MORNING NEWS BRIEF:10 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Protesters in wedding dress take part in a demonstration against the military coup. Meanwhile police in Myanmar have responded with increasing violence to protests against last week’s military coup, using water cannons, rubber bullets and live ammunition in a crackdown that left a woman in a critical condition on Tuesday.
Nepal’s democracy in crisis
Nepal’s democracy is in crisis. When a long-simmering row within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) flared up last December, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli dissolved Parliament —a move critics decried as unconstitutional. Then, on February 3, Oli moved to consolidate control over key constitutional bodies that are supposed to serve as checks and balances to the government. These actions have led critics to question whether elections for a new Parliament, slated for April 30 and May 10, can be held freely and fairly. Much still remains uncertain as the country awaits a Supreme Court verdict on the constitutionality of Oli’s maneuvers.
How misinformation is used in various fields
One of the oldest and foremost proponents of using misinformation as a tool of politics (and economics) is the 24 centuries old “Arthashastra”. A complete course handbook on how to run a state, it also details devious means to accomplish one’s ends. An extensive manual for conducting subversion, Arthashastra is the earliest known exponent of hybrid warfare, which Modi has finessed to spread lies and subterfuge into a fine art.
New horizon in US-Bangladesh ties visible with Biden administration
Bangladesh remains committed to promoting connectivity in the region. The concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific would help Bangladesh promote the Blue Economy and connectivity, bring improvements of the investment climate, and strengthen measures against terrorism and other organised crimes in maritime spaces. We request US investment in the infrastructural development of Bangladesh to enhance the effectiveness of the Indo-Pacific strategies. We have joined the Belt and Road Initiative of China from the same aspiration of receiving investment in our infrastructure development, aimed at the socio-economic development of our people.
Twitter concerned for staff in India after row over account removals
Twitter has expressed concern for the safety of its employees in India after the company’s refusal to comply with a demand from the Indian government to remove more than 1,000 accounts connected to the farmer protests in the country. In a statement, Twitter said it had reached out to the Indian government for a “formal dialogue” after the ministry of information and technology requested the removal of 1,178 listed Twitter handles it alleged were illicitly connected to Pakistan or the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement and spreading propaganda and misinformation.
Taliban visit Turkmenistan, promise to protect TAPI
Over the weekend, a Taliban delegation – led by Mullah Abdul Gani Baradar – paid a visit to Turkmenistan where the Taliban (again) expressed full support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. In December 2016, the Taliban said they were “committed to safeguarding” national infrastructure projects like CASA-1000 and TAPI; in 2018, a Taliban spokesperson told Voice of America that the Taliban viewed TAPI as “an important element of [Afghanistan’s] economic infrastructure” and announced the group’s “cooperation in providing security for the project in areas under our control.”
‘Anti-India’ social media posts could cost your passport, says Uttarakhand police chief
Police forces in the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Bihar have warned citizens that criticising the government on social media or participating in protests could disqualify them from government jobs, bank loans and even obtaining passports. The Uttarakhand police chief, Ashok Kumar, announced at a conference last week that the force would scrutinise social media for “anti-national” posts and that people found to be “habitually” posting such content could be refused applications for passports or arms licences. His warning came a day after a similar announcement by SK Singhal, the top police official in Bihar, who said people who joined protests could be blocked from various services including government jobs, grants and contracts.
China's recovery creates opportunities for higher cooperation with Bangladesh
At a time when the rest of the world is still grappling with rising Covid-19 cases and economic recession, China's hard-won economic rebound will provide inspiration and experience for global economic recovery in the new year. As Bangladesh entered these difficult times on a much stronger footing compared to many of its peers thanks to low external debt, low overall public debt and comfortable debt service capability in view of its healthy foreign exchange reserve, there are immense opportunities to grow business and pursue further win-win cooperation between China and Bangladesh. The first opportunity is China's huge market. With a population of 1.4 billion, including a middle-income group of over 400 million, China has a huge market with the greatest potential in the world. In the coming 10 years, it is expected to import goods worth over $22 trillion.
US and Philippines to discuss key military pact -- and future of alliance
Officials from the Philippines and the U.S. are set to meet later this month to discuss the future of their Visiting Forces Agreement, a military pact crucial to their defense alliance, Manila's top diplomat said on Monday. At stake is one of America's most important alliances in Southeast Asia and whether U.S. troops can continue to operate out of the country on a rotational basis. Access to Philippine military bases will be key to projecting power in the South China Sea and President Joe Biden's ability to push back against Chinese maritime activity.