15. India Nepal Sri Lanka

Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has turned down the demand of radical Islamists to enact a blasphemy law. Please encourage her!

Click: Account of Bangladesh Primeminister’s courageous stand against Muslim pressure for blasphemy law. She says, “We don’t need it.”

See my letter to the local Bangladesh deputy High Commissioner in Birmingham

Bangladesh High Commission in London

India   I have had the privilege of visiting north India briefly. It is a fascinating place.

A legacy from the British time endures but it is so sad and probably so unjust that the burgeon economic growth doesn’t touch most poorer people and tramples on land and mineral rights by all accounts.

Much corruption endures and should be challenged. The voice of the poor needs to be heeded. The Untouchables are getting more organised Mrs Mayawati the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and her Bahujan Samaj Party are making Dalit concerns known in modern politics.

Of concern is persecution of Christians, the abuse of street children and the undersclass surviving how best they can by means including prostitution. The violent disturbance down the eastern side of India caused by the Maoist Naxalites.

I’d want to try to make sure our influence is wholesome and that we aren’t feeding into unfair international trade structures which feed these injustices.

North East India – the part the the north and east of Bangladesh such as Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh is rather isolated from the main body of India and is  under a degree of threat by China. For instance China offers its passports and thus presumably citizenship to residents of this area. This could be a tactic to justify future intervention to protect “its own citizens” if they feel threatened by future disturbances. Indeed such citizens might even request such help. There is a history of security unease along the India/China frontier and recurrences would be most unwelcome.

Bangladesh is a poor populous country, Islamic and having a problem with corruption that governments have tried to address by purges.

Nepal is of concern. There was a much publicised ousting of the king from overall control to a more democratic situation. The trouble is the most democratic voices come from hte vocal Maoists who disturbed the peace for many years leading up to this recent assertion of demcracy. The new regime had a good press in the west but it must be remembered that these people who are now in a powerful position were violently disturbing Nepalese society.

I worry that they are a forefront of an influence from China. They have now established a bridgehead which China could use on the Indian side of the Himalayan divide. If Nepal welcomes the Chinese military India could find itself facing Chinese tanks on the Bihar plain only a short, easy drive from Calcutta. I think I am right to be concerned that nobody else seems to have spotted this security danger.

Sri Lanka (SL)  The Tamils have had to endure several generations of severe injustice more of less since the British left. They have responded to it, sometimes in violent ways. Norway has tried hard to get the sides to talk but there seems to have been little will for talks from the government side. It is true to say that I have met more Tamils than Sinhalese in Birmingham and elsewhere in the UK. I think this is because it is they who are fleeing.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, were defeated by the Sri Lankan army in May 2009 with almost all the leadership of the LTTE killed. Real peace and prosperity will only come when the injustices are addressed and either the Tamils have a secure and honoured place in society or a controlled separation takes place into two states (the Tamil north and east and west coasts with a Sinhalese centre, south and southern end of the east and west coasts).

I note that the Chinese are planning to build a civilian and military naval on Sri Lanka’s southern coast at Hambantota or at Gwadar on the Baluchistan coast of Pakistan or possibly both. These plans a sobering indicator of China’s prosperity and military ambition in support of its burgeoning trade. They help explain the intransigence of the SL government to persuasion to settling with the Tamils. The Royal Navy used to have a base in SL at beautiful natural harbour at   Trincomalee on the north east coast in an area until recently held by the Tamil Tigers and therefore presumably too insecure for the SL government to offer to the Chinese without first making peace with the Tamils.

The Maldives. These beautiful islands are popular amongst more wealthy western tourists but no church is allowed here. As far as I know the constitution still dictates that  ‘a non Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives’ which seems to conflict with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They have a High Commission in London. Should people really enjoy holdiays there while the constitution denies such rights to Christians?