Monday, February 14, 2005

South Asia Disunion

Most of the world hasn't heard of SAARC. India refused to attend the latest summit of south Asian leaders, citing the latest coup in Nepal and the security situation in Bangladesh.
If this had been ASEAN or Davos, they would have come, coup or no coup.
SAARC gets revived every now and then but isn't going anywhere. Until Pakistan and India patch up like France and Germany, you can forget it.
Much better to bet on BICM - Bangladesh India China Myanmar. Will take a while for this grouping but it will take shape towards the end of the decade.
Thailand wants a share of the lucrative Indian market and is pushing for BIMSTEC (BICM, minus china plus thailand and Sri Lanka).
But you cannot leave out China.
So perhaps there will be a BICMT (the T for Thailand).
For more, have a look at the 7th February 2005 issue of Asia Times Online on "SAARC close to use-by date".

watch the price of rice in bangladesh

Hartals are back in fashion. For a few weeks, we saw some innovative campaigning - human chains from one end of the country to another. That's all been forgotten after the latest political killings.Rice prices are at record levels, blamed on the devastating flood in 2004. Farmers aren't selling to the government as they can get better prices from the market than the government procurement level.The politicians are underestimating the impact of unaffordable food prices. The price of grain is probably the most vulnerable indicator for any government. They had better solve it if they want to return to (or remain in) power.