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Military Bumbling, New Constitutions and Cross Cultural Epics

February 7, 2010

When Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited India in January, Philip Bowring at the NYT advised India to suck up. Eastern India is in trouble, with homegrown separatist movements, and with China demanding its pound of flesh. The Indian military has had a hard time staying in control. But this is hardly surprising, suggests the LondonTimes. Indian Generals are far too busy embezzling defense money to buy booze, land and – wait for it – golf buggies!

Bangladesh and Nepal have long resented India’s Big Brother attitude in South Asia. Bangladesh is in the news for all the right reasons this week: not least for a mysteriously successful Family Planning Program. Very happy tidings, for the most densely populated country in the world. Nepal too, has been in a happy haze, eagerly awaiting its new constitution. But the move to constitutional democracy will not be easy, suggests veteran Nepali activist Kanak Mani Dixit in the NYT, especially when the Maoists are the largest political party in the Constituent Assembly.

 Meanwhile, the cultural influence of ancient India in South East Asia is the subject of a new exhibition in Singapore. Titled  “Ramayana Revisited: A Tale of Love & Adventure”, it has cast its spell on NYT’s Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop. If this piques your interest, then you must read Paula Richman’s seminal work, “Many Ramayanas”, which is conveniently archived here.

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