News Wrap


Following the landslide victory at India's parliamentary elections, prime minister Narendra Modi faces immediate challenge of arresting a slowdown in the world's sixth largest economy, creating jobs, stimulating private investment, and tacking bad loan woes. The electoral victory has come amid agrarian distress, youth unemployment, anemic growth, and troubles in the financial system. The CAD (the difference between inflow and out flow) of foreign exchange, has widened to 2.5% of GDP, ($16.9 billion) in the third quarter of 2018-19 from 2.17% of GDP ($13.7 billion) a year ago. The CAD is facing pressures from growing crude prices, and headwinds to exports because of trade tensions and slowing global growth. The current trade disputes between USA and China, allows India to allow increased participation in global supply chains, and benefit from the positive growth and technology spill overs. In 2018-19, the GDP growth has slipped to a 5-year low of 7% from 7.2% in 2017-18.

'Operation Sunshine-1' occurred from 22 Feb to 26 Feb 2019, when the Indian Army had acted against suspected Arakanese rebel camps inside Indian Territory. The fleeing Arakanese rebels were arrested by the Myanmar Army on their side. The armies of India and Myanmar coordinated "Operation Sunshine 2" between 16 May 2019 and 08 June 2019, on their respective side of the border. The operation included blocks by two battalions of the Indian Army, along with Special Forces, Assam Rifles and Infantry Ghataks, on the Indian side of the border. Clearance action was taken by four brigades of the Myanmar Army. Around 70 to 80 militants, who were apprehended by the Indian Army, were handed over to local police forces. At least seven to eight camps of the NSCN-K. NDFB, ULFA (1), KOL and NEFT in Myanmar's Sagaing Region, were destroyed by the Myanmar Army in mortar firing. Majority of these camps were in Hokayat, and were predominantly of the Naga rebel group, NSCN-K which had abrogated its ceasefire with the Indian government in 2015. However, NSCN has ongoing ceasefire agreement with the Myanmarese government,that was signed in April 2012. The Indian Army is providing logistics support to the Myanmar Army. The support includes special rations and food supplies for the Myanmarese soldiers, deployed in Sagaing Region. The co-ordinate approach lays to rest the grievance of the Myanmar Army, held after the 2015 cross border strike on a NSCN-K camp, on violations of sovereignty.

Cyprus is divided into the Turkish speaking North and Greek-speaking south, since Turkey invaded in 1974, after a coup by Greek-Cypriot Nationalists, seeking union with Greece. A UN butter zone has cut the island in two, a half-abandoned area dotted with ground colonial buildings and over ground olive groves. Partition seemed the only way to stop the killings, with atrocities reported on both sides in 1974. The communal mistrust had its roots in Ottoman times, and had survived British rule, from 1878 to 1966. In some areas, Turkish and Greek speaking families had lived in harmony for generations. Many speak both languages. Back when the island was one, everyone celebrated Christmas anyway. The committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), a bio-communal body partly funded by the United Kingdom, is directing an extraordinary effort to find the remains of hundreds of people missing, since the violence that flared in Cyprus, in the 1960s and 1970s. The island is still riven by hatred and mistrust. Just over 2000 people were unaccounted for when excavations began in 2006. Since then the CMP has recovered the remains of almost half. First handwitnesses are becoming fewer by the year, and most already in their eighties. Many witnesses are, still reluctant to come forward because of fear, or nationalist beliefs that the killings were justified. The CMP does not allocate blame, nor does it hunt for perpetrators. The bones of the dead are sorted, and DNA taken in an attempt to identify them. The island has a tiny population - 855,000 in the Greek speaking Republic of Cyprus, 326,000 in the Turkish north. With a huge focus on family, the missing is a national trauma.

The search for remains is complicated by the enormous changes on the island, over the past fifty years Bodies were thrown into septic tanks, wells and riverbeds. Even if dumped in the open, they might well be now under concrete.

Britain's modern slavery laws are enabling foreign criminals to pose as children, to escape prosecution. The Modern slavery Act (2015) allows criminals to evade being charged by claiming they are under 18 years age, and are the victims of trafficking. Police forces have reported cases where they had treated suspects as children, and placed them in foster care, when they were actually adults in the drugs trade. Trafficked children who commit offences are given immunity from prosecution by the slavery laws. Known as the S45 defense, the trafficked children are treated as victims of crime. If police believe a suspect is an adult, they must prove it soon after arrest, typically within 24 hours. Otherwise the law dictates the "Child" must be given the benefit of the doubt, and placed in care. Trafficking gangs, particularly from Vietnam, in the United Kingdom control parts of the sex trade and illegal cannabis production. They lure people to Britain, often with false promises but sometimes by force, and exploit them as cannabis farmers or nail-bar workers, or in petty theft and begging. Vietnamese gangs in the West Midlands, Northwest and Scotland are producing large amounts of cannabis. Criminals are also known to claim they are adult victims of trafficking gangs to avoid prosecution, and enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) Scheme. Adults in the NRM are required to co-operate with law enforcement agencies, in bringing traffickers to justice.

Back to Home Page

Vol. 52, No. 10, Sep 8 - 14, 2019