Saturday, 14 March 2015

Daily News Mail - News of 14/03/2015

Modi calls for implementation of 13th Amendment in full
  • India stands for a “united Sri Lanka,” but wants an “early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment” that provides for devolution in the Tamil majority Northern and Eastern provinces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on March 14, while speaking at historic Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Sri Lanka’s Tamils to be patient with the new government in Colombo. He met senior leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — the main party representing the island’s northern Tamils — in Colombo.
  • The Sri Lankan government has asked India to help with its investigation against the former regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa for alleged corruption, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told.
  •  Samaraweera said, “We need the support of various international agencies to unearth the money ‘looted’ by the Rajapaksa family. We have asked India for help in this and quite a few other countries too.” Claiming that the “money has been stashed(stash - store (something) safely in a secret place) away internationally,” he said the government was “going to go after Mr. Rajapaksa’s ill-gotten assets.”
India protest 26/11 mastermind's release

  • India summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on 14 March and lodged a strong protest over a Pakistan court’s order to release Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
  • Hours later Pakistan summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad J.P. Singh to the Foreign Office, where it raised the 2007 Samjhauta train blast case, in which 68 people including many Pakistani nationals were killed. Islamabad contended that there was undue delay in the trial.
  • Lakhvi’s release comes shortly after Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan as part of his ‘SAARC Yatra,’ where he raised the issue with his counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry. “This goes against Pakistan’s professed commitment to combat terrorism, including its recently stated policy of not differentiating among terrorists,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in Colombo.
  • Mr. Akbaruddin said India had conveyed its outrage to the High Commissioner.
  • “If such a person, who has also been designated as an international terrorist by the United Nations, is released, it will pose a threat that cannot be ignored,” he said, indicating India might take additional action.
26/11 mastermind - Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi

India's farmer fetish : Political bargaining on land bill may produce a law not much better than the original

  • When Lal Bahadur Shastri first shouted ‘Jai jawan, jai kisan’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan in 1965, he fleshed out a cardinal truth about India’s political imaginary: the idea of the brave soldier and the hard-working farmer as the bulwark(a defensive wall; rempart) of the nation. India in 2015, aspiring to industrialise quickly, is fundamentally different from the food-starved India of 1965. But the imagery of the hard-pressed exploited farmer running the engines of the nation remains an unshakable shibboleth(नारा) in the political imagination, as the Modi government is finding out to its cost.
  • Twisting and turning to reach a political deal on the land acquisition bill, the government’s political managers may yet succeed in saving face and passing a diluted version of its December ordinance through Parliament. But the political deal making could result in a bill that’s not much better than the original Act. For instance if fertile land cannot be acquired – a compromise that’s on the table now – that would rule out the industrialisation prospects of fertile states such as Bengal.
  • Smug in its electoral momentum at the time, the government originally erred in trying to push through the changes through ordinance, without first making a public case for why these changes were necessary and why BJP itself had changed its mind on a law that it supported only two years ago. There is no question that the original land bill was proving unworkable and needed changes but despite the merits of its case, the government got pushed into a corner because of its haste. With crores of rupees worth of projects stuck due to problems in land acquisition, a new deal must make it easy for industrialisation while genuinely protecting farmers. Instead we may end up with even more bureaucracy and complications(a circumstance that complicates something; a difficulty).
  • The current debate on land is further proof that what India needs is a new political narrative of reform. At a time when agriculture’s share in GDP has fallen to just 13.9%, as many as 60% Indians are still engaged in farming. In comparison, Brazil has only 15% of its people in farming which contributes 5.7% to GDP. A scorched earth policy that privileges farming above every other occupation will kill growth and makes no sense at all. But pushing reforms requires a different kind of political conversation and coalition-building that is currently missing.

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