Identify the country :
- The struggle among pro-monarchy, prodemocracy groups and extremists created an atmosphere of political instability.
- A landlocked country with multi-party competition.
- The first country to liberalise its economy in the South Asian region.
- In the conflict between the military and prodemocracy groups, the military has prevailed over democracy.
- Centrally located and shares borders with most of the South Asian countries.
- Earlier the island had the Sultan as the head of state. Now, it is a republic.
- Small savings and Credit cooperatives in the rural areas have helped in reducing poverty.
- A landlocked country with a monarchy.
(a) Nepal (b) Nepal (c) Sri Lanka (d) Pakistan (e) India (f) Maldives (g) Bangladesh (h) Bhutan.
All the countries in South Asia are democratic.
Bangladesh and India have signed an agreement on river water sharing.
SAFTA was signed at the 12th SAARC Summit in Islamabad.
The US and China played an influential role in South Asian Politics.
What are some of the communalities and differences between Bangladesh and Pakistan in their democratic experiences ?
Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have experienced both civilian and military rulers. The Military and Democracy in Pakistan : After the framing of Pakistan constitution, General Ayub Khan took over the administration and later on got himself elected as President of Pakistan. But masses were not happy with his rule. Ultimately, military rule was established and General Yahya Khan faced Bangladesh Crisis. Bangladesh emerged independent nation in 1971. After this democratic government was established in Pakistan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the Prime Minister from 1971 to 1977. But in 1977 Zulfikar Bhutto was removed by General Zia-ul- Haq. It was again in 1988 that democratic government was established under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto. From 1988 to 1999 democracy remained in Pakistan. In 1999 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed and General Musharraf became the ruler of the Pakistan. In 2001 General Musharraf got himself elected as the President of Pakistan. Elections were held in September 2008 and democratic government was established.
Many factors are responsible for the failure of democracy and in establishing stable and strong democracy. The social dominance of the military, clergy and landowning aristocracy are responsible for overthrowing the democratic government. Wars with India have made military rulers and promilitary groups very powerful. Inspite of the fact that democracy has not succeeded in Pakistan, there has been a strong pro-democracy sentiments in the country. Moreover, America and other western countries have encouraged military rulers for their own interests.
Military Rule and Democracy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan and was known as East Pakistan (1947 to 1971). East Bengal was not given fair treatment by the rulers of Pakistan and it was made virtually a colony. The people of this region resented the domination of Western Pakistan and the imposition of the Urdu language. In an election held early 1971 in Pakistan, Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League got majority in Pakistan Parliament. But Sheikh Mujib was not called to form a government and he was arrested. East Bengal declared independence and the liberation war started. War took place between India and Pakistan in December 1971 and Pakistan was defeated in the war. India was the first country to grant recognition to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Bangladesh drafted its Constitution and declared full faith in Democracy, Secularism and Socialism. Sheikh Mujib was the first President of Bangladesh. In 1975 Constitution of Bangladesh was amended and presidential form of govt. was adopted in place of parliamentary government. Sheikh Mujib abolished all parties except his own party, i.e., Awami League. He was assassinated in a military uprising in August 1975. Military ruler Zia Rehman formed his own party and won elections in 1979. He was assassinated and Lt. General H.M. Ershad became the ruler of Bangladesh. He was later elected the President of Bangladesh. President Ershad resigned in 1990. Elections were held in 1991. Since then democracy is working in Bangladesh.
List three challenges to democracy in Nepal.
- Writing of constitution for Nepal.
- Maoists believe in armed insurrection against monarch and ruling nobility.
- Restoration of Parliament and free and fair elections.
Name the principal players in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. How do you assess the prospects of the resolution of this conflict ?
Despite cordial relations, there has been occasional tension between India and Sri Lanka, and the cause of tension was the problem of nearly one million people of origin in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was not prepared to grant full citizenship rights to all Indian immigrants in Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lanka passed the India and Pakistan Residents (Citizenship) Act in 1949. About 8 lakh people of Indian origin applied for citizenship but only 1 lakh 34 thousands were able to secure citizenship (up to October 1964). The rest were asked to go back to India. But India’s stand was that those who were living in Sri Lanka for generations or had been born there are the citizens of Sri Lanka and not of India. Ultimately, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Smt. Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka reached an agreement on the question of citizenship of Indian people there.
In June 1985 Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and the Sri Lanka President J.R. Jayewardene held discussions to find a political solution to the ethnic problem in the island nation. On July 21, 2000, Sri Lanka President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga agreed to give Sri Lankan citizenship to those Indian origin Tamils who were forced to take Indian citizenship in 1964 as a result of the India–Sri Lanka pact on the stateless people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. In 2002 Norway and Iceland have been trying to bring the warring groups back to negotiations. In 2009, LTTE leader Prabhakaran was killed. Therefore, the long lasting conflict seemed to be ended.
Mention some of the recent agreements between India and Pakistan. Can we be sure that the two countries are well on their way to a friendly relationship ?
Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee visited Islamabad in January 2004. Both the countries decided to improve their relations. The bus services, train services and air services have been resumed between India and Pakisatan. On 7th April 2005, bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad started. Both countries agree to start a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore and also to religious places such as Nankana Sahib.
In February 2007, India and Pakistan signed an agreement on reducing the risk from accident relating to nuclear weapons. Both the countries have agreed not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities.
Mention two areas each of cooperation and disagreement between India and Bangladesh.
Two Areas of Cooperation :
- India and Bangladesh entered a new era of bilateral relationship with the launch of bus service linking Kolkata with Dhaka on June 19, 1999.
- On December 12, 1996, India and Bangladesh signed the Ganga Water sharing treaty leaving behind a long period of mutual distrust and suspicion.
Two Areas of disagreement :
- Dispute started between India and Bangladesh over sharing of Ganga and Brahmaputra river waters.
- A major irritant in Indo-Bangladesh relations was Tin Bigha Corridor. The two countries have not succeeded in resolving their boundary dispute.
How are the external powers influencing bilateral relation in South Asia ? Take any one example to illustrate your points.
No state or region exists in a vacuum. It is influenced by outside powers and events. South Asia is also influenced by big powers such as China and the USA India’s relations with China are improving rapidly but China’s friendly relations with Pakistan is a major irritant.
After Cold War, American involvement in South Asia has increased. America is having friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. Many times America has played the role of moderator between India and Pakistan. Due to liberalisation, American involvement in economic activities of both the countries, i.e., India and Pakistan, has increased. The South Asian market is very big and American participation in the South Asian market is increasing very fast. Thus the USA is concerned with the regional security and peace.
Write a short note on the role and limitations of SAARC as a forum for facilitating economic cooperation among the South Asian countries.
The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation was formally inaugurated in December 1985. SAARC has played a very significant role in the sphere of economic development of South Asian countries. SAPTA and SAFTA are the steps taken in the direction of economic cooperation among SAARC nations. The cooperation in economic area among SAARC nations has a great importance.
- The economic cooperation will raise the standard of living of the people of South Asia.
- It has accelerated the speed of economic development of the region.
- The economic cooperation will promote collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia.
- Economic cooperation will bring SAARC nations close and strengthen the mutual trust.
- The areas of mistrust and conflict will be minimised.
- The economic cooperation among SAARC nations will minimise the involvement of outside forces in the region.
- The economic cooperation will bring honourable life to the region.
- Economic cooperation will lead to cooperation in other fields also such as social, cultural, educational, etc. Thus, cooperation in core economic area among SAARC nations is a definite way to the development of the region. The SAARC nations have recognised this fact and has signed SAPTA and SAFTA to boost their cooperations.
But SAARC has not much success due to persisting political differences. Moreover some of our neighbours fear that SAFTA is a way for India to capture their markets and to influence their societies and politics through economic activities and trade. However, India think that all countries will derive benefits from SAFTA.
India’s neighbours often think that the Indian government tries to dominate and interfere in the domestic affairs of the smaller countries of the region. Is this a correct impression ?
This is not a correct impression. Indian government never thinks to dominate or interfere in the domestic affairs of the smaller countries of the region. India believes in the principles of Panchsheel and Indian government has full respect for the sovereignty and dignity of other states. During the last sixty years, India has not interfered in the affairs of any state.