Regarding the obvious reality of disastrous impact of India’s river linking project on this country’s agriculture, economy, ecology, ecosystem and topography, every Bangladeshi is alarmed, while water experts, environmentalists and the main opposition BNP have articulated their concern. Unacceptable as it is, India’s unilateral move to execute the Himalayan part of the contentious river-linking project involving four trans-boundary rivers the Manas, the Sankosh, the Teesta and the Ganges to use the flow for irrigation and hydro-electricity generation is an attitude improper on the part of a ‘friendly’ neighbour. Contrary to the repeated assurances that India earlier made of not taking any one-sided decision on the project which may affect the lower-riparian Bangladesh, the implementation of the project will definitely harm the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and India.
The harmful Indian project is doubtless a real source of danger spelling doom for the entire population of Bangladesh, regarding which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should tell her counterpart Mr. Narendra Modi about the horrific ramifications of the project. There must not be any scope for mincing words, timidity or trepidation in speaking the truth, fearing that the ruler in Delhi may be angry with Dhaka. No, nothing should desist Dhaka from vacillating because it is very much a life-and-death issue—-a question of sheer survival of over 16 crore (160.4 million) human beings.
Blissfully, Hasina is assured of her arch rival’s sincere, unambiguous support. Voicing deep concern over India’s reported decision to connect the rivers covering three states, the BNP on July 23 urged the government to sit with the Ibdian authorities on an emergency basis over the issue. It has given the government total support over the water issue. “BNP will always remain ready to cooperate with the government if it takes any initiative over national or water issues,” a BNP leader said.
Lower riparian deltaic Bangladesh is criss-crossed by some 230 rivers, 54 of them originating from India while sharing of waters in common rivers remained an outstanding issue in bilateral ties with Dhaka seeking agreements to ensure its fair share in the natural flow of the streams. Chairman of parliamentary standing committee on water resource ministry Ramesh Chandra Sen told newsmen, allocation of fund afresh for the project is a matter of concern.
Bangladeshi river experts and environmentalists expressed concern over India’s fresh move to implement the controversial river linking project that will connect trans-boundary rivers and divert water to southern Indian states. The project, if implemented, will diminish the water flow in Bangladesh’s rivers like the Teesta, Jamuna and the Padma and affect the country’s environment and economy. Definitely it will reduce the water flow if they divert water from our common rivers,” said Prof Ainun Nishat, hydrologists and former member of joint river commission.
The Defence Forum India, a website of “defence enthusiasts who... discuss all things related to Indian Defence and Indian Armed Forces” [defenceforumindia. com/forum/ threads/tipaimukh-dam-disaster-for-bangladesh.2526/], says, “Ignoring its promise, India in the last four years has refrained from sharing technical information with Bangladesh about building the Tipaimukh Dam in the bordering Manipur state, triggering public uncertainty and outcry over its possible negative impact on the neighbouring country.”
The Indian forum carries the Daily Star article, “India’s Tipaimukh dam emits an air of eerie feelings: concerns in downstream Bangladesh” by Pinaky Roy dated, June 11, 2009.
In 2005, India promised to share with Bangladesh the project design, which is pending till date. Besides, the country also did not share any study report on the dam’s impact on downstream regions. Experts said the construction of Tipaimukh dam would impose a great environmental threat to Bangladesh as four major rivers in the Meghna basin the Meghna, Kalini, Surma and Kushiyara lie downstream the Barak, locally known as ‘Ahu’. At a Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting in September 2005 held in Dhaka India formally assured Bangladesh that they would not divert any water for their irrigation project. Hiding any information by the upper riparian countries about the use of common rivers is considered a violation of the international water management convention.
If the dam is constructed then, say experts, there will be increase in salinity in the Meghna-Surma basin, unusual floods in ‘haor’ region, reduction in water flow in the Surma, Kushiyara and Meghna rivers in certain period, damage to the country’s ecosystem and agriculture patterns in Sylhet region, among other impacts of the dam. A chain of severe impacts is very likely as Bangladesh gets 7-8 per cent of its river waters through the Barak.
Negative impacts of any large dam are very widely known around the globe. A detailed study by the World Dam Commission published in 2000 says adverse impacts of any large dams are irreversible for the lower riparian region. The study after reviewing 1,000 dams from 79 countries concludes in its report: “The environmental impacts of dams are more negative than positive ones and in many cases dams have led to irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.”
Friendship means mutual feelings of trust and cooperation—-but inflicting virtually mortal wound through such a devastating project, which will beyond a shadow of a doubt turn Bangladesh into a vast arid land and decimate its 16 crore people—-is enmity of the worst category that is tantamount to a silent genocide without arms and ammunition.
The ‘younger brother’ Bangladesh has given ‘elder brother’ India much more than Delhi including corridor [mistakenly referred to as transit] of connectivity from western India to northeastern immensely benefiting India economically. However, we keep our fingers crossed and hope against hope that Modiji will recall what he had affirmed in Dhaka: to work together with Dhaka as a good friend.
Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed the collective self-defence bills through the Lower House on 16th July while the opposition camp boycotted the vote. The Abe government has initiated for a change that Japan’s military would be able to mobilise overseas when these three conditions are met: when Japan is attacked, or when a close ally is attacked, and the result threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to people when there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan’s survival and protect its people, use of force is restricted to a necessary minimum.
The interesting point is that a “close ally” has not been defined and it means that whichever country Japanese government considers a “close ally”, leaving a wide flexibility for the government. Furthermore “clear danger” has not also been defined leaving it to subjective interpretation of the “danger” of the Japanese government.
Reasons behind new policy
The Abe government argues Japan’s strategic geography - proximity to both the then-Soviet Union and China - meant that it ultimately needed to deploy its own basic defence forces. Their role though was heavily circumscribed and Japan avoided all foreign military entanglements. Some 70 years later, the picture has changed dramatically. The Cold War may be over and the former Soviet Union is no more but now a rising China is driving security concerns in the region.
Japan remains the United States’ key ally in the region. And with the scale and reach of China’s military growing significantly, Japan has been modernising its own forces.
This year, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force has commissioned its largest vessel yet - a new helicopter carrier - the JS Izumo. This could potentially embark a number of V-22 Osprey vertical lift aircraft - and Japan is thought to be interested in buying up to 17 of them from the United States. More Aegis anti-missile warships are planned and brand new, Japanese-built maritime patrol aircraft are coming into service.
Over the years, Japan has also widened its sphere of international military activities. It’s been a slow process with the country dipping its toes slowly into the field of foreign entanglements.
But Japanese warships have participated in international anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and Japanese maritime patrol aircraft have supported this mission from Djibouti.
Japan has also slowly begun to take part in military exercises further from its shores. In July 2014, it participated for the third time in joint US-Indian naval manoeuvres and a small contingent of Japanese troops is currently involved in the joint US-Australian Talisman sabre exercise.
It is argued by the government that in many ways the reforms which are being pushed by Prime Minister Abe have already been under way - little by little - for many years.
End of pacifist policy
In clear violation of Article 9 of the Constitution, which famously renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes, these bills would provide for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to cooperate actively with U.S. and other foreign military operations overseas. If adopted, Japan will be able to use military force even when it is not attacked, under the name of collective self-defense. Let us not mince words: this spells the end of Article 9 without ever formally amending it according to due process of law.
Critics argue the impassioned debate surrounding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to give Japa’s defence forces a wider role on 16th July obscures the fact that the country is already a significant military player. It has well-equipped air, sea and land forces with ambitious modernisation plans under way.
Its army of some 150,000 troops is small (but still larger than that of Britain, one of Nato’s middle-ranking players whose forces stand at some 84,000). It has an impressive navy including a small helicopter carrier, two Aegis-equipped cruisers with sophisticated radars and battle management systems, and some 34 destroyers and nine frigates of various types. It also has some 80 anti-submarine warfare or maritime patrol aircraft.
Given the potential threat from North Korea’s missile arsenal, Japan has a growing interest in ballistic missile defence.
The country hosts two highly sophisticated US radars to track such weapons. It currently has four destroyers capable of shooting down ballistic missiles along with land-based PAC-3 missile interceptors. More are planned.
Critics argue that the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not even bother to argue that the security legislation proposed by his administration has won public support just before the bills were railroaded through the special Lower House committee on 15th July perhaps because various media opinion polls have clearly indicated otherwise, no matter what he and other members of the administration insist.
Tokyo angers Seoul, Beijing
The Japanese PM, however, conceded that the legislation has not yet been “fully understood” by the people which did not stop his ruling coalition from pushing the bills through the Lower House on 16th July as much of the opposition camp boycotted the vote.
Nonetheless, making the changes explicitly raises strong passions among the Japanese public, and any perceived revival of Japan as a military player prompts strong reactions from those who have suffered from its military expansionism in the Japan’s post-World War. Two constitution bars it from using force to resolve conflicts except in cases of self-defence.
Whatever the statements of some more conservative Japanese politicians, the anguished debate over the country’s changing strategic posture would suggest that ordinary Japanese are all too well aware of their history which makes Abe’s path a bumpy one to say the least.
The defeat of Japanese militarism in World War Two and the experience of suffering the world’s only atomic bomb attacks left the country with a deep vein of pacifism.
South Korea reacted critically but cautiously, even though it may benefit from Japan’s decision to aid allies if North Korea ever attacks. The Japanese government is deeply unpopular in South Korea over the perception that it is not appropriately repentant for Japan’s actions before and during World War II – particularly for forcing Korean women to use as sex workers “comfort women.”
Seoul said it would “never tolerate” Japan’s use of collective self-defence without its consent “on matters that can affect the security of the Korean Peninsula or national interests of the ROK,” according to an official statement.
Besides territorial concerns, China has also taken issue with Japan’s defence policy changes under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan has defended its reinterpretation of its pacifist constitution to allow it to use force to defend allies under attack, which it calls “collective self-defence”.
China in turn has previously accused Japan of “remilitarizing”. China, along with South Korea, has also accused Japan of whitewashing wartime atrocities in schoolbooks and raised objections when ministers, including Abe, visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine which honours Japan’s war dead as well as war criminals.
Japan’s role is changing in the context of perceived threat from China and North Korea. Japan is keen to have a security alliance with the US, Australia, Vietnam, Myanmar and India to counter China.
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva
M. Ashiq Kayesh
After a breathtaking performance against team India the Bangladesh tigers were on high confidence and ready to take on the giants of cricket, South Africa. This tour of South Africa cricket team has already created a distinctive place in the world cricket history. In the backdrop of a sensational victory against England by Bangladesh cricket squad, fondly called the Tigers, in the recently concluded World Cup Cricket held in Australia and Newzeland and then a outstanding ODI series win against the two World Cup holders, namely Pakistan and India in the home ground, Bangladesh vs South Africa series captured the attention of the cricket enthusiasts around the world.
The cricket world has started to believe that Bangladesh is no more a minnow team. They are no more an occasional giant killer; rather they are now a giant team capable of beating any country in the world with style and spirit. Entire cricket world set their eyes on Bangladesh vs South Africa series with a lot of interest to see how Bangladesh would fare against super-heavy weight South African team.
A big question was crossing in everyone’s mind whether or not Bangladesh would display similar heroic cricket against South Africa as they put up against Pakistan and India. So, Bangladesh Vs South Africa series turned out as an acid test for the Tigers to prove their mettle.
Rising cricket force
What has been the fate of the Tigers’ encounters against South Africa so far are now part of the history. Tigers have proved the sceptics totally wrong by snatching a thumping ODI series win against the strong Proteas. Yes, the Tigers lost two T-20 and first ODI by 8 wickets that certainly dented their new–found image as a rising cricket force to a little extent but the Tigers turned around brilliantly in the 2nd and 3rd ODI restricting the South African batting within only 160s.
This has been an extraordinary come back for the Tigers and a remarkable feat which the cricket world will perhaps remember for a quite a long time. It was not just a superb win for the Tigers in the ODI series against the Proteas that appeared outstanding, but the sheer scale of defeat inflicted by the Tigers on the Proteas was also quite notable. The defeat of South Africa by 7 wickets in 2nd ODI and by 9 wickets in 3rd ODI is a clear testament to the Tigers heightened skill in every department of the game.
They repeated the same clinical performance with bat and ball as they did against Pakistan and India. If our batsman kept the Proteas on the run by their merciless beating, so did our bowlers by restricting their manoeuvrability on the crease with the magic spell. If Soumya, Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiq and others repeatedly sent the ball over the fence, similarly Moustafiz, Murtaza, Rubel, Nasir, Zubair and others sent the South African batsman back to the pavilion quite easily. So it was the combination of both fearless batting and devastating bowling that earned the Tigers the coveted victory against the Proteas. As far as 50-over format is concerned, Bangladesh has succeeded to enhance their standing in world cricket by clinching three consecutive ODI series win. However, in T-20 and test match format Bangladesh is still to prove their power.
In the 1st test match against South Africa in Chittagong our boys were playing well. In first innings they have overtaken Proteas total of 248. Proteas, however, almost levelled the deficit without losing any wicket .Both the teams claimed that the game was in their favour but the rain came out as an unwanted guest and spoiled the opportunity to win the match. We don’t know what was awaiting Bangladesh team without rain but it can be said with certainty that our team was doing well and they were ahead of Proteas till the third day.
After winning ODI series against Pakistan and India the former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott made the comments in ESPN: “Bangladesh’s impressive series win over India is not