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Bangladesh: Will this country become Pakistan or Kashmir?

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A political group is spreading the perception that the country will again become Pakistan if Awami League loses control of Bangladesh. They even suggested a label “Banglastan” for this supposed nation which transforms into an improvised Pakistan in the East. But symptomatically it appears to become another Kashmir, or in a classical sense be called Banglashir (Bangladesh + Kashmir).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to Shantiniketan, India to attend the VishvaBharati convocation. On the same occasion, Narendra Modi joined in as a Vishva-Bharati’s Acharya. Various observers believe this particular rendezvous was orchestrated at an opportune moment to help re-establish a relationship between the two leaders. The media hyped it as  viewing a display of the mythical chariots (RathaYatra), but the primary objective was to push a package; “how to win the upcoming election at the end of this year once again”; by hook or crook, whatever it takes.

On this visit, Hasina propagated the fear of Pakistan and that; her’s is the only party that can be trusted to continue the pro-India mantle faithfully that works out magnificently for India and also gives the power she wants.

The “Ananda Bazar Patrika” zealously propagated the Pakistan fear. Even though this magazine was not supposed to be privy to the contents of the secret meeting between Hasina and Modi, and yet they published a piece covering the event. It was headlined “Hasina’s message – the anti-liberation forces are perpetrating the plot to make Bangladesh into Pakistan. If Awami League loses power, India has to live with two houses of Pakistan; one in the West and the other in the East.  So, India should render its necessary support to the present government of Bangladesh.”

Indira Gandhi uttered the above sentence in 1971. She used to say that the head could survive pain on one side. But it is difficult to sleep with pain on both sides. Ananda Bazar highlighted a similar statement by Hasina. As there are no comments on this issue from Hasina’s office, it can be assumed to be a true declaration by Sheikh Hasina.

A “Preeti” press conference was organized at Ganobhaban (Prime Minister’s residence) after her return from that trip. The entire country was watching the congregation of such an elite group of flattering journalists who were asking appealing questions allowing her to continue her long cacophony against her opponents without even semblance to the questions asked. One of them asked; “we understand, an Indian newspaper has indicated that Bangladesh wants a reward for what you have done for India.” To this, the Prime Minister retorted; “I do not want any rewards. Why do I need a reward here? I do not have the habit of asking for favors; rather I am magnanimous in giving more than I receive. Whatever I gave to India; India should remember me forever. ”

Another Sheikh, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah of Kashmir, also gave away everything without asking for anything in return. He had the habit of being magnanimous in giving more than what he received. People in Kashmir have not forgotten that ever since 1947.

In 1947, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah welcomed the Indian army into Kashmir. He fully supported the document evidencing alignment with India. In exchange, he was able to act as the Chief Minister of Kashmir till 1953. The man who is most responsible for the suffering of people in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the people of India and Pakistan; is Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.

In the lust for power, these Sheikhs became so blind that, the sufferings of the people never crossed their minds. There were mass killings of about 250,000 Muslims and displacement of approximately 1,000,000 persons in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah realized he made a tremendous mistake by trusting India when his perceived friend Nehru put him in jail. This mistake has caused enormous sufferings for the Kashmiri people for which they are paying till now. They do not see any future in the Indian Federation.

All indications are that Bangladesh is proceeding towards the path of Kashmir. By creating the myth of a Pakistani Genie, Bangladesh is being prepared to become another Kashmir. Here, we can hear the sound of another Sheikh’s footsteps.

Before the arrival of the British, the Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in these lands what was India.  To effectively administer India, the British devised a “divide and rule” policy between Hindus and the Muslims. It worked out very well for them. They were acting as the judge and the jury while the Hindus and Muslims were fighting. If they did not get tired, the British could have ruled India for another century using the same method.

Their “divide and rule” policy created a new dimension of troubles in India. Even before leaving for good, they embedded a seed of enmity between Hindus and Muslims. One of these seeds was the creation of the Kashmir problem. India and Pakistan; even though very poor, were importing arms and ammunition in record levels heeding poverty of their population. Now, both of these nations are very large purveyors of weapons and are two big nuclear powers.

British misdeeds have created this enormous enmity amongst peoples that were otherwise living peacefully for centuries. Without the Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan could have lived peacefully. But the British had to leave their legacy behind. Instead of using their wealth for the benefit of their people, they indulged into purchasing arms and ammunition. Otherwise, the region could have achieved unprecedented prosperity.

A prolific crusader, Arundhati Roy promoted the cause of Kashmiri independence despite the stereotyped Indians calling her a traitor and wanted her incarcerated. In an interview, Miss Roy said, if the state runs a case against me in the court of law then there should be a case against Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) even post his death. She mentioned several telegrams and radio addresses by Nehru in which he said; “I declare, the fate of the Kashmiris will be decided by themselves. This promise is not only for the Kashmiris; it is to the entire world. I will never renege from this covenant, and I won’t be able to do it either (3 November 1947)”.

For the sake of Kashmir, Pakistan and India fought three wars; 1947, 1965 and 1999. It is incumbent to the parties in this conflict to address issues and mitigate their differences for the sake of peace and prosperity. The people who talk about the European like peace in the sub-continent, somehow are not getting involved deeply in this pursuit.

The armed forces of India comprise of about 1,300,000 persons which makes it the third largest standing armies of the world. About 700,000 of their armed personnel are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. With a population of 7,000,000, this is one to ten ratio and makes it the largest per capita army deployment in the world. Naturally, the expenditures related to this engagement is enormous.

If Bangladesh was to be made into a defacto colony, India has to deploy 20 times the soldiers as in Jammu and Kashmir. When India is already over-stressed within Kashmir, where should she be looking into when it comes to Bangladesh?

If India thinks Bangladesh will be similar to the peoples of Sikkim and Bhutan, they would grossly misjudge the situation on the ground. In 1947, 90 percent people of the then East Bengal (now Bangladesh) voted for the formation of Pakistan. Bangladeshis got disenchanted with the misrule of the Pakistani ruling class. Even with the commonality of religion, which was initially thought to be viable, now could not keep the Bangladeshis from remaining in Pakistan. The war of liberation in 1971 was the result of the resolve of the Bangladeshis.

India must realize, the hatred towards Pakistani rulers is now being diverted against Indian defacto rule of Bangladesh by maintaining Awami League as their proxy. More the Awami League gets through with make-believe elections; the more Bangladeshis will be agitated against India. They firmly believe, the Indian government is behind these fake elections.

Anti-India feelings are running high throughout South Asia. Leaving Pakistan alone, one cannot forget Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the people of Bangladesh who are tired of Indian policies. Even the Hindu Nepal is no exception. How long will the peace in Bhutan last is someone’s guess? No one likes anyone to pry into one’s family and nation. People abhor agents of foreign governments. If this hatred magnifies, the scenario in the entire sub-continent may drown into chaos.

Various Indian think tanks are already warning about these scenarios. With China encircling India in all directions, one does not have to look in any other direction.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When India is playing with her smaller neighbors, a counter activity/reaction is developing. Indian neighbors would rather have China as their friend owing to meddling in their internal affairs by India. Not only that India has pain on both sides; that pain will propagate to every organ of the body. Because of wrong Indian policies, all neighbors are transforming into Pakistan.

When the neighboring nations like Bangladesh and India create ties with some political parties and not the people, they focus all their energies on the winning of that political party.  With aiding Awami League only, there is already tremendous anti-Indian feelings within the people of Bangladesh. China would gladly work her way into the void.

Awami League strengthens their power by exhibiting the fear of the Pakistani Genie. The main opposition party BNP must expose that point in a clear voice. The recent trip to Delhi by the BNP leadership must be clearly explained to the public. BNP must proceed with their political agenda in a transparent, concise manner keeping the people with them at every stage.

BNP was in power at a crucial time of Bangladesh when coups and counter-coups were happening every time you look around. BNP is a nationalist party and never converted Bangladesh into Pakistan then, and is not planning for it now. It is transparent propaganda spread by Sheikh Hasina and her party. Creating Sheikh Abdullahs by instilling fear of a ghost of Pakistan, we cannot save Bangladesh from becoming a Kashmir. India must realize this and not put all eggs in one basket.

While BNP needs India, India also requires the cooperation of BNP. If the scenario changes, India may have lost their opportunity to maintain a reliable neighbor. Any shortcut way may bring a considerable loss for India as well as BNP.

India’s general election is forthcoming. In the last election, Awami League government helped the Congress Party. BJP is fully aware of this. Doubt remains whether Modi government will bring the crocodile by digging the canal. Whether Modi has realized this, it is a matter of guess.  “All disciples’ in a temple are not true disciples”; Modi is fully aware of this.

BNP and their partners are deeply rooted in various localities outside the capital city Dhaka. At this time, BNP has only one roadmap in front of them. They should not participate in the upcoming polls without the help of a neutral caretaker government; otherwise, it will be another electoral fiasco like 2014 election. Awami League and Hasina know, they are shouldering a burden of illegitimacy and BNP must make sure this burden should crush an authoritarian regime Hasina is running. With firm resolve and clear direction, this fascist government will crumble.

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A Review of the Draft National Education Policy 2019

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There is an urgent and imperative need to rekindle dialogue on the shaken education structure in India among politicians and decision makers. While there is a proliferating realization to the finite financial limits of ‘improving literacy rate’, there is a detrimental lack of alternative discourse on the way forward, a futuristic dialogue on the achievable. It is rightfully said that a life without education is like a boat without a rudder. While the solutions to the problem may seem simple to layman’s eyes, it is as multifaceted and dynamic from a microscopic lens. This paper will attempt to review and critique the education system in India in light of the recent National Education Policy 2019 developed by the ministry of human resource development that seeks to propose transformative changes.

The field of education essentially is viewed through a narrow outlook of having normative or static foundations that can be generalized. This is however far from reality. Education system and structure is highly contextual and subjective to the jurisdiction it is studied in. While it is necessary to take cognizance of the fact that metamorphic changes, if any, are gradual, access to basic quality education for many is a far cry. India demands a comprehensive nationwide policy such as this and more importantly the implementation and enforcement of the same. The paper shall enumerate few highlights of the policy as no specific selection can paint an accurate picture of the well-integrated and comprehensive policy.

One of the fundamental solutions to the policy focuses on a key demography to foster a massive positive multipliers effect on the Indian society. It promises high quality education and childhood care for all children between the age bracket of 3 to 6 years by the year 2025. This encompasses the holistic development of the child including healthcare, nutrition and skill development. The vitality of the early years of brain development have been consciously highlighted in the past few years with growing awareness and study in this field.

It is essential that we tackle the grassroots of the issue being the quality of teachers and their accessibility. Professional teacher education and improvement of the quality of the educators is vital to better education and hence multidisciplinary programs for teachers are proposed to be included in large universities. Weak educators lead to weak professional in all fields. A four-year integrated stage – specific B.Ed. programme has been proposed by the HRD ministry and the Draft Committee alongside a restructure of the technical and medical education in the country. It outlines a proposal for the exit examination for medical professionals to create a robust filtering system to enable qualified and erudite individuals into the medical industry, enabling them to do justice to their respective professions.

Back to the fundamentals, the policy seeks to achieve foundational literacy and numeracy through a spectrum of programs and measures that have been carefully drafted and articulated to promote the same. Correspondingly, the draft policy aims to transform the pedagogical structure of the curriculums in the Indian education system for more effective learning that holistically encompasses cognitive, social and emotional development. The learning model will serve equitable emphasis on all fields and subjects, inherently leveling the balance of importance in academic and vocational cum co-curricular training. The examination structure within the Indian education system has for long been critiqued as counterproductive and toxic. It separates the individual from the real process of learning. With that in light, the policy proposes a complete radical revamp of the exam structures to relive the stress factor, strive for improvement in the learning pursuit and assess real learning.

The political and governmental handhold must undoubtedly begin with a substantial increase in the public investment for the normative expansion and vitalization of public education at all levels. While the policy extensively focuses on amending the tangible flaws of the education system in India, it leaves behind the lived reality and cultural context. I believe that it is far more fundamental to break the stigma that revolves around educating people and address the deterrents to pursuing education. The cultural withdrawal of the reluctance of educating girl children and women in rural spaces is a problem that can’t merely be broken down through financing but through a cultural shift in mindset and an awareness of its criticality. Similar is the case with low income workers such as farmer, plumber and technical workmen that seek to pass on the profession to their heirs under the assumption of retrieving faster interest on their investment of time as opposed to the uncertainty that comes with a hard earned financial investment on poor quality education.

Another cultural adaptation to the policy must be vocational categorical training for specific target groups that diverge from the mainstream education such as training of young mothers or single parents in not just rural but also urban spaces. Finally, the indestructible caste system that is simple inseparable from the education system. The reservation system and its debate has been prolonged for decades and a cause for plentiful havoc uprising in urban spaces as merit seeks to triumph status. This is however often shunned through non-discrimination policies but is far more complex than meets the eye.

The crux of the situation in India is the mismanagement and ill balance between the supply and demand of educational resources in the country. There seems to be a wide gap between the allocation of financial expenditure by the government and the actual tangible change it has created in the recent years. Most importantly, a contextual negligence of tackling issues through the lens of different perspectives, actors and stakeholders. India is not necessarily a resource deficit nation, rather the lack of monitoring and utter negligence of the resource management consequently traps many regions of the country under illiteracy. Future development and economic growth of the nation calls for immediate action and a microscopic outlook of the issue by state actors. To deduce, the policy aims at addressing the diverse plethora of needs of multiple stakeholders in a harmonious manner with the goal of providing quality education to all.

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The Torn Red Carpet: Welcome to Nepal in 2020

Sisir Devkota

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In Google’s search rankings, the official website of project Visit Nepal 2020; comes second. Travel agencies in Nepal have replaced their landing pages at the expense of the overall legitimacy of the most genuine online resource. There is a wealth of videos shot in and about Nepal in Youtube; from ticketing companies to vloggers, visiting Nepal in 2020 might entail different things for various people. However, Mount Everest is not getting pink every passing day; the year 2020 will comfortably succeed the prior geologic timescale. All is not lost if one does not make it to Nepal next year. Hence, why the calling?

Across the world, nation branding for tourism is not a new catch. Egypt, Bolivia, Holland and Guatemala, advertise themselves with their official names. For others, a well thought phrase follows the brand image. Maldives-the sunny side of life, Imagine your-Korea, Belize-is closer than you think are other examples. For the rest, global events, does the work. Visit Nepal 2020 sounds the most ambitious of all; despite of less thoughtful investment over the slogan, it is clumsily competing with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, across internet search engines. A lack of strategic branding can cost an entire project. Hence, why the ignorance?

As much as the slogan promises for a great experience, things are not quite ready for the incoming tourists. A national plan aimed for the visit year has stalled and stakeholders are looking for a safe landing. As long as the tourists arrive, Nepal will make money in 2020. Even though farsightedness is out of capabilities, stakeholders are not promoting the false promise; instead, Nepal’s promise has been promoted wrongly. Nepal is one of the poorest nations in South Asia and the economy largely depends on salaries from abroad. It does not take much to comprehend the economics, the 2020 project, is a cash cow for a reclining economy. For all the wrong reasons, Nepal is calling for a temporary settlement. One-step at a time, for now, tightening up for the next year only.

Start a business in Nepal 2020. Explore Nepal in 2020. Seek opportunities in Nepal 2020. Beware of money sucking agencies and institutions, when you visit Nepal in 2020. Nepal’s southern neighbour, India, invites entrepreneurs from all over the world; however, Make in India, has not gained steam, like once anticipated. The think-tank behind Visit Nepal 2020 have lost an edge over possible opportunities; scaled business policies are missing from the project structure. Moreover, Visit Nepal 2020 sounds like a welcome for the newcomers, but history suggests that, incoming tourists are largely returnees, thanks to majestic natural richness.

“Visit Nepal 1998-Once is not enough”, was largely successful in terms of arriving numbers; however, after work has been a sorry state of affairs. Unsurprisingly, if Nepal were not enough at once, there would not have been the need for a visit year, two decades later. Therefore, Visit Nepal 2020 is a re-launch, from the supply perspective. For anticipating visitors, this information seeks responsibility. The visit year would only succeed whilst bottom level stakeholders would benefit from spending. In addition, if the economy manages to thrive from the revenue generated in 2020, it would largely be successful. It is another misconception that recycling slogans would lead to the same result. Local suitors in Nepal would be most excited; for them, it is another chance to rekindle with international visitors. Technology and social media will make the difference; at last, Nepal is waiting to stamp its tourism potential.

Visit Nepal in 2020 for lifetime experiences. Visit Nepal later again for unlimited life experiences. Then, repeat.

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Sri Lanka Appoints New Minister for Foreign Relations

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Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Dinesh Gunawardena as the Minister of Foreign Relations (Picture source news .cn)

The newly-elected Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Dinesh Gunawardena as  the Minister of Foreign Relations after his  Presidential election in 2019.  In addition to Foreign Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena was also appointed as the Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations. The new foreign minister  Gunawardena  hails from a well known political family in Sri Lanka .His father Philip Gunawardena   is a famous national hero known as ‘the Father of Socialism’. Gunawardena  a  graduate  from the University  of Oregon in the US, entered politics in 1972. In 1983 as  the general-secretary of Mahajana Eksath Peramuna’s (MEP)  he entered Parliament in a  by-election held in Maharagma.  He  is well-known as a  long-standing parliamentarian and has served as a minister several times since the mid 90s.

The new  Minister of Foreign Relations Gunawardena  is  supposed  to  implement a friendly and Non-aligned Foreign Policy.   In a recent newspaper interview he stated  “Sri Lanka will have a strict neutral foreign policy where it will strive to have only friends and not foes among the global community”(Sunday Observer,2019).In this context there  is a history to this non-aligned policy.     At the outset, Sri Lanka was a founder member of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM).  As part of this approach, the new  Sri Lankan government had outlined in the  manifesto how the  presidency would implement the Foreign Policy over the next five years. The   manifesto mentions a key phrase “Friendly and Non-aligned Foreign Policy .We will not fall on our knees before any country in maintaining foreign and trade relations. We will always be mindful of our national sovereignty and maintain friendly relations with other countries from a standpoint of equality. Our government will restore Sri Lanka’s national pride and dignity”. (Gotabaya Rajapaksa manifesto, 2019)

Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena assumed duties at the Foreign Ministry on Monday 25 November 2019. While meeting staff members of Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Minister    mentioned that the “Foreign Service is highly regarded and the entire country is looking towards the Foreign Ministry to find solutions for external pressures and challenges”. Sri Lanka being an Indian Ocean island nation strategically located at the international maritime crossroads has significant diplomatic influence with the international community. Therefore Sri Lanka needs a far-sighted foreign policy vision along with well-aligned and sound domestic policies. It is, therefore, vital that the new Foreign minister sets out the country’s position towards Asian, African  nations and the West to ensure that Sri Lanka is able to achieve its foreign policy goals  over the next five years.

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