In a landmark decision, the Indian Government has given a green signal to the ambitious project of turning 100 urban centres spread across the country into smart cities ,the need for which has been vigorously espoused by the tech savy Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi .The “Smart Cities Mission” that will attract an investment of Rs.480,000-million has as its objective, “recasting the urban landscape of the country by making cities more liveable and inclusive, besides driving economic growth”.
The ongoing political crisis in Maldives has not only raised serious doubts about the country’s democratic credentials but also resulted in international spotlight shifting its focus on Maldives’ human rights record and its capacity to deal with political dissent in a democratic manner, although the path to democratic changeover in the country itself was full of turbulence when Mohamed Nasheed was elected as the first President in a multi-party democratic election.
The Special Forces operation in Myanmar against insurgent camps is being widely perceived as a possible new template to deny safe havens to terrorists. The message appears to be that if terrorists launch attacks inside India from bases outside India, then these are legitimate targets for Indian security forces. Although this was not the first military operation carried out along the India-Myanmar border against insurgents, all previous operations were conducted in conjunction, cooperation and coordination with the Myanmar Army.
The recent unfolding of events in West Asia, where the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) militants captured two strategically and historically important places, has once again showed its intent to consolidate, control and expand its territories. The fall of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province in Iraq on 17 May, and the historic city of Palmyra in Syria on 20 May happened amidst the efforts to destroy this Sunni militant group. The victory was contrary to the claim by American officials that the ISIS was on the defensive side in Iraq.
After delivering on many of his pre-election promises relating to issues of governance in the ‘hundred day action plan’, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is currently grappling with the issue of holding mid-term elections after dissolving the current Parliament. It may be mentioned that Maithripala Sirisena had in his election manifesto, pledged to amend the electoral system to make it more fair and equitable through a combination of first-past-the-post system and proportional representation. Holding mid-term parliamentary polls was understandably not in his election manifesto.
The decision of the BJP-led NDA government to take military action against the northeast militants, particularly those involved in the recent attack ( June 04, 2015) on the Indian army in Chandel district of Manipur has brought to the fore several important discussion points.
The year 2015 is expected to be a turning point in the evolving strategic and economic relationship between the United States and Vietnam. While assertive behaviour of China in South China Sea can said to be one of the motivations behind US and Vietnam coming closer, there are other very valid reasons and logic for both to forge stronger ties.
Beijing pays especially close attention to border issues and bilateral ties, both of which it regards as sensitive. The Chinese realise that settlement of the border issue is central to any improvement in India-China relations, but have kept it unsettled over the decades to pressure India. China has simultaneously sought to weaken India’s stand in the border negotiations by promoting doubts regarding the actual alignment and even legitimacy of the McMahon Line.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an extremely successful 2-day visit to Bangladesh on June 6&7 2015 that was not only a high profile bilateral visit but was equally rich in substantive content and deliverable out come. As mentioned in our pre-visit curtain raiser posted a few days before the visit, it was part of PM Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ out reach initiative that has already taken him to Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles. China too has been visited by Modi and now only Pakistan is left out. But that is a different story.
Mahesh Buch's sad and sudden demise after a brief illness on June 6th has left not only the Vivekananda International Foundation bereft of one of its most eminent faculty members but also deprived the nation of one of its most independent, mature, and versatile commentators.