Wednesday, August 29, 2012
With indications increasingly suggesting the possibility of a regime change in Dhaka in early 2014, the intelligence establishment here is worried that anti-India forces could once again get a free run to useBangladesh as a staging post for terrorism and other subversive activities.
The term of the Sheikh Hasina government, which reined in terror outfits operating from its soil, ends in January 2014. Revolving-door politics being much the norm in Bangladesh, it is likely to be the turn of Begum Khaleda Zia, Hasina's arch rival who is not known to be friendly towards India. In fact, as she rises in the charts capitalizing on Hasina's incumbency, Khaleda has also been busy painting the prime minister an Indian stooge.
The security agencies fear that Bangladesh-based subversive elements, like those aligned with fundamentalist outfit and BNP partner Jamaat-e-Islami, could resume their policy of sponsoring and sheltering insurgent groups active in northeast India which use the neighbouring country as a safe haven besides providing an infiltration route to Pakistan-sponsored terror outfits.
The communal divide between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims in parts of Assam has the potential to be exploited by Bangladeshi fundamentalists to radicalize the Muslim youth there and add muscle to home-grown terror in India.
New Delhi has got unprecedented cooperation from the Hasina regime in busting the havens of Indian insurgent groups in her country as well as in the investigation of terror incidents with Bangladeshi linkages. However, as the popularity of the Awami League regime under Hasina dips, ceding ground to rival BNP, the agencies fear that the gains of the last few years may be reversed if Khaleda regains power.
It is no secret that Pakistan's ISI has been using Bangladesh to carry out anti-India operations. Bangladeshi terror outfit HuJI enjoys close links with Pakistani tanzeems. Many of the ISI-sponsored perpetrators of terror attacks in India had either infiltrated through Bangladesh or escaped to the neighbouring country after the strikes. There are many other instances of ISI links with Bangladesh: ISI footing the election bill of Khaleda in 1991, a revelation made by none other than former ISI chief Assad Durani; NSCN cadres travelling to Pakistan from Dhaka in March 1996 for training in guerrilla warfare; an ISI-sponsored technical expert training Ulfa in operation and installation of communication equipment at a Nagaland camp; detaining of NSCN(I-M) chief T Muivah at Bangkok airport in January 2000 while returning from Karachiafter allegedly inspecting an arms consignment; and the revelation of arrested All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) cadres that ISI had extended $20,000 assistance to Tk 58 lakh to the outfit, besides imparting arms training to eight ATTF cadres in 1997 at Kandahar, Afghanistan.
With ISI and Bangladeshi group Jamaat-e-Islami allegedly funding Assam-based Muslim fundamentalist groups like Multa, Mulfa, Simi and Indian Mujahideen, it is feared that the latter may be used to exploit the tension between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims in Kokrajhar to stoke communal fires and instigate local Muslims to take to home-grown terror.
Obviously, the Indian security establishment is keen to arrest the slide in Awami League's popularity. Though there is little it can do to reverse the incumbency disadvantage, a positive development on the Teesta water-sharing pact, financial assistance for the Padma Bridge project and exchange of enclaves may go a long way in correcting the negative perception in Bangladesh that Hasina has not managed any major concessions from India. However, these will be possible only after UPA's troublesome ally, the Trinamool Congress, is convinced to drop its reservations on Teesta and the enclaves.
Even as efforts will intensify over the next year to recover lost ground for Hasina, senior intelligence officials here claimed that Khaleda's BNP alliance, saddled by corruption cases and expected conviction of its leaders by war crimes tribunals, could see a reversal in its growing popular perception closer to the polls, expected sometime in February 2014.
First published in Times of India, TNN, August 29, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh seems bent on destroying the best elements of the Grameen Bank, whose loans to poor women inspired a global movement now enabling more than 135 million borrowers to become self-employed. More than a year ago, she engineered the spectacularly illogical dismissal of Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize-winning founder and managing director of Grameen Bank. Hasina rode roughshod over the bank’s own board’s decisions and bylaws in imposing a mandatory retirement on Professor Yunus, ostensibly because of his age. (She seems not to have been troubled by issuing that dictate through her minister of finance who, himself, was many years older than Yunus.)
But not content to have removed Yunus, whose worldwide fame seems both Bangladesh’s most notable asset and Prime Minister Hasina’s most aggravating cause of envy, she has now moved to gut the Grameen Bank’s fundamental premise of governance: that the women who comprise the bank’s clientele should have a controlling voice in its policies and programs. In a region not notable for women’s rights, this leadership position by the Grameen Bank has been salutary for the bank, a model for other institutions and an inspiration to all those seeking to advance the well-being of women and their families.
What exactly is Prime Minister Hasina’s latest plan? Very simple: Trash the Grameen Bank’s historically successful model of a borrower-dominated board that has the power to elect the managing director of this bank, in which the borrowers are the leading shareholders. And replace that process with what? Let’s see. What could be the most disempowering, backward, ham-handed, intrusive alternative one could imagine?
Eureka! Have the government-appointed chair of the board summarily appoint the managing director! Forget about the decades-long organic evolution of women’s leadership in both governance and management at Grameen Bank. Just empower Hasina’s crony chair to install a managing director, who will reliably turn the bank into a compliant arm of the Hasina administration — an administration whose appreciation of this international treasure, if such appreciation exists, is no barrier to envy-driven decisions that simultaneously compromise both the bank’s all-important independence and the administration’s own already shabby reputation.
It would be easy, and wrong, to dismiss this as a tempest in a teapot. Beyond its role in pioneering microfinance and poverty-reduction programs that have now been adopted worldwide, Grameen Bank is a shining global model of what it means to empower women — even, and especially, poor rural women. These women not only comprise 97 percent of the bank’s borrowers, but they actually own more than 95 percent of the equity in the bank. Accordingly and appropriately, women hold nine of the 12 seats on the board. And it is little noted but no small thing that the Nobel Peace Prize accepted by Muhammad Yunus was actually awarded to him and to those women — that is, to the bank itself, which they have built and, until Prime Minister Hasina butted in, have successfully controlled.
At this moment, a hand-picked Bangladeshi government commission is “studying” Grameen Bank to find ways to “improve and protect” it. Rodgers and Hammerstein captured this situation perfectly in “The King and I,” when the king, reflecting on foreign “allies” increasing their role in Siam, sings, “Might they not protect me out of all I own?”
What can be done? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Dhaka in May to urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni to take no action that would undermine Grameen Bank. In addition, the 17 women who currently serve in the U.S. Senate have sent a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Hasina.
And this communiqué was issued by our State Department earlier this month:
“We call on the Government of Bangladesh to respect the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of Grameen Bank. We urge the Bangladeshi Government to ensure transparency in the selection of a new managing director who has unquestioned integrity, competence, and dedication to preserving Grameen Bank, its unique governance structure, and its effectiveness in bringing development and hope to 8.3 million of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable citizens, mostly women.”
It has seemingly always been the case that enlightened advances forged over decades by millions of dedicated people working together can be trashed with astounding finality by one misguided ‘leader.’ We owe it to those who created Grameen Bank, and to history, to show that such travesties are not inevitable. Citizens wishing to add their voices to this urgent call for preservation of a global treasure can sign on to a petition by searching ‘change.org Grameen Bank.’”
This is not a futile exercise. The worldwide firestorm over the ousting of Muhammad Yunus still reverberates in Hasina-administration deliberations. A fresh onslaught of petitions on this new issue may give them some pause. And perhaps even more important, our loud protests can mobilize the voters of Bangladesh, who, ultimately, must decide if their democratically elected prime minister should be allowed to demolish their country’s most celebrated contribution to its own people and the global community.
Eliot Daley is a Princeton writer. Contact him at eliotdaley.com.
First published in New Jersey dot com: August 18, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
The Unfinished Memoirs: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Indian Rs. 699 pp 324
Indian Rs. 699 pp 324
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first ruler of
lived an event-filled life, not to speak of creating quite a few of the events,
including leading the movement almost single-handed to carve out the nation. His
memoirs are therefore not only
of interest to his countrymen but a valuable source of history of post-colonial
Bangladesh South Asia. Mujibur’s story also stands out in
the context of the unique saga of Bangladesh, born first as the eastern wing of
Pakistan, the home of Indian Muslims, but tearing itself apart as a separate
entity for unbridgeable cultural differences with the communal mother nation’s
But Mujibur’s Memoirs, as it confesses, is “unfinished”, and that’s a sad story. His daughter Sheikh Hasina, the present prime minister of
her preface, recounts how she got hold of some of his diaries and notebooks
after returning to her country in 1981. A decade earlier, when Bangladesh Pakistan army personnel cracked down on East Pakistan and raided Mujibur’s house, they looted everything
except his scribbling, which they thought unworthy of making a bonfire. So the
papers remained in a chest next to his bedroom. In 1975, after some dissident
army officers had assassinated Mujibur with his family members (Hasina and her
sister Rehana were miraculously away from the country), the house was sealed by
the junta that took over, and the papers remained in the chest until another
violent regime change, enabling Hasina to lay hands on her father’s notes. But
it took her more than two decades more to discover her father’s autobiography,
written in Bengali. Memoirs is its English translation.
The problem is, it is unfinished. Far from taking the story anywhere near its climax of
birth, the narrative vanishes somewhere in the 1950s. So there are plenty of
faces and voices of the Pakistan movement, the partition and the birth of
Bangladeshi sub-nationalism, but little on the questions that still puzzle
those following Mujibur’s life: what were his so-called linkages with Indira
Gandhi’s government in New Delhi prior to the liberation war, and, why, after
assuming power, did he fail to keep his personal enemies and covert agents of
Pakistan at bay? The late diplomat JN Dixit’s book Liberation and Beyond:
Indo-Bangladesh Relations is a treasure trove of unexpected, if not contrarian,
ideas, but Mujibur’s own version would have brought us closer to the felt
The book ends, rather abruptly, sometime after the first election in 1954 to the
East Pakistan legislative assembly, in which the Awami
League trounced the Muslim League. It turned on its head, for the first time
perhaps, the League’s crude belief that nationalism could subsist on religion
alone. But it does not explore in Mujibur the seed of the independent leader
that later developments proved him as. On the other hand, the autobiography
shows him as a rather fawning acolyte of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a shrewd
politician remembered by many in West Bengal
as the architect of the Great Calcutta Killings in 1946. Suhrawardy was in fact
a bundle of contradictions, an avid proponent of liberal parliamentary
democracy after he emerged as a top leader in (prime minister between
1956 and 1957) but the first person to lead the country onto a path of frenzied
military expansion. Educated in Pakistan Oxford and a
successful barrister in ,
he was also a class apart from hick town politician Mujibur in his taste,
chasing champagne parties and European blondes. In the book, there is only
gushing praise. Calcutta
What the book has in abundance are the details of a politically intense but clubby life led by the author in
Calcutta and Dhaka. In Kolkata’s Maulana
(known as Islamia College before Partition), he struggled to “achieve ” with
millions of coreligionists. But he is at his best in chronicling Dhaka after
Partition, when its politics shifted its focus to “achieve” a new Bengal which
is a Pakistan in name but actually a nation
in the making. province of Pakistan
Sheikh Hasina has astutely enriched the book with a large collection of old photographs capturing moments that would otherwise have been water under the bridge. In a picture shot with the author standing near the door and the Mahatma in the middle, Suhrawardy by his side, much of their inner calculations find expression — Mujibur the young man insistent on “achieving” the promised land, Suhrawardy open to bargain and the Mahatma eager to let the Muslims feel that they were safe till he was around. The year: 1947.
Sumit Mitra is a Kolkata-based writer for Hindustan Times
First published in the
August 18, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
AS BERTIL LINTNER mentions in the introduction of Great Game East, the expression “Great Game” was originally used to denote the struggle between two western powers to wrest control of energy-rich
EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW
But certain interests in
It is possible. But I’m not sure if it is the main reason people are moving from
Isn’t it ironical that the ULFA based its politics on an anti-Bangladeshi immigrant stance but eventually accepted Dhaka’s help to fight
The ultimate irony is that the movement began as an anti-foreigner movement — less
The ULFA has now split. Almost everyone in the top leadership is negotiating with the Government of
I first met Barua in 1985 in a Naga camp in northwestern
Kunal Majumder is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka. email email@example.com
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Bangladesh's government is taking over the pioneering microfinance bank, just as its founder feared
WILLIAM B. MILAM
FOR THE past 18 months in Bangladesh, the specter of a government takeover has haunted Grameen Bank and its founder, Nobel Prize winner Muhammed Yunus. Many thought Mr. Yunus was imagining the threat, but this month the Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina finally showed its hand. Her cabinet decided to push the microfinance lender's elected board of trustees aside and give power to the government-appointed chairman to name a selection committee that will soon find a new managing director.
The decision marks a new turn in a campaign to vilify Mr. Yunus, which began last year when the government removed him from his long-time role as managing director. Then it ginned up a controversy that micro lenders were "loan sharks," when the opposite is true: These banks give poor borrowers an alternative to usurious moneylenders.
This time, the cabinet impugned Mr. Yunus's honesty by asking questions about whether he followed bank rules on tapping the bank's credit facilities when he was managing director. It also alleges that he wrongly received tax exemptions on his foreign earnings. Last week, it opened a tax investigation.
Grameen Bank is important because it established the microfinance model--banks that provide unsecured loans for poor women for investing in income earning projects. It has been copied throughout the world and inspired the phenomenal growth of micro finance. In 2006, both the Bank and Yunus were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for, as the Nobel committee put it, "their efforts to create economic and social development from below." By giving the poor the ability to help themselves, it undermines the culture of dependency on the government that ties the poor to Bangladesh's political parties.
In May 2011, I visited Dhaka and talked at length with Mr. Yunus, whom I have known since the early 1990s. He had been under attack by the Awami League government for some time. Even after he was removed from his position, he sought to ensure that the bank board could still elect his successor without political interference. It now seems all but certain that the bank he led to international renown will come under new management.
Many Bangladeshis I respect told me then, and still think today, that the Awami League is out to get Mr. Yunus by any means possible. The politicians believe, wrongly, that he is a long-term threat to their interests.
Many suspect that the root of the problem is that, when Bangladesh was under a military caretaker government in 2007, Mr. Yunus's name was briefly put forward in 2007 as a possible leader of a "third force" to replace the two dysfunctional major political parties led by Ms. Hasina and Khaleda Zia. Their personal animosity has made progress impossible. He never volunteered this idea, but he didn't reject it at first either. Nevertheless, this third party never took off.
In addition, most Bangladeshis say that Grameen Bank now provides low-hanging fruit for what is perceived as a corrupt government. Officials can loot the bank's substantial assets at will now. They can also tap its customer base of women borrowers and turn them into a serious vote bank by promises of loan reductions or write-offs.
World leaders need to take note of these perverse motivations in Dhaka and condemn them, but they aren't doing so. I came back to Washington after my 2011 visit feeling great foreboding about Grameen's future. The South and Central Asian Bureau of the U.S. State Department, however, did not share my concerns when I met with its officials. Their reaction was tepid then. Now, more than a year later with news of the cabinet's decision, I am told they are "working on it."
For all the laurels Mr. Yunus has received from the West, his strategy to protect the bank he founded didn't work, partly because Western governments failed him. In the 15 months since the attack on Grameen began, the U.S. and others have let themselves be distracted by other business and lulled into complacency by Ms. Hasina's waiting game.
Now it may be too late to save the bank. The U.S. is playing catch-up on an issue on which it had an early warning. By this time, Prime Minister Hasina is not inclined to listen to other governments and back off her determined course. I am sure it will take more than words to deflect it. The U.S. and European governments will have to threaten to cut off bilateral assistance programs and other aid through multilateral institutions like the World Bank.
Getting donors on the same page at such a late date will be a real uphill battle, and given all the other pressing issues in South Asia is a long shot. It is thus with a heavy heart that we must prepare for the disappearance of the pioneer of microfinance and the marginalization of its visionary founder.
William Milam is a former U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
First published in the Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
|Photo: Victims of racial riots in tears in make-shift camps|
MORE THAN three decades of ethnic and communal strife, as well as multiple insurgencies, in
have never seen a significant echo outside the Northeast, other than the
occasional arrest of, or incident involving, a militant hiding out in some
distant part of the country. Indeed, the violence of Assam 's wider Northeast has
remained almost hermetically sealed within the region since its beginnings in 1951,
with the Naga insurrection. India
Abruptly, a local - albeit sizeable - conflagration in the Bodoland Territorial Administrated Districts (BTAD) of
has found violent reverberations in Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Ranchi in Jharkhand, as well as parts of Andhra Pradesh
and West Bengal. even as communal
organizations from Delhi and other parts of the country send 'fact finding
missions' into the affected areas in Assam, to conclude that a great conspiracy
against the State's 'Muslim citizens' is afoot. The purported 'Muslim anger' over
developments in the Bodo areas has congealed with apparent distress over the
treatment and violent displacement of Rohingya Muslims in . India's
'failure' to 'do enough' for the Rohingyas was one of the supposed triggers for
the 'protest' in Mumbai and Ranchi, which culminated in pre-planned rioting on
August 11, 2012. Myanmar
Curiously, little notice has been taken here of Muslim-majority
's inflexible position
that Rohingya refugees would receive neither admission into nor shelter on, Bangladeshi
soil. Indeed, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rather curtly told British Secretary
of International Development Affairs Andrew Mitchell in Bangladesh London,
that 'countries including Britain,
which are concerned over the Rohingya issue, should hold talks with Myanmar instead of putting pressure on .' If
the Indian leadership was susceptible to learning anything, it would see a
strong lesson here. Bangladesh
Unfortunately, leaderships and administrators in this country remain tenaciously uneducable. Far from seeing the intentional mischief in the present troubles, they have sought to impose a pall of confusion over the most basic issues, claiming that the violence in the Bodo areas has no relationship to the long unresolved, and implicitly encouraged, problem of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Thus, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi baldly claimed, on July 27, 2012, "There are no Bangladeshis in the clash but Indian citizens."
Successive administrations in
have refused to address, and indeed, have sought vigorously to cover up, the
issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration that has destabilized the State and the
wider Northeast for decades now. The general pretext has been that no
authoritative estimate of illegal migrant populations is available, but this
begs the question, since it is the administration that is required to produce
such an estimate, and has defaulted persistently on this duty. Indeed, even the
Supreme Court's goading on this issue has fallen largely on deaf ears, or has
met with fitful efforts at 'compliance', quickly abandoned at the first signs
of predictable resistance. Assam
On July 12, 2005, the Supreme Court of India noted that Assam was facing "external aggression and internal disturbance" on account of the large-scale illegal influx of Bangladeshi migrants, and that it was "the duty of the Union of India to take all measures for protection of the State of Assam from such external aggression and internal disturbance as enjoined in Article 355 of the Constitution."
In 2005, the Centre decided to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 'within two years', on the basis of the 1971 rolls. The exercise failed to take off. On April 22, 2009, during tripartite discussions between the Central and State Governments, and the All Assam Students Union (AASU), the Government promised to initiate NRC updates in two revenue circles, Chaygaon in Kamrup District and Barpeta revenue circle in Barpeta District. The process commenced on June 7, 2010, as a pilot project, but almost immediately ran into trouble, with 'law and order problems' surfacing in Barpeta. On July 21, 2010, protestors under the banner of the Barpeta District Unit of the All Assam Muslim Students Union (AAMSU), demonstrated violently outside the Deputy Commissioner's Office, demanding a halt to the process. Police eventually opened fire, killing four and injuring 50. While no official suspension was announced, the 'pilot project' stood abandoned from this point on.
On March 26, 2012, the Government announced the 'decision' to re-launch the Registrar General of Citizens' Registration pilot project to update the NRC in three phases from July 1, 2012. AAMSU, with 24 other 'minority organizations' objected to the decision. The process has not begun till date.
Over the intervening years, Governments, both at the Centre and in the State have done much to muddy the waters. The most perverse initiative was the introduction of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act of 1983 (IMDT Act), ostensibly intended to 'facilitate' the quick detection and expulsion of illegal migrants, but, in fact, designed to disable the far more effective provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, which continue to apply to the rest of the country. With action initiated only on the basis of a complaint, not suo moto by state agencies, and the onus of proof shifted from the accused to the complainant, the IMDT made it nigh impossible to identify and expel any significant number of illegal migrants. The Supreme Court thus noted, in 2005, that though enquiries were initiated in 310,759 cases under the IMDT Act, only 10,015 persons were declared illegal migrants, and even among these, just 1,481 illegal migrants had been expelled in the duration of the Act, till April 30, 2000. On the contrary, it was noted, that West Bengal, where the Foreigners Act was applicable, and which also faced a major problem of illegal migration from
persons had been deported between 1983 and November 1998, a significantly
lesser period. The IMDT Act, the Court observed, "is coming to the
advantage of such illegal migrants as any proceeding initiated against them
almost entirely ends in their favour, (and) enables them to have a document
having official sanctity to the effect that they are not illegal migrants." Bangladesh
In September 2000, the Supreme Court had directed the Union Government to repeal the IMDT Act by January 2001. The then Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre failed to comply, claiming it did not have the requisite numbers in the Upper House. Unsurprisingly, the present Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government failed to initiate any process to implement the Supreme Court's standing orders, till the Court struck down the IMDT Act in its order of July 12, 2005. Nevertheless, the Congress continues to contest every move seeking any change to the status quo that it has engineered on illegal immigrants in
, on its own cynical electoral
In the interim, efforts to 'regularize' illegal migrant populations and entrench their 'rights' in what should be protected tribal areas, on the basis of opportunistic arrangements with militant formations seeking accommodation with the State, have continued through the disastrous Assam Accord of 1985 and, more significantly in the present context, the Bodo Accord of 2003. Under the latter Accord, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, intended to protect the special rights of vulnerable Tribal populations, was amended to guarantee the land rights of 'all communities' living in the BTAD. It is this unprincipled and opportunistic legislation that is being used by Muslim communalists within and outside
to claim that all Muslims in the BTAD are Indian citizens with constitutional
protection to the lands they have acquired. Assam
Through all this, the sheer enormity of the demographic reengineering in the region has been entirely ignored. Since no Government has committed itself to a detailed enumeration of citizens or of illegal migrants, there are, of course, no 'official' estimates of the actual illegal migrant population in
authoritative estimates have periodically come into the open source from
official quarters. Assam
In 2005, then Assam Governor Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh, in a report to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), leaked to the Press, had claimed that "upto 6,000" Bangladeshis enter Assam every day. The statement was subsequently modified under pressure from the Congress to claim that the number applied to Bangladeshis entering
India, not alone. A 2001 UMHA estimate
claimed that "150 to 170 lakh (15 to 17 million) Bangladeshi infiltrators
have crossed into Assam
illegally since 1971." Again, on July 14, 2004, the then Union Minister of
State for Home, Shriprakash Jaiswal, conceded in Parliament that, out of 12,053,950
illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators all over India India,
5,000,000 were present in
Census figures also provide significant indices for the scale of infiltration. The Provisional Census 2011 indicated that
's population, at 31,169,272, had
registered an increase of 4,513,744 over the preceding decade. Of the State's 27
Districts, Dhubri, bordering Assam ,
had recorded the highest growth, at 24.4 percent. The decadal growth rate for Bangladesh , at 16.93
per cent, was lower than the overall national growth, at 17.64 per cent. Details
of trends in various population groupings under the Census 2011 are yet to be
2011 Census data clearly suggests that the scale of infiltration has declined. Between 1971 and 1991, the Muslim population in
grew by 77.42 per cent as
against 41.89 per cent for Hindus. Between 1991 and 2001, again, the
corresponding figures were 29.3 per cent for Muslims and 14.95 per cent for
Hindus. The result was that, currently, of 27 Districts in Assam , at least
six have 60 per cent Muslim population, while another six have over 40 per cent
Muslims. And of the 126 Assembly seats, 54 Members of Legislative Assembly, are
dependent on Muslim 'vote banks'. Assam
There are numerous troubles between a multiplicity of communities in
, and the
Indian leadership and administration has failed to keep pace with contemporary
trends, with the growth of populations, and with the transformation, opportunities
and challenges of new technologies and processes. At base, every administration
has to be anchored in principles of justice, efficiency and honesty. If this is
the case, law and order automatically falls into place. When there is
occasional trouble, people turn to the authorities and not to radical and armed
extremist formations. Assam
Unfortunately, the integrity of administrations has been comprehensively compromised across
, and more
so in the States of the Northeast. The communalization of politics, a trend
that commenced well before Partition, has progressed through the decades of India , even under
and within purportedly 'secular' parties. The external environment has also
been radicalized, with a jihadi ideology now entrenched in Independence Pakistan finding reverberations across the world,
and, at least in some measure, in as well. It is significant, in
this context, to note that, Lafikul Islam, the 'publicity secretary' of the All
Bodoland Muslim Student's Union (ABMSU), had warned the State Government on
July 7, 2012, that, if the 'culprits' of the violence of July 6, 2012, were not
arrested within 24 hours and the atrocities against the minorities did not end,
ABMSU would declare jihad and take up arms. Within the current international
milieu, such sentiments are sure to find their echoes among the Islamist
lunatic fringe - and its mirrors in other communities - pushing India into a
widening conflagration. India
India's administrators, enforcement and intelligence officials cannot, within the current global context, continue to remain as ignorant as they evidently are, both of local trends within their jurisdictions, and of international trends impinging on perceptions and motivations of local populations. There is evidence that the current cycle of violence was at least partially linked to Bodo-Muslim competition to encroach on forest land, in the latter case, for the construction of an Idgah in the Bedlangmari area in Kokrajhar. However minor such an incident may appear to be on the surface, no competent administrator or intelligence operative could possibly ignore its potential for mischief - and yet, this is precisely what happened. Vast areas of forest and public land in
progressively encroached upon, with full connivance of the administration, and
this cannot continue without consequences. Assam
Law and order in
can no longer be maintained without understanding the subtle trends in violence
all over the world. Terrorism and insurgency are no doubt significant patterns
that will demand our attention, but there are other patterns of low-grade
violence - such as the rioting in the Bodo areas - which will challenge the
state progressively, especially, where terrorist and insurgent movements begin
to fail. Unless administrators, police leaders and intelligence operatives are
sensitive to past trends, social contexts, and international developments, they
will continue to fail to respond effectively. There is tremendous need, today, to
enlarge the training programmes for the superior services, whose officers are
being found wanting in crises with increasing frequency. India
Above all, the corrupt politics of vote banks and crass electoral calculi, to the manifest detriment of the national interest, must be defeated.
diversity can only be held together by the unity of law and of justice, not by
the unprincipled horse-trading that governs politics today. India
K.P.S. Gill is publisher, SAIR; President, Institute for Conflict Management
First published in South Asia Terrorism Portal, Weekly Assessments & Briefings, Volume 11, No. 6, August 13, 2012
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni speaks to Barkha Dutt, an Indian television journalist and Group Editor with NDTV on the issue of migration from
Barkha Dutt: This session of Parliament might well
see the UPA government seeking a ratification of the land boundary agreement
Bangladesh to and water sharing treaty between the two countries. Here is the full transcript: India
Barkha Dutt: Let me start by asking you, there was so much expectation of the Teesta Accord coming through between
India and , the two Governments, of
course, reached a consensus. And then domestic politics within Bangladesh , in a
sense, played obstacle. How seriously could this issue impact the larger
relationship between India Delhi and Dhaka?
Barkha Dutt: Since then she has made statements that there is not enough water for
Dr Moni: Well, she said, she gave me her views and, obviously, I gave our view, which is, it is a common river, it is a common river, and there are rights of many, many people. And it's not the question of someone giving it to another; one person giving it to another, it's sharing. And if we have less water, we will share that lesser amount. It's all about sharing and between two neighbours, that's what we need to do.
Barkha Dutt: The transit-rights' issue that
India and Bangladesh
have been trying to work out for to have faster access to
parts of its own country in the East. How much of that is based on a reciprocal
understanding that Teesta will be delivered by India . And don't give me the diplomat's
answer; give me the real answer. Delhi
Dr Moni: We are, we are, working on the transit issue because it is a very big issue; because it consists of the road transit, the rail transit and also the water transit. So we have, actually, engaged a task force, a core committee, which looked at the whole issue; and, because this is new for us, we tried to look at other comparable situations in other parts of the world, and have come up with a, a, framework and we are now looking at what we need in terms of infrastructure, in terms of legal, what do I call it ...
Dr Moni: See, at the same time, even during the Indian Law Minister's visit to Bangladesh, he was representing India in our celebration of 90 years bijoy, of Kazi Nazrul Islam, and he also had Members of Parliament belonging to the Opposition and they all spoke in one voice about being good neighbours and good friends with Bangladesh; and they did talk about the foreign policy of India, being something where they all come together. If a government has promised something to a neighbour or to another country, that, irrespective to whether someone is in opposition or in office, they would be supported. So, that was the, that was the understanding given to us by, as recently as I would say, two months ago. And the other thing is that this is something that has remained as an unresolved issue between the two countries for quite some time. And both countries are looking forward to resolving those long-pending issues and, I believe,
India is as eager
is in resolving these issues. So, I hope that it is done soon. Bangladesh
Dr Moni: Migration happened, so these are also some factual, some legal questions, so I wouldn't like to comment on that.
Barkha Dutt: But you know that, just at a humanitarian basis, one of the things that could come up, because this debate is happening in India right now, and the international debate is on Bangladesh's refusal to take in refugees from Burma, the Rohingyas; and, therefore, a number of people will say that of course, the humanitarian refuge was given to mass migration in, in for example, 1971. But then, shouldn't
be doing the same for
the Rohingyas today? And if it isn't, then why isn't it understanding that
political parties are objecting to Bangladeshi migration? Bangladesh
Dr Moni: You see, Rohingyas coming into
that also has a history. And that is very different. Bangladesh
Barkha Dutt: Okay...
Barkha Dutt: One of the other irritants between
India and are the border killings.
It has been, what the Border Security Force in Bangladesh will say, or smugglers or
criminals or infiltrators will say, your government has been told that even if
they are criminals, arrest them, but you have argued that they are being fired
upon indiscriminately. Is this an issue that is now resolved? India
Barkha Dutt: So do you mean this casts a longer shadow than most other issues?
Dr Moni: Well, it comes once in a while.
Barkha Dutt: There was a reference to it in her speech in the People's Empowerment Conference.
Dr Moni: Yes, and she believes in it. That is why there are so many of us in the Parliament, in the cabinet, in the party. And as I said, yes, sometimes we also feel, sort of not always, at times also I think it's also great, I would say most of the time it's great being a woman.
Barkha Dutt: Well, most of the time. It's a great pleasure talking to you.
Dr Moni: Thank you. Wonderful talking to you.
Barkha Dutt: Thank you so much.
Full transcript of the interview in NDTV, August 08, 2012