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Suhasini Haidar
Thursday , June 26, 2014

Bangladesh: Time for India to reciprocate

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Ten years ago, the results of such a survey would have sent shockwaves. After all, in 2003, Bangladesh was considered a dangerous terror hub for anti-India groups - it was the headquarters of the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI), the group that was responsible for gun-running and coordinating several attacks in India, a haven for the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and a training ground for ISI-backed groups. Bangladeshi forces exchanged fire with jawans from the Indian Border Security Force frequently. The image of the bodies of 16 jawans killed in Pyrdiwah in 2001, hanging from poles like animals and being carried by Bangladeshi villagers, was etched in every Indian's memory. Not to mention India's constant worry of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, an estimated million-plus at the time, crowding the country's cities, wrecking the economy and straining resources. Yet in 2013, in a survey commissioned by The Hindu and conducted by the....

Friday , June 20, 2014

'Good journalism will change you'

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Dear Journalism Students: Good journalism will change you, or at least it will build your abs. Congratulations on graduating! Today I want to speak to you about Change. As you all know, I have just made a big change in my career, moving to a newspaper, The Hindu, after 20 years in television. But that change is very small compared to the kind of changes around us today. There's a reason why every famous leader in the world has an important quote about the word 'Change'. Be the change that you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi We are the change that we seek." ― Barack Obama Change is the law of life- John F. Kennedy When the facts change, I change my mind....- John Maynard Keynes And, Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw....

Thursday , June 19, 2014

India must find its voice in West Asia

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For a small group in the audience in Parliament, the omission seemed glaring. Yet, as President Pranab Mukherjee completed his address to the joint session of Parliament on June 9, outlining the policies of the new government, no one seemed to notice the unhappiness of the Ambassadors of the Middle East or West Asia and North African (WANA) and Gulf region who were special invitees. Unlike in the past, the presidential address made no mention of India's ties with their region. Even last year, for example, Mr Mukherjee had devoted a paragraph in his speech - on "supporting efforts to promote peaceful settlements of regional conflicts" in West Asia and political engagement with Africa. This year, the address focussed on the subcontinent and the big powers, the United States, Russia and China. The omission is only a symptom of the larger lack of understanding in the Indian establishment of....

Tuesday , June 03, 2014

Narendra Modi can't ignore massive shifts the world has undergone during election

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Sometime in 2005, goes the story at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi got in touch as he wanted to visit China and study business and investment opportunities. The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi was cold to the idea, given the taint of the Gujarat riots of 2002, while the Embassy was unsure of what kind of protocol Mr. Modi could receive as no dignitary was available to meet him. Mr. Modi's reply startled them as he said his was a "study tour," and if they wished to, they could treat it as a personal visit. Officials describe how Mr. Modi arrived a few months later, on his own, armed with only a notebook and pen. Gujarati businessmen helped open a few doors for him, but for the most part Mr. Modi travelled to state capitals and economic zones like Shenzhen,....

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

2014 Lok Sabha elections: Tamil Nadu campaign diary

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Election fever At about 40 degrees, and 80% humidity just past noon, there isn't a single spot of shade available in the entire rally ground in Tamil Nadu's town of Namakkal. Perhaps the organizers of the election rally realize that covering the area occupied by about 1 lakh people is impossible, and if they build any shelters, then everyone would throng to them, leaving the rally ground bare. In stark contrast the leaders we are tracking, in this case Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, barely feel the temperature: alighting from helicopters, they are driven up to the stage, where 2 massive pillar air conditioners keep the heat at bay. In 2009 I interviewed PM Manmohan Singh inside a tiny shed constructed right next to the stage since even the air-conditioned stage was too hot, while tens of thousands sweltered outside. One has to wonder if the Election....

Monday , March 31, 2014

Abstention louder than any vote

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With India's abstention vote, it would seem that South Block is wresting back control of its decision-making authority from that domestic sphere that has ridden roughshod over several foreign policy decisions. Sometimes, the loudest sound can emanate from the sidelines. At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week, India's abstention vote - in a United States sponsored resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against Sri Lanka for an international probe into alleged rights violations in the last leg of the civil war - was perhaps its boldest expression of external policy in recent years, signalling several shifts in decision-making in South Block. Behind the shifts in stance To begin with, the Indian decision corrects the aberrations of the past few years. India has an old policy of not voting on country-specific resolutions, much less on one against a neighbour. The fact that....

Saturday , January 11, 2014

Back Bangladesh, not Hasina or Zia

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By every account, the January 5th elections, Bangladesh's 10th so far, were a low point for democracy. The boycott of the 18-member opposition alliance meant half the seats Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League (AL) won were uncontested, and AL won about half of the remainder against unknown candidates with estimates of the turnout just 22-30 per cent of the voting population. Hasina has now returned to a parliament that echoes only with her voice, but the voice is a hollow one, like the victory itself. Hasina may have won a 3/4ths majority in the 'Jatiyo Sangshad', but 3/4ths of her electorate didn't vote. For her rival, Khaleda Zia, who's BNP led the boycott, there are parallels to her own victory in February 1996, when Hasina boycotted the polls, until widespread protests forced a second election that Hasina won in June 1996. While it is significant that India has backed....

Monday , December 23, 2013

Dangerous disengagement

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By putting off bilateral dialogue, India is missing the opportunity to engage with the changing reality of Pakistan's power structure. The most alarming part about the exchange of words between Indian and Pakistani leaders this month was, perhaps, the lack of alarm bells ringing. After all, to have both Prime Ministers speaking of war in their statements should itself have been a matter of concern. Yet, even as Nawaz Sharif was quoted by reports as having referred to the possibility of a "fourth Indo-Pakistani war over Kashmir" and Manmohan Singh responded to say "there was no such possibility of Pakistan winning such a war in his lifetime", few were even surprised, let alone worried. Mr. Sharif's office denied the reported remarks and suspended three information service officers over the "misquoted leak" but it was too late to help defuse the already tense situation between the two sides, something a....

Friday , December 20, 2013

US and India need to move quickly to pick up the pieces of the Devyani Khobragade fallout

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Dropping the ball-US and India need to move quickly to pick up the pieces of the Devyani Khobragade fallout In international diplomacy, when someone drops the ball, it falls to pieces with a big resounding crash that echoes worldwide. Clearly, someone in the line of communication within the United States State Department and the US Department of Justice, dropped the ball when it came to the handling of Devyani Khobragade's arrest. The details, that are now well-known, are for the most part not contested by any of the parties -- that Dr Khobragade, left, was detained by the US diplomatic police after she had dropped her children at school; that she was then formally arrested; subjected to a humiliating strip-search; and possibly what are called 'cavity searches'; a DNA swab; and then kept in a lock-up for about four hours along with common criminals, before she....

Saturday , November 30, 2013

Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding

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Author: Husain Haqqani Published by Public Affairs, US, 2013 The letter from the US Secretary of State should have struck a chill in the recipient's hearts. Yet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif didn't even open the envelope handed to him by the US Ambassador to Pakistan on behalf of Secy James Baker. The letter, delivered May 14, 1992 contained a direct threat, that if Pakistan didn't take "concrete steps to curtail assistance to militants and not allow their training camps to operate", the US would declare Pakistan a 'State sponsor of terrorism'. Instead, Sharif called a meeting of his army chief Gen Asif Nawaz, ISI Chief Lt Gen Javed Nasir, Foreign secretary Shahryar Khan, and special advisor Husain Haqqani, who describes it in his latest work, "Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, The United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding". After much discussion on the repercussions of the US threat, Haqqani....


More about Suhasini Haidar

Suhasini Haidar is Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu. Earlier, she was a senior editor and prime time anchor for India's leading 24-hour English news channel CNN-IBN, and also hosted the signature show, 'World View with Suhasini Haidar'. Over the course of her 17-year career, Suhasini has covered the most challenging stories and conflicts from the most diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon and Syria. In India, she has covered the external affairs beat for over a decade and her domestic assignments include in-depth reportage from Kashmir. In 2011 she won the Indian Television Academy-GR8! Award for 'Global news coverage',and the Exchange4Media 'Enba' award for best spot news reporting from Libya. In 2010, She won the NewsTelevision NT 'Best TV News Presenter' Award. Suhasini is the only journalist to have interviewed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his family, a show that won the prestigious Indian Television Academy award as 'Best Chat show' for the year.


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