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NEW PHENOMENON UNLEASHED
BRICS Bank and Bangladesh

Sadeq Khan

A new phenomenon has been injected in the tottering physique of the world financial order. It is the Fortaleza declaration of institutionalisation of South-South development banking and trade prospects by setting up Brics Bank. Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa inked a deal, on 15 July in Fortaleza, Brazil, to launch a development bank with an initial $50 billion paid-up capital and a $100 billion monetary reserve.

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Sadeq Khan

A new phenomenon has been injected in the tottering physique of the world financial order. It is the Fortaleza declaration of institutionalisation of South-South development banking and trade prospects by setting up Brics Bank. Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa inked a deal, on 15 July in Fortaleza, Brazil, to launch a development bank with an initial $50 billion paid-up capital and a $100 billion monetary reserve.

The bank and the fund aim “to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing economies”, and are intended to serve as an alternative to the Western-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The New Development Bank (NDB) would be headquartered in Shanghai and its initial subscribed capital will be equally shared among founding members, according to the Fortaleza Declaration.
The first chair of the Board of Governors will be from Russia, the first chair of the Board of Directors from Brazil, and the first president of the bank from India.

BRICK bank and China
The establishment of the BRICS Development Bank and the contingency reserve arrangement (CRA) is being seen as a fruition of a multilateral financial diplomacy advocated by China. With the help of the multilateral mechanism and platform, China will have more say in the world, without being cramped by Western pressure and dollar power. In response to international financial turmoil, market induced or manipulated by dollar power, the NDB will use the RMB for trade and investment in BRICS. China thus expects NDB to help promote internationalization of the RMB.
In the long term, the NDB is intended to help rebuild the international financial order and break the major Western powers’ monopoly of the international financial system. The mechanism of joint development will be open to more developing economies, and form an emerging force.
In terms of economic function, the NDB will provide long-term development aid to developing countries. The monetary reserve will provide an economic stability fund to help BRICS countries respond to financial emergencies. BRICS Development Bank and the CRA will help emerging nations to borrow cash for building highways, power stations and other major infrastructure projects, and to better cope with the risks created by international capital flows and the impact of financial turmoil.
Ahead of the BRICS summit in Brazil, at a press conference during his visit to Beijing on July 8, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim regarded the NDB as a new force for battling poverty and sharing prosperity globally: “The need for new investment in infrastructure is massive. We think we can work very well in cooperation with the new banks once they become a reality.” He added that the establishment of the NDB, catering to the need for infrastructure investment in developing countries, is welcomed by the World Bank.

A boost to world development
The World Bank provided $60 billion last year for developing nations worldwide. When combined with infrastructure investment from private sectors, the total added up to around $150, far short of real demand. One could thus look upon BRICS Bank or NDB as a junior complement of IDB, i.e. the World Bank. But the monetary principle followed by NDB may pose more of a challenge to IDB in practical terms. The NDB still needs approval from each BRICS countries’ lawmakers, which could take years. But when it is finally set up, the bank will provide an alternative source of financing for the BRICS and other emerging markets and give them much greater control over funding decisions that affect them directly.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “There will be a very powerful means to prevent new economic difficulties in the world scenario and creating the bank will also establish the basis for huge macroeconomic changes.” The bank “will allow us to undertake joint plans regarding our development.”
The BRICS now account for about 20% of the world’s gross domestic product, Mr. Putin said. As their economies have grown, and taken on more importance in global trade, the BRICS and other emerging-market countries have clamoured for a bigger say in global economic decisions.
The BRICS and other emerging-market countries have vast needs for financing of infrastructure projects, according to the chief executive of Brazilian development bank BNDES, who estimated the need for long-term project finance at about $800 billion.
NDB will start out with capital of $50 billion, to be paid in equally by all five BRICS countries. Capital is planned to grow eventually to $100 billion, according to the memorandum released after the meeting in Brazil of the heads of government of the five countries.

Process of change initiated
The BRICS have been trying for years to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the backbone of the world’s global financial structure, to give emerging markets more influence over those institutions, but with little success. In consequence, as Mark Weisbrof of Washington Centre for Economic and Policy Research observed:
“In the IMF and the World Bank, the U.S. and a handful of allies really do make almost all the decisions, and the vast majority of the world…doesn’t really have a voice. The fund has lost most of its influence on the middle-income countries in the last 15 years. This is part of the process of change in these international institutions.” And as Indian analyst M.K. Venu observes:
“The truly groundbreaking achievement in the formal launch of the BRICS Bank with a $100 billion corpus is not that five emerging economies have finally managed to create an alternative to the West-centric World Bank. The real achievement is that the structure of governance for the BRICS Bank is based on the principle of one country, one vote. The West never followed such equitable structure of governance in institutions like the World Bank and IMF, The United States has much greater clout, even veto power in these agencies. In the BRICS bank, a small economy like South Africa will have the same voting right as that of China in BRICS bank.
China and other BRICS countries have thus signalled a future cooperative framework based on the equity principle. This principle therefore might even be extended to the $100 billion Contingency Reserve Fund proposed by BRICS, which is to be tapped in times of sudden capital flight and attack on the currency of any of the BRICS countries.
So the BRICS Bank will essentially play the role that the World Bank has: funding long term physical and social infrastructure projects in emerging economies. The Reserve Fund will be more like the IMF which helps countries mitigate short term currency crises.

Say in cyber governance next
The western governments had been underestimating the determination of BRICS nations to do things their own way. The thought process to create alternative institutions and ways of working was set in motion from the very first BRICS summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 2009. Later, the summits in Sanya and New Delhi had firmed up ideas around how BRICS economies should move away from dollar denominated trade for goods and services exchanged among themselves. India responded by allowing Indian corporate  with big infrastructure import requirement from China to “borrow in Yuan (not dollars) to fund such imports.”
India takes credit for democratisation of the global multilateral funding system as a core objective of the BRICS. New BRICS Bank and the Contingency Reserve are efforts in that direction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India acknowledged his predecessor’s contribution to the process, saying: “The proposal of new development bank at the summit two years ago has already been constituted into reality. We also support other developing nations (through the bank). It will be rooted in our own explanation of developing countries.”
On behalf of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also flagged another big issue which BRICS leaders are seriously deliberating upon: how to democratise the Cyber governance space, the current structure being again very US centric. This had assumed urgency after the Snowden revelations which clearly showed the power of Cyber hegemony in the way American authorities wilfully tapped top government offices and functionaries everywhere in the world. Narendra Modi’s visit to Brazil was preceded by express Indian official vexation over reports that US agencies were tapping the BJP leaders at will.
“Modi”-fied India has thus decidedly leaned towards an alternative, if non-polar, order pitted against dollar power and US-led globalisation. Bangladesh is a beneficiary of the US-led globalisation process, albeit fighting its way as an LDC (least developed country) in WTO rounds, but essentially by the sweat and strength of its manpower resource. Its oligarchs, mainly products of crony capitalism on the other hand, have brutally exploited manpower as well as scarce land resources of the country grabbed by muscle power. The resultant power elite in the country is inclined to indulge not only in rampant criminality and corruption at home but also ridiculous confrontation with dollar power at its own peril. Will it have a guardian-angel in NDB to come to its rescue? Doubtful, since NDB too wants a clean and competitive, and less manipulative world financial order.


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Akhaura-Agartala rail link: National interest ignored

Alam Masud

Bangladesh  authorities  are  moving in undue haste to  built  the  broad way corridor  for  India  connecting  Chittagong  sea port  and  the inland  river  port  of  Ashuganj  for  carrying  huge cargo consignments to India’s northeast states.

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Alam Masud

Bangladesh  authorities  are  moving in undue haste to  built  the  broad way corridor  for  India  connecting  Chittagong  sea port  and  the inland  river  port  of  Ashuganj  for  carrying  huge cargo consignments to India’s northeast states.

The  expansion  of    Dhaka-Chittagong  highway  to  four- lane  is  going  on  in full swing  causing  much trouble  to commuters  with  a slow  movement  of  traffic  along the nation’s  busiest  route.
Meanwhile,  the  development  works  of  Agartola-Akhaura  road  and  rail line  are  also  moving  fast  ignoring  local  protests. People  of  the  locality  are  finding  it  difficult  to  protect  their  land  and  homestead  which have  been earmarked  for  government acquisition. During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in January 2010, India and Bangladesh had agreed to develop Akhaura – Agartala rail link.

BNP’s surprising apathy
However, the  people  of  the locality  were utterly surprised  to  see  the  BNP-led  20 party  alliance  remaining silent about Akhaura-Agartala rail transit,  although  they  had  earlier announced  that  they  would  shed  blood  to stop transit.  Even none of the local leaders of   the alliance   stood beside people of Akhaura who have been protesting fearing unnecessary land acquisition.
Residents of the areas are in panic because their land has been earmarked for the project.  They fear acquisition of valuable agricultural land as well as their ancestral homesteads and mosques, graveyards and market places.
The affected areas include western part of Mogra Bazar, northern part of Maniandha, Goaal Gangail, Gopalpur, Bara Gangail, Tonki, Baghai Mura,Tulaishimul, Minarkut, Shibnagar and others, local sources said.
Local people complained that the proposed alignment selected for Agartala-Akhaura rail link in Brahmanbaria district has ignored land interest of Bangladesh. It is yet to be decided  whether  Bangladesh  would  get  any  commission  or  benefit  by allowing  the  corridor  facility  to India. 
The proposed rail line alignment disregarded the policy of economic use of land and protecting fertile agricultural land (two to three crops annually) in a densely populated country like Bangladesh. It may be convenient for the Indian side getting a straight rail line from Agartala to Gangasagar.
But it has opened the door to acquisition of huge private land and eviction of the people. The project will affect hundreds of families who are now in fear of being uprooted from their ancestral  homesteads and agricultural land for  a10-km long rail track and other infrastructure for India’s benefit.

GOB preferring longer route
People of Mogra and Maniandha union, meanwhile, expressed their concern regarding the possible land acquisition and gave separate memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Advocate Anisul Huq , who is also local MP. But panic is prevailing in the locality as people are in darkness about the progress of the project. Local people, meanwhile, organized rallies and formed human chain several times in this regard to draw attention of the authorities concerned.
Tripura border is at a stone throwing distance from Kasba rail station while from Azampur, the Agartala border, is also at a short distance. Despite that the government has allowed India a 15-km long rail link from Agartala via Gangasagar to Akhaura, which will need huge land acquisition in Bangladesh side. The Indian government has a plan to extend railway towards south from Agartala to Subroom (opposite to Ramgarh, Bangladesh) which will be implemented very soon.  In that case, rail link from Kasba to Agartala could be more economic for Bangladesh. Subroom is 70 km from Chittagong Port.
While talking to this correspondent local people said “We do not know actually which alignment will be final, even local public representatives like union chairman or upazila chairman know very little about the project, everything has been conducting centrally in a mysterious manner.”
“We are not against rail link with Agartala, but it should not misuse Bangladesh’s land, destroy agriculture fields, century old market, buildings and houses as well.  Population density, their livelihood and availability of land everything should be taken into consideration before implementing such international project” they added.

National interest being ignored
According to the proposed alignment, a 15-km new rail line to be set up from Agartala to Akhaura. Of which 10 km is in Bangladesh side from border line to straight westward to Gangasagar and then to Akhaura.
The track laying work of Agartala-Akhaura rail link will begin very soon. The third meeting of the joint committee held in Agartala on last June asserted this. The Bangladesh delegation attended the meeting was headed by joint secretary of the Ministry of Railway Sunil Chandra Pal while the Indian delegation was led by Ministry of External Affairs joint secretary Alok K Sinha.  Fourth meeting of the committee is expected to be held in Dhaka in December next. An eleven member Project Steering Committee (PSC) has been working to implement the Rs. 252 crore mega-project for establishing railway connectivity.
Agartala rail link is a national issue and not a local one, thus it should be addressed protecting national interest at first by selecting proper alignment saving valuable land in Bangladesh. Moreover, it is not clear whether it is a rail link between the two Indian states West Bengal and Tripura or Bangladesh will be linked with Northeast Indian States as well as neighbouring countries like Myanmar, China, Bhutan and Nepal for expanding international trade in this region.
After visiting the spots it was found that although Kasba and Azampur two rail stations in Brahmanbaria district are very close to Indian (Tripura) border but the government is going to establish the proposed Akhaura-Agartala rail link through Gangasagar, about five kilometer west from Agartala, which will need huge areas of land acquisition in Bangladesh.

People dislike the project
According to the MoU signed between the two countries on February 16, 2013 three additional loop lines will be set up at Gangasagar railway station in addition to the present rail lines. It has created panic in adjacent Mogra Bazar localities whether the loop lines will occupy the hundred year old market or not.
The existence of the Mogra Bazar will be at stake if any attempt is made to extend such land acquisition up to the Bazar area the western part of which is full of century old buildings including temple, mosque, union parishad office, markets and residential houses. The Bazar should be protected at any cost.  Huge vacant land is available on the southern part of Gangasagar rail station for setting up such railway infrastructure, local people said.  Earlier last year, red marking in different houses by a railway survey team created panic in Mogra Bazar.
The construction of Ashuganj- Laksam double rail line is also under process now in Gangasagar area.
Tripura has few people with vast hilly land while Brahmanbaria has dense population with few lands. Population density of Brahmanbaria district is 1,590 persons per sq km while it is only 350 persons in Tripura.


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Dhaka must ratify UN Convention on common rivers

Faruque Ahmed

Following the peaceful resolution of the maritime boundary with India and Myanmar through UN arbitral process under the cover of UN Convention of Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), questions have been raised as to why Bangladesh and India can’t resolve the common river issues such as Teesta water sharing through such arbitral process.

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Faruque Ahmed

Following the peaceful resolution of the maritime boundary with India and Myanmar through UN arbitral process under the cover of UN Convention of Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), questions have been raised as to why Bangladesh and India can’t resolve the common river issues such as Teesta water sharing through such arbitral process.

Experts, however, said common river issues and maritime matters are not the same. The resolution of the disputes in the sea was possible with India and Myanmar because all three countries including Bangladesh were signatories to the UNCLOS laws. But unlike it, the common river issues are governed by UN Convention on International common water sources. Neither Bangladesh nor India is a signatory to this law and therefore they can’t invoke the law jointly or unilaterally to resolve the outstanding river issues. A senior official at Foreign Ministry told this scribe last week that Bangladesh was really fortunate for being a signatory to UNCLOS law with India and Myanmar which paved the way of international arbitration to resolve the issue.

UN convention on common rivers
Many people tend to believe that if India could anticipate earlier that its signing of the UNCLOS law may open the window for involvement of the UN arbitral system to resolve the maritime boundary issues to the benefit of Dhaka, it might have thought twice in doing so. Though Bangladesh has lost around 6,000 sq km of land to India out of 25,692 sq km disputed area in the sea, besides the need for  readjusting boundaries several gas blocks, Dhaka in a way feels relieved from troubles in the sea. It will allow peaceful use of the territorial water up to 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles as exclusive economic zones extending up to  354 nautical miles or 667 km as the continental shelf having the exclusive right to exploit sea fish and other sea bed resources.
It is also heartening that the new BJP government in New has welcomed the verdict. Bangladesh has also termed it as an example of resolving the issues peacefully with India, besides a step forward to consolidate cooperation and understanding between both the nations. People now wonder if both the countries can resolve the contentious issues peacefully in the sea why it can’t be on the land. The common river issues may be one such area of focus now in the light of success in the sea.
Water resource experts like Inun Nishat, now Vice Chancellor of BRAC University holds the view that Bangladesh should try to use the lessons learned from the sea to resolve common rivers issues on the land. It may work pretty well through negotiations at bilateral level. But Dhaka should also take move at the same time to ratify the UN Convention on International common water sources. It is Dhaka’s right and may work as the last resort.
But without India’s ratification at the same time, the UN law can’t be used to arrange international arbitration on common river issues and especially the Teesta water sharing. So Bangladesh government should take the issue with India and work out a way for jointly ratifying the UN river convention.

UN body’s ratification dilemma 
Experts said the UN Convention on international common water sources was adopted in 1997 and Bangladesh lent relentless support to the UN body in framing the law and develop its functioning procedures. Some Bangladeshi diplomats even worked as chairman and vice chairman on sub-committees which had framed the new law.
The US system required ratification of at least 35 member states to the minimum to make the convention effective. Meanwhile more countries have ratified it turning into an international law but for reasons not known to many, Bangladesh retreated to the back bench and so far avoided the ratification.
It is understood that India does not want to ratify the law and similarly does not looks favourably any move by Dhaka to stamp ratification seal on the UN law. Ever since its adoption by the UN body, Bangladesh governments -­ be it Awami League or BNP, sidetracked the issue taking into account the perceived negative outlook if the Indian government about the law.
For India itself as a sufferer from withdrawal of water by China from the Brahmaputra on the upstream, it is not in favour of using the UN arbitration by going to International Court of Justice. This is another way of seeking UN arbitral system without signing the UN common rivers convention. China is unilaterally withdrawing Brahmaputra river water by building new barrages and diverting it to other uses at India’s expense.
A Foreign Ministry official said India in this case fears if it takes the water issue with China to UN Court of Justice, other victims of water aggression like Bangladesh may follow the same way and Delhi may not have much argument against it.
But according to the Foreign Ministry official, Dhaka may go to the UN Court of Justice to demand resolution of common river issues; at least it is possible under given UN system. In this case Teesta river water sharing has a clear chance given the long stalemate to sign the agreement. Third party arbitration is always a better choice for Bangladesh as it tends to work neutrally free from pressure while in bilateral negotiations India always attempts to impose its desire on the neighbors.

Time for Dhaka to act
In fact, the signing of the convention is entirely a political decision and the successive governments in Dhaka so far had avoided it. It is not clear why the elected governments had so far sidelined issues involving vital national interest. But it clearly shows the nature of Dhaka’s subservient foreign policy instead of pursuing a pro-active diplomacy to protect the country’s basic rights and sensitive interests.
Even the ratification issue had come up for discussion during the last caretaker government and the advisers had reportedly decided to leave it to the future political government for a decision. 
Official sources said India is always insisting on strengthening Joint River Commission (JRC) but one does not understand when there is a lack of political will, how the JRC comprising government officials can be effective to resolve the issues. Moreover, some JRC functionaries always feel that any attempt to ratify UN Convention on common rivers may make India unhappy and this may in turn render the commission ineffective.
There is a common perception that Dhaka had lost its legitimate share of Ganges water agreeing to the opening of the Farakka Barrage sluice gates on experimental basis which continues till today. Similarly, sharing of Teesta river water is facing stalemate on the plea that the West Bengal state government is opposed to it. The UN Convention on common rivers has made unilateral blockade of free flow of water to the downstream nations illegal. Besides, inter-river connectivity project to divert water depriving the lower riparian nation is equally a breach of the convention. The construction of barrages like Tepaimukh dam in India’s Monipur state is similarly a breach of the convention because of its devastating effect on agriculture and ecology of Bangladesh.
The UN Convention on International Common water sources has focused rules and procedures for looking into these matters if parties make the joint move asking for arbitral justice. That requires that parties must be signatory to the convention.
Bangladesh should therefore take steps to ratify the convention. There is no alternative to it particularly as a weaker nation living closer to bigger ones.


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Washington is in a state of immobility

Fazal M. Kamal in New York

Politics and governance in these United States have become trapped in a quagmire exacerbated by the unrelenting grip of virulently contentious stances. Consequently Barack Obama’s second term so far has been much more awful and way removed from awesome especially because of the often regressive mentality of the Republican leadership which has miserably failed to provide a leader with a modicum of sagacity.

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Fazal M. Kamal in New York

Politics and governance in these United States have become trapped in a quagmire exacerbated by the unrelenting grip of virulently contentious stances. Consequently Barack Obama’s second term so far has been much more awful and way removed from awesome especially because of the often regressive mentality of the Republican leadership which has miserably failed to provide a leader with a modicum of sagacity.

This has, naturally, resulted in almost complete gridlock in the capital, particularly in the US Congress. And the situation hasn’t been helped, in the least, by the decisions of the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) which has aided in advancing the rightwing agenda.
Not surprisingly, the extremist-conservative politicians and lobbies have gleefully taken full advantage of the lack of knowledge of the electorate, not excluding their own. To wit: “A 2007 National Constitutional Center poll found that two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name all three branches of the U.S. federal government, nor a single Supreme Court justice. Another poll found that 91 percent couldn’t name the current Chief Justice, which is staggering considering the number of high profile, politically polarizing cases deliberated upon by the nation’s highest court in recent years – including the rulings on the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage and campaign finance laws,” according to C.J. Werleman in AlterNet.

Stunningly ignorant Americans
Wereleman goes on to note: “It gets worse. When respondents were asked whether they could recall any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, a majority could name only free speech. More than a third was unable to list any First Amendment rights. The National Constitution Center also found that 42 percent of Americans think the Constitution explicitly states that ‘the first language of the United States is English;’ and 25 percent believe Christianity was established in the Constitution as the official government religion.” Difficult to believe, but believe you must since those are the realities. And the cynical among the politicos know that pretty well.
From political finance reform to immigration to healthcare, almost nothing is moving in favor of the Obama administration, though despite the stonewalling of the Republicans health care has seen some progress. The president in response has only been able to vent his frustration often and decry the persistent inaction of the Congress---and complain to the people in public events. Against that backdrop the conservative-dominated SCOTUS has made the extant circumstances worse to the applause of the regressive elements. And even though many of the SCOTUS decisions can be rectified via new legislation, that certainly isn’t an option given that the lower house is controlled by the Republican Party and every move the president makes is dementedly opposed by them to the extent that the Speaker of the House has now decided to sue Barack Obama.
The implications and ramifications of this joint SCOTUS-Republican thrust will be far reaching and will travel well into people’s homes. An article in the Daily Kos explained this aptly: “The Roberts and Scalia [supreme] court is operating under an assumption that Christianity is the United States’ semi-official religion and that it should be legislated and protected in a way that other faiths are not. This is, of course, a misreading of the Constitution---despite what the deranged members of the Fox News Christian Evangelical Dominionist American public would like to believe. Unintended consequences may lay bare the hypocrisy of the Right-wing and its agents on the Supreme Court.”

The Orwellian syndrome
Subsequently, the analyst asks: “How would conservatives and their agents respond if a company with Islamic beliefs (however defined) decided to impose its religious values on white, Christian, American employees? Sharia hysteria would spread in such a way as to make the present day-to-day Islamophobia of the Right-wing echo chamber appear benign and muted by comparison. What if a Black cultural nationalist organization such as the Nation of Islam or the Black Israelites claimed that they possessed a ‘religious freedom’ to actively discriminate against white people in the workplace or elsewhere?”
The response, according to this commenter would be, “The White Right would explode with claims of ‘reverse discrimination’ and ‘black racism’. The end game of the Supreme Court’s surrender to the theocrats and religious plutocrats could be the complete dismantlement of the liberal consensus politics of the post World War 2 era.” The Daily Kos analysis adds bleakly: “The corporate-ocracy and the 1 percent are using the tricks, smoke, and mirrors of ‘religious faith’ to expand their power and protections from civil authority and the social compact. The tactic is Orwellian and dystopian. Alas, if corporations are indeed ‘people’---an insult to the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution which was put in place to protect the rights of newly freed black slaves—then their behavior is sociopathic. The sociopath will lie, dissemble, and exploit others for his or her own gain because that is their essential nature.”
Meanwhile a recent survey by Gallup has shown that approval of the SCOTUS has been on the decline since 2009. In its latest poll, conducted earlier in July, it was found that only 47 percent of respondents approve of the Supreme Court, while a slightly smaller group, 46 percent, disapprove. In its note the agency stated, “Since Gallup began asking the question in 2000, Americans have typically been more likely to approve than to disapprove of the job the Supreme Court is doing. However, the margin between the two has been narrowing since its recent high point in 2009….” In this context a commentator noted: “Luckily for the Supreme Court, it’s not the only branch of the U.S. government that has seen its approval tank over the past few years. Americans also have less confidence in the legislative and the executive branch, with only 7 percent reporting high levels of confidence of Congress and 29 percent with confidence in the White House. The Supreme Court had the confidence of 30 percent of Americans in that report.”

Obama’s Sisyphean state
Unfortunately for President Obama, while he has had to face constant onslaughts from the right and withstand pressures from the left, he also had to struggle with policies and decisions left behind by the Bush administration which had created a surveillance state with its motive force being suspicion. For the American people in general it has been a period that has been way less than wholesome with necessary lawmaking and reforms put almost permanently on slow tracks and the president’s to do list immobilized.
It will be worth concluding with the observations of a law professor: “Watching the [Supreme] Court in action – even for just one day – is an eye opener. My class was there on the next to last day. We heard three cases read…. At one point while the opinions were being read, Justice Thomas (who almost always has the ‘I wish I were somewhere else’ look while sitting in open Court) decided to turn his back to those viewing the proceedings. Since he wasn’t standing this meant that he whirled his chair around 180 degrees. This meant that all the Court’s spectators could see was the rather large back of the Justice’s chair. It was as if he disappeared from the Chamber. The Chief [Justice] kept reading the opinion, ignoring Justice Thomas ignoring the business at hand…. Later that day, back in class the students were asked their impressions of the Court. They were quite surprised with how disrespectful several of the Justices (again, particularly Thomas) were. They noticed Justice Scalia leaning way back in his chair, almost to a reclining position. Some students (sitting closer than me) also stated that it seemed Justice Breyer was either ‘deep in thought’ during much of the proceedings or ‘resting his eyes’ (to be polite).”
And so it goes. The Obama administration’s socio-economic-political ambitions are evidently in limbo though, under the circumstances, he himself maybe feeling that he’s in a Sisyphean state.


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SOCCER WORLD CUP 2014
Germany makes history

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal in Delhi

Germany captain Philipp Lahm held aloft the World Cup trophy in company of his jubilant teammates after his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra-time in the final of the global showpiece event at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana Stadium on Sunday.
Bayern Munich star Goetze struck in the 113th minute to finally break Argentina's resistance as Lionel Messi's dream of emulating Diego Maradona ended in defeat.

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Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal in Delhi

Germany captain Philipp Lahm held aloft the World Cup trophy in company of his jubilant teammates after his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra-time in the final of the global showpiece event at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana Stadium on Sunday.
Bayern Munich star Goetze struck in the 113th minute to finally break Argentina's resistance as Lionel Messi's dream of emulating Diego Maradona ended in defeat.

Germany has now won four World Cups, putting the European powerhouses just one behind Brazil's record tally of five.
"It's unbelievable what we have achieved. Whether we have the best individual player doesn't matter at all, you just need to have the best team," said delighted Germany captain Philipp Lahm.
"We improved throughout the tournament and didn't get down when things didn't always go our way, we just stuck to our path and at the end we're standing here as world champions. It's an unbelievable feeling.
"The team stayed calm and patient, we knew that we had something left at the end."

The decisive moment
The decisive moment of a World Cup brimming with wonderful goals came with penalties looming in front of 74,738 fans at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium. Andre Schuerrle burst clear down the left flank and crossed for Goetze.
The 22-year-old took the ball on his chest and then volleyed past Sergio Romero to spark delirium amongst the largely pro-German crowd. Argentina and Messi were left squandering a handful of gilt-edged chances, including one that fell to Messi in the second half.
Messi was largely anonymous for most of the evening and his miserable evening was summed up when a late free-kick to equalise sailed over the bar. The victory was celebrated raucously by Brazilians in the crowd, who had dreaded the prospect of sworn South American rivals Argentina lifting the title in their backyard.
An absorbing first half saw Germany forced into a reshuffle moments before kick-off with inexperienced Christoph Kramer replacing Sami Khedira after the Real Madrid star injured a calf in the warm up. With Bastian Schweinsteiger running midfield the Germans laid siege to Argentine territory, passing smoothly and denying Messi a route into the game.

Glorious chance squandered
Yet for all Germany’s early dominance they created little in the way of clear chances. And it was Argentina who were presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring. Toni Kroos misdirected a header back to Manuel Neuer to send Gonzalo Higuain racing through on goal.
Germany continued to probe for openings, and a Philipp Lahm pass almost put Thomas Mueller clear. With best defences at the net, Germany dominated possession and came close to making their superiority pay off. Pivotal moment came in the 88th minute when Miroslav Klose, Germany's 36-year-old striker who set the all-time World Cup scoring record of 16 goals in the demolition of Brazil, went off to be replaced by the baby-faced Goetze.
Penalties looked to be the likeliest outcome, but Goetze had other ideas. Germany controlled possession without really testing Romero, while Argentina were unable to pass a German defence superbly marshalled by Mats Hummels and Boateng.
Argentina could have broken the deadlock in the first period of extra time when exhausted defender Mats Hummels allowed substitute Rodrigo Palacio a chance to score but Neuer came out fast and the forward lobbed his effort wide. The decisive moment was not far away, however, and it gave the World Cup a fitting finale. “It's unbelievable what we have achieved. Whether we have the best individual player doesn't matter at all, you just need to have the best team,
Germany has now won four World Cups, putting the European powerhouses just one behind Brazil's record tally of five and it is eager to equalize and overtake Brazil at the earliest, if possible.


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Modi faces challenges of Maoist insurgency and separatist movement

Shamsuddin Ahmed

The Narendra Modi-led BJP government in India faces daunting challenges from the Indian Maoist insurgency and long running secessionist movements in northeastern states and Kashmir. Analysts say prospect of ending the insurgency is remote. Rather it is likely to escalate further with the government policy of “zero tolerance” to anti-government terror activities as enunciated in BJP election manifesto.
In fact, the Maoist offensive has been on the rise since the end of general elections in May. A paramilitary CRPF officer was gunned down in Jharkhand on July 4. Earlier, about a score security personnel were killed in deadly Maoist attacks in Sukma and Bijapur districts adjacent to Chhattisgarh state known as the stronghold of the Maoists.

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Shamsuddin Ahmed

The Narendra Modi-led BJP government in India faces daunting challenges from the Indian Maoist insurgency and long running secessionist movements in northeastern states and Kashmir. Analysts say prospect of ending the insurgency is remote. Rather it is likely to escalate further with the government policy of “zero tolerance” to anti-government terror activities as enunciated in BJP election manifesto.
In fact, the Maoist offensive has been on the rise since the end of general elections in May. A paramilitary CRPF officer was gunned down in Jharkhand on July 4. Earlier, about a score security personnel were killed in deadly Maoist attacks in Sukma and Bijapur districts adjacent to Chhattisgarh state known as the stronghold of the Maoists.

The attacks were part of TCOC (tactical counter offensive campaign) launched by the Maoists to assert their presence.  However, presently there is a lull in offensive activities of the red rebels because of monsoon, say the security officials.

Govt. taking a hard line
Following the deadly attacks on security forces in Chhattisgarh, Delhi sent 3000 COBRA commando troops to tackle the Maoists. Home Minister Rajnath Singh dashed to Chhattisgarh and held meeting with state’s chief minister Ramon Singh. They were believed to have discussed the number and scale of counter measures in days to come to contain the Maoist movement.
Will the force and violence be able to solve the problems that have been brewing since independence of the country? Many say “no”. Maoist problem, a legacy of Naxalite movement of 60s died down with the death of its leader Charu Majumdar, was renewed in 2004 with regrouping of hardcore followers of Mao Tse Tung. They launched Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist) with the objective of establishing communist rule by 2050. Although outlawed soon, CPI-Maoist has quickly spread its activities in 22 of the 29 States of India posing the gravest threat to the country’s internal security. More than 2.5 lakh paramilitary forces deployed by the previous UPA government to tame the Maoists proved futile. The Maoists succeeded in establishing more than a dozen free zones, free from government control, in the red corridor.
The number of real Maoist fighters is estimated at a mere 3,000. The Maoists have, however, innumerous followers, supporters and sympathizers among deprived and poor adivasis, tribal and low caste Hindus and also urban educated elites. Maoist fighters have so far avoided frontal fight with government forces. Security forces claimed of many encounters with the Maoists, which were later proved fake. Instances are many in which innocent tribal people, including women and children, suspected as Maoist activists died in action of security forces. Such incidents have no doubt alienated tribal population. This way the government has disinherited the people living in the Red Corridor.

Maoists active in Arunachal
In Assam, the Maoists occupied the spaces vacated by pro-talks faction of ULFA. They have extended bases in Arunachal bordering Tibet raising anxiety of the government.
When Maoist threat looms large in many “mainland” states, the problem of secessionist movement in the Northeast and Kashmir is perennial. A sustained strategy to quell militancy in the Northeast would require sagacity, something the armchair experts in Delhi probably lacking, said Telegraph of Kolkata in a recent report.  The daily viewed that being new to handling the sensitivities of the Northeast, both Rajnath Singh as Home Minister and Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, despite their sincerity, could find the going tough in tackling the regional problems. Economic development of the region, for instance, has to be pursued without destabilizing the fragile local-outsider equilibrium.
BJP being a Hindutva party, sensitivity to Muslim and Christian minority sentiments is an essential element to any counter-insurgency effort. Almost every one of the seven states in the Northeast has experienced a higher population growth than in India as a whole. Local residents tend to blame migration from Bangladesh and Nepal, though large families are common in ng support for secessionist groups in the region. Paresh Barua, the military chief of the ULFA, is said to be under Chinese protection somewhere near Ruili on China’s border with Myanmar. It is said the active insurgent groups have about a dozen camps along Myanmar border where new recruits are trained.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s Isak-Muivah faction, the most powerful secessionist group in Northeast India, has also re-established contact with China, said former Home Secretary G.K.  Pillai. China has denied all this, saying in a statement that it follows a policy of not interfering in the affairs of other countries.

Nagaland may rejoin war
If Muivah, 78, leader of National Socialist Council of Nagaland dies or retires without a settlement being reached, the group, which has rearmed during the 14 years since the cease-fire, could go back to war under a new leadership, a Naga activist with links to the group, told media men couple of months ago.
There will be many number of voices from the Northeast that say, in sum, that the peoples of the region do not want to be tutored or dictated to by the elite in Delhi about what they need and what they do not. We need to respect our own people, culturally different from other parts of India, and evolve a system where the local people have their own rights and voice.
The above map was made available to media persons by the Indian security forces. Bangladesh has strongly denied import of arms for Indian insurgents through Chittagong Port or any arms are supplied to them through Bangladesh territory.


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Palestine: Humanity’s greatest trial

Abu Hena

In 2008 -09 the western-backed Israeli weaponry unleashed the “Operation Cast Lead “against the Gaza Strip when the barbarous Zionist politicians shouted the savage cry: “Bomb Gaza back to the Middle Ages and “flatten Gaza”. More than 1400 innocent Palestinians were killed then and the Gladstone Commission accused the Israeli leaders of “war crimes”. In March 2002 the Israeli hordes attacked Arafat’s Ramallah office and carried out rampage on the refugee camps in Nablus creating a situation “horrifying beyond belief.”

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Abu Hena

In 2008 -09 the western-backed Israeli weaponry unleashed the “Operation Cast Lead “against the Gaza Strip when the barbarous Zionist politicians shouted the savage cry: “Bomb Gaza back to the Middle Ages and “flatten Gaza”. More than 1400 innocent Palestinians were killed then and the Gladstone Commission accused the Israeli leaders of “war crimes”. In March 2002 the Israeli hordes attacked Arafat’s Ramallah office and carried out rampage on the refugee camps in Nablus creating a situation “horrifying beyond belief.”

Ariel Sharon who carried out these brutalities against humanity remained in coma for ten years before he died, suffering the penance in part. This time another maniac prime minister with his characteristic violent behavior has been wildly pounding the Gaza Strip with indiscriminate air strikes for last ten days, hitting innocent civilians, mosques, charities and the homes for the disabled killing hundreds and wounding thousands. “No international pressure will prevent us from striking with all force …,” he frowned like the Pharaoh and indeed defied the call of the entire international community including the Security Council resolution to stop the violence.
UN and ICRC supply pipelines, medical and humanitarian services have been cut off and the water system has collapsed. Over 100,000 Palestinians living in north and east of Gaza have been asked by Israel to leave their homes. And as 40,000 reservists have been called up to start new, more aggressive assaults on innocent Palestinians, Israeli APCS, tanks and armoured vehicles are carrying out massive destruction all around Gaza. It is a human tragedy caused by a frenzied Zionist leader who revels on Palestinian blood and the whole world is grimly watching the rampage as silent spectators.

No end of brutalities in sight
During the last sixty five years the alien invaders of the land of the Palestinians killed more than sixty two thousand men, women and children who grew up there like the herbs of the woods and a million were uprooted from their soil using western diplomacy and billions of dollars of military aid. All these years the Palestinians heard them saying, “the fewer Arabs here, the better.” The occupation force has established itself on an alien land following the design crafted by the British imperialists to act as their agents in the region.
In 1948 when street agitation forced five reluctant Arab governments to send troops on a futile mission to block the creation of Israel, 750,000 Palestinians either fled Palestine or were driven from their land that became the Jewish state. Israeli armed men barred their return and systematically razed 53 of their ancestral villages. The sixty-day war in June 1967 brought the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine under Israeli occupation, and pushed out another 250,000 more refugees. Such is the fate of the world’s 10 million Palestinians, 70 percent of whom are refugees. The tragedies of the Palestinian episode have no end in sight.
The Zionists resist all peace plans in their bid to maintain their monopoly position as the only friend of the west, especially America in the region and to keep the supply line of aid and assistance alive. On the other side the sufferings of the Palestinians continue to afflict politics within the Arab region and beyond. On exile, Palestinians have been harassed, attacked and sometimes driven away from the host country. Lebanese Christians massacred hundreds of Palestinian women and children at Sabra and Chatila in 1982 and destroyed the camps at Tel Zaatar and Qarantina in1970.

‘No peace with settlements’
About five million Palestinians live in Palestine, under Israeli control. In the West Bank, Israeli settlements and military camps occupy 40 percent of land. In 2000 Israel cordoned the territory with walls, fences and checkpoints confining the Palestinians into dozens of enclaves. Since Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2000, its 1.5 million inhabitants have been confined within a strip, kept alive by international aid. Another 1.5 million Palestinians inside Israel have long suffered legal and economic discrimination. They are isolated from their fellowmen. Israel bars them from travelling to Gaza and most Arab countries. Palestinians in the occupied territories cannot visit them. The 250,000 Palestinian residents in East Jrusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, have Israeli residence permits. But if they travel abroad to work, they lose their right to live in the place of their birth. Only Syria gives its 450,000 Palestinians all the rights except the right to vote. Egypt, home to 70,000 Palestinians allows them to travel, if they are lucky to get special permits. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is responsible for the welfare of the 4.5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
On 23 September, 2011, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas submitted an application for admission of Palestine as a full member state based on the borders of June 4,1967 before the Six Day War with Israel. On 29 November 2012 the United Nations accorded non-member observer status to the Palestine State signifying a re-birth. Abbas branded the Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as “the primary cause for the failure of the peace process.” The US Presidents were avowedly anti – settlement but they had to yield to the pressure groups all the times. ‘The Israeli lobby’ steers the US foreign policy in a pro-Israeli direction. The lobby includes Jewish Americans, neo- conservative Christian evangelicans and ‘neo- conservative gentiles.’

Israel commands US Presidents
When President Ford learned of Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank, he sent US ambassador Malcolm Toon to present a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, demanding an immediate end to settlement construction. Rabin recounted his reaction to the letter in a 1992 speech in Wasington D. C. “You have two options,” he recalled telling Toon, “I’ll bring this message to the Cabinet and recommend we reject it. Or, since no one knows about it, President can take back the message.” Toon was startled, Rabin said.
The ambassador had never heard of a President “taking back’’ a message to the head of a foreign government. Rabin insisted, “Try, try.” Within 48 hours, Rabin remembered, Toon told him, “What I didn’t believe has happened. The President took back the message.” Later, a month after taking office President Bush approved the $10 billion loan guarantees. This incident alone shows how subservient the US President becomes to the Israeli political and diplomatic lobby and how elated a section of the US citizens feel when they hear the Israeli prime minister boasting about such Israeli preponderance over the US government.
As Israel’s defense minister, Rabin told his troops in December 1987, they should use “force, might and beatings” to put down the Palestinians’ resistance movement. Later, the same man spoke about “the pain, the sorrow on the Arab side. “You can restore order with force, but force is no help in solving what is basically a political problem,” Rabin once said. Rabin wanted that history would record him as the architect of an Israel in harmony with its Arab neighbours. He was right but he was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic when he wanted to negotiate with the PLO to end the conflict.

End of occupation be focused
Israel’s population was estimated to be 4200,000 in 1984. Rabin realized that such a small population could not survive and prosper, even with the most sophisticated western weaponry, in an environment predominantly Islamic, by cultivating hostility and enmity with the 1.5 billion Muslim community who have fourteen hundred years of glorious history of civilization and emprire building the world over. As the Turkish epic “Conquest 1453” ( Fall of Constantinople to the Turks ) had its premiere in 2012, the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing ” in Gaza. “Israel is committing ethnic cleansing by ignoring peace in this region and violating international law. Sooner or later, Israel will have to answer for the innocent blood it has shed so far,” he said. The sentiment was echoed by the Arab League Secretary General: “The real problem that the Arab and Islamic countries and all friendly countries in the world must focus on is ending the occupation.”
Mohammed Morsi, the only democratically elected Egyptian President played a leadership role as the regional peacekeeper during the 2012 crisis when an Egyptian brokered ceasefire took place in November. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who witnessed the signing expressed hope saying, “In days ahead, the United States will work with partners in the region to consolidate this progress.” Now neither Morsi nor Clinton is in office and the Hamas which is sceptical about the new Egyptian President has rejected Egypt’s ceasefire proposal. People of Palestine want permanent peace not temporary cease fires which provided no permanent solution to the problem so far. Western diplomats want to prolong the crisis at the cost of the Palestinians. The Muslim World is simply unconcerned. The Palestinians are now tied together by the narratives of endless suffering, despair, death and dispossession, and the dream of returning home.
The writer is former Member of Parliament, and author of ‘Islam the Last Hope’


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Update: 7 July, 2014 Saudi patrol under fire at Saudi–Yemeni border post Secretary General condemns terrorist attack
Update: 10 July, 2014 Assault on Presidential Palace in Mogadishu OIC Secretary General condemns destabilising elements
Dangerous situation in Occupied Palestine Open-ended Extra ordinary Executive Committee Meeting of OIC
Update: 14 July, 2014 Appeal for Relief to Gaza
Update: 14 July, 2014 Call for International Task Force to investigate Israeli crimes
Update: 15 July, 2014 Humanitarian relief for Gaza in peril
 Update 16 July, 2014 OIC Condemns Terrorist Attack in Paktika
Update July 19, 2014 ACT TO STOP MASSACRE IN GAZA
Update July 21, 2014 Forced displacement of Christians in Iraq OIC condemns ISIS terror tactics
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