Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Despite the proclamation of a state of emergency in the Rakhine State (old Arakan State) of Myanmar on the night of June 10,2012, and the patrolling of the streets of the capital Sittwe and other Townships by the security forces, the Thein Sein Government has not yet been able to restore normalcy.

2. Incidents of sectarian violence between the Buddhists and the Bengali-speaking Rohingya Muslims continue to be reported. Though there are no reports of any new fatalities, incidents of arson with the Muslims allegedly  setting fire to the houses of Buddhists are being reported. Muslims carrying small-arms have been patrolling the Muslim-inhabited areas of Townships to protect the Muslims from retaliatory attacks by the Buddhists. This reflects their lack of confidence in the ability of the security forces to protect them.

3.Representatives of the Rohingyas have accused the Thein Sein Government of imposing a news black-out in the State in order to prevent news of the real state of affairs from reaching the international community.

4.Despite their continuing support to the Thein Sein Government’s policy of reforms, the US and the European Union countries are concerned over the inability of the security forces  to restore law and order.

5.At a time when the situation continues to cause concern, the decision of the United Nations to withdraw all its staff numbering over 40 from the Rakhine State has come in for criticism from Western human rights organisations.

6. The Human Rights Watch of the US has alleged that the situation in the State was tending to get out of control and called for the despatch of international human rights observers to the State.

7. To the disappointment of the Rohingyas, Aung San Suu Kyi, who met the representatives of the agitated Muslim community in Yangon, has not chosen to visit the Rakhine State. Nor are there reports of her taking up vigorously with the authorities the measures required for putting an end to the sectarian violence.

8. She is going ahead with her European tour starting on June 14, covering Switzerland, Norway, the UK, Ireland and France. She seems confident of the stability and durability of the Government of Thein Sein and reportedly does not anticipate any threat to it from hardline pro-Beijing elements in the Army during her absence from the country.

9. In the past, whenever she was released from house arrest, she had avoided going abroad due to fears that the Army, which was then in power, might not allow her to return  to the country. She does not appear to have any such fears this time. Since 1988, she went out of the country for the first time last month when she went to Bangkok.

10. She is not taking any of the senior leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) with her. They will stay behind in Myanmar during her absence. She is being accompanied to Europe only by two of the younger members of the NLD.

11. Western human rights organisations have been concerned over the continued refusal of the Bangladesh authorities to allow entry of Rohingya women and children fleeing from the violence in the Rakhine State. There are already about 300,000 Rohingyas in camps in the Cox’s Bazaar area of Bangladesh for many years posing security problems to the Bangladesh authorities. They apparently do not want to add to their number. ( 14-6-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )



Dear Mrs.Sonia Gandhi,

The country is facing a crisis of major proportions due to the inexorable withering away of the credibility of the Government headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh.The undoubted economic crisis is the outcome of the melt-down of political credibility.

Unless the downfall of the political credibility is arrested, the economic melt-down is not going to stop.

This is the time for action. Since it is the Congress Party that is in power at the head of a coalition, only you can act to arrest this downfall.

If you fail to act, history will judge you and your party cruelly.

The forthcoming Presidential elections provide an opportunuity for a mid-course correction.The nation needs some electrifying decisions that can re-awaken our brain and limbs and make us active again.

Dr.Manmohan Singh is commanding less and less attention and his authority is less and less visible and palpable.

I feel sincerely that you should avail of the opportunity provided by the Presidential elections  to have him approved by your coalition as the next President of the country in recognition of his undeniable services to the nation in the past. He might have failed recently, but he had done wonderful work in the past.

If you succeed in persuading your coalition partners to support his candidature for the Presidential polls, the Congress should persuade Priyanka Gandhi to enter the political scene and take over the leadership of the Congress and the coalition as the Prime Minister.

The nation wants to see a Prime Minister who is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm and who commands attention without having to thump the table.

From whatever I had seen and heard of Priyanka, she is that bundle of energy and enthusiasm.

The nation needs a psychological turn-around. I feel she can provide that turn-around.

After going through one dark moment after another, the nation needs some electrifying moments. She can provide them.

Let her take over as the PM and form a Cabinet in which the GenNext of the Congress leaders will occupy the commanding heights of decision-making and their implementation.

Let her advise the new President to dissolve the Lok Sabha and call for fresh elections.

Let the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Gujrat Assembly be held simultaneously in November-December.

The nation may still be able to recover its balance and the process of the withering away of political credibility may still be arrested.

This is the time for bold and imaginative decisions.

Will you take those decisions? Or will this letter remain another cry in the wilderness?

With warm regards.

Yours sincerely,


Additional Secretary (retd),

Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India.

Presently living in Chennai.

14-6-12. 3-30 AM