Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

RAJIV KUMAR I just recently learnt about the lack of response from the majority of the Western countries to the recent electoral outcome in Bangladesh.  In a meeting with a senior Japanese diplomat, I found out that Japan had wisely decided to break the ranks of developed democracies to write a congratulatory letter to Sheikh  Hasina on her electoral victory. India had of course conveyed its support and good wishes to the prime minister immediately after the results were declared. And Pakistan for obvious reasons has not done that so far. Several ASEAN countries have acknowledged the Awami League victory but not whole heartedly supported it. The reason given for this lack of recognition of Sheikh Hasina’s electoral success is the boycott by the main opposition party, the BNP, led by Begum Khalida Zia. It is clear that the elections followed the constitutional provisions and process and BNP chose to boycott the elections at its own risk. The stand taken by the US and its European allies along with others like Pakistan is that an election boycotted by the largest opposition party does not measure up to the global democratic benchmarks. According to them, Sheikh Hasina does not command sufficient legitimacy to deserve to be congratulated on her victory. This is  a bogus stand and one which demonstrates lack of understanding of the complex realities of South Asia. To couch it in high moral rhetoric does not hide the fact that western powers completely fail to understand the dangers posed by a fundamentalist political Islam in South Asia and other parts of the world. Also it reveals dangerous inconsistency on their part as they condone and connive with the dismissal of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt while calling for a re-election in Bangladesh. This is despite the fact that Begum Zia derives her principal support from the Jamait- e Islami and other more fundamentalist Islamic groups in Bangladesh. It will do a lot of good for Americans and Europeans to realise the Sheikh Hasina has been fighting their  war against the ‘Islamisation’ of Bangladesh society. By this I do not for a minute mean that the people of Bangladesh or for that matter any other...

Economic Offences: A Perspective

Economic Offences: A Perspective

Shakti Sinha Globalisation, economic development and the introduction of new technologies has posed considerable challenges to law enforcing authorities since the criminal has far more weapons in his armoury than before. What distinguishes economic offences from other, traditional criminal activities is the far greater potential to cause larger societal loss, far beyond the individual victims. In fact, many economic offenses have larger, national security implications and need far more attention from the Government and society than what we have seen till now. Till the opening up of the economy and the progressive reduction in tariffs and tax rates, smuggling and evasion of income tax were the key economic offences plaguing society. These have became minor or have got subsumed in other, more serious crimes like money laundering. Contrary to popular perception, holdings of Indian nationals in Swiss banks are not very large; this is not to discount its criminality but rather to draw attention to the far more pernicious effects of round tripping. Black money leaves India and is then sent back as FDI, routed through tax havens where  shell companies operate. Often a single room is shown as the address of hundreds of such shell companies. So while we are quick to celebrate FDI flows, we are not that quick to detect the unlikely origin of such moneys! Successive Governments have tried to renegotiate bilateral avoidance of double taxation treaties with certain key countries but have been unable to make much headway. Fortunately we have a Prevention of Money Laundering Act with very serious penalties including minimum imprisonment, separate prosecution for the original crime and for the assets generated from such crime, fines and forfeiture, in actual practise it is still early days. Fortunately, the Act has been amended recently to broaden its scope. The level of information collection and procession by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Finance has been stepped up, both across agencies and with similar agencies in other countries. These need greater support and focus. The other economic offense that we have great difficulty in controlling and which has destabilising effect on the economy and on national security is the circulation of counterfeit currency. Agencies of the...

A Dialogue with Amin Solkar- Advocate of Kasab

A Dialogue with Amin Solkar- Advocate of Kasab

Vedchetan Patil: So, firstly I’d like to ask you about your entire inclination and background behind all your activities for the protection of the minority rights. What drove you for the same? Amin Solkar: Being a member of minority. Vedchetan Patil : (cuts in) No, of course, being a minority. But there would be something you would have felt. Some injustice which is happening in this country and which should be addressed? Amin Solkar : Which particular injustice you’re talking about? Vedchetan Patil : What is the one point where the secular India is going wrong and which should be addressed? Amin Solkar :A We are about 60 years post-independence and in the Constitution, what minorities were promised, sometimes we feel that, those promises are not yet fulfilled. Like, if you see economically, then education and appointment to an important post. Even there we basically feel that the promises are not kept. When the minorities had chosen to be in India, in 1947, a choice was given to them that, those who want to go to Pakistan can go, and those  who’d like to stay here in India can stay here. Since we were born and brought up here and had our ancestors living in India, So, we were not willing to go to a total new land. But aftersome years,  we felt, that we should fight for our rights also. Now if you see, there was no need for any minority commission. There was no need for a ministry specifically for minority affairs. What was the need? Earlier it was not there. So, this in itself  indicates that the minorities are not being treated as  equivalent. And to uplift them,  the government thought  of making a newministry or some mechanism where the upliftment can be monitored and then they have come up with some financial foundations. That was not that early. Now, whatever schemes the government is coming up with is really reaching those people or not is another question. Vedchetan Patil : So, whatever mechanism that has evolved, either by the state or by the minority institution as per the relevant articles of the constitution of India, do you think it’s working...

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