MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 11 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A Naga Sadhu, or holy man, adjusts the beads around his neck before the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela. The festival is traditionally credited to the 8th-century Hindu philosopher and saint Adi Shankara, as a part of his efforts to start major Hindu gatherings for philosophical discussions and debates along with Hindu monasteries across the Indian subcontinent. However, there is no historic literary evidence of these mass pilgrimages called "Kumbha Mela" prior to the 19th-century.
New crisis, new opportunity in Myanmar
The global community, led by the U.S., should empower Bangladesh to negotiate a sustainable future for the Rohingya in Myanmar. Myanmar’s February coup is a tragic setback for human rights in the region. Yet it also creates an opportunity. With a new administration in Washington, there is finally a chance to resolve the refugee crisis that has displaced the Rohingya population for over three years. The global community, led by Washington and in partnership with Bangladesh, can team up to seek a negotiated settlement with Myanmar. There are several reasons why this collaboration is urgent and can be effective.
Modi’s Bangladesh visit to be loaded with political message for Bengal voters
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to send across a political message from Bangladesh to electorates in West Bengal, which will go to poll in eight phases starting on March 27. During his upcoming two-day visit to the neighbouring country on March 26-27, Modi is expected to visit a sacred shrine of “Matua” community at Orakandi in Gopalganj district and a “Satipith” in Shikarpur in Barishal district, reported Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, the country’s national news agency. Taking a dig at the proposed visit, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has thrown a diplomatic challenge at the prime minister. “At Orakandi, prime minister should announce that his government will give citizenship in India to all Matuas who are persecuted in Bangladesh,” said state president of the TMC’s Refugee Cell Mukul Chandra Bairagya, a prominent Matua face of the party.
India not part of Russian meet on Afghanistan
Close on the heels of U.S. plans for a United Nations regional conference on Afghanistan, Russia has announced it will hold a conference of special envoys from the U.S., China, and Pakistan, along with representatives of the Afghanistan government, Taliban and other senior Afghan leaders next week. Unlike the UN-led formulation, however, India has not been invited to the Russian conference, officials confirmed, adding that Moscow has kept New Delhi apprised of the two-year old “Troika” process involving consultations between U.S., Russia and China.
UN Security Council wrestles with threat of action over Myanmar coup
The UN Security Council failed to agree on Tuesday on a statement that would have condemned the coup in Myanmar, called for restraint by the military and threatened to consider “further measures,” though diplomats said talks would likely continue. During an initial bid to finalize the text, China, Russia, India and Vietnam all suggested amendments late on Tuesday to a British draft, diplomats said, including removal of the reference to a coup and the threat to consider further action. Such statements by the 15-member body are agreed by consensus.
‘We’re being watched’: Kashmir decision to vet social media feeds of new employees sparks alarm
On March 3, Jammu and Kashmir government issued orders to say that no new government employee in the Union territory would be paid a salary or allowances until they had undergone a verification process by the Criminal Investigation Department. Popularly known as the “eyes and ears of the government”, the Criminal Investigation Department is the premier intelligence agency of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
India, Bangladesh exploring proposal for cross-border refined-LNG pipeline
India yesterday said it is exploring with Bangladesh a proposal for supplying refined-LNG through cross-border pipeline and establishment of an LNG terminal, and pitched for South Asian regional power co-operation. "We are working assiduously to promote the sub-region comprising Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and India as an energy hub," Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.
B-52s in the Middle East
For all the world’s vastness and complexity, my attention is constantly drawn back to the Middle East, where there is much to think about. Last week, for example, two B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East, the fourth time since Joe Biden became president of the United States. Washington said the flybys were due to instability in the region, but the subtext was very clearly about Iran. What was more unusual about these flights than the previous was that U.S. Central Command announced that the B-52s were accompanied by supporting aircraft from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.