“Undivided India” mural causes concern among other South Asian countries

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Shortly after Indian Premier Narendra Modi declared open India’s new parliamentary complex built at the expense of US$ 2.4 billion recently, India’s neighbours who share the land borders expressed concern over an “undivided India” mural installed in the new building.

Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan raised serious concerns about the inclusion of their sovereign countries in the mural. Bangladesh went one step further instructing its embassy in New Delhi to get an official explanation on the matter from India’s External Affairs Ministry.

In addition to three countries, the mural also includes parts of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

The mural

Pakistan criticised the move as “a manifestation of a revisionist and expansionist mindset”, whereas Nepal Prime Minister Kamal Dahal who visited New Delhi last week endorsed an explanation from officials of India’s External Affairs Ministry saying the map was purely historical and carries no contemporary political connotations.

Two former Prime Ministers of Nepal–Baburam Bhattarai and KP Sharma Oli–who spotted Nepal’s ancient sites Kapilavatsu and Lumbini on the mural, warned it may cause “unnecessary and harmful diplomatic disputes.”

On May 28, the day of the inauguration, India’s Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi tweeted the mural with the caption in Hindi which reads: “The resolve is clear – Akhand Bharat.

‘Akhand Bharat’, described as a “cultural concept” by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu fundamentalist outfit influential in the political philosophy of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), referred to an undivided India whose geographical expanse was extremely wide in ancient times–including present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand.

So far, there has not been any official statement from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Myanmar on the matter.

 

 


Pakistan refuses to default on loans; Sri Lanka “like the worst kid in class”

As the General Treasury reflected recently in its annual report on Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis–which became a lesson for other countries on how not to run a country’s economy–the island nation has become a reference point, or an example, quite often in other similar contexts as well.  

This week, Pakistan Finance Minis­ter Ishaq Dar alleged that geopolitics was behind the stalled loan programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as global institutions wanted Islamabad to default like Sri Lanka and then enter negotiations.

Pakistani media quoted him as saying “Pakistan is a sovereign country and cannot accept everything the IMF demands. IMF or no IMF, Pakistan will not default,” he declared.

The reference to Sri Lanka drew some attention on social media. One user on Twitter wrote: “Sri Lanka is like the worst kid in class, who other parents tell their kids not to be like.”


HRCSL’s chief in mission to observe Sierra Leone election

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka’s Chairperson Rohini Marasinghe, who is also a former Supreme Court Justice, has been appointed as a member of the Commonwealth Election Observers’ group for the Sierra Leone general election to be held on June 24.

Former Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe

The mission left for Sierra Leone on Friday and will spend two weeks in the country.

Justice Marasinghe was approached to participate in this important Observer Mission by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The observer team will be made up of election administration, legal, gender and media professionals from across the Commonwealth nations. The group is to be led by Nigeria’s outgoing Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

The June 24th elections will see Sierra Leone elect a new president or potentially re-elect its incumbent, Julius Bio, who is one of the two major contenders for the country’s topmost position. The other contender is Samura Kamara who was runner-up in the 2018 Presidential elections, losing out to Mr. Bio.

The mandate of the Commonwealth Observer Group is to observe the electoral process and provide an independent assessment of whether the election has been conducted credibly.


Diaspora’s Evening with Annamalai: What has he done for Lankan Tamils, asks local politico

For quite some time, the Tamil diaspora groups in Western capitals entertained Tamil Nadu-based political leaders by inviting them to raise funds and keep thoughts of the now ‘dead and gone’ Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) alive in foreign soils. These diaspora groups also exert pressure on the home government through various lobbying initiatives.

In recent years, it was actor turned politician and Tamil nationalist Senthamizhan Seeman, whose political party flag is similar to that of the LTTE, who went around diaspora capitals and raised millions for his political survival. These days he is totally focused on regional politics alone.

The latest in the list is Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K. Annamalai who has been invited to a closed ‘invitees only’ event — “An Evening with Sri Annamalai” on June 24 in Northwest London.

The event titled “India-Eelam Thamilar Uravu Paalam” which translates as “India-Eelam Tamil Bonding Bridge” is organised by the British Tamil Forum.

A local Tamil politico who is critical of such events, questioned what Annamalai has done for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause so far to be invited. Instead of these gimmicks, these organisations can channel their funds to grassroots organisations to feed the poor families in remote areas of the North and East, and of course, stop Indian fishermen taking the catch from the seas that belong to the Sri Lankan fishermen in the North and East, the local politician said.


The record breaking kidney stone

The tale of two record-breaking stones

“A kidney stone removed from a man in Sri Lanka is the heaviest and largest ever seen.” That’s how Guinness World Records recalled the list of record events recorded by the organisation this week.

The stone was removed last Thursday (June 1) at Colombo Army Hospital by doctors attached to the Army. It was 13.372cm long and weighed 801g.

Social media users and meme creators took the event to another level by adding more context to the “stone” saga by comparing it with another stone incident, where the world’s largest star sapphire cluster was unearthed in Ratnapura. The star sapphire cluster was claimed to be worth roughly US$ 1 million.

However, when the matter was raised at Committee on Publication Enterprises (COPE) proceedings recently (May 26), National Gem and Jewellery Authority officials revealed the cluster could not be polished and was worth merely US$ 10,000 as a museum piece.


UK trip: Five Police officers give Police a slip

The hot topic among local police circles at their headquarters these days is how five police officers who travelled to the United Kingdom to take part in an official event representing the department at their own expenses failed to return to the country.

The five officers were given private leave by the department to attend the International Police Association (IPA)’s 65th anniversary. Sri Lanka Police is among the 69 members of the IPA. The event was held on May 23.

Sri Lanka Police also maintains a separate office to handle IPA related coordination matters at its Field Force Headquarters at Havelock Road in Colombo 05, since it obtained membership in 1974.

The missing Police officers, who were refused official leave earlier, obtained private leave to which they are entitled to, and made travelling arrangements out of their own pockets.

“Considering how expensive airline tickets are these days, surely the top brass must have smelt a rat as to why they were so keen to go for this anniversary event,” one officer at a Police mess was heard saying to a colleague.


Ven. Ajahn Brahm’s flight was missed due to negligence of duty officers

Lapses on the part of the Airport and Aviation Services Sri Lanka Limited (AASL) Duty Manager and the SriLankan Airlines Duty Officer, who had been on duty at the time, had resulted in Ven. Ajahn Brahm missing his flight two weeks ago, the President’s Office has been informed.

It has been revealed that while seated at the VIP Lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport, the thera had reminded the AASL duty manager and SriLankan Airline’s duty officer on at least two occasions that he needed to get to his departure gate on time.

However, no proper attention had been given to these concerns, and by the time the officers finally took the thera to the gate, it had already been closed. The Thera had missed his flight and had to be put on another flight hours later.

Meanwhile, it has also come to light that no request had come from the President’s Office, the line Ministry or the Foreign Ministry to accommodate the thera at the airport’s VIP Lounge. That request had been made by a senior official of SriLankan Airlines to the AASL’s leadership.

It was also revealed that the airline official is a member of the society that had invited the thera to the country. Accordingly, the request had been approved, even though it is a violation of existing government protocol as such requests must be channelled through the Foreign Ministry.


Lawyers up in arms over no-parking rule at Nugegoda Court

Lawyers at the Nugegoda District and Magistrate’s Court are up in arms over a decision to prohibit them from parking their vehicles within the court premises.

The decision has forced lawyers to find places on the main road to park their vehicles, which they say has caused traffic congestion. They have become further angered at the fact that court staff and Police officers are still allowed to enter the court premises and park their vehicles, while lawyers have been prevented from doing so.

When this was pointed out, they were told that two lawyers can enter the court premises and park their vehicles, but it would be on a first come, first serve basis, which meant that more than 20 lawyers would still have to park their vehicles somewhere else.

It was learned that lawyers had consulted among themselves on what action should be taken about the matter, with some suggesting they inform the Chief Justice about the matter.

It was also learned that lawyers
were mooting the possibility of parking their vehicles at the same time on the road in front of the courts as part of a strategy to escalate their protests over the prohibition.

 

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