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    ISAS Briefs

    ISAS publishes a regular series of briefs which provides quick analytical responses to developments and occurrences in South Asia.​​​

    Briefs: The BJP at the Centre and in the States: Divergence, Big Time

    Diego Maiorano

    20 February, 2020

    Over the course of 2019 and 2020, a clear trend has emerged in India’s political landscape. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, performs much better at national elections as compared to state elections. This reveals a fundamental contradiction of the BJP. On the one hand, Modi’s popularity is crucial to winning nationally; on the other, the absence of strong regional party leaders weakens the party’s prospects at the local level.

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    Briefs: India’s Supreme Court sets Norms to Bar Candidates with Criminal Record

    Vinod Rai

    17 February, 2020

    In 2004, 24 per cent of the members in parliament in India had a criminal record. This increased to 30 per cent in 2009 and 34 per cent in 2014 before shooting up to 43 per cent in 2019. Expressing concern over the rise in candidates with criminal records contesting elections, the Supreme Court has directed political parties to provide reasons on their choice of such candidates. Political parties will be required to justify the choice based on the qualifications, achievements and merits of tainted candidates and not rely on the ‘winnability’ factor alone.

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    Briefs: Pakistan and Malaysia: Ties that Bind

    Iqbal Singh Sevea

    14 February, 2020

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, arrived in Kuala Lumpur on 3 February 2020 on his second state visit to Malaysia. This paper analyses the economic and geopolitical developments behind this state visit.

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    Briefs: Aam Aadmi Party Storms Back to Power in Delhi

    Ronojoy Sen

    14 February, 2020

    The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was re-elected in Delhi with an overwhelming mandate, winning 62 seats compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s eight. The AAP’s victory was a triumph of its campaign message on governance issues. In contrast, the BJP’s polarising campaign failed to deliver. The Delhi verdict has lessons for both the BJP and regional parties in the coming elections.

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    Briefs: The Reserve Bank of India announces Growth-oriented Measures

    Vinod Rai

    10 February, 2020

    It has been an accepted fact that the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had very little elbow room to provide a package of measures which would serve as a stimulus for growth. The RBI, without losing out on its mandate to ensure inflation targeting, has announced a series of measures designed to provide much needed liquidity to sectors which were starved for the same. These are also sectors that have the potential to generate employment and create a demand impetus. The move has been applauded by all.

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    Briefs: Woes of Wuhan: The Politics of a Pandemic

    Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

    5 February, 2020

    The spread of coronavirus from Wuhan in China has assumed pandemic proportions. Of the regions of the world, South Asia is particularly vulnerable to it. Still, decisions in this regard are not immune from politics and diplomacy.

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    Briefs: Xi Jinping’s Visit to Myanmar: Implications for the Bay of Bengal

    Atmakuri Lakshmi Archana, Yogesh Joshi

    4 February, 2020

    China’s intention to make inroads into the Bay of Bengal has become clearer with President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Myanmar which will not only boost infrastructure projects in Myanmar but will also significantly increase China’s influence in the region.

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    Briefs: Analysing the Crackdown on the Pashtun Movement in Pakistan

    Iqbal Singh Sevea

    4 February, 2020

    Over the past week, several activists of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement have been detained across Pakistan. This paper analyses the reasons behind this.

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    Briefs: India Budget 2020-21: Inviting Risks on Hope

    Amitendu Palit

    3 February, 2020

    Very few Indian budgets in recent years have been presented under more difficult economic circumstances than that this year. The Budget for 2020-21 chose to be expansionary to revive growth and compromised on fiscal discipline in the process. This might turn out to be a risky choice if the gross domestic product growth does not revive.

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    Briefs: India’s Annual Budget 2020-21: Will it Revive the Growth of the Economy?

    Vinod Rai

    3 February, 2020

    There was much expectation in India on the Budget for 2020-21. Speculation was rife that the government would press the pause button on the fiscal deficit targets and provide substantially enhanced public expenditure to kickstart the economy. However, worries bordering on expenditure profligacy were also being expressed. The Budget, as presented, seems to have addressed all areas of concern but the jury will be out as to the extent that it can address and reform the structural factors causing the downswing in the economy.

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    Briefs: India Presents a Conservative Budget for 2020-21

    S Narayan

    3 February, 2020

    The Indian Budget for 2020-21 was disappointing in that it failed to introduce measures for economic reforms. At the same time, it included a number of ideas that have been at the heart of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Overall, it was a conservative, political budget, furthering the ideology of the RSS

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    Briefs: Xi Jinping in Myanmar: Complex ‘Pauk-Phaw’ Relations in Operation

    Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

    22 January, 2020

    The relationship between Myanmar and China has, in the past, been fraught with complexities. China may be taking advantage of Myanmar’s current global adversities to push its agenda hard. It may be poised to achieve its objectives. For this, it seems prepared to ride roughshod over regional and global sentiments.

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    Briefs: Pakistan’s Taliban Dilemma

    Touqir Hussain

    16 January, 2020

    With a prospective United States-Taliban peace deal, the American role in war and peace in Afghanistan will diminish. And Pakistan and the Taliban will have an enhanced role. However, Pakistan has to carefully weigh its future approach to the Afghan conflict as it will matter even more than before for itself and for Afghanistan. Pakistan should start looking at scenarios other than the return of the Taliban to full power in Afghanistan. The Taliban are no longer just a foreign policy issue for Islamabad. Pakistan’s ongoing struggle against militant organisations will not fully succeed without containing the Taliban. With the Taliban at the helm in Kabul, any foreign policy benefit will come at a domestic cost. Pakistan should strengthen its dialogue with Kabul, work with China and also bring other countries in the region on board. It will improve Pakistan’s regional profile. And we may see some realistic prospects of peace in Afghanistan.

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    Briefs: Indian Foreign Policy Struggles with the Iran Dilemma

    Yogesh Joshi

    15 January, 2020

    The recent crisis between the United States (US) and Iran, following the killing of General Qasem Soleimani, has engendered major dilemmas for Indian foreign policy. As the Cold War between the US and Iran becomes actively hostile, India confronts difficult policy choices and cannot continue to walk the tightrope between Tehran and Washington. The precarious situation of the economy and divisive domestic politics at home have only exacerbated India’s foreign policy dilemmas.

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    Briefs: India’s Personal Data Protection Bill: Increased State Power and Control

    Karthik Nachiappan

    7 January, 2020

    Before 2019 drew to a close, the Indian government unveiled the much-awaited legislation on data protection and privacy in parliament. The new legislation has been significantly upgraded from its previous version which sought to retain a copy of all data within India. The latest version veers toward greater state control of data with space given for technology firms to retain certain kinds of data abroad with consent.

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