, a month before the elections in January 1989. Eventually Jayalalithaa won the symbol and Janaki left politics.

 With the current AIADMK fight, the EC froze the ‘two-leaves’ symbols on 23 March, three months after Jayalalithaa’s death.

 By Mid-March of 1988, Jayalalithaa had staked her claim to the party’s symbol claiming support of the majority. Similarly, EPS-OPS, who merged recently, reached EC on 6 October, 2017, and staked their claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol claiming support of a majority of lawmakers and party cadre.

EPS-OPS duo claimed that both Sasikala and Dinakaran had been removed from the party and hence cannot claim the symbol. Similarly, Janaki said she had the support of the majority in the party and Tamil Nadu Assembly and thus, Jayalalithaa had no right to use the official symbol.

 In Jayalalithaa’s case, ten days after Janaki lost the elections to her, MGR’s wife decided to “quit politics and not hinder anyone”, thus leaving AIADMK for Jayalalithaa to control.

 With EPS-OPS and Sasikala, it remains to be seen who finally gets the last word on the matter. As per CNN-News18, the Sasikala faction might move the Madras High Court to challenge the EC verdict.

 Three months after the merger of the rival AIADMK factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and his now deputy O Panneerselvam, all is not well within the unified AIADMK. A hint has been dropped by senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP, V Maithreyan, in a social media post. “It has been three months since the EPS-OPS faction merged. Months have gone, but have the hearts synced,” Maithreyan wrote in a Facebook post. Maithreyan was the first AIADMK leader to join Panneerselvam’s rebellion against then party general secretary VK Sasikala on February 7, days after she tried to replace him as chief minister.

Tamil Nadu MP V Maithreyan pointed out that AIADMK is perhaps the only party to have its symbol frozen and de-frozen twice in the country’s political history.

 When asked what prompted him to write such a post, Maithreyan declined to comment, saying he has nothing more to say about it. His  post was his second hint at the discontent in the ruling AIADMK in this month. On November 6, he complained that he has been ignored in the relief works in the rain-hit areas.

When asked about Maithreyan remark, senior AIADMK leader and minister, D Jayakumar, said he was against discussing the party’s internal issues in public. He also denied any issues within the party.

Maithreyan, whose political roots can be traced to the RSS and BJP before joining the AIADMK, was supposed to have played a major role in the merger in which PM Narendra Modi had also reportedly shown keen interest.

 The E Palaniswamy-O Panneerselvam faction has won the ongoing fight with the VK Sasikala camp over  the united AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol the Election Commission of India has ruled in favour of the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam camp.

 With the Election Commission restoring the “two leaves” symbol for the ruling faction of the AIADMK, the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam faction is now the officially recognised AIADMK

 The Tamil Nadu chief minister expressed happiness over the verdict and thanked the party cadres for their constant support. Palaniswamy also denied reports that his faction won the symbol due to its proximity to the BJP. Eventually Jayalalithaa won the symbol and Janaki left politics. It is wrong. We had facts on our side and majority of MLAs, MPs and party workers were with us. All this was taken into consideration: TN CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami on allegations that judgment was awarded in their favour due to proximity with BJP

 Reports say that the defeated Sasikala will move the Madras High Court against the verdict. She ha s a lot of money to do anything

 On 8 November, the poll panel had concluded hearing the symbol case and reserved the order. At the seventh hearing, the rival Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam and the Sasikala Natarajan factions concluded their arguments.

 Initially two factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala had staked claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had originally frozen the symbol on 23 March.

Later, a large group of legislators led by Palaniswamy revolted against Sasikala, who is lodged in a Bengaluru jail in connection with a corruption case, and announced merger with Panneerselvam faction.

 Resolutions ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and her nephew Dinakaran as her deputy were also adopted at the party’s general council meeting held on 12 September.

On 14 September, representatives of Dinakaran had approached the EC urging it to declare as invalid the general council meeting, citing a high court order that said any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.

 EC has given judgment in favour of EPS and OPS and with this judgment now there is only one AIADMK without any factions. Majority of party workers supported us: Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami on two leaves symbol

 Indian Election Commission has cleared the deck for the ruling AIADMK now to focus on governance of the state aiming at rooting out corruption invented by the DMK misrule and then followed up by the AIADMK governments of both MGR and Jayalalithaa that let notorious people like Sasikala et al to loot the resources of the state by missing power of the CM.  

 As the factions are busy targeting each other, the ruling faction is trying to stay in power somehow, while administration was out of gear in the state. Corruption has reached the worst possible level as for everything people must bribe the officals and police and without bring or showing money to them, nothing gets done in Tamil Nadu. .

 Unfortunately, Tamil Nadu after the K, Kamaraj has become one of most corrupt states and thee seems to no chance tom see the state behave properly and morally sound.  The Tamil state and government are insensitive to people’s requirements and concerns. Even MGR could not do anything to make the state corruption free. Obviously, Jayalalithaa, controlled by Sasikala and co with their own hidden agendas could not do anything that would make the state honest.

 One is not sure if the new governor is indeed serous or he  is just doing some gimmicks for news by talking to district officals, would try to make the state corruption free and make the officals and police work honestly for the sake of a shining Tamil Nadu.

 As it stands, the officals and police, others who get paid for service to people by the state operate like parts of a very big network of mafias

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South Asia

Indian Imbalanced Balance

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A serious crisis is looming over journalism in India, which is increasingly vested in the hands of authority. On the one hand, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee asks for “discussion and dissension” for a vibrant democracy. “There should always be room for the argumentative Indian, and not the intolerant Indian. The media must be the watchdog, the mediator between the leaders and the public,” Mukherjee said while paying his regards to Ramnath Goenka – former press baron. On the other hand, Indian media has lost its credibility regionally as well as internationally owing to quality of Indian public discourse. According to criminal lawyer Rebecca Mammen, “The true test of a robust democracy is the independence of its media. Over the past few years our media has become the mouthpiece of the party in power. Coupled with the fact the corporate owners of media houses share close links with the government, the Indian media has tragically lost its voice.”

The mainstream media is vested in the hands of a selected few and refuses to question authorities.         The ‘Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index, which was released on April 20, has ranked India at 142 among 180 countries reflecting poor credibility due to pressures by government. According to the Report, the Indian media is reeling under a Hindu nationalist government, which has time and again tried to gag journalists. Moreover, India’s influential TV news channels function largely as government mouthpieces.A European non-governmental group “EU disinfo lab” had uncovered a network of 265 ‘fake’ news outlets sponsored by an Indian network to influence the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) with content against to Pakistan.

The crisis in the Indian media will have deeper impacts on Indian democracy. With a feeble opposition, weak institutions, and an inadequate media, Indians have no checks and balances. For instance, maligning Pakistan High Commission, Colombo(PAHIC) during a recent Indo-China conflict was an Indiangovernment instructed media strategy to divert public opinion from their failures in North. In other words, media strategy inadvertently defines poor political will of India to stand up to China while feel strong enough to bully the smaller neighbourhood.

The sane voices in Indian media have continuously shrinking space.Having almost 400 news channels, Indian media has failed to highlight serious matters, such as beef ban, human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoJK), and numerous discriminations against Indian Dalits. “Over the last few years – especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the general election of 2014 – the Indian mainstream media has allowed itself to be undermined by the transcendent political power that he represents,” said Pamela Philipose, The Wire. “A new note of muscular nationalism has crept into media discourse.  Also conspicuous is the curbing of dissent and the rise of the surveillance state – developments that bode ill for the independence of the Indian media,” says Philipose.

In a similar manner, a political scientist Giles Vernier argues that “a new note of muscular nationalism has crept into media discourse.  Also conspicuous is the curbing of dissent and the rise of the surveillance state – developments that bode ill for the independence of the Indian media.One reason why we don’t see much criticism in the media is that the government, in the person of the Prime Minister, has the ability to completely dominate the media’s agenda, by saturating the public and media sphere with the message, image, and his voice.”

Journalists should be critical of government’s handling of its internal and external matters to keep it on the right track. TV channels will call speakers of their choice, who would heavily lean to one side of discussion and pretend that it is balanced.

In the current atmosphere, with enraptured legislative issues and social perspectives, with populist political leadership, with developing bigotry against minorities and dissenters, the media can and ought to be an encouraging sign for liberal, mainstream and law based thoughts, yet additionally to guarantee that outrageous perspectives does not get into the papers or on TV. Rather, the media in India has become some portion of the issue, either excitedly partaking in preparing of contempt against the helpless, or carrying on in an insincere path by permitting the most exceedingly terrible components a free run of significant reality on their foundation. Whole ages of columnists are growing up with the possibility that they are playing out an important help; they have scarcely any good examples to gaze upward to, since their own managers, who should know better, are either sold out, ideologically dedicated to fanaticism or are indecisive, without firm feelings or just fearful. In any case, Indian reporting is in a profound emergency, all for the sake of ‘balance.’

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South Asia

This is Pakistan

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With an unprecedented progress in politico-socio-economic domains, Pakistan has a new face in the world. It has not only successfully corrected misplaced perceptions about it, but the internal and external circumstances around it have also changed, which has helped shaping Pakistan its renewed look according to changed regional and international environment. The successes at the security front has also led to the economic progress in Pakistan.

In result of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and anti-extremism operations, it lost tens of thousands of people, including soldiers and civilians. Pakistan’s strong resolve together with sustained military operations against terrorist elements, however, brough back peace and stability in the country. According to Security Report 2019 by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), “Pakistan witnessed a further decline in the number of terrorist incidents and consequent casualties… terrorist attacks this year decreased by around 13 percent as compared to 2018.” The report clearly depicted a gradual decrease in terrorist attacks and casualties since 2009. In this regard, Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) helped eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country. The improved security situation in the country resulted in the economic dividends in the shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan is also appreciated for its nuclear material safety. In its annual report, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) – a leading United States non-proliferation watchdogdivulged that “Pakistan’s improvements in the Security and Control Measures category are significant because strengthened laws and regulations result in durable boosts in Pakistan’s score as well as provide sustainable security benefits.” While appreciating Pakistan’s further improvement in nuclear materials’ safety, Laura Kennedy, a former United States diplomat, tweeted that “one welcome bit of news reported by #NTIindex is that #Pakistan ranked as most improved in security of those countries holding nuclear materials.”

Pakistan’s fight against Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is used as a role model by developed countries of the world. The Government of Pakistan (GoP) revealed a PKR 1.13 trillion relief package to help to the powerless and securing industry and other organizations. The concept of ‘Smart Lockdown’ also reaped its dividends and Pakistan has come out from the dangers of this deadly virus.

On the socio-economic front, Pakistan is making progress as well. For instance, the current account deficit has reduced from US$ 20 billion to US$ 3 billion together with a significant decrease in trade and fiscal account deficits. The stalled construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam has also been approved, which will result in additional water supplies for better agricultural production. There has been increase in the rights activism i.e., Transgender Pride March, Aurat March, Climate March, and Student Solidarity March. Women sports stars of Pakistan won international medals and recognitions.For instance, 8-year-old Pakistani Taekwondo star Ayesha Ayaz won a bronze medal for Pakistan at the 7thFujairah Taekwondo Open Championship in United Arab Emirates (UAE); Hajra Khan won 3 Guinness World Records; Mahnoor Shahzad won the Annapurna International Badminton Tournament; Nida Dar became the first Pakistani woman to sign a deal with an international cricket league, Sydney Thunder; Shahida Abbasi from Hazara won one of the total two gold medals for Pakistan at the South Asian Games 2019; and Mallak Faisal Zafar won first position in the Basic Novice Girls II category at the 24th International Eiscup Innsbruck 2019. Test cricket also returned to Pakistan.

Culturally, Pakistan is projecting itself more prominently. Pakistani celebrities are mamking it to international fashion weeks – Mushk Kaleem and Alicia Khan walked the ramp for Milan Fashion Week 2019. Pakistani film Laal Kabootar won the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival for the Best Feature Film Award. ActressMahira Khan was appointed National Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, strengthening the bond between the people of Pakistan and the international community. Moreover, Mehwish Hayat was appointed ambassador to UK based international humanitarian charity, Penny Appeal.

On the entrepreneurial front, 9 Pakistanis made it to Forbes’ coveted 30 under 30 Asia list: Ahmed Rauf Essa: Founder, Telemart; Karishma Ali, President, Chitral Womens Sports Club; Laila Kasuri, Water Analyst, Global Green Growth Institute; Hanaa Lakhani, Hasan Usmani,Gia Farooqi and MoneebMian, Cofounders, Roshni Rides, Zain Ashraf, Founder, Seed Out; and Zainab Bibi, Founder, Pakistan Society for Green Energy (PSGE).

Regionally, Pakistan’s foreign policy is paying its dividends. Pakistan’s relations among Iran, Afghanistan, Sri-Lanka, Russia, United States and others has improved significantly. Overall, there is many encouraging events happening in and around Pakistan.

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South Asia

Post-Pandemic Politics

Usman Ghani

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Franklin Roosevelt has rightly put it, ‘In politics, nothing happens accidentally. If anything happens, it’s palpable that it planned this way’. Numerous features have been defining pre-pandemic world politics over the years. The current situation shows that pandemic will only reinforce largely five global fault lines that have been characterizing the global environment even in the pre-pandemic phase. Form this we can extrapolate the future course of global politics. 

The first and the obvious feature is the rising multi-polarity with power being diffused vertically and horizontally between countries and within countries because citizens become more impart by accessible cheaper technologies. Therefore, global power especially economic power continues to be redistributed while the state power also continues to be eroded by the greater influence of non-state actors both good and bad. In today’s world, no single power can achieve outcomes on its own. It can only do so in conjunction or with the cooperation of other states. Since the Second World War, this pandemic is the first global crisis in which US leadership has been absent.

Secondly, the resurgence of competition and tensions between the big powers in the global environment have come into sight. US-China confrontation has become the most consequential and geopolitical development, which is going to influence and shape the world in the coming years. It can be seen that an outbreak of trade and tech war during the pre-pandemic will continue in the future. Political tensions are also at a record high. President Donald Trump of the United States has been using hostile rhetoric against China. Because of the severe actions taken by the US, China has reached its limits and started pushing back.

Thirdly, global powers are retreating from multilateralism and a rule-based international system. The renunciation of international agreements and treaties has been witnessed over the months. The irony is that the pandemic demands greater solidarity and cooperation but quite the opposite has happened, where there is an absence of international solidarity and much less collaboration. The USA has renounced a long list of treaties including the Iranian nuclear deal, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF), and recently the Open Skies agreement. It has also walked out of key multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the WHO more recently.

Another feature is the rise of populist leaders who are often described as strongmen. Although it’s debatable how much they deserve the description of strong men. Populist leaders act unilaterally with impunity as well as seek to rewrite the rules of game either in the world or their region depending upon their capability to manage. They are mostly disdainful toward international norms. In South Asia, the grimmest example is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is taking brutal and illegal actions not only in occupied Kashmir but also within India by pursuing communal politics.

Ultimately, there would be an emergence of anti-globalization sentiment due to multiple factors. The UN will be celebrating its 75th anniversary which is going to be a historic moment while American threatens to leave the World Health Organization (WHO) permanently. In this unenviable situation, the UN has been under great strain because its main agency which deals with the health crisis is under attack due to curtailment of funding by Donald Trump. Furthermore, certain leaders of the west are going to reject the existing trading regimes because they cannot compete anymore. The prevailing situation in those countries demands to remake global supply chains and they intend to reduce their dependence on China. Apart from that, plans are considered to move towards setting up local hubs of manufacture and supply.

In a nutshell, there is going to be a reversal of many aspects of globalization. Protectionism, trade wars, and to some extent travel restrictions will be a new reality. Right-wing populist leaders will use the health crisis to reinforce their policy preference for closed borders, strict immigration laws, and the ban on the free movement of labour that has been seen in recent decades. The future course of the most important bilateral relationship of our century which is between China and the United States will have a huge impact on the global economy as well as on the international order and multilateral institutions. Pandemic has further strained the relationship and resulted in trading accusations and allegations from both sides. Summarily, that has been described as the new cold war by many. The question arises whether these two global powers will arrive at modus vivendi or will there be a standoff. This has become a more enduring feature of the global landscape.

To round off the whole debate, the World is possibly at one of the history’s most unsettled periods in international relations with the atomization of the international system. This is an uncharted territory which the world has not seen before. For Pakistan, there are going to be strategic, political, and economic implications because it seeks to form good relations with both countries. Pakistan ought to understand that in the long run, its strategic future lies with China rather than the US.   

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