Monthly Archives: September 2014

Modi wows 65,000 youth in Central Park, with message of sanitation, peace

New York: Who would have thought of Narenda Modi as a rock star? But Saturday evening, the Indian Prime Minister shared the stage with top music stars like JayZ, Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, Sting and Alicia Keys and himself received rockstar treatment from a crowd of more than 65,000 at New York’s landmark Central Park as he talked about down-to-earth subjects like sanitation, health and global peace.

This was a coup for him in image building: He was able to reach out directly to a liberal audience of mostly young people without the filter of a critical media and break the stereotypes made of him. In a major departure from his practice, he spoke to them in English and could connect to them on the festival’s theme of fighting poverty and seeking justice, by articulating his ideas on these topics.

This was the biggest audience that an Indian leader has got in the US, adding hundreds of thousands of TV and internet viewers to the more than 65,000 at the park, the soul of New York and its enchanting green lung in a skyscraper-dotted Manhattan.

A visitor from Delhi likened that to US President Barack Obama speaking at a concert in Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi or Lodhi Garden featuring Bollywood stars.

Other leaders who too beamed their messages at the assembled youths included UN Secretrary General Ban Ki-moon, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala but they were all dwarfed by Modi’s personality and the way he connected with the audience.

From the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on Aug 15, India’s Independenc Day, where he first talked about it, Modi took his message of sanitation to Central Park, hailing people gathered there who are part of Global Citizen, an internet-based global network of people fighting poverty and lack of sanitation across the world among other pressing issues.

‘How are you doing in New York?’ Modi, dressed in an off-white, half-sleeve kurta with a striking cobalt blue jacket – Modi has been changing his dress appropriate to evcry event and occasion – greeted the crowd in English after the comperes of the show, Global Citizen Festival, announced the arrival of a person who changed the sanitation facilities of the Indian state of Gujarat from one of the worst to one of the best.

‘Namaste,’ he said, adding that he was greeting people who were watching the show on TVs, smartphones, tablets and laptops as well.

‘I am truly delighted to be in an open front and not in a closed conference room.’

This was his opportunity to reach out to America’s mainstream – especially the young people and those of the liberal persuasion. He drew repeated applause from the crowd speaking about poverty eradication and the importance of sanitation to healthcare. He seemed to pause and attune his message to the crowd.

Modi said that the work today’s youth were doing on problems like sanitation and poverty would have deep impact in the times to come.

‘I salute you, I repeat, I salute you,’ he said as the crowd erupted in applause.

‘I am proud of you, your family is proud of you, your friends are proud of you.’

‘In India, 800 million youth are joining hands to make drinking water and sanitaton available in the hands of everybody,’ he said.

Modi said the youths in India could see that ‘you are joining hands’ with them.

‘God bless. May the force be with you,’ the Indian prime minister, who is on a five-day official visit to the and delivered his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly Saturday, concluded.

IANS

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Lessons for Lanka from Jayalaithaa conviction

Sri Lanka, Sept. 29 — For political leaders, who seek power, prestige and popularity, personal gain or glory, by plundering the people’s wealth and resources, someday and in a devastating way, a great fall will come. That is a golden principle of life. So it was for Tamil Nadu’s popular and powerful three-term Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram who on Saturday was convicted of colossal acts of corruption and stripped of her post as Chief Minister.

According to the 1,000-page judgment in the case which had dragged on for 18 years, Ms. Jayalalithaa was found guilty of having assets valued at 6.67 billion Sri Lankan rupees. Among other assets disproportionate with her earning capacity were scores of companies set up to launder billions in black money, two estates to the extent of some 2,000 acres, 28 kilos of personal gold, more than 10,000 saris and 750 pairs of shoes. This reminds us of notorious figures like the Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda who were ousted in the famous people-power revolution led by Cardinal Jaime Sin.

Though the Jayalalithaa trial went on for 18 years and had to be shifted from Chennai to Bangalore for security reasons, it shows the vibrancy of India’s judicial process where all people, whatever their position, are equal before the law. This was a case where justice may have been delayed, but justice was not denied. When it came, the once pretty or petty empress was cast from her throne. All the popularity and prestige of her film-star career as the romantic partner of the former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran ended with a thunder bolt of justice and she now lies behind the bars of a VIP jail.

During Ms. Jayalalithaa’s third and last term as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister -though some political analysts close to her say she could make a comeback – Sri Lanka’s relationship with Tamil Nadu plunged into the deepest end of the Palk Strait.

Independent political analysts believe the Rajapaksa government also contributed to the breakdown in the relationship by not appointing top professional diplomats to the Deputy High Commission in Chennai. As a result, there are major disputes between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Nadu in particular if not the whole of India over the ethnic crisis here and the allegations of Tamil Nadu fishermen doing large-scale bottom trawling in the Palk Strait.

What happens in Tamil Nadu next is still uncertain though India’s ruling BJP adviser Subramaniam Swamy says he has advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impose direct presidential rule for about two months.

Whatever the political factors, the more important lesson for Sri Lanka is to restore the independence of the judicial service so that it will be able to curb the rampant corruption, the abuse and plunder of public funds and other vices that are going on here unchecked. Instead of a vibrant judicial service as in India where even the Supreme Court is powerfully proactive on social justice issues, what we see in Sri Lanka is a culture of impunity, where the

vulture prevails.

Ruling party politicians, their supporters and stooges, thugs and hooligans are often able or allowed to do what they want because they know they can eventually get away. In Sri Lanka’s crisis of the breakdown of the rule of law, if not lawlessness and anarchy, it is not likely that we will find any of our Jayalalithaas, female or male, in jail.

But history also shows us that the wheels of justice, though grinding slowly will grind surely and Uva’s political Waterloo was a clear sign that the time is coming when the mighty shall be cast from their thrones of nepotism and cultism. Then they will realise that with nothing they came and with nothing shall they go.

HT

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Sri Lanka highly vulnerable to cyber attacks: CERT|CC

Sri Lanka, Sept. 29 — Sri Lanka will experience a massive wave of cyber attacks in the near future due to inadequate prevention methods and privacy laws as well as non-compliance, according to the state’s Computer Emergency Response Team Co-ordination Centre. (CERT|CC).

“In Sri Lanka, major attacks have not made the headlines yet, but in my view it will happen in the near future,” CERT|CC CEO Lal Dias said at a seminar held at the National Chamber of Commerce.

He was of the opinion that inadequate and ineffectively implemented cyber security will leave entities and individuals open to attack by hackers.

Poorly developed applications and websites are a major vulnerability, and Dias said that organizations developing their own applications should adhere to secure coding practices.

He said that despite 2007’s Computer Crimes Act being enforced, very few crimes have been reported.

“Banks would rather hush up attacks than report them due to publicity. But if the banks reported to CERT, we won’t publicize and help them investigate,” he noted.

CERT|CC Senior Information Security Engineer Roshan Chandraguptha also confirmed the comment, saying banks value reputation above all else in fear of losing public confidence. Dias however said banks do conduct security drills which other organizations should adopt while also stressing the need to implement easily understood cyber security policies and educate staff on it. He went on to say that untrustworthy employees also contribute towards a weak cyber security system, as evident in past scandals concerning Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and that entering into Non-Disclosure Agreements are not adequate in light of such incidences.

According to him, part of the problem is also the advancement of technology, along with which cyber attacks also evolve and CERT|CC has been playing a game of catch-up.

“I’m not sure how well we are doing but we are trying, the fraudsters are always one step ahead of us,” Dias stressed.

However, he said his organization is prepared to help others develop much needed well-documented security policies according to the national standards. It can provide consultation with security reviews, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, and advise on information security policies. CERT|CC is also able to help victims with after attack response; conducting digital forensics and incident handling, while proactively increasing awareness with workshops, seminars and conferences, alerts, and a knowledge base.

Chandraguptha meanwhile mentioned that CERT|CC only acts in such capacities and does not police, which is the responsibility of the CID’s Computer Crimes Division.

CERT|CC has already established the computer security incident response team (CSIRT) to help the sensitive banking sector share information on cyber crime anonymously among each other and hopes to extend CSIRT services to military bodies, ICT and standards institutions. Government Universities and Banks, as well as banks, financial institutions and corporates from the private sector are partnering up with CERT|CC to reduce cyber crime while departments, agencies and e-Sri Lanka, and SMEs and start-ups respectively are not part of it. CERT|CC will kick off its National Cyber Security Week 2014 on October 1 with the 7th National Conference on Cyber Security which will be held at BMICH, to be followed by multiple workshops during the course of the week.

HT

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Facebook can steer young minds into politics

Sydney: The Social networking site Facebook can encourage more young people to get engaged in politics, a new research shows.

“We need to take Facebook much more seriously as a space where young people – purposefully or incidentally – engage with politics, with their networks of friends and family,” said Ariadne Vromen, associate professor from University of Sydney.

The survey of 3,600 young people in the age group 16-29 across Australia, the UK and the US revealed that they first hear about news and major events on Facebook rather than print and TV programmes.

Researchers found that increasing use of social media leads to more political participation by young people.

“Especially for those young people that have an issue-based approach to why political participation matters, rather than a traditional orientation that only focuses on formal, electoral politics,” Vromen added.

Pressing the “like” button is the key to show support for political issues, many participants responded, adding that they avoid commenting because they do not want to irk family members or friends on social media.

Most of the young people said they think politicians should use social media more.

“They think politicians should be asked questions publicly more often to show they are responsive to people’s views,” Vromen noted.

The study was part of The Civic Network, a two-year research project funded by the Spencer Foundation based in America.

IANS

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Google’s 16th Birthday: The Internet giant wishes itself with a cute doodle

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New Delhi: Google on Saturday wished itself a sweet 16th birthday with a party-mode doodle.

Visitors on the page were greeted with an animated doodle in which the letter ‘G’, which dons a cute birthday cap is shown first marking the height of letter ‘o’ and then that of the taller letter ‘l’ on the white wall next to it. The letter ‘o’ is first ecstatic to see itself that it has grown so much since the last recording, but later appears gloomy after it realises that the letter ‘l’ is so much bigger.

The doodle also features a tab, which when clicked, allows the user to share the same on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

It’s been sixteen years since Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google at a garage in Menlo Park, California in 1998. From that humble beginning, Google has over the years emerged into world’s most loved search engine.

@shrutisaxena29

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How to Build a Strong Social-Media Presence

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Can you really do social media in 30 minutes each day successfully?

When I see article titles or headlines claiming that you can automate your posts and work smarter on your social network by doing this or that, I think to myself, Really?

Running a social-media strategy is just like any other process: It takes time. There are no shortcuts, you just need to be agile.

So when you decide to join social media, make sure that your strategy is not just “post and run”. Be active in the community, follow and reply to your customers. True, there are times when you do not have access to the Internet and you are just happy to be able to get a post out, but to me, that would be the exception. For instance, if you were traveling, you may not have access to the online world 100 percent of the time, but even then, you should check in and respond as soon as possible.

Here are some strategic steps you can take to build a strong social-media presence.

Put the work in to see the rewards. To me, social media is almost a round-the-clock enterprise. It takes me hours to read and gather tweets each day to share across my network. Over the years, I have been even more selective, which makes it even harder for me to take on this particular task and this is just a fraction of my social-media undertaking for each day.

The trick is that when you don’t have time, follow people that are extremely selective with their tweets, put these folks on a list and share their content. If you do this generously, they will in return be happy to promote your work.

Don’t tweet for the sake of it. Another one of my favorite social-media suggestions is to limit your tweets per day. I’ll admit that I used to tweet way too much, but I now post about one per hour on average. (That is, unless I am working on promoting an event or participating on a chat.) Do what works best for you but moderation is always a good rule to follow, as it is nice to give your audience a break.

Also, you don’t always have to broadcast from your social-media page; you can say your piece by commenting on others’ social-media channels. I usually hop on all my social channels and watch what others are up to and really engage with them. Try to comment rather than just like or re-tweet, because that does not open the door to starting a conversation.

Reconsider have all your social-media posts automated. If I hand-selected the content and want to share this with my followers globally but just can’t do it right now, it is sometimes better to wait. I’ve noticed that my fans do not have a problem with me responding at a later time. We cannot possibly acknowledge, return or reciprocate every social-media transaction, but I do the best that I can.

On the other hand, there are situations when scheduling some of your posts makes sense. By scheduling your tweets, you’re not flooding the stream all at once. By spacing your posts out, you are providing a variety of information at a variety of times for all to enjoy. Be fussy with what you choose to share and when you share it. I find that a mixture of automated and live tweets works well for me. I try to participate on different travel chats whenever I have time in my schedule.

By implementing these simple steps, it has helped me stay at the forefront of the social-media sphere and it definitely has helped me grow my following across my social channels. In social media, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Be active!

TG

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Leaders alike: 10 similarities between Obama and Modi

US President Barack Obama and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are, of course, ideologically poles apart. Obama set out being on the left of the Democratic Party, Modi is a right-wing Hindu nationalist. But there are some uncanny similarities in their road to power and ways they have handled it, particularly during Obama’s first term.
1.Bothareintenselypoliticalindividualswho have roots in forms of community organising, one mobilising underprivileged neighbourhoods in Chicago; Modi crisscrossing the country as a RSS pracharak and BJP party worker. They are cerebral figures in different ways, with perhaps a measure of chilly detachment that appeals to loyalists and reinforces their power. 2.Bothattained officebattlingunpopular regimes that were led by dynastic figures. Obama rode the tide against George W. Bush who was an embarrassment all round, owing to his misguided ‘war on terror’ and an indefensible invasion of Iraq. Modi similarly capitalised on the general fatigue with UPA rule, the various corruption scandals and directed his attacks on Rahul Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi lineage. 3. ModiandObamabuilthugewarchests and outspent their rivals in election campaigns. Obama raised $1.1 billion in campaign contributions for the 2012 election alone. There is no definite handle on the amount spent by the Modi campaign; guesses about BJP’s advertising budget for the general election vary between $500-670 million. Many feel the actual figure was much more. 4.Modiand Obamabeatformidablefemale rivals who they went on to appoint in their cabinet. Hillary Clinton lost the Democrat nomination in 2008 to Obama after securing an impressive 18 million votes – and subsequently became the US Secretary of State. Sushma Swaraj is believed to have opposed Modi’s nomination as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate but eventually acquiesced with his rise, joining his cabinet as minister for external affairs. 5.Bothconcentrateforeign policyin their hands, excluding their foreign ministries. As former defence secretary Robert Gates wrote in his memoir, Duty, the White House and National Security Agency dominated decision-making in Obama’s first term often at the expense of State and Pentagon.

Clinton met Obama every week but she was relegated to a more representational role, rather than be allowed to drive policy. Swaraj is in a similar position – not entirely brushed aside owing to her political standing but not allowed to steer the policy agenda either. The key decision to call off foreign secretary talks with Pakistan in August was the PM’s call. (The current US Secretary of State John Kerry probably has more latitude than Clinton had.) 6.ObamaandModihavesimilarapproaches to public diplomacy and managing the narrative. Both ran path-breaking online elections campaigns but constricted communications with the public on assuming power. Obama’s direct communications with constituents tapered off soon after assuming the presidency and the Modi has passed clear instructions to his cabinet to avoid briefing the media.

Obama looks a very tired figure now in his second term but the Democratic Party still has a range of allies and supporters who can be deployed in newspapers, television networks and other platforms. Modi too has scores of storm troopers embedded across New Delhi and state capitals. 7.ObamaandModiseethemselvesas outsiders in their capital cities, and practice a brand of politics honed in their provincial patch. Obama was a relatively junior senator from Illinois who captured national attention through the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention and posited himself as being everything the corrupt Washington elite was not. In his Independence Day speech, Modi spoke of being an outsider to Delhi “far removed from the elite classes”.

Obama and Modi are also shaped by a style of politics they practiced in Chicago and Gujarat respectively. Obama once told his presidential opponent John McCain “I’m skinny, but I’m tough. I’m from Chicago”.

The city of Chicago is said to have the most ruthless politics in the US. Alexandra Starr made this argument in a Spectator column stating that the Obama’s political campaign was known for its discipline and ensuring voter turnout (not unlike Modi’s). The Obama team was also artful, fiercely combative, unleashing tough tactics behind closed doors. 8. ObamalikeModihad politicalfiguresin his team known for their take-no-prisoners approach to opponents. In his first term, Obama had Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff who was used as a battering ram to tackle the Congress and settle intra-administration quarrels. Robert Gates writes in Duty that Emanuel was known for his “inexhaustible supply of ‘f-bombs'” and “terrorising everyone, even cabinet officers”.

Modi famously manoeuvred his way up in Gujarat’s politics and triumphed over the powerful Patel lobby that dominated state politics for decades, eventually sending veterans like Keshubhai Patel into oblivion. He also has an abrasive Rahm Emanuel-like figure in Amit Shah on his side who is not known for building consensus, as Shiv Sena recently found out. Modi has also drafted trusted bureaucrats from Gujarat into key roles in the prime minister’s office. 9.Likemanypoliticians,power has moderated their positions – and in some cases vastly altered them. Obama had a good record on civil liberties during his time as senator, but as president he has refused to shutdown Guantanamo, scaled up drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, and prosecuted whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) and Edward Snowden – over Wikileaks and NSA’s surveillance programme respectively.

Likewise Modi was critical of UPA’s “biryani diplomacy” with Pakistan in 2013 but went on to invite his counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in. Candidate Modi spoke of China’s “expansionist mindset” in February, but he has been fairly conciliatory towards Beijing notwithstanding recent ‘incursions’ by PLA troops in Ladakh. Such ‘compromises’ will likely continue. 10. Lastly,notapointofcomparison, but an argument that Obama’s experience offers lessons to Modi on the inevitability of political decline. Three factors worked against Obama which Modi too will encounter: First, unexpected events like the financial crisis, Ukraine and ISIS provide little space for burnishing authority.

Two, Obama did not keep his own ideological allies together; he lost the Left by taking hardline positions on Snowden and other national security issues, and, lastly, Obama gained a reputation as an aloof, arrogant figure incapable of making deals with different power centres in an intensely differentiated, federal political system – not unlike India’s. The mood in Washington and America changed soon after.

Obama’s trajectory, from the dizzy euphoria of 2008 to the relatively low poll ratings he now registers, shows that contemporary politics rarely throw up messianic figures who can outlast the scrutiny of media-saturated cultures. It’s not clear if Modi can buck that trend.

HT

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Facebook’s Internet providing drones will be of size of commercial airliner: Report

Washington: Facebook’s Internet drones will reportedly be the size of a commercial aircraft like Boeing 747, and fly for years.

According to The Verge, Facebook wants to beam wireless Internet access to unconnected parts of the world using solar-powered, laser-equipped drones.

But now one of the leaders of the project has revealed more mind-boggling details, including the fact that Facebook envisions drones the size of a Boeing 747 commercial airliner and wants to keep them flying for months, even years, at a time, report said.

The engineering director at Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire said that unnamed planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time , and they actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace.

However, it’s unclear just where and when Facebook will be launching its first internet connectivity drones.

ANI

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You Can’t Collaborate Unless You Agree on the Problem

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To design and develop new products, it’s not uncommon today to get your research and engineering folks to collaborate with customers and other external stakeholders. In effect, you give these people the right to participate in your innovation process and influence its final outcome.

This sort of collaboration has been well-documented in the B2C context (where it’s often called “crowdsourcing” or “co-creation”), but we see it in B2B companies as well. In B2B customer collaboration, however, the customer tends to be driven by specific business goals rather than passion for your brand or product category.

In this context, agreement on the problem you’re going to work together on is the critical element. For companies to get real value from working together, the problem has to be aligned with the interests of all parties. This is not always the case in attempts to collaborate. Let me share a sanitized story of one such initiative at a company I will call WhiteCo, a parts supplier for the white goods industry (the durable consumer appliances that tend to have a white finish – air conditioners, refrigerators, and so on).

It had taken a long time to organize the workshop. WhiteCo had put huge efforts in convincing a key customer to participate and had done its best to set up the event well. They had picked a location designed to spark people’s imagination, and both parties had sent representatives from multiple functions that included experts and key executives from both companies. A top-flight facilitator had been invited to lead the discussion. Commitment and expectations were high.

But the workshop flopped. The issue, it turned out, was that the problem they were trying to solve through the exercise was relevant only to WhiteCo and not its customer, so the customer’s people soon disengaged. In an attempt to salvage things, WhiteCo switched to a problem that was important to its customer, but it soon became apparent that this didn’t work either, because it really wasn’t relevant to the WhiteCo people. Both sides ended up disappointed and will be unlikely to want to repeat the experiment.

This happens more often than you might think. In B2B, managers all too often treat such “co-creation” as an event rather than a process and therefore focus almost exclusively on the workshop. But the workshop is only a point in a process that starts with the careful, collaborative design of a problem statement. Here are some tips on how to write a winning problem statement:

Brainstorm and iterate: Analyze the customer’s business and priorities to identify problems that could be relevant for both sides; approach the customer, propose your options but make it clear that it is not necessary to choose immediately. Ask your partner to prepare a counter-proposal with additional problems. Rank-order the list: Agree with your customer on shared criteria and then score each of the listed problems accordingly. Do it separately at each company; you should not influence each other. Select several problem statements: Don’t go into the workshop with just one problem statement. If turns out to be unfeasible, then the entire initiative will grind to a halt. In our experience, two or three is the right number.

As an illustration of how to do this well, the experience of BASF is worth looking at. Recently, the German chemicals giant collaborated with another chemicals company. Through a process similar to the one just described, they selected engine downsizing as the problem statement, the goal being to develop a lighter weight engine that consumes less gas and emits less exhaust. They further narrowed the scope by explicitly ruling out development of a number of technologies including gas/fuel cell hybrid engines. The resulting workshop was a great success and the two have begun to collaborate on a number of projects within the agreed parameters.

Such B2B collaboration can be difficult, but focusing your initial effort on jointly defining a clear problem will make it more likely that you will achieve real, sustainable value in the long term.

Harvard Business Review

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Human Rights Being Used As Tool for Motivated Agenda: Rajapaksa

UNITED NATIONS: Under pressure to allow an international probe, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Wednesday that “human rights are used as a tool to implement motivated agendas” and criticised what he characterised as double standards in enforcing them.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Rajapaksa said: “Human rights should be recognised by all as a moral and ethical concept rather than as a political tool.” He warned that “external intervention without adequate consideration of the structures in a society and cultural traditions” leads to destabilisation.

In March the UN Human Rights Council mandated a probe into “alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka.” The United States spearheaded the resolution for the international investigation, while India abstained.

Calling his nation ” an unfortunate victim of ill-conceived agendas of some in the Human Rights Council,” Rajapaksa said, “There is an obvious lack of balance and proportion in the manner in which my country is being targeted today, disregarding these significant achievements. This is in sharp contrast with the approach to deeply disturbing situations involving humanitarian emergencies elsewhere.”

After the civil war, Sri Lanka has made substantial progress in reconciliation, he said. “Large scale post conflict reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement initiatives were implemented in the North in a relatively short period of four years. Most importantly, democratic structures in the North have been re-established. Elections were held to the Northern Provincial Council in September 2013, after a lapse of 28 years.”

A recurring theme in Rajapaksa’s speech was that nations like his were being bullied by international organizations in various ways. “UN bodies must find ways to work with governments through dialogue, greater understanding of situations and cooperation including assistance to strengthen national institutions. This approach, instead of strong arm tactics, must form the heart of multilateral diplomacy, in the search for sustainable solutions to global challenges.”

TNIE

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