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Archive for November, 2006

IDEAS 2006

The 2006 version of IDEAS came back to town, as usual with a bang. Due to heightened security, we thankfully avoided bangs of the real kind. This Exhibition of defence equipment, both indigenous and foreign, is well worth the effort. It is a logistics feat that takes some organizing, not possible without commitment and dedicated effort. Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO) and PEGASUS have, through a consistent team effort made IDEAS a fixture on the Defence equipment display map of the world, an event that has now come to stay. The general public not having access to the Exhibition notwithstanding, those invited certainly found the display of hardware and services interesting. To have professionals explain the function and effectiveness thereof, is invaluable, icing on the cake.

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C-100: Intercultural Dialogue

C-100 stands for the “Council of 100 Leaders”, an initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meant to promote and sustain inter-faith dialogue. The co-chairs of C-100 are Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, presently Ambassador Royal Embassy of the Saudi Arabia in the US, and Lord Carey of Clifton, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, UK. It will be a unique privilege to moderate the Session “C-100; Taking Stock of Intercultural Dialogue” in the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul on Friday 24 Nov 2006. The panelists for the Session viz (1) Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Chairman Executive Committee Shamil Bank of Switzerland and Vice Chairman Arab Business Council, Prof Mehmet Aydin, Minister of State for Religious Affairs of Turkey, Hany El Banna, President, Islamic Relief, UK, Prof John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, and Founding Director, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, USA and Chief Rabbi David Rosen, President, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Relations, USA, are all men of substance.

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The “Not-So-Ugly” American

Those who demonize Americans (in keeping with the personification in Graham Greene’s “The Ugly American”) for the ills of the entire world tend to forget that US government policies do not accurately reflect either the character and/or wishes of the American public. US citizens tend to go along with the policies of their incumbent government even when they do not agree with them, the international perception responds by taking Americans to be either indifferent or insensitive to the problems of the world in pursuing policies which may not be good for the rest of the world. The disconnect between the average US citizen and international geo-politics is not because the ordinary American does not care, he simply knows very little of the world-at-large, an ignorance tailor-made for vested interest to exploit.

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Electoral Process In Bangladesh

It is very difficult in the third world to hold free and fair elections, the result is always contested by the loser. This has both political and economic repercussions for the State. Every regime in power uses its incumbency to tilt the elections in its favour, the normal modus operandi pre-elections is to put its own supporters to run the Local Administration and the Election Commission, making it that much easier to try any number of manipulations in rigging the elections. For influencing the outcome of the vote there is nothing more potent in third world countries than using police functionaries at the street level. An honest election is only possible if supervised by a genuinely neutral administration looking after governance and affairs of the State for the period leading to elections as well as transition of authority to whoever is the winner. One of the better innovations to the Bangladesh Constitution was the institution of the Caretaker Cabinet (called Advisors to the President) to oversee General Elections. The formula agreed by all parties was that the last retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would be the Chief Advisor.

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