Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Amidst Pakistan's current troubles, Indian officials and mainstream media continue to display unconcealed delight in painting Pakistan as a "Failed State". And as they offer unsolicited advice to their neighbor, they ignore the ground reality that if Pakistan is a failed state, then India is as failed a state as Pakistan, if not more so.

Why is India a Failed State?

The reality of the failure of Indian state is as obvious as daylight. The Indian state's abject failures in delivering bare minimum services to its people, and its inability to solve India's basic problems are there for everyone to see.

Conventional Western understanding about modern India has recognized a degree of political instability, and the persistence of armed insurgencies in the country’s Northeast and Northwest regions. However, there has only been a slight awareness of the rural insurgencies and challenges to the state’s writ in the heartland of India. These have rarely been seen by outsiders as a systemic challenge to the dominant narrative of a democratic society engaged in economic and social development. The recent trajectory of India’s economic development has created an optimistic narrative that rarely includes discussion of internal instability. While there is focus on a small section of the urban elite, not much attention has been given to growing rural poverty, mass farmers' suicides and increasing rich-poor gap. Meanwhile, Maoists have gained significant momentum in rural India.

Not unlike North Korea, India is engaged in a massive arms buildup while almost half of its children are near starvation. A nation-state like India that fails to take care of 46% its children's basic nutrition needs has to be a failed state. In fact, George Friedman of Strafor raises serious doubts about India's viability as a modern nation-state, and dismisses the talk of its emergence as one of the great powers of the 21st century. Friedman does not accept that any of the four BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will achieve great world power status in this century. Instead, he believes that Turkey, Poland and Japan will join the United States as the most important world powers in the next 50 years.

Here are some shocking statistics shedding light on India's failures:

Pakistan is in the midst of a bloody insurgency by the Taliban and their affiliated groups. Last year was one of the bloodiest in Pakistan's history, claiming about 3000 lives in tragic violence by terrorists. Putting it perspective, India loses 3000 children every day to hunger and malnutrition, according to UNICEF.

One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.

One out of very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.

Almost one out of two Indians lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 32% this year.

Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:


Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009


Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pak istan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pak istan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF


GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100

Child Protection:

Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pak istan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF

Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF

In spite of the grim statistics above, India is ranked the fourth biggest military spender in terms of purchasing power parity.

The poverty and hunger situation in Pakistan is only a bit less serious than in India.

The myth about Pakistan being a failed state is being pushed by people who are either ignorant about Pakistan, or have an ax to grind.

Here's a video clip of British writer William Dalrymple comparing India and Pakistan:

On sanitation, a UNICEF report  said Indians make up 58% of the world population which still practices open defection.  India (638m) is followed by Indonesia (58m), China (50m), Ethiopia (49m), Pakistan (48m), Nigeria (33m) and Sudan (17m). In terms of percentage of each country's population resorting to the unhygienic practice, Ethiopia tops the list with 60%, followed by India 54%, Nepal 50%, Pakistan 28%, Indonesia 26%, and China 4%.

Do any serious analysts challenge the poverty and hunger figures for India, or the strength and scope of the Maoists insurgency? Absolutely not! Even Indian officials, including Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, agree with the data on hunger, poverty and malnutrition, as well the Maoists threat assessment.

In terms of the challenges to the writ of the state, India is host to some of the fiercest conflicts in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 have died in insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeastern states. About 25% of the Indian territory is outside the control of Indian authority.

Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence. In fact, the Maoists in India, led by the left-wing intellectuals with many urban sympathizers, have a greater chance of success in India than the poor, rural Pakistani Taliban, or other Islamic radicals in Pakistan, whose heavy handed tactics in Swat, and suicide bombings in Pakistani cities have destroyed whatever sympathies they had among the urban middle class.

Talking about failure to deliver minimum assistance to India's people, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged in 2008 that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.

Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".

"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.

Is Pakistan a Failed State?

Do any serious analysts challenge Pakistan's place on failed state index? Absolutely! Not just one, many analysts do!

Dalrymple, a self-declared Indophile, is not alone in rejecting the myth of Pakistan being a failed state. Others who know South Asia and other parts of the world, such as Prof Juan Cole, Peter Bergen, and others, also reject this myth.

My reasons for saying that India is a failed state are simple: More than Pakistani state, the Indian state has miserably failed in meeting the very basic needs of its people (particularly children) for food, clothing, shelter and basic sanitation. In addition, India has larger swaths of its territory in central and eastern where state authority does not exist.

India-A Failed Democracy:
India is also a failed democracy and a bad poster child for democratic form of government. It's pervasive hunger, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, a huge and growing rich-poor gap, and a well-established system of caste-based Apartheid, and its terrible governance make its democracy a joke. And its history of widespread persecution of its minorities makes its secular label ludicrous.

Here's an American researcher and professor emeritus of University Washington explaining anti-Muslim riots in his 2003 book "Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India":

Events labeled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and towns in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/ rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation.1 In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally.

At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them.

Busting Myths of India as Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous":

Here's Indian writer Pankaj Mishra busting the myth of "Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India":

Apparently, no inconvenient truths are allowed to mar what Foreign Affairs, the foreign policy journal of America's elite, has declared a "roaring capitalist success story". Add Bollywood's singing and dancing stars, beauty queens and Booker prize-winning writers to the Tatas, the Mittals and the IT tycoons, and the picture of Indian confidence, vigour and felicity is complete.

The passive consumer of this image, already puzzled by recurring reports of explosions in Indian cities, may be startled to learn from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Washington that the death toll from terrorist attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007 was 3,674, second only to that in Iraq. (In the same period, 1,000 died as a result of such attacks in Pakistan, the "most dangerous place on earth" according to the Economist, Newsweek and other vendors of geopolitical insight.)

I agree with India's Dalit leader, constitution architect and first law minister Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's statement that "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic."

As someone described it recently, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest strata of the country’s enduring caste system, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid. But after 62 years of independence, over 250 million Indian Dalits are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

India's Secularism Is a Myth:
Regarding secularism, here's how Kapil Komireddy demolishes the myth of Indian secularism in a piece he wrote for the Guardian newspaper:

For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.

The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.

The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognize and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.

The Next 100 Years:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, George Friedman, Chairman of Stratfor, and author of "The Next 100 Years", sees the United States, Turkey, Poland and Japan as the great powers of the 21st century.

Friedman raises serious doubts about India and China staying united as modern nation-states, much less emerge as great powers of the 21st century. He says India and China are regionally fragmented and it's very difficult to govern the vast nations from from Delhi or Beijing. He does not foresee Brazil or Russia emerge as great powers of the 21st century either, essentially dismissing all four members of the the much-hyped BRIC countries.

Talking about the emergence of South Korea and Israel as modern industrialized states, Friedman singles out the value of the transfer by the US of F-16s as a catalyst for recipient countries' development of skills and technical know-how. He makes no mention of Pakistan's development of the F16 maintenance and training infrastructure at Kamra PAC for its F16s in this context.

Friedman says the Islamic World will recover from the current chaos imposed by the United States in its conflict with al Qaeda. He also argues that Turkey, not Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, or Egypt, will emerge as a great world power, and the leader of the Muslim world.

Here's how Friedman describes the four great powers of the twenty-first century:

Japan, Turkey, and Poland will each be facing a United States even more confident than it was after the second fall of the Soviet Union. That will be an explosive situation. As we will see during the course of this book, the relationships among these four countries will greatly affect the twenty-first century, leading, ultimately, to the next global war. This war will be fought differently from any in history—with weapons that are today in the realm of science fiction. But as I will try to outline, this mid-twenty-first century conflict will grow out of the dynamic forces born in the early part of the new century.

"BRIC" is an acronym coined by Goldman Sachs to bracket four disparate nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China together just because of their large populations. Similar logic is used in GS's "Next 11" group of emerging nations which include Pakistan and Turkey.

I think population alone can not be used as a determinant for the future, although nations with higher than replacement fertility rate (TFR of 2.1 or greater) will have some advantage in the 21st century. Conversely, the nations with aging populations and sub-replacement fertility rates, such as Japan, Poland and Russia, will be disadvantaged.

I also think that the predictive abilities of most analysts, including Friedman, are limited by the present. Future is often seen as a highly exaggerated version of the present.

As Friedman himself says, Germany was predicted to be the greatest power of the 20th century. All that changed after two world wars, when America emerged as the most important world power, and the Soviet Union its biggest competitor. The same could happen in this century. We could see new players by 2050, such as Turkey and Poland, emerge in addition to US and Japan, rather than the much hyped BRICs.

As to the nukes, I don't think we ought to be constrained in our thinking by the current status of nuclear weapons technology. New weapons and technologies can emerge to potentially make the possession of the current generation of atomic weaponry irrelevant. Space-based weaponry, and remote cyber warfare could determine the winners of future conflicts.

All analyses and forecasts aside, no one has a perfect crystal ball. Only time will tell how the new world order emerges in the 21st century. But I do think the demise of the US power is highly exaggerated, as are the predictions of BRIC's extraordinary rise in the next 100 years.

Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":

Related Links:

Dalit Victims of Apartheid in India
FAQs on India's Massive Arms Buildup

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman
Haq's Musings

Escape From India
Reflections on India

Country Ranks 2009
Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?
Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India
Insurgents Violence Reports in India

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Talks
India 's Sane Voice Warns Against Smugness
State Fragility Index List of Countries

Hindutva Terror to Spark India-Pakistan War?

Failed state? Try Pakistan's M2

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?
India and Pakistan Compared in 2010

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Middle Class Clout Rising in Pakistan

Panka j Mishra Busts the Myth of Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India

US Afghan Exit: Trigger For India-Pakistan Talks?

China's Growing Role in Kashmir


Vishal said...

Now that's another rant from you :)

You also support videos from Friedman which is at least a year old. His book was released in January 2009, and a lot of water has flown through the holy Ganges since then. This seems to be one of the promotion videos for the book.

- He predicts China would be fragmented. A big LOL at that. It is US which is surviving on China's cash these days.

- He calls Turkey an emerging power. Another LOL; In 20009 Turkey was America's dog, now no more. The same RAND corporation which he heads is crying foul over Turkey going Islamic way, and that it is no longer interested to join EU.

- Russia, Well he is still on Putin...guess the times have changed there too..

- Regarding American missile defense in Romania: Well Obama scrapped it within months of coming to power.

- Regarding India's internal division and lack of capacity to do business. Well even in this recession, it is the 2nd fastest economy in the world.

Regarding Pakistan, well I guess he did not predict that America's war of terror would now shift from Afghanistan to Pakistan and screw it up big time in 2009-2010.

Beyond this, I don't know what you accomplish by your rants about India going broke like Pakistan. At least it is not begging for money like Pakistan.

May be you could pick up the works of another Friedman - The 'Thomas Friedman'. I am 100% sure he is more widely read than the one you cited.

Anonymous said...

I visited your musings today to see if you have considered my suggestions on blogging.
I am obliged to respond to this article as you keep using freedom to write as freedom hurt your readers.
What is the objective of this post Mr.Haq ?
What makes you think of countries failed or failing status by quoting few references from limited googling experience of yours.

I am not going to justify your thinking and being happy to write of your own and neighboring countries. I go by one sentence on India, I read a T-shirt message that said “1 billion people are not wrong” a small caption down “the place is India”. About Pakistan, current affairs may not give you what is real Pakistan is , definitely few more millions cannot be wrong living there.

It people like you, make people like me like people like you. But I am sorry Mr.Haq your data, references and your own content on either India or Pakistan failed or failing does not make your readers understand what you want to say.

You try to be provocative by depicting your own countries problem and taking other countries problems.
Take a break from writing such things, google bit more to get more subject into your objectivity.

I am from India and I do not see Pakistan as failed or failing state in spite of failed state indexes.
We have lot more challenges, we the people of India have courage to accept our failings, we compare ourselves with developed countries because we want to be one of the developed countries. Rest, you cannot change 1 billion plus problems in few years, we have seen changes in last decade, we are optimistic of our future. I am sure same thing from Pakistan people too.

Anonymous said...

Once reason not to take Friedman serious is the current state of america. No author to the best of knowledge but for gerald celente had predicted the dogs of america.

Even a slightest news that the GCC countries will trade oil on other currency sends the dollar to southward.

A positive aspect which india needs to look at it is accomodative growth and check of the neo rich and corrupt politicians. I have nothing to say about pakistan as i feel it is the problem pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

BRIC is a term coined by Goldman Sachs to bracket disparate nations together just because of their large populations. Similar logic is used in GS's "Next 11" group of emerging nations which include Pakistan and Turkey.

I think population alone can not be used as a determinant for the future, although nations with higher than replacement TFR (about 2.1) will have some advantage in the 21st century.

Regarding Friedman, I think the predictive abilities of most analysts are limited by the present. Future is often seen as a highly exaggerated version of the present.

As Friedman says, Germany was predicted to be the greatest power of the 20th century. All that changed after two world wars, when America emerged as the most important world power. The same could happen in this century. We could see new players by 2050, such as Turkey and Poland, emerge in addition to US and Japan, rather than the much hyped BRICs.

As to the nukes, I don't think we ought to be constrained in our thinking by the current status of nuclear weapons technology. New weapons and technologies can emerge to potentially make the possession of the current generation of atomic weaponry irrelevant. Space-based weaponry, and remote cyber warfare could determine the winners of future conflicts.

T-F said...

Friedman is correct in a sense that what we expect would not occur as it never has and what we do not expect can easily happen.

May I divert the readers attention to the Time's article
Japan: From Superrich to Superpower

Did not happen, did it. Nether did germany and any county which has a strong foundation could emerge as the next superpower.

As for failed states, no such things. Just varying levels population markers that puts them in a bad light.

Data Cruncher said...

here is an article in WSJ about how USA supplies arms to both India and Pak.


Point worth noting "failed nation india pays from its own funds" while "not so failed nation Pakistan pays from american funds". Sums it up, right?

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Point worth noting "failed nation india pays from its own funds" while "not so failed nation Pakistan pays from american funds". Sums it up, right?"

I am glad Pakistan is using US military aid rather than borrowed funds or its taxpayers' money to buy weapons. Pak has much better uses for its money than splurge it on F-16s.

India, on the other hand, is borrowing heavily (its budget deficit is now 10% of GDP vs 5% for Pak) to fund its weapons purchases.

Pakistan's current account deficit of about 5% of GDP is being funded by the remittances from expats already.

Here' what S&P said last year when it raised Pak's debt rating:

“A narrowing current account deficit, helped by buoyant remittance inflows, and successive disbursals of the IMF and other multilateral loans have reduced the risk of near-term external payment difficulties for Pakistan,”

Recently Pak government was criticized by Pak media for "a new feather in its CAP" for being a part of the UN's Continuous Appeal Process (CAP) to assure long-term funding of programs via NGOs in nations impacted by ongoing war and refugees. Pakistan qualifies for such funding in the North West region of the country where war has been raging between Pak military and the Talibs for at least a year.

Unlike Indian government, Pakistani government doesn't get in the way of others helping its needy citizens.

In spite of its most serious problems of hunger, poverty and malnutrition, Indian government recently banned the UNICEF import of energy food (RUTF) to help the most malnourished Indian children.

"Nothing should come behind our back. Nothing should be done in the name of emergency when we have not declared an emergency," Shreeranjan, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development told the Reuters news agency.


According to Unicef's State of the World's Children's report, India has the worst indicators of child malnutrition in South Asia: 48% of under fives in India are stunted, compared to 43% in Bangladesh and 37% in Pakistan.

Meanwhile 30% of babies in India are born underweight, compared to 22% in Bangladesh and 19% in Pakistan. Unicef calculates that 40% of all underweight babies in the world are Indian.


Anonymous said...

But Indian PM does not go to other countries to beg. Isn't that strange.
Even stranger is the credit rating of India much better than Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "But Indian PM does not go to other countries to beg."

As the head of a family with the world's largest number of poor, malnourished, homeless and illiterate members, the Indian PM should do whatever it takes to feed, clothe, house and educate them. Instead of just borrowing and mortgaging his children's future, he should be willing to beg, borrow or steal...whatever it takes to take care of his poor, hungry, illiterate family.

Good credit ratings allow US to borrow heavily, the same way the European PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) did. So it's not necessarily a good thing if it encourages heavy borrowing. Look what's happening in Greece today. The credit rating agencies are being criticized for at least partial responsibility for the mess in Euro zone.

Data Cruncher said...

"As the head of a family with the world's largest number of poor, malnourished, homeless and illiterate members, the Indian PM should do whatever it takes to feed, clothe, house and educate them. Instead of just borrowing and mortgaging his children's future, he should be willing to beg, borrow or steal...whatever it takes to take care of his poor, hungry, illiterate family. "

Do you give the same advice to a poor person having 6 children in Karachi. Go and loot or beg to keep your family from starving.
What sort of logic is this?

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Do you give the same advice to a poor person having 6 children in Karachi. Go and loot or beg to keep your family from starving.
What sort of logic is this? "

As I have already explained, the government should alleviate try and alleviate hunger, and if it can not do that, it should get out of the way and let others help those in need.

I already gave you an example of the attitudinal difference between Indian government's false pride that bans UNICEF's biscuits imported for the starving Indian kids, versus Pakistani government's approach in accepting CAP via NGOs.

The sad part about insensitive Indian officials is their failure to even acknowledge "food emergency" in India as shown by the callous statement "Nothing should come behind our back. Nothing should be done in the name of emergency when we have not declared an emergency," Shreeranjan, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Indian artist MF Husain:

Renowned Indian artist MF Husain, under attack from hardline Hindus for his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses, has been offered Qatari nationality.

The artist made the announcement in The Hindu newspaper. It is not clear whether he will accept the honour.

Since 2006, 95-year-old Mr Husain has been living in Dubai and in London.

The Hindu said that his "impending change of nationality brings to a close one of the sorriest chapters in independent India's secular history".

Correspondents say that Mr Husain - who has been forced to flee the country - is one of India's most pre-eminent artists.

In 2006 he apologised for a painting in which he represented the country as a nude goddess. In the mid-1990s there were huge protests in Mumbai (Bombay) after he painted a whole series of nude Hindu goddesses.

Hindu nationalist groups accused the artist of hurting their religious sentiments and defiling their religion.

Mr Husain estimates that there are 900 cases against him in various courts of India. He says that he has been harassed by mobs in the country and his exhibitions have been vandalised.

The Hindu says that the artist did not apply for Qatari nationality - it was conferred upon him by the emirate's ruling family.

"The artist gave me this news from Dubai by reading out the few lines he had written on a black-and-white line drawing that he released to The Hindu," editor N Ram wrote in a signed article in newspaper.

"I, the Indian origin painter MF Husain at 95, have been honoured by Qatar nationality," the artist wrote above a sketch of a horse, the leitmotif of much of his work.

Mr Husain went to live abroad in 2006 to escape the various obscenity charges he faced in India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another BBC report on IPL security concerns in India, which I think may also affect the forthcoming Commonwealth games:

The independent report, written by British security expert Reg Dickason, raised "serious" concerns about safety at the IPL, according to the head of the Australian Cricketers' Association, Paul Marsh.

And the cricketers' concerns are not without foundation, according to Julian Clover, general manager at Hart Security.

''If you're looking at the terrorist threat in India at the moment there are a number of strands," said Clover, whose company provides advice for travelling and working in some of the world's most challenging areas.

"There is the Maoist or Naxalite strand which tends to be rural-based groups who act against security forces from the Indian establishment.

"You've got separatism, the long-term problem up in Kashmir, and probably the most challenging strand of terrorism that faces the Indians in the Islamic Al Qaeda element.''

Whilst he could not speculate directly on the security that would be in place for the IPL, Clover, who spent two decades in the army before specialising in private security, believes Al Qaeda would be at the top of the list of concerns.

''Of course it's always a matter of opinion as to how much influence there is from Al Qaeda in Islamic terrorism and how much is domestic," he said. "I think, based on recent events, they would be the most capable. They've shown intent and a lot of determination to press their attacks home.''

Anonymous said...

"Renowned Indian artist MF Husain, under attack from hardline Hindus for his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses, has been offered Qatari nationality."

Dilip Sekhar became A R Rahman.
Anyone in any islamic country opted out of Islam publicly and lived happily

Data Cruncher said...

effect of asking for aid all the time.

Sandy said...

As far fiscal deficit is concerned, Mr Haq conveniently ignored that that Pakistan was forced to accept lower fiscal targets by IMF as a pre-condition for fresh loans when it was almost going bankrupt in Dec 2008.

Zardari tried begging to China who flatly refused. That,s the Paks all-weather ally for you. Add to it, China refused to invest in POK recently.

I am sure Mr Haq will not approve this comment. :P

Anonymous said...

Dude... finally i think u've gone overboard. India's budget deficit is not 10%. Around 6% for the year 2010. For a 1.2 trillion gdp, that is 72 billion. Only 4% of that is financed by external debt. That is, 3 billion dollars. The rest is national debt, meaning inflation, which is offset by high economic growth. This is how sensible economies function. You have the liberty to run budget deficits when there is growth, and at the same time limiting external debt, if that growth were to falter.
Even the 3 billion dollars that we borrow from the World Bank should be put in context as we pump in around 10 billion every year. So, in a sense it is a small withdrawal of our deposit. This is called discipline and living within ur means.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "India's budget deficit is not 10%. Around 6% for the year 2010."

Total budget deficit of Indian federal and state governments is about 11%.

Just today, Reuters is reporting as follows:

The government revised its fiscal deficit forecast for 2009/10 to 6.9 percent of GDP from 6.8 percent, and said this would be cut to 5.5 percent of GDP in 2010/11.

The government will borrow a record gross 4.57 trillion rupees ($98.8 billion) from the market in 2010/11, higher than the current year's 4.51 trillion and in line with a median estimate of 4.61 trillion rupees in a Reuters poll.

Analysts said managing borrowing in 2010/11 will be more challenging than in the current year, as the government's cash levels were low and the central bank has limited tools to help with the ramped up borrowing in 2010/11.

Further, analysts said the government seemed to be relying on economic growth to help lower the debt-to-GDP ratio, and had offered little detail on how it will meet its longer-term targets. With 2010/11 borrowing to kick off early in April, there is not much breathing room for the bond market.

anoop said...

An article about how failed both India and Pakistan are but only 12 lines for Pakistan??? lol..

India,according to economists here, is poised to grow at 9% next year and by 2015 will become the fastest growing nation in the world,surpassing China's growth numbers. What have you to say about that? Let me guess.. You will start quoting Human Indices numbers again... You will make your point that despite the staggering growth not a penny is going to the poor(An economist will laugh at this statement- "growing at 10% but the poor are not benefitting").

Hope you will publish this post. You have not posted many of my other posts in the recent past.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from NY Times about sufi Islam celebration in Lahore:

LAHORE, Pakistan — For those who think Pakistan is all hard-liners, all the time, three activities at an annual festival here may come as a surprise.

Thousands of Muslim worshipers paid tribute to the patron saint of this eastern Pakistani city this month by dancing, drumming and smoking pot.

It is not an image one ordinarily associates with Pakistan, a country whose tormented western border region dominates the news. But it is an important part of how Islam is practiced here, a tradition that goes back a thousand years to Islam’s roots in South Asia.

It is Sufism, a mystical form of Islam brought into South Asia by wandering thinkers who spread the religion east from the Arabian Peninsula. They carried a message of equality that was deeply appealing to indigenous societies riven by caste and poverty. To this day, Sufi shrines stand out in Islam for allowing women free access.

In modern times, Pakistan’s Sufis have been challenged by a stricter form of Islam that dominates in Saudi Arabia. That orthodox, often political Islam was encouraged in Pakistan in the 1980s by the American-supported dictator, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq. Since then, the fundamentalists’ aggressive stance has tended to eclipse that of their moderate kin, whose shrines and processions have become targets in the war here.

But if last week’s stomping, twirling, singing, drumming kaleidoscope of a crowd is any indication, Sufism still has a powerful appeal.

“There are bomb blasts all around, but people don’t stay away,” said a 36-year-old bank teller named Najibullah. “When the celebration comes, people have to dance.”

Worshipers had come from all over Pakistan to commemorate the death of the saint, Ali bin Usman al-Hajveri, an 11th-century mystic. Known here today as Data Ganj Baksh, or Giver of Treasures, the Persian-speaking mystic journeyed to Lahore with Central Asian invaders, according to Raza Ahmed Rumi, a Pakistani writer and expert on Sufism. He settled outside the city, a stopover on the trade route to Delhi, started a meditation center and wrote a manual on Sufi practices, Mr. Rumi said.

anoop said...

Islam and Sufism has been greatly influenced by practices of Hinduism. The less-strict version of Islam is practiced in India because of the influence of Hinduism.
Many colourful and joyous practices of the Hindus were adopted by the Muslims of India like celebration of Basant accompanied by Kite Flying.
Now, that practice is under threat due to the Fundamentalists in the Govt as well as in the Public sphere.
Recently Lahore high court put a complete ban on celebration of Basant in the City. They said Kite Flying was dangerous. But, forget that many activities that Muslims do regularly are more dangerous than 'Kite Flying'. For example, during Haj hundreds of people die due to stampede. Certainly more than the number who die Flying Kites or Kite-related activities. But, will the Lahore High court ban Haj too? If you follow logic it should,right? But, the Fundamentalists will be angered. You dont want to do that in Pakistan.

Riaz, hope you will allow this post.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Islam and Sufism has been greatly influenced by practices of Hinduism."

When communities of different religions live together for centuries, it is natural for each to influence the other. I have seen first hand the adoption of Moghul practices by many Hindu raja households in India.

But, would you say that the well-known whirling dervishes, a part of sufi practice in Syria and Turkey, have also been influenced by Hinduism.

Data Cruncher said...

"When communities of different religions live together for centuries, it is natural for each to influence the other. "

and what is not natural is that founder of a country should say this "from the moment the first muslim set his foot in India, it was clear that hindus and muslims are two different nations, who have completely different outlook towards life". (great MAJ)

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "and what is not natural is that founder of a country should say this "from the moment the first muslim set his foot in India, it was clear that hindus and muslims are two different nations, who have completely different outlook towards life". (great MAJ)"

I said "communities of different religions" which clearly means they are different, and yet they have influenced each other.

Muslim influence in India is as clear the Hindu influence in Pakistan. Many of our practices are similar. Indian writer Aakar Patel describes it as "Indo-Persian" culture.


Riaz Haq said...

Tour De Pakistan cycle race started today in Peshawar, according to ARY News:

PESHAWAR: Carrying US $ 10,000 prize money the 15th International Tour de Pakistan Cycle Race commenced from local hotel on Monday at 9.00 a.m with 63 cyclists including players from Afghanistan vie for the top honor.

Afghanistan is only foreign team that is taking part while Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Nepal teams did not turn up despite their confirmation.

The sprint would finish at Mazar-e-Quiad with Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad would be the chief guest at the presentation ceremony.

The cyclists would cover a distance of 1685km in 11 stages. The opening stage of the race, starting from Peshawar, would finish at Rawalpindi after crossing a distance of 158 km, followed by Rawalpindi-Gujrat (153km), Gujrat-Lahore (115km) after a rest at Lahore, the cyclists will continue from Lahore-Sahiwal(160km),Sahiwal-Multan (154km), Multan-Bahawalpur (90km), Bahawalpur-Rahim Yar Khan (200km).

After rest in Rahim Yar Khan the cyclists would again paddle off from Rahim Yar Khan-Sukkur (178km), followed by Sukkur-Moro (150km),Moro-Hyderabad (163km)andHyderabad-Karachi (153) will be the last stage.

It is the third occasion that the race is starting from Peshawar and finishing at Mazar-e-Quiad.

Last year the race finished at Peshawar whereas Niamat Ali of Sui Southern Gas won the race.

The sprint will finish on March, 13 at Mazar-e-Quiad, Karachi after passing through some major cities of NWFP, Punjab and Sindh.

Besides Afghanistan teams from FATA, Pakistan Army, WAPDA, Railways, Sui Southern Gas and cyclists of the four provinces contesting for the top honor.

Riaz Haq said...

War on terror has degenerated into war against tribals: Prashant Bhushan published in the Hindu:

“For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands more are created”

“Suppression of dissent is fascist and will escalate into civil war”

NEW DELHI: Human rights activists, journalists and fact-finding
committees were being targeted to intimidate them so that there could
be no dissenting voices against the State’s alleged war on terror,
which had degenerated into a war against the tribals, advocate
Prashant Bhushan alleged here over the week-end.

He was speaking at a press conference held to protest against the
alleged labelling of civil rights groups and peoples’ movements as
Maoist front organisations.

Charge-sheet against Ghandy

Reading from the charge-sheet filed against Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy
by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, Mr. Bhushan said: “Their
other front organisations like Revolutionary Democratic Front,
People’s Democratic Front of India, Committee for Release of Political
Prisoners, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers took up the issues
of human rights violation, civil liberties, atrocities by the police…
Other civil liberties and human rights organisations i.e. People’s
Union for Democratic Rights, People’s Union for Civil Liberties
(PUCL), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights also take up
the issues of their outfit — CPI (Maoist). These organisations play a
very important role to broaden the base of the outfit.”

People, who expressed sympathy with human rights activists or exposed
and criticised government actions, were accused of being front
organisations of the Maoists, he added.

Tribals harassed

Mr. Bhushan said: “The government has done little for the tribals and
now they are trying to snatch their land. When tribals agitate
peacefully, the State security forces descend on them, harass them and
burn their villages.

“About 700 villages have been burnt in the past two years in
Chhattisgarh. People are bound to protest and take up arms. For every
100 Maoists eliminated, thousands are created through collateral

The country was turning into a fascist State through suppression of
dissent and this would lead to an escalating state of violence
resulting in civil war, he added.

Talks favoured

Stressing that the State could not use illegal means to curb violence,
retired Justice Rajinder Sachar said: “The State cannot be a
terrorist. It is the ultimate repository of law and order.

"Talks should happen between the government and the Maoists in an open
atmosphere where there is no fear. Both sides should cease hostilities
for dialogue to take place. The Maoist representative should be
granted immunity for the period of talks. In case the talks fail, both
sides should be able to return to their respective areas.”

To approach court

“PUCL will go to court to remove its name from the charge-sheet,” he

Concurring that the government and Maoists should have talks amid a
ceasefire, writer Arundhati Roy said: “Fight for civil liberties,
prisoners’ rights and mere thoughts are being criminalised. If those
who support human rights activists in their struggle are considered
front organisations of the Maoists, by the same argument the Home
Ministry too should be considered the over ground representatives of
big corporations.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part of a personal story about Maoists in Jharkhand by a Newsweek reporter Sudip Mazumdar:

The Maoists finally got word that I wanted to talk. It was well past midnight when my mobile phone rang. The caller gave no name and spoke in a local Hindi dialect that I understand and speak well. He gave a little speech about "establishing a classless society." Before he could hang up, I asked him why the Maoists terrorize ordinary people. He denied harassing "the poor and the powerless." End of phone call.

It would have been nice if he had conveyed that message to the gang of Maoists who raided the house of a former village headman a few days earlier near Gaya, in the neighboring state of Bihar. The man and his son happened to be away from home when it happened, visiting a nearby village. Someone rushed to warn them that a company of Maoists had been spotted heading for their home village, and the son called the police immediately. The Maoists rolled into the village unchallenged and looted the house. Then they ordered the women out, dynamited the place to rubble and melted back into the countryside. The district police chief later claimed that a team of police was sent to the scene. Villagers said the cops showed up nearly 15 hours after the raiders left.

A few days later, nearly 100 Maoists swarmed into a village near the Jharkhand town of Hazaribagh in the dead of night. They seized a schoolteacher and dragged him away despite his wife's entreaties, accusing him of being a police informer. They tied him to a tree and tortured him to death.

The more horror stories I heard, the harder it was to understand how any government could tolerate such atrocities against its people. I decided to call on the deputy commissioner of Dhanbad district. A computer-science graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Ajay Kumar Singh is the man in charge of both district development and law and order in Dhanbad. He's an earnest young man who lives in a well-guarded bungalow with a manicured lawn in the heart of the city. Singh blames the state's crushing poverty for the Maoists' influence. "It is a Catch-22 situation," he says. "There are no roads, so there is hardly any development. And when we go to build roads, the Maoists attack and destroy all efforts, because roads will expose their hideouts." Besides, he says, the state's officials don't live in the impoverished villages and therefore they have no stake in developing the backcountry areas.

For a senior government functionary, Singh is unusually candid. He's convinced that the Maoists couldn't prevent development if the politicians considered it important. "Human beings have built tunnels under the sea," he says. "Obviously we can build roads into remote villages." It's not as if the Maoist leaders were committed revolutionaries, he says; many of them are only hoodlums who use villagers as hostages and human shields. They keep the ill-paid local cops terrorized by attacking them with overwhelming force and no warning.

I asked Singh what happens when people get extortion threats. Most pay up, he said. The state can't provide armed guards for everyone who needs one. I didn't have the stomach to ask about people who don't pay. It was getting dark outside the bungalow. I asked Singh if I'd be OK driving to Giridih, about 40 miles away through some desolate stretches of forest. Wait until morning, he said. I walked out of Singh's bungalow into the dark streets. Until India's government gets serious about stopping the Maoists, I have no answer for my sister and her husband.

Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/195669

Riaz Haq said...

Indian home secretary Gopal Pillai says Maoists want to overthrow Indian by 2050, according to Times of India:

: Maoists have plans to overthrow the Indian democracy through their armed struggle and want to control the government by 2050, home secretary Gopal K Pillai on Friday said.

Addressing a seminar on "Left Wing Extremism Situation in India", Pillai said the Maoists might be getting the help of some former soldiers in carrying out subversive activities.

"The overthrow of the Indian state is not something they are willing to do tomorrow or the day after. Their strategy, according to a booklet they circulated, is that they are looking for at 2050, some documents say in 2060," he said.

According to Pillai, Naxals were not looking at to overthrow the Indian state in 2012 or 2013, it was a long steady plan and in the past 10 years they slowly build up the movement.

"Now they can bring many sectors of Indian economy into their knees. But they don't want to do it today. They know that if they do that now, the state will come very hard. They are not fully prepared to face the onslaught of the state machinery. So, they would rather go very slowly," he said.

The home secretary said the Maoists were a very highly motivated and well trained force like any armed force of any country and they could be help by some ex-army personnel.

"They are very highly motivated, highly trained. I am quite certain that there are some, may be some ex-army or some people who have been with them," he said.

Giving reason for this conclusion, Pillai said after launching any attack, the Naxals conduct a post-mortem and analyse the whole operation.

"After every attack, they do a post-mortem and analysis. The analysis is as good as armed forces of any country does," he said.

The home secretary said 908 people have lost their lives last year, the highest since 1971, in Naxal violence and it may go up in this year and next year become coming down.

"It is quite like that the violence will go up in 2010 or 2011 before the tide is begin to turn," he said.

According to Pillai, even though the joint anti-Naxal operations were going on, the Naxals have not suffered any significant reverses so far and the government would need seven to eight years to have full control over the areas which were lost to the Maoists.

"The operations have not hit even five per cent of hardcore militants. The real armed cadres are yet to come out," he said, adding unless they feel the heat they will not come for talks and whatever statement they were making about peace were not serious.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian artist MF Husain has reportedly sought asylum in Qatar after he was hounded out of India by right-wing Hindu extremists. Here's a take on this matter by Soutik Biwas of the BBC:

The story of Husain is one of the saddest of post-Independence India. It is a story of how the country's most famous painter has been hounded out while the state looked on.

Thirteen years ago, hardline Hindus attacked Husain for his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses. In 2006, he apologised for a painting in which he represented India as a nude goddess. Hindu nationalists accused him of defiling their region.

They didn't stop at that. They vandalised his exhibitions and filed law suits all over the country. Husain reckons that there are 900 cases against him in Indian courts. His lawyer in Delhi tells me he is personally aware of seven such cases. Four have been dismissed, in three others judgement is still pending.

For the past three years, the 95-year-old maverick painter has been living in Dubai and London. When news washed up earlier this month that he was contemplating taking up Qatari nationality, there was predictable outrage from the arts world in India.

"This is not the first time we have thrown away our geniuses," said fellow painter Anjolie Ela Menon. "In India, we recognise our national treasures only when they are gone." Film actor Sharmila Tagore urged the need for a "movement" to bring back the painter to India since "isolated voices" will not help.

To many, this sounded like a case of too little, too late. Most galleries have been scared to exhibit Husain's work for some years now. A big art summit hosted by India two years ago did not exhibit a single Husain painting. Unbelievable, but true.

Many say the Indian government could easily promise Husain security and coax him to return to India. But that wouldn't necessarily allow the painter to live in peace. As his lawyer, Akhil Sibal, tells me, there's nothing to stop more cases being filed against the painter in remote courts or even getting a judge somewhere to order his arrest. The misuse of judiciary to settle scores is rampant in India. "So Husain is not enthused by the prospect of returning to India which he easily can," says Mr Sibal.

SNEHA JHA said...


Riaz Haq said...


Irfan Husain, writing in Dawn, has an interesting anecdote: A foreign journalist working for a newsmagazine's South Asian bureau says he loves Pakistan because "In India, when you write a critical article, the people are furious with you. In Pakistan, when you write a critical article, everyone agrees with you."

I recently read a blog post titled "Reflections on India" by Sean Paul Kelly who has been a visitor and critic of India, and here is an excerpt from it:

"One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn’t produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, imminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing. The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It’s a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I’m far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.

Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it. And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does. And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative."

anoop said...

To say Indians dont criticize their country and their system enough is absolute BS.

How many languages does India converse in? 18 official Languages which makes it almost each state speaks in a different language. People from Pakistan can follow only English and Hindi Media. They have no clue about the other 17 Regional Language Media. Do they even know that India speaks in 18 differents languages,apart from thousands of dialects and dozens of unrecognized languages like Tulu,Konkani,etc?

I would like to ask you,Riaz, if you or that guy you quote, Sean Paul Kelly, have ever read a Kannada Newspaper or watched a Bengali News Channel? Apart from the Language- Urdu/Hindi Indians and Pakistanis dont share anything. Pakistan has only connections with the North of India. We 2 countries have very different ideals and vision. We want a secular democracy and wish a pluralistic society but Pakistan cringes at the mention of secularism. It is after all Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Infact, Pakistan is a part of Middle East more than South Asia. It is an extension of Middle East. It has more common with Saudi Arabia than with India.

First understand India and then criticize it. I criticize through my vote. I suggest Pakistan adopt this habit soon. Your military will,as always, harm democracy and in effect harm you.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "To say Indians dont criticize their country and their system enough is absolute BS."

Please read my comments carefully.

Some Indians, like Arundhati Roy, Panakaj Mishra, Yoginder Sikand, Shekhar Gupta, do criticize India and they are attacked by other Indians for it. Each of them has talked about this phenomenon.

In 2008, Pankaj Mishra wrote as follows in an Op Ed for the Guardian:

"In an article I wrote for the New York Times in 2003 I underlined the likely perils if the depressed and alienated minority of Muslims were to abandon their much-tested faith in the Indian political and legal system. Predictably Hindu nationalists, most of them resident in the UK and US, inundated my email inbox, accusing me of showing India in a bad light."

But Indians are particularly incensed when a foreigner criticizes India for some very obvious reasons. Just look at your own angry responses and those of other Indians on this blog to my criticisms of India.

anoop said...

"But Indians are particularly incensed when a foreigner criticizes India for some very obvious reasons. Just look at your own angry responses and those of other Indians on this blog to my criticisms of India. "

--> This true in some cases. If its a constructive criticism we can take it but when its criticism just to hurt or malign or bring India down to satisfy their ego no one can or will stand it.

In some cases even comparisons are very insulting. You dont compare Tendulkar with Shahid Afridi and you dont compare India with Pakistann.

Sneha Jha said...

Do you remember what George Carlin-the famous Comedian said about HIS country, USA. He said we don't have money to feed the dying children in our country, we dont have enough money to provide shelter to our homeless-BUT WE WILL BOMB THE SH*T OUTTA YOUR COUNTRY ALL RIGHT!

Would your ILK accept the same??? I watched PTV news when I was in DxB and they did nothing but harp about how ugly India is rather than focussing on their issues. I remember it was so funny to me even as an 8th grader when they blamed the Hijack of IC-814 plane on RAW.

I do not understand what exactly are you hell bent on trying to prove. Even if you shout on the roof top that Pakistan is better than India, it will take several 100 years to change the reputation the world has of Pakistan.

As far as MF Hussain's boycott is concerned. Would you not KILL the guy who made a cartoon of your Prophet? We just banned him from our country. I am no bigot but he should have applied some common sense before he was drawing that picture. The wide spread criticism of his proves that there is freedom of expression in India.

Oh! and the guy in the video-he talks of the streets in Rajasthan-LOL- is he not aware that RAJASTHAN is a desert. Clintons came back 2000 and played Holi in our country. They stayed for 3 hours in yours!

Bihar and Jharkhand have bad streets-I agree on that one. However, I'd recommend that guy to go and visit Delhi. India is a very large country and multicultural one at that-so insurgencies, crime rates and racism is bound to be high. we dont need any Sean Paul Kelley (who is he by the way?) to tell us that. Ethiopia that damned country is not even half the size of India how do expect it to have more problems than India. When you compare Mexico and US- US has far more problems to deal with than Mexico.

See the point is if you dedicate your life on finding some thing about India that makes it a target, then obviously you will find plenty of cynical people out there.

The fact is that we know it and we have faith in ourselves to make it BIG in the 21st century. Actions speak louder than words so Wait and watch! :)

Sneha Jha said...


Kindly read the above.

Riaz Haq said...

jha: "we dont have enough money to provide shelter to our homeless-BUT WE WILL BOMB THE SH*T OUTTA YOUR COUNTRY ALL RIGHT! Would your ILK accept the same???"

I don't appreciate such belligerent nonsense. Let me just disabuse of such notions by reminding you, and others who agree with you, that such misguided thinking will obliterate your country as well. None of you Indian urban elites will be spared, if that's the path you choose. Your own Sashi Tharoor has warned you against "Israel envy" in dealing with Pakistan.

Jha: "I watched PTV news when I was in DxB and they did nothing but harp about how ugly India is rather than focussing on their issues. I remember it was so funny to me even as an 8th grader when they blamed the Hijack of IC-814 plane on RAW."

PTV is just one of dozens of TV channels, most of whom criticize almost everything about Pakistan 24X7....its politicians, generals, intelligence agencies, voters, businesses, etc etc.

Pakistanis have their share of conspiracy theorists, but they do not have a monopoly on such things.

Here's what Pankaj Mishra writes about Indians' obsession with "foreign hand" in everything:

"The Indian elite's obsession with the "foreign hand" obscures the fact that the roots of some of the violence lie in the previous two decades of traumatic political and economic change, particularly the rise of Hindu nationalism, and the related growth of ruthlessness towards those left behind by India's expanding economy."

Jha: "However, I'd recommend that guy to go and visit Delhi."

Thank you, but I have visited Delhi and other parts of India several times. And I agree with Dalrymple's observations comparing India and Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Jha: "Kindly read the above."

The LA Times article is about a year old. The events over the last year have proved the doomsayers of LA Times and others wrong.

Sneha Jha said...

That criticism is coming from a self-proclaimed Indophile. We agree with William about our limitations too. We respect that because he is not maligning India in anyway. But I urge you to encourage your youth not to sit in complacency and focus on working on the progress of your nation. If ours is a "success story" as they say it..we would like to have a competent flourishing neighbour as well...not a terrorist state.

Riaz Haq said...

Jha: "...competent flourishing neighbour as well...not a terrorist state."

As you respect" Indophile Dalrymple for "not maligning India in anyway", you will also get more respect if you stop maligning your neighbor as "terrorist state".

Terrorism is a common threat faced by the people of India and Pakistan. It'll be far more productive if the two nations focus on this common threat rather than malign each other as "terrorists".

Riaz Haq said...

Here is part of an article in today's Dawn by Irfan Husain, a columnist known for his harsh criticism of Pakistan:

Every now and then, I get an email from one irate Indian reader or another, demanding to know why Jawed Naqvi, Dawn’s erudite and irreverent New Delhi correspondent, is so critical of India. Invariably, I reply that they should ask Jawed about his views. I also point out that just as I am often critical about Pakistan, he has every right to point out his country’s shortcomings.

I suspect what upsets these readers is that an Indian should be voicing critical comments about his country in a foreign newspaper. I was subjected to similar censure from expatriate Pakistanis when I wrote for a Gulf daily. Finally, the editor told me politely that my criticism of Musharraf was incompatible with his paper’s policy, and that was the end of the (small) trickle of Dubai dirhams.

The reality is that we are all touchy about seeing our dirty linen washed in public, but somehow, Indians seem super-sensitive to any hint of criticism. While there are many dissenting voices that question Indian claims to having reached Nirvana, they do not find much space in the mainstream media. Although Indian journalists do excellent work in digging up scams and scandals, they do not often question the broad consensus underpinning the ‘India shining’ image the media, politicians and big business work so hard at projecting.

I spent the other evening at the Karachi Boat Club in the company of a European who has spent a long time in the region, and knows South Asia well, having lived in Pakistan and India for several years. When I asked him how it felt to be back in Pakistan after being away for a few years in New Delhi, his answer came as a surprise. As we have known each other for fifteen years, he had no need to be polite: “It feels great to be back,” he replied. “You have no idea how difficult day-to-day life is in New Delhi. Apart from the awful traffic, the pollution, and the expense, you have to put up with the prickliness of most Indians you meet. They are touchy to the point of paranoia. There is a lot of very aggressive poverty in the air. And when the New Delhi airport opens, we’ll have to brace ourselves for yet another self-congratulatory blast. What is truly shocking is how little the well-off Indians care about the poor.”

“Here in Pakistan, people are so much more laid back. Karachi’s traffic flows much faster, and I don’t sense the same kind of anger. While I’m sure there must be slums, I do not see the same level of abject poverty that is ever-present in India. And of course, the food is much better here.”

Riaz Haq said...

Irfan Hussain article contd...

“Here in Pakistan, people are so much more laid back. Karachi’s traffic flows much faster, and I don’t sense the same kind of anger. While I’m sure there must be slums, I do not see the same level of abject poverty that is ever-present in India. And of course, the food is much better here.”

I suspect this last observation will provoke more ire among my Indian readers than anything else my friend said. The truth is that meat dishes cooked in Pakistan are better than in India, although vegetables there are far tastier than ours. However, this article is not about scoring points, but about the different ways in which we react to criticism. It is also about the myth and the reality underlying the Indian success story.

And before my inbox is flooded with angry emails from across the border and the Indian diaspora, let me say that I am delighted at the huge strides our neighbour has made over the last decade or so. From cricket to technology, the progress has been little short of spectacular. I was thrilled to learn of the discovery of water on the moon by an Indian space mission.

So clearly, Indians have much to be proud of. Nevertheless, there is a dark side to this progress, and one that is ignored by those who react angrily to any criticism. In a recent article reflecting on his recently concluded six-year stint as the Guardian correspondent in India, Randeep Ramesh writes: “Whether I was visiting a rural police station where half-naked men were hung from the ceiling during an interrogation, or talking to the parents of a baby bulldozed to death during a slum clearance, the romance of India’s idealism was undone by its awful daily reality. The venality, mediocrity and indiscipline of its ruling class would be comical but for the fact that politicians appeared incapable of doing anything for the 836 million people who live on 25 pence [33 Pakistani rupees] a day.

“… India is perhaps the most unequal country on the planet, with a tiny elite engorged on the best education, biggest landholdings, and largest incomes. Those born on the bottom rungs of the social hierarchy suffer a legacy of caste bigotry, rural servitude and class discrimination…”

Many of these painful observations apply to Pakistan as well, but by and large, we accept these flaws, and do not react angrily when a foreigner points them out.

The current issue of The Economist carries a searing cover story about the shameful phenomenon of millions of aborted female foetuses, mainly in China and India. This has caused the male-female ratio to be skewed to an alarming extent. The number of male babies in India is now around 108 for 100 girls, raising the possibility of serious social consequences.

Indian civil society is acutely aware of these grave social issues, and many of its members have long been demanding change. However, their voices are often drowned out by the chorus of those shouting ‘India shining’. Many activists have distinguished themselves by their heroic advocacy of the downtrodden, but it is the success stories of dotcom entrepreneurs that are in the spotlight.

India’s soft power is a potent instrument of projecting the country’s image abroad. Its brilliant software engineers, its talented scientists, its outstanding cricketers, and its artists are all wonderful ambassadors for India. Bollywood and India’s appeal to millions of tourists have put the country firmly on the map as a highly desirable destination.

All in all, as I said earlier, Indians have much to be proud of. But by focusing only on their country’s achievements, the danger is that they will lose sight of the huge problems that still exist. Friends who point out these failings do not do so out of a sense of malice, but out of concern. However, as I brace myself for a volley of abuse, I fear that it’s often easier to shoot the messenger than to undertake the hard work needed to address the problems.

Maqsood said...

Mr. Irfan Husain is an objective and well respected journalist and former civil servant. I, personally, think very high of him.
Criticism of nonsensical policies of the Pakistani state and misdirected ideology of its people is not a criticism of the Pakistani state. If a mullah has the right to humiliate me in public, I think I also have the right to stand-up to these self-proclaimed righteous people. Self-evaluation can make one very nervous. I am afraid this is what happened with Mr. Riaz Haq. He just cannot see himself in the mirror.

Riaz Haq said...


This is exactly the kind of hostile Indian reaction that Irfan Hussain's European friend and collrague is referring to.

And Irfan Hussain is not alone in reporting hyperpatriotism and hypersensitivity of most Indians about any criticism, no matter how valid, of their nation. I personally experience it everyday on my blog through angry and filthy comments I am bombareded with.

Here are some examples of others who report the same thing:

Pankaj Mishra:

"In an article I wrote for the New York Times in 2003 I underlined the likely perils if the depressed and alienated minority of Muslims were to abandon their much-tested faith in the Indian political and legal system. Predictably Hindu nationalists, most of them resident in the UK and US"


Sean Paul Kelly:

" Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it. And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does. And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative."

Yoginder Sikand:

""Islamabad is surely the most well-organized,picturesque and endearing city in all of South Asia. Few Indians would, however, know this, or, if they did, would admit it. After all, the Indian media never highlights anything positive about Pakistan, because for it only 'bad' news about the country appears to be considered 'newsworthy'. That realization hit me as a rude shock the moment I stepped out of the plane and entered Islamabad's plush International Airport, easily far more efficient, modern and better maintained than any of its counterparts in India. And right through my week-long stay in the city, I could not help comparing Islamabad favorably with every other South Asian city that I have visited. That week in Islamabad consisted essentially of a long string of pleasant surprises, for I had expected Islamabad to be everything that the Indian media so uncharitably and erroneously depicts Pakistan as. The immigration counter was staffed by a smart young woman, whose endearing cheerfulness was a refreshing contrast to the grave, somber and unwelcoming looks that one is generally met with at immigration counters across the world that make visitors to a new country feel instantly unwelcome."


As to who lives in fools paradise, let's consider the following "sobering thought" by Soutik Biswas, an Indian commentator on the BBC website:

"A sobering thought to keep in mind though. Impressive growth figures are unlikely to stun the poor into mindless optimism about their future. India has long been used to illustrate how extensive poverty coexists with growth. It has a shabby record in pulling people out of poverty - in the last two decades the number of absolutely poor in India has declined by 17 percentage points compared to China, which brought down its absolutely poor by some 45 percentage points. The number of Indian billionaires rose from nine in 2004 to 40 in 2007, says Forbes magazine. That's higher than Japan which had 24, while France and Italy had 14 billionaires each. When one of the world's highest number of billionaires coexist with what one economist calls the world's "largest number of homeless, ill-fed illiterates", something is gravely wrong. This is what rankles many in this happy season of positive thinking."


Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Christian Science Monitor report about politicians' corruption and violence in India:

New Delhi, India

When Ajay Kumar asked New Delhi authorities last fall why a local politician had authorized the construction of private houses and shops on public land, he didn’t imagine the question would land him in the hospital.

The activist had inquired using India’s 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act, which allows any citizen to ask for information from any level of government, from village leaders to the office of the prime minister. It presents a cultural sea change in India, where for more than 60 years state bureaucrats have acted more like colonial masters than servants of the people.

Mr. Kumar was stonewalled by the public information officer at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, so he followed procedure and appealed to a higher-level public information office in the MCD. When he still heard nothing back, he went to the federal authorities, the Central Information Commission, which directed the MCD together with the police to jointly inspect the property.

But when Kumar arrived on site in January, he was attacked by a mob of two dozen that backed the local politician.

“Neither the police nor the people helped me,” says Kumar, who was beaten in the head repeatedly by an iron rod, leaving him unconscious and bleeding profusely. Kumar is now pursuing the matter in court.

Despite the attack, Kumar says, “RTI is the only tool that can bring an end to a corruption in India. Previously there was no point in asking [for information] because the applications were not replied to. At least now, since 2005, these public authorities are in some way compelled to answer queries of the public. It is a starting point.”

Kumar is optimistic that he will one day see justice, but critics say attacks like these are becoming increasingly common. In the past two months two respected information activists have been killed, and reports are emerging of many others who are threatened, bullied, and intimidated to silence their inquiries into government misconduct.
Attacks will likely increase

The RTI Act is among the most robust for information seekers around the world, and its strength is becoming clear in the backlash against people seeking to expose corruption.

"What has happened with the RTI Act is that it is threatening people in power,” says Colin Gonzalves, a Supreme Court lawyer and director of the New Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network. “We cannot underestimate how hostile the administration is to the implementation to this Act – not just the politicians but also the judiciary. RTI empowers people to say that the administration is the servant of the people that you are answerable to us. The physical attacks on the people I think are going to increase over the years."

In rural areas, the act is often utilized to uncover scams involving federal- and state-funded initiatives to provide employment, housing, food, and other services to the poorest segments of society. “You ask for a list of beneficiaries," says prominent New Delhi-based RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal. "Then you check that list and find out that many peope are dead and the list is bogus.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Ravi Rikhye, editor of Orbat, criticizing Indian home minister's boast about defeating Maoists in three years:

We told you speaking first thinking later is not just a Pakistani trait but is a subcontinental trait. Now the Indian Home Minister has announced that the Maoists, who are active in one-third of India's districts (counties) will be defeated in three years. What's so sad about this amazingly stupid statement is that the Minister is actually quite a brainy fellow and an effective administrator. The Maoist problem has plagued India for 40 years, and a lot of it tied up with social injustice. Its absurd to think its going to solved in three years when India has not been able to defeat straightforward secessionist insurgencies in its northeast for 40 years.

Prasad said...

Dear Riaz

I guess both sides have problems aplenty. You must use your blogs to focus on educating your youth on detesting blind belief in Zaid Hamid / proponents of religious extremism and instead focus on their education. Please understand India and pakistan were 'failed' right from 1947 since they were under foreign occupation. Things were bound to only improve thereafter. It will take a few more decades to wipe out various stresses that India as a country faces. But vision and focus to go that 'extra mile' is felt across India.

Certainly not the case in Pakistan. The way things are worsening by the year, dont be surprised in future if your 2008/2009 survey figures would be deemed 'grossly inappropriate' for detailing 2011 or 2012 situations....

Certainly we are not sadists here. In a small but significant way, bloggers such as yourselves could make a good beginning through your blogs to dismantle the propoganda of those insane folks (jehadists and their ilk) who seem to be hijacking your society. I certainly think Dawn News is moving in that direction. good luck

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the story of "Shining India" as reported by a blogger at escape from India explaining why a million Indian escape each year:

Poverty Graph

According to WFP, India accounts around 50% of the world’s hungry. (more than in the whole of Africa) and its fiscal deficit is one of the highest in the world. India’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) score is 23.7, a rank of 66th out of 88 countries. India’s rating is slightly above Bangladesh but below all other South Asian nations and listed under “ALARMING” category. Ref: IFPRI Country Report on India

Around six out of 10 Indians live in the countryside, where abject poverty is widespread. 34.7 % of the Indian population lives with an income below $ 1 a day and 79.9 % below $ 2 a day. According to the India’s planning commission report 26.1 % of the population live below the poverty line. [World Bank’s poverty line of $1 a day, but the Indian poverty line of Rs 360 a month, or 30 cents a day].

The Current Account Balance of India

“A major area of vulnerability for us is the high consolidated public-debt to GDP ratio of over 70 percent … (and) consolidated fiscal deficit,” says the Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mr. Yaga Venugopal Reddy.

According to CIA world fact book, the Current account balance of India is -37,510,000,000 (minus) while China is the wealthiest country in the world with $ 426,100,000,000 (Plus) . India listed as 182 and China as no.1 [CIA: The world fact book]

Human Development vs GDP growth

The Human Development Report for 2009 released by the UNDP ranked India 134 out of 182 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income. India has an emigration rate of 0.8%. The major continent of destination for migrants from India is Asia with 72.0% of emigrants living there. The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $2,753, far below Malaysia’s $13,518. China listed as 92 with PPP of $5383. Read the statistics from UNDP website.


According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent (24 million) of those Hindus are belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent (400 million) are “Other Backward Castes”.

15 per cent Hindu upper castes inherited majority of India’s civil service, economy and active politics from British colonial masters. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus in to an oppressed majority in India’s power structure. Going by figures quoted by the Backward Classes Commission, Brahmins alone account for 37.17 per cent of the bureaucracy. [Who is Really Ruling India?]

The 2004 World Development Report mentions that more than 25% of India’s primary school teachers and 43% of primary health care workers are absent on any given day!

Living conditions of Indians

89 percent of rural households do not own telephones; 52 percent do not have any domestic power connection. There are daily power cuts even in the nation’s capital. The average brownout in India is three hours per day during non-monsoon months, 17 hours daily during the monsoon. The average village is 2 kilometers away from an all-weather road, and 20 percent of rural habitations have partial or no access to a safe drinking-water supply. [Tarun Khanna, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization]

According to the National Family Health Survey data (2005-06), only 45 per cent of households in the country had access to improved sanitation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some facts about India's "security think tanks" from an Indian blogger writing about "escape from India":

With the emergence of Hindutva fascist forces and their alliance with Neo cons and Zionists, India witnessed a sharp increase in the number of research institutes, media houses and lobbying groups. According to a study by Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, India has 422 think tanks, second only to the US, which has over 2,000 such institutions.

Out of 422 recognized Indian think tanks, around 63 are engaged in security research and foreign policy matters, which are heavily funded by global weapon industry. India’s Retired spies, Police officers, Military personals, Diplomats and Journalists are hired by such national security & foreign policy research institutes which gets enormous fund from global weapon industry. These dreaded institutions are in fact has a hidden agenda. Behind the veil, they work as the public relations arm of weapon industry. They create fake terror stories with the help of media and intelligence wing, manipulate explosions through criminals in areas of tribals, dalits or minorities in order to get public acceptance for weapon contracts.

By creating conflicts in this poor country, Brahmin spin masters get huge commission from the sale of weapons to government forces. To this corrupt bureaucrats, India’s ‘National Interest‘ simply means ‘their self Interest’. Their lobbying power bring more wealth to their families as lucrative jobs, citizenship of rich countries and educational opportunities abroad.

Mentionable that India is one of the world’s largest weapons importers. Between 2000 and 2007 India ranked world’s second largest arms importer accounting for 7.5 % of all major weapons transfers. It stood fourth among the largest military spender in terms of purchasing power in 2007 followed by US, China and Russia.

Over 1,130 companies in 98 countries manufacture arms, ammunitions and components. 90 % of Conventional arms exports in the world are from the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council namely USA, UK, Russia, China & France. The countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East hold 51 per cent of the world’s heavy weapons.

The Defence Offset Facilitation Agency estimating the expenditure on the sector at USD 100 billion for next five years. At least 38 court cases relating to arms agreements are still pending against bureaucrats and military officers. Hindu fascist forces currently enjoy upper hand in media, civil service, judiciary, defence and educational streams of Indian society. Sooner or later, 25,000 strong democratic institutions in India will be collapsed and the country will be transformed to a limited democracy under the rule of security regime like Turkey or Israel. Hindutva’s security centric nationalism never was capable of bringing peace and protection to the life of our ordinary citizens.

According to Global Peace Index, India currently ranked on bottom, (122 with 2.422 score). Interestingly, our favourite arms supplier, Israel is among the worst performer when it comes to peace ranking. (141). It reminds a simple fact that the peace cannot be attained by sophisticated security apparatus.

Further more, India topped on Asian Risk Prospects -2009, with the highest political and social risk, scoring 6.87, mainly because of internal and external instability (PERC)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent BBC report on Indian operation against Maoists in Jharkhand:

"East Singbhum district in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has been considered the heartland of the Maoist insurgency for more than two decades now.

"Either walk or ride a motorbike," I am advised by Faiyaz who is heading a group of paramilitary troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

We are in the forests of Derabasa in Ghatsila sub-district and Faiyaz tells me that the road is littered with landmines.

"Venturing in this terrain on a four-wheeler can be risky," he says.

Recently, a massive anti-Maoist operation was launched in the area by the federal home ministry and the Jharkhand state government.

Battle lines

Thousands of paramilitary troops, including the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra) - the special force raised to tackle the Maoist insurgency in India - have been deployed in the operation.

Battle lines are drawn as the security forces take position to "liberate the forests" from the armed Maoist guerrillas.

The region has seen several violent incidents, including the killing of a member of parliament, Sunil Mahato of the state's governing Jharkhand Mukti Morcha party.

Last August, the insurgents killed 11 security personnel in the Burudih area in a powerful landmine explosion.

The rebels also blew up railway tracks derailing the prestigious Rajdhani Express train.
However, almost a fortnight into the biggest operation against the Maoists so far, the security forces have not made any significant breakthrough.

No weapons have been recovered, nor any big Maoist leader been caught. And no one knows how long this will go on.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed, waiting for the day when this all ends. We have not been to the forests and there is no other source of income for us. We pray that normal life returns soon," says a villager in Jhatijharna.

Riaz Haq said...

The failed state index, often quoted by Pakistan's detractors, is not impartial either. By their own admission, they use media articles to come up with their rankings....the same media denounced by people like William Dalrymple and others for hyping "India as a superpower and Pakistan as failed state".

Riaz Haq said...

KSE-100 closed at 1408 on Dec 31, 1999. Then, exactly 10 years later on Dec 31, 2009, it closed at 9386. In between, it hit a peak of 15125 on March 31, 2008 around the time of the elections.

Using a 10-year window with year-end closes in 1999 and 2009, it comes to about 21% CAGR. If you discount it for Pak currency decline from 55 to 85 rupees to a dollar (most of which occurred since 2008), then the CAGR return is still a whopping 16% a year....clearly beating all of the BRIC nations' stock performance in this period.

If any one insists on making KSE-100 look bad by using the March 31, 2000 peak (2000 points) at last week's close (on 10138 points), then 17.82% before currency discount, and 13% after it...still beating all of the BRICs.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq,

Well... atleast in the photograph you look old enough to be my father so I am going to keep this as respectful as possible.

All the issues facing India you mentioned are absolutely correct and it is indeed a miracle that India has survived till date as a cohesive entity despite the contradictions/exploitation. Any "unbiased" observer of India's progress has maintained that the break-up is just a matter of time (with a "told you so" moment in 1975), yet here we are - all states intact, increased federalism, disciplined army never attempting to overstep it's subservience to civilian leadership, some measure of economic progress in the last decade and a vibrant (however corrupt) polity which ensures that the growth is increasingly being shared - NREGA etc. All this without a client state relationship (all fx inflows into India are business related not aid, payment for war efforts). Why? If you get the chip of your shoulder some time before the end, i suggest your time will be better spent answering that question, cause in that might lie answers to Pakistan's salvation. I am sure your "unbiased" view should be that Pakistan faces similar issues - the revolt against Pakistan's Baloch exploitation being a case in point, leave aside Sindh, Mohajirs issue, and WoT.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC commentary by Soutik Biswas on India's "rights revolution":

Ensuring the basics in life remains the biggest challenge for India, six decades after independence.

Take food. Some 43% of Indian children younger than five are underweight - far above the global average of 25% or sub-Saharan Africa's 28%. India is a lowly 65th among 84 countries in the Global Hunger Index. Half of the world's hungry people live in India.

So the proposed right to food, entitling a poor family to 25kg of rice or wheat at three rupees (seven cents) a kilogram is good news. The bad news is that identifying the deserving poor is a challenge - there are four different government estimates of the very poor or below poverty line (BPL) people floating around. States may inflate numbers of beneficiaries to corner more federal benefits. Then there is the notoriously leaky public distribution system, from where food is often siphoned off by a triad of low-level bureaucrats, shop owners and middlemen.

Nobody can deny that the right to education - every child aged 6-14 can demand free schooling - is critical: an estimated eight million children in that age group do not attend school in India. India's 61% literacy rate lags behind Kenya's 85%. But critics point to a lack of teachers - India would need more than a million teachers just to implement the right - and say there are simply not enough schools to cope with the increased demand.

Rights don't work miracles. But activists say they are an urgent social intervention to empower the poor in a highly iniquitous society, where it is difficult for the poor to access officials to air their grievances and secure their entitlements. "In a hierarchical society, rights-based movements are a way of moving towards equality," says leading political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan. Also, they put pressure on the state to deliver - the right to information, despite glitches, is making government more accountable.

Studies show that sensitive political and bureaucratic leadership combined with grassroots awareness and an engaged local media can translate rights into reality and improve the lives of the poor. Activists point out that money is not a problem - the economy is doing well, revenues are buoyant, federal health and education outlays have been increased. The government has pledged more than $5bn to send 10 million poor children to school.

The cynicism over rights mainly comes from India's burgeoning educated upper middle class. It is mostly not engaged with public institutions at all - its members rarely serve in the lower ranks of the armed forces, teach in state schools or work for the government. Yes, there are valid concerns about whether the state has the capacity to deliver on rights. Yes, the Indian state continues to focus on maintaining law and order and collecting revenue. Delivering services is not its strength. Rights could actually help it move towards a functioning welfare state. I would like to hear stories from you - and people you may know - who are reaping the benefits of the rights revolution.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent news report on Asian nukes from Times of India:

Pakistan is estimated to have more nuclear warheads than India and the two Asian neighbours along with China are increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, two eminent American atomic experts have claimed.

While Pakistan is estimated to possess 70-90 nuclear weapons, India is believed to have 60-80, claims Robert S Norris and Hans M Kristensen in their latest article 'Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2009'.

The article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Science' claimed that Beijing, Islamabad and New Delhi are quantitatively and qualitatively increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint.

For example, no reliable public information exists on where Pakistan or India produces its nuclear weapons, it said.

"Whereas many of the Chinese bases are known, this is not the case in Pakistan and India, where we have found no credible information that identifies permanent nuclear weapons storage locations," they said.

"Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not believed to be fully operational under normal circumstances, India is thought to store its nuclear warheads and bombs in central storage locations rather than on bases with operational forces. But, since all three countries are expanding their arsenals, new bases and storage sites probably are under construction," the two nuclear experts said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an Indian report which disregards any Pakistani indigenous contribution to its missile programs and gives China and North Korea the entire credit. This might be a good way for the Indians not to feel too sorry for themselves. But the fact is that Pakistan has made tremendous progress in its domestic scientific research capabilities and indigenous industrial manufacture. The Indians have more access to foreign help than Pakistan and yet their program lags behind Pakistan:

With active help from China and North Korea, Pakistan has surged well ahead of India in the missile arena. The only nuclear-capable ballistic missile in India's arsenal which can be said to be 100% operational as of now is the short-range Prithvi missile.

Though the 700-km Agni-I and 2,000-km-plus Agni-II ballistic missiles are being "inducted" into the armed forces, it will take "some time" for them to become "fully-operational in the numbers required".

Defence sources said the armed forces were still in the process of undertaking the "training trials" of Agni-I and Agni-II to give them the requisite capabilities to fire them on their own.

Of the two, the progress report of Agni-I, tested for the first time in January 2002 to plug the operational gap between Prithvi (150-350 km) and Agni-II missiles, is much better. The Army has already conducted two "user training trials", one in October 2007 and other in March 2008, of the Pakistan-specific Agni-I missile.

The fourth test of 3,500-km Agni-III, which will give India the strategic capability to hit targets deep inside China, is also on the anvil now. But Agni-III, tested successfully only twice in April 2007 and May 2008, will not be ready for induction before 2012.

Then, of course, design work on India's most ambitious strategic missile with near ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities, the 5,000-km range Agni-V, which incorporates a third composite stage in the two-stage Agni-III, is also in progress. "We should be ready to test Agni-V by 2010-2011," said an official.

So, in effect, the missile report card is rather dismal at present. "Unlike Pakistan, our programme is indigenous. But a strategic missile needs to be tested 10 to 15 times, over a variety of flight envelopes and targets, before it can be said to be fully-operational. A missile cannot be dubbed ready just after three to four tests," said an expert.

Keeping this benchmark in mind, only Prithvi can be dubbed to be fully ready. Defence PSUs like Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd, in fact, are stepping up production of the different Prithvi variants.

Army, for instance, has orders worth Rs 1,500 crore for 75 Prithvi-I and 62 Prithvi-II missiles, while IAF has gone in for 63 Prithvi-II missiles for over Rs 900 crore.

Navy, in turn, has ordered Dhanush missiles, the naval version of Prithvi, with a 350 km strike range, for its "dual-tasked" warships, INS Subhadra and INS Suvarna.

India wants to gatecrash into the very exclusive club of `Big-Five' countries like Russia, US and China, which have both ICBMs (missiles with strike ranges over 5,500-km) and SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), before 2015.

The SLBM quest is specifically crucial since it's the most effective and secure leg of the "nuclear weapon triad", with land-based missiles and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear bombs constituting the first two components.

The initial range of K-15 SLBM being developed by DRDO will, however, be limited to 750-km, far less than the over 5,000-km range SLBMs brandished by the `Big-5' countries.

Riaz Haq said...

In a recent interview, food campaigner Jean Dreze aid, "For Indians to eat like the Chinese, let alone the French or the Italians, there will have to be a lot more food around."

Here are some excerpts from it:

"Firstly, I would not agree that India is “self-sufficient” in food production. It looks self-sufficient only because food intake is abysmally low, not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of quality. For Indians to eat like the Chinese, let alone the French or the Italians, there will have to be a lot more food around. Having said this, low food production is not the main issue, and food production itself would easily go up if there were enough purchasing power among the masses. The main issue is people’s inability to secure essential things that are required for good nutrition. These include not only food but also other inputs such as clean water, health care, sanitation, basic education and child care. All these fields of public policy have been grossly neglected for a long time."

"The NREGA can certainly help, and it does. In a recent survey of 1,000 NREGA workers conducted in 10 districts of North India, 69 per cent of the respondents felt that the NREGA had “helped them to avoid hunger” [see “The Battle for Employment Guarantee”, Frontline, January 2009]. But even if the NREGA functioned really well, which is not the case, it would have a limited impact on the nutrition situation, for many reasons. Some people are unable to participate in NREGA work because of illness, disability, old age, and so on. Those who do participate earn a meagre income at best, even if they work for 100 days in the year. And most importantly, good nutrition is not a matter of income alone. This applies especially to child nutrition, which is the foundation of good nutrition for all.

Even among households that are relatively well-off in economic terms, child under-nutrition is not uncommon, for reasons that can range from low birthweight and poor breastfeeding practices to lack of health care or gender discrimination. This is why a range of complementary interventions are required. It would be pointless to expect a single intervention, whether it is the NREGA or the PDS or the ICDS, to ensure food security."

Riaz Haq said...

Part of the problem fueling anger and insurgencies is the growing number of the poor in India. Here's a recent Reuters report:

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday.

The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.

The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

"The Planning Commission has accepted the report on poverty figures," Abhijit Sen, a member of the Planning Commission told Reuters, referring to the new poverty estimate report submitted by a government panel last December.

India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day, 100 million more than was estimated earlier, officials said.

India calculates how much of its population is living below the poverty line by checking whether families can afford one square meal a day that meets minimum nutrition needs.

It was not immediately clear how much more the federal government would have to spend on the poor, as that would depend on the Food Security Bill when it is presented to the government after the necessary changes, officials say.

India's Planning Commission will meet the food and expenditure secretaries next week to estimate the cost aspects of the bill, government officials said.

A third of the world's poor are believed to be in India, living on less than $2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, experts say.


Riaz Haq said...

India(49) has more than twice as many billionaires as Japan (22) which is a far richer country.

Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in basic nutrition and sanitation.

Meanwhile, India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, says Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.Lizette Burgers, chief water and environment sanitation of the UNICEF, said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

Most of the 8-9% growth has fattened the bottom line of a small percentage of India's population, with the rest getting poorer. India's Gini Index has increased from about 32 to 36 from 2000 to 2007.

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday. The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.

The rising gap between abject poverty and obscene wealth in India is fueling anger, and insurgencies such as the Maoists'.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts of Nehru University's Prof Jayanti Ghosh's video interview on Real News Network in which she says there is "no Indian miracle":

JAY: So in India you're saying there never was major reforms and it's getting worse.

GHOSH: Absolutely. If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it's really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it's a peculiar success story, because it's really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don't run trade surpluses. We don't even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don't really run current account surpluses. So we've been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world. They hit the Fortune top-ten index. All of that kind of thing. This capital inflow comes in, it makes our stock market rise, it allows for new urban services to develop, and it generates this feel-good segment of the Indian economy. Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let's say. It's a small part of the population, but it's a lot of people, it's about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we've had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.

JAY: So I guess part of that's part of the secret of what's happening in India is that the middle, upper-middle class, in proportion to the population of India, is relatively small, but it's still so big compared to most other countries—you were saying 100, 150 million people living in this, benefiting from the expansion. And it's a lot bigger. It's like—what is it? Ten, fifteen Canadas. So it's a very vibrant market. But you're saying most of the people in India aren't seeing the benefits.

GHOSH: Well, in fact it's worse than that. It's not just that they're not seeing the benefits. It's not that they're excluded from this. They are part of this process. They are integrated into the process. And, in fact, this is a growth process that relies on keeping their incomes lower, in fact, in terms of extracting more surplus from them. Let me just give you a few examples. You know, everybody talks about the software industry and how competitive we are. And it's true. It's this shiny, modern sector, you know, a bit like California in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. But when you look at it, it's not just that our software engineers achieve, it's that the entire supporting establishment is very cheap. The whole system which allows them to be more competitive is one where you are relying on very low-paid assistants, drivers, cooks, cleaners. You know, the whole support establishment is below subsistence wage, practically, and it's that which effectively subsidizes this very modern industry.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent excerpt from a piece by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain about Pakistan's middle class influencing nation's politics:

While external debt increased from $39bn in 1999 to $50bn in 2009, poverty levels have fallen by over 10 per cent since 2001. Indeed, there are now around 30 million Pakistanis who are considered to be in the middle class with an average income of $10,000 annually, while some 17 million are now bracketed with the upper and upper-middle classes.

Even though this does not approach China’s and India’s spectacular progress in this period, it does represent a solid advance. If one factors in the political turmoil the country has gone through, together with its ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas and Balochistan, Pakistan’s progress has been impressive by any standard.

How do these numbers translate into day-to-day life in Pakistan? To examine the social transformation the country is undergoing, Jason Burke uses the Suzuki Mehran as a yardstick to measure change. In his ‘Letter from Karachi’ published in the current issue of Prospect, the Guardian reporter writes:

“In Pakistan, the hierarchy on the roads reflects that of society. If you are poor, you use the overcrowded buses or a bicycle. Small shopkeepers, rural teachers and better-off farmers are likely to have a $1,500 Chinese or Japanese motorbike…. Then come the Mehran drivers. A rank above them, in air-conditioned Toyota Corolla saloons, are the small businessmen, smaller landlords, more senior army officers and bureaucrats. Finally, there are the luxury four-wheel drives of ‘feudal’ landlords, big businessmen, expats, drug dealers, generals, ministers and elite bureaucrats. The latter may be superior in status, power and wealth, but it is the Mehrans which, by dint of numbers, dominate the roads.”

This growing affluence has already caused a major power shift, with the urban population now having a bigger say after years of being ruled by feudal landowners. As urbanisation gathers pace, Pakistan’s traditional power elite will increasingly come from the cities, and not from the rural hinterland. This will have a profound impact not just on politics, but on society as a whole. As Burke observes in his Prospect article:

“Politically, the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party, mostly based in rural constituencies and led by feudal landowners, will lose out to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif with its industrial, commercial, urban constituency. Culturally, the traditional, folksy, tolerant practices in rural areas will decline in favour of more modernised, politicised Islamic strands and identities. And as power and influence shifts away from rural elites once co-opted by colonialism, the few elements of British influence to have survived will fade faster.”

Often, perceptive foreigners spot social trends that escape us because we are too close to them to see the changes going on around us. For instance, Burke identifies the shift away from English, and sees ‘Mehran man’ as urban, middle class and educated outside the elite English-medium system. He sees Muslims being under attack from the West, and genuinely believes that the 9/11 attacks were a part of a CIA/Zionist plot. Actually, my experience is that many highly educated and sophisticated people share this theory.

Burke continues his dissection of the rising Pakistani middle class: “Mehran man is deeply proud of his country. A new identification with the ummah, or the global community of Muslims, paradoxically reinforces rather than degrades his nationalism. For him, Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, not a state for South Asian Muslims. Mehran man is an ‘Islamo-nationalist’. His country possesses a nuclear bomb….”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on a Maoist female fighter in India:

The guerrilla fighter was tough, experienced, leading a platoon of around 60 insurgents.

"I am from a very poor family," the fighter told me.

"Life was very difficult. I joined the party and now I understand many more things. I think revolution is the only option."

One thing you should know about this hardline Maoist rebel - she is a young woman.

She is one of the growing numbers of poor Indians who have joined a four-decades-old Maoist rebellion, in which thousands have died. Last month the rebels killed 76 members of the security forces in a single attack.

More than 20 of India's 28 states are affected by the insurgency. The remote tribal villages of Jharkhand state, where the fields are still tilled by oxen, are at the centre of it.

The area is home to some of the country's poorest people, mostly members of indigenous tribes. There is little sign of India's economic miracle here.

Local people feel the government has neglected them. So the Maoists, or "the party" as the villagers call them, have got on with running the place.

Parallel government

"The government here has no health programmes… so our party sets up health clinics to help the people," one Maoist fighter told me.

"This area is plagued by illness... Our party gives free medicines in the clinics - and we get help from doctors and nurses. We run them in the rainy season when people are suffering most."

The Maoists have drawn a lot of support from poor villagers like Chachi.

"They are like our sons, our brothers," she says.

"Before, we were not allowed to go into our forests - the authorities used to cut the trees but we weren't even allowed to gather firewood. Now we can.

"The party makes sure there is no tension between rich and poor… that's why we want the party here."

But not everyone agrees. The Maoists have blown up schools because the security forces use them as barracks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times recent story about Dr. Umar Kundi who was alleged to be involved in Lahore attacks on Pakistan's ISI and Sri Lankan cricket teams:

Umar Kundi was his parents’ pride, an ambitious young man from a small town who made it to medical school in the big city. It seemed like a story of working-class success, living proof in this unequal society that a telephone operator’s son could become a doctor.

But things went wrong along the way. On campus Mr. Kundi fell in with a hard-line Islamic group. His degree did not get him a job, and he drifted in the urban crush of young people looking for work. His early radicalization helped channel his ambitions in a grander, more sinister way.

Instead of healing the sick, Mr. Kundi went on to become one of Pakistan’s most accomplished militants. Working under a handler from Al Qaeda, he was part of a network that carried out some of the boldest attacks against the Pakistani state and its people last year, the police here say. Months of hunting him ended on Feb. 19, when he was killed in a shootout with the police at the age of 29.

Mr. Kundi and members of his circle — educated strivers who come from the lower middle class — are part of a new generation that has made militant networks in Pakistan more sophisticated and deadly. Al Qaeda has harnessed their aimless ambition and anger at Pakistan’s alliance with the United States, their generation’s most electrifying enemy.

“These are guys who use Google Maps to plan their attacks,” said a senior Punjab Province police official. “Their training is better than our national police academy.”

Like Mr. Kundi, many came of age in the 1990s, when jihad was state policy — aimed at challenging Indian control in Kashmir — and jihadi groups recruited openly in universities. Under the influence of Al Qaeda, their energies have been redirected and turned inward, against Pakistan’s own government and people.

That shift has fractured long-established militant networks, which were once supported by the state, producing a patchwork of new associations that are fluid and defy easy categorization.

“The situation now is quite confusing,” said Tariq Parvez, director of the National Counterterrorism Authority in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. “We can no longer talk in terms of organizations. Now it’s a question of like-minded militants.”

The result has been deadly. In 2009, militant attacks killed 3,021 Pakistanis, three times as many as in 2006.

The issue is urgent. Pakistan is in the midst of a youth bulge, with more than a million people a year pouring into the job market, and the economy — at its current rate — is not growing fast enough to absorb them. Only a tiny fraction choose militancy, but acute joblessness exacerbates the risk.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a case for "Developmental Realism" by Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman:

..... The North African ones are clearly Europe's responsibility. The remainder include Jordan, a Syria which demonstrates some commitment to reform and international responsibility, Bangladesh, a few of the Muslim states of West Africa and the Sahel, and Pakistan. Pakistan is in fact a perfect case for ethical and developmental realism. As repeated democratic failures have shown, this country's dreadful problems are not amenable to solution by the shallow, short-term, and inexpensive nostrums of Democratism; they require profound, and very expensive, long-term commitments on the part of the U.S..1

However, as recent growth figures (in 2005 Pakistan had the second-highest growth rates in all Asia) and infrastructural developments have shown, the Pakistani state, though deeply flawed, is nonetheless reasonably effective - at least as effective, for example, as was South Korea in the 1950s. Despite considerable barriers to Pakistani exports to the U.S., these have grown over the past three years by between 10 and 15 per cent a year. As to Pakistan's own protectionist measures, the U.S. government in early 2006 criticized these, but also praised Pakistan for having "progressively and substantially reduced tariffs and liberalized imports" since 1998. As a result, U.S. exports to Pakistan have also increased steeply. In other words, this is a troubled country with a corrupt bureaucracy, but by no means a basket case.1

So far, however, U.S. assistance to this vital ally has once again been frankly inadequate. By the end of 2006, Pakistan will have received about $3.4 billion in U.S. aid since 9/11. This sounds like a lot but is, in fact, very small in comparison to Pakistan's needs and the size of its population. Moreover, almost half of this aid is not for economic development, but is security-related.1

The biggest single focus of new U.S. aid should be the improvement of Pakistan's water infrastructure, especially in the area of conservation and reducing the appalling degree of waste. As documented by the International Water Management Institute in August 2006, water shortages present the greatest future threat to the viability of Pakistan and other key Muslim countries as states and societies.1

The second focus of U.S. aid to Pakistan should be helping to provide jobs. Improving Pakistan's educational system, especially for women, is important, but if this only produces unemployed and embittered graduates, the effect will be only to increase Islamist radicalism. Because the ultimate motivation for U.S. aid to Pakistan is not charitable but political, it must bring visible benefits to ordinary Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting commentary by Sudha Ramachandra about India's future prospects:

The populations of Europe and Japan are already graying, and the working-age populations of the United States and China are projected to shrink too in the next two decades. By 2020 the US will be short 17 million people of working age, China 10 million, Japan 9 million and Russia 6 million. However, India will have a surplus of 47 million people, giving the country a competitive edge in labor costs, which will be sustainable up to 2050, according to a study by Goldman Sachs.

Economists say India will catch up with the Chinese economy beginning in 2030, when the latter could cool off as the result of an aging population. "The window of opportunity offered by a population bulge has clearly opened for India," points out noted economist C P Chandrasekhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. After decades of evoking despair, India's demographic profile is finally beginning to stir hope.

But not everyone views the population bulge with such optimism. Some analysts say it is not enough to have a young population. The working-age population needs to be healthy and literate.

India's score on this, while improving, is certainly not inspiring. About 50% of all Indian children are undernourished, a large percentage of them born with protein deficiency (which affects brain development and learning capacity, among other things). This is hardly the ideal foundation for a productive workforce, as the likelihood of a malnourished child growing up to be an able adult is rather dim.

There is also the question of whether the population has the skills and knowledge to take on India's future work. Literacy has improved dramatically over the years - just 14% of the population was literate in 1947 versus about 64.8% today - but many who are classified as literate can barely read or write. And 40% of those who enroll in primary schools drop out by age 10. The curriculum in the schools, especially the government-run ones, does not prepare the child for the domestic job market, let alone the global one. The huge "workforce" might not be qualified to do the work.

Moreover, India's rich and educated classes are preferring to have small families, so the additions to the population are coming largely from the poor, illiterate sections in society. Nicholas Eberstadt, who researches demographics at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, points out that while India's overall population profile will remain relatively youthful, "this is an arithmetic expression averaging diverse components of a vast nation. Closer examination reveals two demographically distinct Indias: the north that stays remarkably young over the next 20 years, and a south already graying rapidly due to low fertility."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Manipur blockade by Naga insurgents:

India is flying in emergency supplies to the remote north-eastern state of Manipur after key roads were blocked by separatists from a neighbouring state.

Road links were cut off by supporters of Thuingaleng Muivah, a rebel leader from Nagaland who has been denied entry to Manipur by the state government.

Mr Muivah's home village is in Manipur, which says allowing him to visit would inflame ethnic tensions.

The road blockade has led to a severe shortage of fuel and medicines.

For the past five weeks, two highways which serve as the lifelines of this remote mountainous state on Burma's border have been blocked by supporters of Mr Muivah, the leader of India's longest running separatist insurgency.

Mr Muivah has been barred from visiting his home village, Somdal, which lies inside Manipur in an area dominated by members of his Naga tribe.

It is a bitter standoff between the Nagas and the Manipuris who share a history of animosity.

The blockade has had a massive impact on Manipur. Petrol stations have shut down, with no fuel available.

"The situation is dire. There is no petrol or cooking gas available anywhere. Whatever is available is on the black market at ridiculous rates," retired air force officer Rajkumar Ronendrajit told the BBC.

Hospitals are also running short of life-saving drugs and oxygen.

"We normally carry out 20 surgeries a day. We are down to about eight because our stocks of oxygen are fast running out," managing director of Shija hospital Dr KH Palin said.

Officials say cargo aircraft carrying rice and medicine have now begun arriving to try and ease the situation.

But with the blockade continuing, things continue to remain tense.

Riaz Haq said...

Israeli foreign minister is dragging events in India and Pakistan in a desperate bid to defend Israel's bloody assault on Gaza flotilla, according to a report in Times of India:

JERUSALEM: In an unusual step, Israel, which is facing global criticism for attacking an aid flotilla, has said violent incidents in countries like India and Pakistan in the past one month which claimed 500 lives have been "ignored" while it is being condemned for its "unmistakably defensive actions".

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman "reminded" the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that in the past month alone 500 people were killed in various incidents in Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and India, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"While the international community remained silent and passive, and generally ignored the occurences, Israel is being condemned for unmistakably defensive actions," a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Lieberman as saying.

This is the first time that Israel has dragged India into a controversy. New Delhi has already condemned the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip saying there was no justification for indiscriminate use of force.

He is understood to have told Ban that the incident related to Gaza aid flotilla was about the "basic right of Israeli soldiers to defend themselves against an attack by a gang of thugs and terror supporters who had prepared clubs, metal crowbars and knives in advance of confrontation."

Lieberman expressed "regret" at the behaviour of the international community.

"All of Israel's proposals to the Turkish government to transfer the humanitarian aid in an orderly manner were rejected by flottila's organisers," Lieberman was quoted as saying.

He also accused activists participating in the mission of intentionally trying to breach Israel's sovereignty and creating "provocation that would cause bloodshed".

In an emergency session yesterday, the UN Security Council called for an investigation into Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday, condemning the act that resulted in the loss of at least nine lives.

"... the Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East," Lieberman said.

Riaz Haq said...

By their own admission, the Foreign policy magazine says their index is based entirely on media reports. So it's the raw news reports which have been mostly negative for Pakistan lately, that have driven its ranking among failed states.

It is a well known fact that media coverage is heavily manipulated by western governments, particularly the United States.

For example, it is normal Washington practice to use well-timed media leaks in Washington Post, New York Times, CBS and other major media outlets, including blogs, twitter and new social media, to effect changes in policies and behaviors within and outside the United States. Such leaks are almost always attributed to unnamed officials, and intended to put pressure to act in ways preferred by the leakers.

Even the US presidents are not immune from such manipulation. In its recent issue, the Newsweek magazine has described how President Obama himself became the target of such pressure tactics during his Afghan policy review last year.

Recently, NPR's Madulika Sikka, an Indian-American producer of Morning Edition, put the effect of media coverage as follows:

But one thing I do want to talk about in the, you know, what is our vision of Pakistan, which often is one dimensional because of the way the news coverage drives it.

But, you know, we went to visit a park in the capital, Islamabad, which is just on the outskirts, up in the hills, and we blogged about it, and there are photos on our website. You could have been in suburban Virginia.

There were families, picnics, picnic tables, you know, kids playing, stores selling stuff, music playing. It was actually very revealing, I think for us and for people who saw that posting, because there's a lot that's similar that wouldn't surprise you, let's put it that way."

Riaz Haq said...

BBC is reporting India's decision to use troops to break the blockade by Naga rebels in Manipur in the northeast:

The Indian government is sending federal paramilitary troops to the north-eastern state of Manipur to lift a blockade by tribal groups.

The two-month blockade of main roads has led to severe shortages of food and medical supplies and soaring prices.

Naga tribal groups oppose a government decision preventing Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah from visiting his birthplace in the troubled state.

Naga rebels have been campaigning for decades for a separate homeland.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Delhi says Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has finally met protest leaders to hear their concerns.

His involvement may be a last attempt to resolve things peacefully, our correspondent reports, before troops are instructed to lift the blockade - by force if necessary.

Home Secretary GK Pillai said the authorities would begin sending troops from Tuesday.

"We shall see to it that food supplies reach Manipur," he told the AFP news agency.

Riaz Haq said...

The western media coverage of Pakistan is almost always one dimensional, and sometimes downright venom-filled, as the piece (and its accompanying illustration of scorpion) from the Economist titled "Land of the Impure" shows in abundance. Here is an excerpt from it:

THREE score years and a bit after its founding, Pakistan—which means land of the pure—still struggles to look like a nation. Economically backward, politically stunted and terrorised by religious extremists, it would be enough to make anyone nervous, even if it did not have nuclear weapons. For these shortcomings, most of the blame should be laid at the door of the army, which claims, more than any other institution, to embody nationhood. Grossly unfair? If the army stood before one of its own tribunals, the charge sheet would surely run as follows:

One, a taste for military adventurism on its “eastern front” against giant India, which has undermined security, not enhanced it. No adventure was more disastrous than the one in 1971, which hastened the loss of East Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh. More recently, in 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, then army chief, sent troops into Indian-controlled Kashmir without deigning to inform the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Mr Musharraf thus forced a confrontation between two nuclear states. It was an international public-relations debacle for Pakistan. Today the army remains wedded to the “India threat”. India, meanwhile, for all its gross abuses in Kashmir, is more concerned about economic development than invading Pakistan.

Two, endangering the state’s existence by making common cause with jihadism. This policy started with General Zia ul-Haq’s “Islamisation” policies in the late 1970s. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan (along with the CIA) financed the Afghan mujahideen opposition. The policy turned into support for the Taliban when the movement swept into power in the mid-1990s. Taliban support continues today, even though Pakistan is America’s supposed ally in Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban counterinsurgency. A new report by the London School of Economics claims that not only does Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency finance the Afghan Taliban, but the ISI is even represented on the Taliban’s leadership council. The claims have been loudly rejected, but in private Pakistani military men admit that corners of the army do indeed help the Taliban.

For years both Islamist and liberal generals have also backed jihadists fighting for a Muslim Kashmir. Though vastly outnumbered, the militants have managed to tie down a dozen Indian army divisions. Mr Musharraf and an aide once joked about having such jihadists by their tooti—ie, literally, “taps”, by which he meant their private parts.

anoop said...

"The western media coverage of Pakistan is almost always one dimensional, and sometimes downright venom-filled, as the piece (and its accompanying illustration of scorpion) from the Economist titled "Land of the Impure" shows in abundance."

--> But, there is not one mistake when it comes to facts. The words lack the traditional diplomatic niceties, I agree. Apart from that I dont find anything wrong with it. Truth hurts. In Pakistan's case it kills!

Anonymous said...

pakistan is the biggest failed state.
No country in the world has got an executive system like Pakistan,5 years democracy and 5 years military alternately.

India 's poverty is chronic and has been going on for more than 60 years,but india has a stable democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blog post by Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant US Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, on U.S. and Pakistan collaborating on Science and Technology:

As part of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue initiated in March by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi, I recently led the U.S. delegation to the Science and Technology Working Group in Islamabad, June 8-9. The two-day meetings discussed three areas where our two governments could increase collaboration: enhanced science and technology cooperation, enabling the science and technology enterprise, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

It was encouraging to hear the Working Group specifically agree on building upon ongoing joint research and ways to highlight new knowledge that can improve social conditions and enhance economic opportunities. Working Group members also agreed to explore building the capacity of academic institutions and transferring technology from the lab to the private sector, while emphasizing the need to share successful models of innovation and entrepreneurship.

One of the most memorable experiences during my visit was attending an exhibition featuring 38 Science and Technology research projects funded through the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program. I also had the privilege of visiting Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology, where I met with researchers who are conducting studies on climate change, finding innovative ways to use telemedicine to improve disease surveillance networks, and designing improved search engines.

The Science and Technology Working Group meeting was the first of the 13 Strategic Dialogue Working Group sessions taking place this month in Pakistan. Other Working Group topics include: law enforcement, energy, water, economics and finance, market access, defense, health, women's issues, and agriculture. I am inspired and encouraged by our Science and Technology discussions as they are addressing some of the most pressing environment, science, technology, and health issues facing Pakistan today, and building strong partnerships between our Science and Technology communities. The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue represents the shared commitment of both nations to strengthening the bilateral relationship and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.

Riaz Haq said...

There is Booming industry of Terrorism Experts and Security Research Institutes in India, according to CyberGandhi, an Indian blogger who wrote a post titled "A Zillion Reasons to Escape From India":

With the emergence of Hindutva fascist forces and their alliance with Neo cons and Zionists, India witnessed a sharp increase in the number of research institutes, media houses and lobbying groups. According to a study by Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, India has 422 think tanks, second only to the US, which has over 2,000 such institutions.

Out of 422 recognized Indian think tanks, around 63 are engaged in security research and foreign policy matters, which are heavily funded by global weapon industry. India’s Retired spies, Police officers, Military personals, Diplomats and Journalists are hired by such national security & foreign policy research institutes which gets enormous fund from global weapon industry. These dreaded institutions are in fact has a hidden agenda. Behind the veil, they work as the public relations arm of weapon industry. They create fake terror stories with the help of media and intelligence wing, manipulate explosions through criminals in areas of tribals, dalits or minorities in order to get public acceptance for weapon contracts.

By creating conflicts in this poor country, Brahmin spin masters get huge commission from the sale of weapons to government forces. To this corrupt bureaucrats, India’s ‘National Interest‘ simply means ‘their self Interest’. Their lobbying power bring more wealth to their families as lucrative jobs, citizenship of rich countries and educational opportunities abroad.

Mentionable that India is one of the world’s largest weapons importers. Between 2000 and 2007 India ranked world’s second largest arms importer accounting for 7.5 % of all major weapons transfers. It stood fourth among the largest military spender in terms of purchasing power in 2007 followed by US, China and Russia.

Over 1,130 companies in 98 countries manufacture arms, ammunitions and components. 90 % of Conventional arms exports in the world are from the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council namely USA, UK, Russia, China & France. The countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East hold 51 per cent of the world’s heavy weapons.

The Defence Offset Facilitation Agency estimating the expenditure on the sector at USD 100 billion for next five years. At least 38 court cases relating to arms agreements are still pending against bureaucrats and military officers. Hindu fascist forces currently enjoy upper hand in media, civil service, judiciary, defence and educational streams of Indian society. Sooner or later, 25,000 strong democratic institutions in India will be collapsed and the country will be transformed to a limited democracy under the rule of security regime like Turkey or Israel. Hindutva’s security centric nationalism never was capable of bringing peace and protection to the life of our ordinary citizens.

According to Global Peace Index, India currently ranked on bottom, (122 with 2.422 score). Interestingly, our favourite arms supplier, Israel is among the worst performer when it comes to peace ranking. (141). It reminds a simple fact that the peace cannot be attained by sophisticated security apparatus.

Further more, India topped on Asian Risk Prospects -2009, with the highest political and social risk, scoring 6.87, mainly because of internal and external instability (PERC)

sumi said...

The failed state index uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation including security threats, economic implosion, human rights violations and refugee flows in which pakistan is 10th failed state only better than somalia,Chad, other african countries, iraq,and afganistan. Mr. Haq do not make false propaganda against india, the future superpower with the second fastest growing economy in the world. It will only make your musings ridiculous and noncredible. Have a reality check. If india is home to the poorest it is also home to the biggest middle class in the world. According to teh forbes billionaire list there are 53 billionaires from India who take the country to the No. 4 rank, after US’ 469, Russia’s 87 and Germany’s 59. At 42 and 18, China and Brazil are behind India.

Mind you india is creating more enterpreneurs than china. Get some education about india yourself before making such nonsensical comments.

Riaz Haq said...

sumi: "The failed state index uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation including security threats, economic implosion, human rights violations and refugee flows in which pakistan is 10th failed state only better than somalia,Chad.."

And where do these guys get the data from? By their own admission, the Foreign policy magazine editors say their index is based entirely on media reports. So it's the raw news reports, including a lot of noise which has been mostly negative for Pakistan lately, that have driven its ranking among failed states.

Do media reports reflect reality? I don't think so.

It is a well known fact that media coverage is heavily manipulated by western governments, particularly the United States.

For example, it is normal Washington practice to use well-timed media leaks in Washington Post, New York Times, CBS and other major media outlets, including blogs, twitter and new social media, to effect changes in policies and behaviors within and outside the United States. Such leaks are almost always attributed to unnamed officials, and intended to put pressure to act in ways preferred by the leakers.

Even the US presidents are not immune from such manipulation. In its recent issue, the Newsweek magazine has described how President Obama himself became the target of such pressure tactics during his Afghan policy review last year.

Recently, NPR's Madulika Sikka, an Indian-American producer of Morning Edition, put the effect of media coverage as follows:

But one thing I do want to talk about in the, you know, what is our vision of Pakistan, which often is one dimensional because of the way the news coverage drives it.

But, you know, we went to visit a park in the capital, Islamabad, which is just on the outskirts, up in the hills, and we blogged about it, and there are photos on our website. You could have been in suburban Virginia.

There were families, picnics, picnic tables, you know, kids playing, stores selling stuff, music playing. It was actually very revealing, I think for us and for people who saw that posting, because there's a lot that's similar that wouldn't surprise you, let's put it that way."

Ananth said...

"Do media reports reflect reality? I don't think so."

For a man of such opinion, you seem to quote quite many media reports to make your point, Mr. Haq. If that ain't double standards, then what is?

Riaz Haq said...

Ananth: "you seem to quote quite many media reports to make your point"

I use media reports, but not exclusively. Foreign Policy magazine relies entirely on media reports, by their own admission, for failed state rankings.

Ananth said...

"I use media reports, but not exclusively. Foreign Policy magazine relies entirely on media reports, by their own admission, for failed state rankings."

oh really? I actually reread your post after you said that and it looks like the only places where you use non-media stats is when it comes to poverty, hunger etc. For example, to prove your point about India not being secular (which, for an Indian living in India, is nothing more than obvious drivel), your source is a blog post!

India does have problems and most of it is caused by our greedy, corrupt politicians. However, we are slowly but steadily chiseling away at these problems and not living in a constant state of denial. If your definition of a failed state is a state that isn't 100% perfect then yes, India is a failed state.

Also, you seem to use "India is a failed state" as a defense/justification for Pakistan finding itself in the list of Failed states. Why compare at all? Prove the nay sayers wrong by glorifying your nation. Why bring India into the picture? Work towards making Pakistan better and dispel this 'myth'.

Your obsession with your neighbor, IMHO, points in pretty loud words at your inherent insecurity.

tarun said...

Kudos,Ananth....your point is a really cogent one. There are people who would rub a part of the chalk line on the board to make their shorter ones appear bigger (or equal). I am surprised how Mr. Riaz is obsessed with stats involving/incriminating India. The fact that he needs to quote so many sources in a mind-numbing exercise speaks volumes about the insecurity he has to contend with as a confused individual. As for the 'secularism sham' in India, i believe our film industry serves as a pertinent illustration. Muslims,Hindus,Sikhs,Christians etc. actors and actresses dazzle the audience with their performances. The people of Pakistan,Nepal,Bangladesh and even the gulf countries watch our movies and serials. Pakistanis abuse Indians on internet forums but sit down to watch INDIAN movies. This hatred is a phase in the denial of their inherently Indian identity. It is called the Indian subcontinent, not Indo-Pak subcontinent. Terms like Indo-Aryan(Urdu is an INDO-Aryan language), Indian Ocean and Indosphere point to the fact that India has always been a dominant force in this part of the world. Now that they are a country all of a sudden, Pakistan must arrogate some of that dominance. Mr. Riaz Haq, India may be many things, but a sponsor of terror it is not. We help our neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is a liability for its neighboring countries. It is fooling its own citizens. Geez...how many people from around the world would opt to go for vacations in Pakistan as opposed to India? huh? We have some of the most biologically diverse regions in the world(not to mention the great beaches of the South). Sir, please spend time helping people of your country than digging dirt on India. India shall do fine even without officious persons like yourself.

Riaz Haq said...

tarun: "There are people who would rub a part of the chalk line on the board to make their shorter ones appear bigger (or equal). "

And you are one such person...because the latest MPI data from an Oxford study shows that average Indians are a lot more deprived than Pakistanis and even the poorest of the poor Africans....and two-thirds of them (vs one-third Pakistanis) live in such primitive conditions that they have to defecate in the open.

On the shortness of male genitalia, Indians own research show they are shorter than the rest of the world, according to a two-year study carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. . Its conclusion is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.

Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the BBC there was an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large.

The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.

And the country already has the highest number of HIV infections of any nation.

tarun said...

And what is this talk about Hindutva,Sir? These 'Hindutva' guys are mocked and jeered at by most of the Hindus in the country. Most urban 'Hindus' don't even care about their religion... you would be surprised to know that most of my Hindu friends dont know religious stuff and need to be reminded on pertinent occasions that they are Hindu. The people who rally for 'Hindutva' basically want a medieval Hinduism with 'moral laws' et al. MF Hussain( May he pardon us) was a great personality who helped turn the consensus of the educated Hindu against 'Hindutva' goons. Recently, there was a major expose incriminating Ram Sene( a Hindutva outfit) too. Pakistani guys worry soooo
much about Muslims in India...wow,it is almost touching how you keep track of all developments...Muslim brethren are okay in India..Please worry about your own nation.(btw,How many languages and scripts do you have in Pakistan????? and how many Hindu/Christian/Sikh/Buddhist people do you have in your film industry????? Please state percentages as you do while reporting unpalatable facts about defecating and genitalia)
As for taking care of minorities and ensuring unity in diversity, Indian government serves as a patron for so many languages and dialects that your fingers would wax numb from typing their names on your blog. My city,Delhi, has all its signs in Four scripts-Roman,Devnagari,Naastaliq and Gurmukhi. Even the Hindu-dominated state of Uttarakhand has signs in Urdu.
Sir,you read just the English and Hindi/Urdu media reports. The reportage of other languages goes unnoticed. This MIGHT be a problem. You, Sir, take a secret delight in the Naxalite situation.India is a vast country(seventh largest in the world ) with soooo many different races of people. This diversity entails numerous problems.
BTW, we have a GREAT metro train route in Delhi.It is awesome. I hope you wont present me with some gross facts as to how many people suffer from flatulence while travelling in Delhi Metro. You HAVE to see the Mehrauli-Gurgaon route that overlooks a most beautiful stretch of forest dotted with tombs and monuments-like the tomb of Balban and the Qutb Minaar. You are cordially invited to Delhi, sir. Please visit it in October when we celebrate Sair-e-Gulfaroshaan or Phoolwaalon ki sair. A procession visits the Jogmaya Devi temple and the shrine of the blessed Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki(May Allah taala be pleased with him) on the same day and offers huge ceremonial fans as offerings bearing the religious symbols of Hinduism and Islam. May such festive occasions abound in the land of Hind. Despite whatever animosity you might infer from my comments, I mean well.

Riaz Haq said...

tarun: "Most urban 'Hindus' don't even care about their religion... you would be surprised to know that most of my Hindu friends dont know religious stuff and need to be reminded on pertinent occasions that they are Hindu."

Pew survey on religion contradicts your assertion that most urban Hindus don't care about religion.

According to Pew, 92% of Indians ay religion is important to them...one of the highest in the world...even a bit higher than 91% in Pakistan.

tarun said...

And again, You answer me with some more facts. You deleted the comment expressing my shock about the male genitalia reference...lol...funny you would do that. I was shocked that Mr. Riaz interpreted my "longer chalk line" comment as one insinuating at the male genitalia. I did not hint at any double meanings. Your interpretation however goes on to say a lot about you. That was a great Freudian slip. In text. yeah, and these surveys of yours never surveyed anyone I know or even myself, despite being a resident of a well-known area of delhi and being an adult. Must have done that in a lab somewhere ..lol. You never answered my questions concerning languages and scripts and actors.....what gives?im still LOLing about the whole 'male genitalia' thing.

Riaz Haq said...

tarun: "im still LOLing about the whole 'male genitalia' thing"

There is a thing called "small penis syndrome", a condition that affects many Indians sub-consciously.

Ananth said...

"Riaz Haq: There is a thing called "small penis syndrome", a condition that affects many Indians sub-consciously."

lol Mr. Riaz. If you have nothing to say, then say nothing. There's no need to take cheap shots and make vulgar penis jokes. Seriously, grow up!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from NY Times story about declining power of Pakistan's feudal class:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”


Anonymous said...

I am a 14 year old kid i dont know much about the conflict and not even some of the words people have used and when i saw my elder brother reading it read along with him. What i dont understand about what this uncle is why did he write so much about my india's bad things and so less about pakistan's bad things??? I am a good maths student so i think i should teach uncle some maths. uncleji you should read my proportions lesson from my maths book. india has 2nd most population in the world and obviosly comparing it with a country whose population is so less is stupid. and obviosly the proportions will be different. my madam gave this example in maths class. unlce please learn maths. my madam is nice she takes free tution also.

my name is nilesh

Riaz Haq said...

nilesh: "india has 2nd most population in the world and obviosly comparing it with a country whose population is so less is stupid. and obviosly the proportions will be different. my madam gave this example in maths class. unlce please learn maths. my madam is nice she takes free tution also."

In addition to seeking help on your spelling, please ask your madam to explain to you how proportions and percentages are used to compare situations in nations of very different size, ranging from tiny Lichtenstein to the most populous China.

For example:

Developed at Oxford University, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) goes beyond income poverty based on $1.25 or $2 a day income levels. It measures a range of "deprivations" at household levels, such as schooling, nutrition, and access to health, clean water, electricity and sanitation. According to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) country briefings 2010, 55% of Indians and 51% of Pakistanis are poor.

OPHI 2010 country briefings on India and Pakistan contain the following comparisons of multi-dimensional (MPI) and income poverty figures:

MPI= 55%,Under$1.25=42%,Under$2=76%,India_BPL=29%


Lesotho MPI=48%,Under$1.25=43%,Under$2=62%,Lesotho_BPL=68%


Among other South Asian nations, MPI index measures poverty in Bangladesh at 58 per cent and 65 per cent in Nepal.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's report in Jerusalem Post about wikileaks talking about the US as an exporter of international terrorism:

According to a CIA analysis released by Web site Wikileaks on Wednesday, the US is an "exporter of terrorism" and has been for many years.

Further, says the analysis, if the rest of the world were to begin regarding the US as such, diplomatic relations could be severely damaged and willingness to cooperate with US activities could be hindered.

The classified report, titled "What if Foreigners See the United States as an Exporter of Terrorism?" was produced in February 2010 by the CIA's Red Cell, a think tank set up in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

According to The Washington Post, a CIA spokesperson played down the report, saying that it was compiled simply to provoke thought and present a range of views.

It considers international terrorist organizations targeting and recruiting Americans. It says:

"Less attention has been paid to homegrown terrorism, not exclusively Muslim terrorists, exported overseas to target non-US persons. This report examines the implications of what it would mean for the US to be seen increasingly as an incubator and 'exporter of terrorism.'"

The online whistle-blower organization Wikileaks calls itself a "multi-jurisdictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public."

Last month the group published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and field reports on the war in Afghanistan.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a post by Soutik Biswas of BBC.com about the current situation next door:

Ms Gandhi's re-election comes at a time when the government led by her party - now in it's second term - appears to be worryingly adrift. Kashmir is again spinning out of control with an indigenous popular uprising against India, Maoist violence is on the rise in vast swathes of the country, and the movement for a separate Telangana state is still boiling. The government earned the rebuke of the Supreme Court recently for allowing food grains to rot in storage. (Why does it keep purchasing more food from farmers than it can store and distribute to the poor?) Delhi's Commonwealth Games fiasco has done little good to the government's image. Runaway and brazen corruption is threatening to stymie India's progress, but Ms Gandhi's party and government do not appear to be bothered too much.

There is also a growing impression that the government and the party are not on the same page. Ministers and Congress party leaders openly differ on policies and snipe at each other - there is a sharp divergence of views on how to tackle Maoism, separatism and even building key infrastructure.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent report by Jawed Naqvi, Dawn's New Delhi correspondent:

A particularly disturbing slogan heard in the Kashmir Valley, where its young school-goers and old patriarchs, angry women and restive youth are courageously defying Indian rule, is enough to put off any sensitive sympathiser. “Bhooka nanga Hindustan; Jaan se pyaara Pakistan.” (Starving and tattered India we reject; Pakistan - land of our dreams - we embrace.)

This slogan conveys acute political bankruptcy in a region which has lived with naked military repression for more than 20 years. I’m sure any Pakistani with a sense of justice would also be uncomfortable with the warped mindset the slogan betrays.

That Kashmir is reeling under Indian occupation is not a secret. That Pakistan has played a questionable role there is also well known. Yet, for Kashmiris to see their struggle as part of the many battles being waged by the poorest of the poor against the Indian state’s multi-pronged injustices against its own people, would not compromise or be a contradiction in Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination. The simple question for Kashmiris to ask themselves is, isn’t the same state that has killed 60 young Kashmiris in three months, also responsible for tens of thousands of suicides by indebted farmers in India? Does Sharmila Irom, who is fighting to repeal the law that gives unbridled powers to security forces in her Manipur state have no relevance for the same struggle in Kashmir?

The tribespeople of Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal are fighting for their fundamental rights. One of their demands is that they not be evicted from their homes to accommodate corporate land grab. Is this not what Kashmiri Pandits suffered at the hands of the Indian state as well as non-state actors in their homeland without any redress from successive Indian governments that claim to represent them?


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a post by Soutik Biswas of BBC on rising Kashmir protests against Indian rule:

This is clearly beginning to look like the biggest challenge to Indian rule in Kashmir in more than a decade. The protests have also begun to spread outside the valley - some recent ones have taken place in Muslim-dominated pockets of Jammu, the bit of Kashmir where Hindus are in the majority and which has been peaceful so far.

Most believe that the government has itself to blame for the current mess in Kashmir. The common perception is that it didn't fix the leaking roofs when the sun was shining in the valley - the months of relative peace, booming tourist traffic. Now the authorities are groping around for administrative solutions to fix the festering wounds - they are under pressure to water down or even scrap the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act or to move security forces out of the bigger towns.

But most believe that this kind of tinkering, however important, would not be enough. The time has come for the government to think big - and be imaginative - and launch the beginnings of a political solution to bring peace to the valley. Bringing the hardline separatists on board will be key to any solution - the octogenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, by default, is the only leader with credibility among people in the valley because of his consistently obdurate pro-Pakistan, pro-secessionist stand. Some believe that India's cussedness in refusing to talk to Mr Geelani is costing Kashmir dear - the leader appeared to have mellowed, leaving Pakistan out of the equation in his recent roadmap to restore peace in the valley. Pakistan could perhaps be worked into the matrix of a political solution at some later stage. But for the moment, India needs to show initiative and come up with some guarantees and time-bound plans to foster political reconciliation and sow the seeds of a political solution. Without this, the stone-throwing protesters may give way to Kalashnikov-wielding rebels from within the valley and across the border, in a return to full-blown bloody militancy.


Riaz Haq said...

To get a peek into the Indian psyche, read the following advice offered by Financial Times to David Cameron prior to his recent India trip:

The first is 'Kashmir', he says. Recalling controversial utterances by previous British foreign secretaries like Robin Cook and David Miliband, Barker tells Cameron: "The quickest way to turn a charm offensive into a diplomatic fiasco. The basic rule: British ministers should say nothing. Don't dare criticise, offer to help, or link bringing peace to tackling terrorism. Stray words have consequences."

The second is 'Poverty'. "More poor people than anywhere on earth. But not worth mentioning too loudly. Talk about the New India instead. Mention the aid review. A patronising tone is fatal."

The third, 'Coming over too fresh'. Barker says: "The young, dynamic, no-nonsense version of Cameron should probably be left behind. It's time to learn some manners. Indian politicians are, as a rule, double his age and four times as grand. If the meetings are stuffy, formal, overbearingly polite, that's a good thing."

The fourth is the 'Immigration cap'. The columnist writes: "A big issue for the Indian elite. Anand Sharma, the commerce minister, raised his 'concerns' earlier this month with Cameron himself. A heavily bureaucratic and stingy visa regime will not encourage Indians to work or study in Britain."

Read more: Don't mention Kashmir, poverty in India, UK PM advised - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Dont-mention-Kashmir-poverty-in-India-UK-PM-advised/articleshow/6226174.cms#ixzz0zjt5WfSg

Riaz Haq said...

Regarding the long list of serious problems with Commonwealth games in Delhi, I think it is wrong to blame an individual or even a small group of organizers for the collective failure of Indian state and its various agencies and bureaucracies, as well a a general lack of recognition of the importance of basic hygiene and safety in India.

Instead of public lynching of Kalmadi and a few others as the fall guys, these games should be an opportunity for introspection by all Indians.

"Critics call Commonwealth Games crisis a symptom of a failed state", proclaims The Guardian newspaper. Here's an excerpt:

The brunt of the anger has fallen on the Games organising committee, with The Times of India publishing a poll revealing that 97% of readers believed it had "tarnished India's image". The paper concurred: "These jokers ... deserve no mercy. Why should the nation be embarrassed for the folly of these individuals?" The Financial Express was equally unforgiving: "When [committee chairman] Suresh Kalmadi toured the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and declared that 'everything is 100% ready', was he wearing blinkers against the rubble and stagnant water?" Mid Day was blunter still in reference to committee secretary Lalit Bhanot's suggestion that cleanliness complaints were simply down to cultural differences, replying: "Sure dude! Our low standards make it really OK to have crap in the living room ..."

All of which is understandable, but as the problems intensified so did the reaction and its targets. Shobhan Saxena, again in the Times, was unequivocal: "We are a third world banana republic which is falling into a bottomless pit." Before asking how anyone expected the country "to pull off an international sporting event without it sinking into the slime and grime of corruption and bad governance". The Games, it seems, were but the tip of the iceberg: "These are the symptoms of a failed state. We make tall claims about growth, but we treat our poor worse than animals. We aspire to be world power, but we can't even provide drinking water to all our citizens. We claim to be world's biggest democracy, but we 'solve' all our social and political problems with loaded guns in hand."

He was not alone. The Telegraph commented: "This reality of a rising rate of growth and a corrupt and corroded delivery system ... has led us into the worst anarchy imaginable ... The CWG symbolizes this truth of supreme failure and massive corruption." The Deccan Herald saw the Games as "a microcosm of the way in which activities in the public domain are being handled in this country ... Corruption, confusion, chaos, procrastination, delay, blatant political interference ... The CWG project is not an exception but a typical example." The Hindustan Times finished the job: "In a way, the CWG preparations have been a model-scale version of India itself. Tales of success and ambition laid out on a rockbed of medieval infrastructure and the sheer inability to create a new one."

This is criticism the government was not anticipating as hosts – the celebration was not supposed to backfire into lacerating self‑examination and much now depends on how the Games actually pan out. Success will distract but, as The Times observes, failure will only highlight the issues last week's problems raised – principally "the disconnect between India's newfound modernity and the masses of Indians who still face pitiable conditions of existence".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent piece, titled "Is Pakistan a failed state? No." by C. Christine Fair, professor at George Washington University and a visiting scholar at the Lahore University of Management Science, published in June 24, 2010 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine:

Once again, Pakistan looms as a country deemed to be "critical" in Foreign Policy's annual Failed State Index. But Pakistan is not a failed state, even though some of its institutions have declined in capacity, while others never worked well from the start. This year, Pakistan ranks tenth, below several African countries, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and above Haiti, which has recently been devastated by an earthquake.


In short, the Failed States Index is clearly only one side of the die. While sitting at a computer crunching numbers, even with expert input as the index apparently uses, the larger story is missed. Pakistan has its problems and enormous challenges lay ahead, but it is far from a failed or even failing state.

Riaz Haq said...

The bumper sticker of the century reads as follows:

"Be nice to America Or we'll bring democracy to your country!"

After seeing failure of democracy in delivering basic services, security and human development in India, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a growing suspicion among the poor that America's push to get democracy installed in third world countries ( knowing full well that it will fail) is a ploy to keep them in chaos and from making any kind of progress.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Pakistan's Decade of 1999-2009 in Review

ASEAN Architect Suharto Passes On

NRO and Corrupt Democracies in South Asia

Malaysia National Front Suffers Setback

Musharaf's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's Corruption Indexes

Return to Bad Old Days in Pakistan

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Businessweek article titled "Why India's Singh Can't Reform?"

Just as they did after the terrorist siege in Mumbai in 2008, Indians have seen the government's failure to handle the Games efficiently and effectively as a metaphor for how it handles the country. What Indians want to know is very simple: When confronted with a challenge, can their government get it right?

Under Singh, the answer often has been no. His second term as Prime Minister and head of a coalition built around the Congress Party, which runs until 2014, started with great expectations. In the 2009 election Congress had managed to assemble a strong enough majority in Parliament that it no longer needed its Communist allies, who had been an obstructive force during Singh's first term.
Instead, Singh's promises to reform rigid labor markets and ease the difficulties that manufacturers encounter in acquiring land have gone nowhere. Efforts to introduce banking reform have failed, as have halfhearted attempts to tamp down double-digit food inflation, leaving India's poor buffeted by global commodity markets.

A long-running guerrilla war in India's mineral-rich central states has gotten worse, claiming more lives in 2010 than at any other point in the 33-year struggle. More than 100 people have been killed in recent street protests in Kashmir. "What we've seen since the [2009] elections are minuscule reforms—dropping petroleum subsidies, higher education reform at the margin," says Razeen Sally, director of the Brussels-based European Center for International Political Economy. "The bigger things that are needed are things he hasn't even tried for." A spokesman for the Congress Party did not return calls.

Many critics wonder how such an able man could achieve so little. As Finance Minister in 1991, Singh cut import tariffs, allowed foreign companies such as Ford Motor (F) to set up factories, and removed regulations requiring government authorizations for new plants. The result was a burst of growth that ended the acute fiscal crisis threatening India.

One reason Singh has not repeated this performance may be his tendency to bore in on details—a useful trait when you're fixing a single ministry, less so when you're running an entire country. Singh showed this side of himself when he jumped into the Games mess, personally inspecting sites and ordering investigations. "It should not be the Prime Minister's problem to see if the loos are clean or the ceilings of a stadium are solid," says Lord Meghnad Desai, a professor emeritus of the London School of Economics and a member of the British House of Lords who knows and admires Singh.

Structural issues are hobbling Singh, too. India's raucous politics have never been amenable to the kind of discipline China's one-party state is capable of displaying, especially in economic development. Finally, the dynamics of the Congress Party may have affected the Prime Minister's performance. Rahul Gandhi, the 40-year-old son of the assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is being groomed by his mother, Sonia, to take over as Prime Minister in a Congress government someday soon. (Rahul is grandson of Indira Gandhi, who was also Prime Minister, and also assassinated.) Both mother and son have shown a tendency for well-meaning yet expensive social programs, including food subsidies, rural work programs, and farm loan waivers. "The most significant change has come about in the social sphere, and one wonders how much that has to do with Singh," says Prior-Wandesforde, the HSBC economist. "The 2009 election was a vote in favor of social reform rather than a vote for massive economic reform."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Jacqueline Novogratz saying Pakistan needs more servant leadership:

I'm in the office of Dr. Sono, one of Pakistan's most extraordinary social entrepreneurs. Born a Hindu Dalit or "untouchable," he has worked for his country since his youth and emerged as one of the most important grassroots leaders in Sindh. He runs the Sindh Rural Support Organization, a nonprofit company that has emerged as the leading coordinator of local relief during the floods, providing food, sanitation, water and healthcare to six provinces, and serves 60,000 individuals two hot meals a day. With him are Sabiha Bhutto and Asma Soomro who Dr. Sono introduces as his "commandants." Both women carry serious expressions that give them gravitas and weight. Asma wears a black shalwar and an olive-and-rust-colored tropical print shawl over her head. Saibiha wears red-and-white narrow striped cotton. These two women led others to mobilize 80,000 people during the flood emergency.

I ask what they learned from the experience. Asma responds, "We learned to really go to their level, speak their language, feel what they would feel, and build trust." This is classic social-organizing language. "During these three weeks, I met a 90-year-old woman. She wanted to see how other people were coping in the disaster because she herself had gone through crises and was herself prepared for what might come. This inspired me a lot."

Sabiha speaks as much with her eyes as her hands. She remembers the sense of panic among people in Shikarpur who were understandably terrified by the threat of floods. "I spread calm to the people, and promised that Shikarpur would make it through the floods. I urged them to help those who were really in need." When local residents wanted to cross the river, she stopped them. She could see what others could not -- buffalos flying through the churning rapids, most of them drowning. Her neighbors trusted her, and lives were saved. I ask what she had learned. "I realize what it means to be brave," she answers.

Neither Sabiha nor Asma consider being a woman a hindrance, even in conservative parts of Pakistan. "People know that we are here for them," says Sabiha. "We've earned their trust." Between them, they've delivered sixteen women to the hospital to enable them to give birth during the crisis period.

Dr. Sono jumps in and says, "Last week, I received a phone call from a nearby village. The caller said people were drowning. And you know, I love that village." His eyes twinkle so that you can feel that love. I adore Dr. Sono for being so exquisitely alive and caring. He continues:

I called Sabiha and Asma and told them to go to the village and help people escape before the flood waters came. It was 10:30 at night, and still they went. This is a dangerous area, and women especially can be killed going out at night. But they went. And by midnight, the village was empty and there was not a single drowning.

The conversation turns to Pakistan's future, and what can be done about corruption.

Corruption is a big problem here. But we are seeing changes. We have minimized corruption at the district level, and now we have to translate that to the top level. We also have to focus on educating people at the grassroots, too, so that they begin to question government. This way, we can start to end corruption.

This way, the world can change.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times story on "Chalta Hai" attitude that was at the root of the mess in lead up to the CWG 2010:

The international embarrassment that India suffered in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games — marred by massive cost overruns, a collapsed bridge and widespread corruption allegations — has focused attention on a stubborn cultural condition that if not checked, analysts here say, could undercut India's superpower ambitions.

An attitude referred to in Hindi as "chalta hai," which translates to "it goes" but can mean "don't be bothered," "whatever," "it'll do," or "don't fret (such problems as corruption, delays, shoddy quality)."

Or in the words of one commentator: "It's OK dude, who cares?"

As the Games' closing ceremony wrapped up Thursday, the attitude appeared to be borne out. Chaos reigned until opening day of the international sports competition, but India ultimately pulled it off. There were no major terrorist attacks, India won 38 gold medals and dancing and marching bands wowed the closing crowd.

As the hangover sets in, however, some wonder why it took prime ministerial intercession to get toilets cleaned in the athletes village, why Indian planning compared so poorly with neighboring China's hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics and whether a wing-it attitude befits a nation with such talent, potential and prospects.

"It doesn't matter if we're a growing superpower or the stock market's at record levels," said Vinod Mehta, editor in chief of the Outlook media group. "What these Games showed is that we've hit the limit on chalta hai."

Some see the attitude growing out of Hindu fatalism and rigid social hierarchies.

"It's a sense of 'que sera, sera,' pre-destination, you're born upper or lower caste," said Ravinder Kaur, a sociologist at the Indian Institute of Technology.

Others cite India's huge population and limited resources, which can leave individuals feeling powerless. "It's a coping device," said Amita Baviskar, a sociology professor at Delhi's Institute of Economic Growth.

For Santosh Desai, president of McCann-Erickson India, chalta hai is epitomized by a story his father recounted of a classmate who stole test answers, then only bothered to memorize the bare minimum required to pass.

Most cultures have something similar of sorts, including the Latin American "manana" and the Middle Eastern "bukrah, insha Allah" ("tomorrow, God willing") attitudes.

India's slack Games preparations epitomized chalta hai thinking, analysts said, but examples are widespread in India.

Siraj said...

Chalta hai, dude. Heck, "superpower" kehne mein kiya jaata hai?

Back in October 2008, Price Waterhouse India had invited me to give a talk on India's progress, as seen from the realistic lens of a foreigner who has interests in India. My talk was titled India Today - Rising Star or Land of Snake Charmers? All I can say is that India has done a damn good job with their global image building with just 2 1/2 products - Bollywood, IT and more recently, cricket. Otherwise, its all hollow from inside. I now have more Indian friends than I had before that event, because of some straight talk. I also have adopted two lovely little girls, whose biological mothers are commercial sex workers in Pune Both the moms are HIV+.

However, to answer the question whether Pakistan can be substituted for India in LA Times "chalta hai" .....my answer would be a NO (in caps). Whether you call it the land of the pure or the land of the poor, Pakistan is unfortunately without doubt, the world's most dangerous country now and has to completely reinvent itself to be functional. The leadership team does not realize that when you are in a deep hole, the first thing you have to do is to stop digging.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IANS report on "The dark side of India's economic growth" leading to growing hunger and malnutrition in India:

New Delhi: A more inclusive growth policy targeted at marginalised communities and protection of their basic rights is required to combat hunger in India, international NGO ActionAid said.

"The dark side of India's economic growth is the fact that the poor have been dispossessed further, leading to malnutrition, hunger and starvation deaths," Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India said here.

The International Food Policy Research Institute has ranked India 67th on the global hunger index, way below its neighbours China and Pakistan.

In a hunger score card released before the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters at New York in September, ActionAid said that while India's per capita income had tripled between 1990 and 2005, the number of chronically hungry had not reduced, standing at a staggering 270 million.

At this rate, India cannot halve its number of those starving until 2083, the report said.

"Implementation remains a massive challenge. Food and other entitlements have to be delivered on the ground, which requires greater political will," Amar Joyti Nayak, thematic head for food rights for ActionAid India, said.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani soldiers won top award for Cambrian Patrol Exercise held in Wales with participation from armies of India, Australia, Canada, United States and France among others, according to PakTribune report:

LONDON, UK—Beating hundreds of soldiers from major armies of the world, Pakistan Army has won the coveted Gold Award at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise held in Wales with participation from armies of India, Australia, Canada, United States and France among others.

750 soldiers from across the world descended on the Brecon Beacons in Wales to suffer through one of the toughest exercises ever devised. The Cambrian patrol tested the soldiering skills of the teams as they crossed some of the most arduous terrain one can imagine.

During the marches, the teams had to complete challenges including observation and reconnaissance of enemy forces, cold-river crossings in full kit without access to boats, first-aid and defensive shooting under attack.

The exercise is organized by the British Army [HQ 160 (W) Brigade on behalf of HQ 5 Div] with an aim to provide a challenging patrols exercise in order to develop operational capability. Cambrian Patrol is arduous and concentrates on leadership, teamwork, physical fitness and achieving the mission by drawing participants from foreign countries.

Here is the link to a video clip of the report from British Forces News:


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report indicating Indian govt's intent to arrest and prosecute Arundhati Roy for sedition for her remarks on Kashmir:

India's home ministry is reported to have told police in Delhi that a case of sedition may be registered against Roy and the Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for remarks they made at the weekend.

Under section 124A of the Indian penal code, those convicted of sedition face punishment ranging from a fine to life imprisonment.

Roy, who won the Booker in 1997 for The God of Small Things, is a controversial figure in India for her championing of politically sensitive causes. She has divided opinion by speaking out in support of the Naxalite insurgency and for casting doubt on Pakistan's involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The 48-year-old author refused to backtrack. In an email interview with the Guardian, she said: "That the government is considering charging me with sedition me has to do with its panic about many voices, even in India, being raised against what is happening in Kashmir. This is a new development, and one that must be worrisome for the government."

"Threatening me with legal action is meant to frighten the civil rights groups and young journalists into keeping quiet. But I think it will have the opposite effect. I think the government is mature enough to understand that it's too late to put the lid on now," Roy said.

Earlier the author, who is currently in Srinagar, Kashmir, said in a statement: "I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice.

"I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state."

After describing her meetings with people caught up in the Kashmir violence, she said: "Some have accused me of giving 'hate speeches', of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their fingernails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one.

"Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor roam free."

India's justice minister, Moodbidri Veerappa Moily, described Roy's remarks as "most unfortunate". He said: "Yes, there is freedom of speech … it can't violate the patriotic sentiments of the people."

Others were less restrained. One person posted a comment on the Indian Express newspaper website calling for the novelist to be charged with treason and executed.

Roy said she was not aware of the calls for her death, but said the comments were part of a "reasonably healthy debate in the Indian press".

"The rightwing Hindu stormtroopers are furious and say some pretty extreme things," she told the Guardian.

Roy made her original remarks on Sunday in a seminar – entitled Whither Kashmir? Freedom or Enslavement, during which she accused India of becoming a colonial power. Geelani also spoke at the seminar.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by David Pilling of Financial Times published recently:

(There have ben many a dire warning about Pakistan failing), yet Pakistan has survived. In its partial victories against Islamist militants it may even have made some kind of progress. It is all too easy to think of Pakistan as a failing – even a failed – state. But it might be better to see it as the state that refuses to fail.

To appreciate just how remarkable this is, cast your mind back to this dangerous year’s catalogue of fire and brimstone. First, following its victory in Swat, the army turned its attention on South Waziristan, bombarding militants in lawless areas bordering Afghanistan. Many considered that an important step, given the well-documented links between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency and tribal militants, part of Pakistan’s quest for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.

Second, and partly as a result of the army’s offensives, there has been a wave of counter-attacks on hotels, mosques and police stations. Last October, militants mounted a brazen raid on the supposedly impregnable headquarters of the 500,000-strong army. That led to alarm that men with beards and a less-than-glowing feeling towards America were getting perilously close to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Third, Pakistan has had to adapt to a dramatic shift in US policy towards Afghanistan. In December, President Barack Obama ordered a surge of 30,000 extra troops, a military intensification that has sent militants scurrying across the border into Pakistan. Worse from Islamabad’s point of view, the US president has committed to drawing down those troops from next summer, a retreat, if it happens, that would once again leave Pakistan alone in a nasty neighbourhood.

Fourth, the economic outlook remains precarious. Pakistan just about avoided a balance of payments crisis which, at one point, saw its reserves dwindle to just one month’s import cover. But respite has come at the cost of being in hock to the International Monetary Fund, which has extended some $7bn in loans. With tax receipts at a miserable 9 per cent of output, it is unclear how it will make ends meet.

As if these man-made calamities were not enough, Pakistan has been drowning in the worst floods in its history. At one point, no less than one-fifth of the country was under water.....

Remarkably it has not been. Why not? A partial explanation for Pakistan’s staying power is that it has become an extortionary state that thrives on crisis...

There are more benign explanations too. The strength of civil society has helped. Many refugees from the floods, like those from Swat, have found temporary shelter with the networks of friends and relatives that bind the country together. The army’s response to the floods has also underscored, for better or worse, the efficiency of the state’s best-run institution. Even the civilian administration, weak and discredited as it is, has clung on. If, as now seems plausible, Mr Zardari can survive, power could yet be transferred from one democratically elected administration to another for the first time in Pakistan’s 63-year history.

One should not overstate Pakistan’s resilience. The world is rightly alarmed at the mayhem that rages at its centre. But, if you care to look on the bright side, you might conclude that, if Pakistan can survive a year like this, it can survive anything.

Riaz Haq said...

New F-16s are arriving from US in Pakistan to modernize and strengthen PAF, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Second batch of three F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft arrived at the PAF Base, Shahbaz (Jacobabad) on Saturday, whereas two more would arrive during the next week. Brigadier General Michael Nagata, deputy commander, Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan handed over the aircraft on behalf of the US government to Air Marshal Muhammad Hasan, deputy chief of the Air Staff (Operations). Pakistan had signed a contract with the US government in 2005-06 for the acquisition of 18 F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft. Under this arrangement, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would receive these state-of-the-art aircraft from the US in staggered batches. In this connection, the first batch of three similar aircraft arrived in Pakistan in May 2010. The deliveries of the rest of the aircraft would be completed by December 2010. The F-16 C/D aircraft is a high tech fighter aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art avionics suite and latest weapons with Night Precision Attack capability. These aircraft are part of the bid by PAF to modernise and enhance its air defence capabilities. staff report

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an interesting reader comment on Op Ed on growing Russia-Pakistan ties published recently in The Hindu:

Vlad. is absolutely spot on! We have arrived at a seminal point in geostrategic time. Sands of Central Asia have shifted from beneath the south block mandarins. They were first shell-shocked by the twists in Obama's new AFPAK strategy which pegged Pakistan squarely as the cornerstone of its Central Asia strategy and tripled its AID. Then China upped the ante by building reactors, dams, ports, baltistan motorways and high-speed rail to be followed by oil/gas pipelines and refineries. NATO is embracing Pakistan for its large, powerful military. EU is planning to make Pakistan a key trade partner. Iran is solidifying her relations with pakistan with pipelines. And now finally Russia has jumped into the fray and offered Pakistan economic friendship. As Pakistan begins to leverage its monopoly on the crossroads of global energy and trade routes, her stature will be enhanced vis-a-vis its neighborhood. This leaves India as the only remaining global power without any say.
The policy to isolate Pakistan by south block stands failed.
The plan to get Pak labeled "terrorist" has failed beyond Mr Cameron.
The 63 year-old policy of unending hostility towards pak in the vain hope that it will cause her to economically collapse, ethnically disintegrate, militarily be defeated and leave India unrivaled geostrategic player has FAILED!!!!!! Now it is time for south block to rethink its Pakistan policy. Pakistan wants only one thing and that is the kashmir Valley. Does south block have the courage to engage in a give and take with Pakistan to secure India's economic pre-eminence in the vast region of Central Asia? The alternative does not bode well!!
This will be the biggest success or fall for south block mandarins after nuclear deal.
I might add; had Nehru not dragged India into Kashmir civil war, it is more than likely that India would have been a cultural big brother to pakistan today instead of China or US or Russia- enjoying the fruits of her geostrategic sagacity and enhancing India's global stature.

from: Marco

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a description of documents leaked by WikiLeaks about Turkey as reported by pro-Israel Washington Post:

Davutoglu is something of an antihero of the WikiLeaks cables, described as "exceptionally dangerous" and "lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies." Having arrived in Washington a few hours after those descriptions were released, he accepted an apology from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, played down the damage - and embraced at least part of the embassy's analysis. "Britain has a commonwealth" with its former colonies, he reminded me. Why shouldn't Turkey rebuild its leadership in former Ottoman lands in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia?

It's fascinating to follow the emotional swings in U.S. analysis of this rapidly changing partner. Erdogan is acidly described by former ambassador Eric Edelman as having "an authoritarian loner streak"; Edelman's successor, James F. Jeffrey, concludes that Erdogan "simply hates Israel" and that his drive for regional authority "has not achieved any single success of note." Yet the dispatches also include admiration for Erdogan's political skills and for Turkey's role in Lebanon, Pakistan and even Syria.

In fact, as a would-be leader of the "Arab street," Erdogan looks much more attractive than competitors such as Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. In the end Turkey depends on European trade and investment; it wants a democratic Iraq, a non-nuclear Iran and NATO's success in Afghanistan. It still recognizes Israel. It is, in essence, a genuine Muslim democracy - which means that it is both more difficult and, in a way, more of an ally than it used to be.

"At the end of the day we will have to live with a Turkey whose population is propelling much of what we see," Jeffrey wrote in a penetrating dispatch. "This calls for an issue-by-issue approach and recognition that Turkey will often go its own way." "The current cast of political leaders," he noted, have a "special yen for destructive drama and rhetoric. But we see no one better on the horizon, and Turkey will remain a complicated blend of world class 'Western' institutions, competencies and orientation, and Middle Eastern culture and religion."

No wonder Davutoglu was grinning. In the end, State's reporting had captured the new Turkey rather well.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a little trivia about India and Pakistan IQs:

According to Prof Richard Lynn's worldwide IQ data published by Webster Online dictionary, Pakistanis avg IQ rose from 81 in 2002 to 84 in 2006, while Indians's avg IQ increased by just one point from 81 to 82.


A recent UNM study linking IQs and disease burdens can be the basis for rationalizing it.

Looking at the situation in South Asia, it appears from the WHO data that Pakistan is doing a bit better than India in 12 out of 14 disease groups ranging from diarrhea to heart disease to intentional injuries, and it is equal for the remaining two (Malaria and Asthma).

Poverty, hunger, unsanitary or unsafe conditions and inadequate health care in South Asia's developing nations are exposing their citizens to high risk of a variety of diseases which may impact their intelligence. Every year, World Health Organization reports what it calls "Environmental Burden of Disease" in each country of the world in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) per 1000 people and total number of deaths from diseases ranging from diarrhea and other infectious diseases to heart disease, road traffic injuries and different forms of cancer.

In the range of DALYs/1000 capita from 13 (lowest) to 289 (highest), WHO's latest data indicates that India is at 65 while Pakistan is slightly better at 58. In terms of total number of deaths per year from disease, India stands at 2.7 million deaths while Pakistani death toll is 318,400 people. Among other South Asian nations, Afghanistan's DALYs/1000 is 255, Bangladesh 64 and Sri Lanka 61. By contrast, the DALYs/1000 figures are 14 for Singapore and 32 for China.

Vidyut said...

ROFL. Haven't had such a good laugh in days.

Wait a minute. Don't tell me you are serious? By your own data, skewed as it is, India is slightly better in most percentages than Pakistan. Now, consider that percentage difference in terms of the sizes of the country, and you will have the explanation for why no one seems to think like you do.

While you are at it, read up on cognitive dissonance.

Then, if you are actually serious about non-fiction writing, you may want to refer to more accurate sources.

In any case, I did enjoy reading the article. With all the stories of doom and gloom coming out of Pakistan, I was missing good old rhetoric. Nothing beats that - "India is as bad as we are, and India is evil" Never mind IMF standing at the door. If it were a proper organization, it would have sold India to recover its loans by now :D No?

Riaz Haq said...

There is no question that the Indian economy is doing much better than Pakistani economy as Pakistan fnds itself mired in some serious crises.

BUt there is a patterns of some western magazines, probably inspired by their Indian staffers, that exaggerate India's accomplishments, while making Pakistan look worse than the reality warrants.

The latest example is data published by The Economist on India and Pakistan in its current issue.

It says the following about India:

GDP growth: 8.2%
GDP: $1,832bn (PPP: $4,508bn)
Inflation: 5.8%
Population: 1,202.1m
GDP per head: $1,520 (PPP: $3,750)

And Pakistan:

GDP growth: 3.2%
GDP: $188bn (PPP: $487bn)
Inflation: 9.9%
Population: 189.6m
GDP per head: $992 (PPP: $2,570)

Here are the problems with the above:

1. Pakitan's population is about 180 million, not 190 million as stated by the Economist. This distortion causes Pakistan's GDP to look smaller than it is.

2. India's GDP is not $1.8 trillion. The highest figure I have seen is $1.5 trillion. This exaggeration makes India's per capita GDP higher than reality.

3. The magazine puts India's inflation rate at 5.8%...the actual inflation rate in India is in double digits....wth the latest figures closer to 15%.

The fact is that, using credible data from multiple souces, the real per capita GDP of both India and Pakistan hovers a little over $1000 in nominal terms.

Isn't it shoddy journalism by the Economist?

What happened to fact-checking at the Economist magazine?

Aren't these figments of The Economist's Indian staffers' imagination?

Sravan said...

Part I from me

Dear Mr. Haq,

As a Indian, I thank you for highlighting the "dark side" of India in such an eager manner. Sir, There is this wonderfully articulate and largely unbiased Indian Historian & Commentator Ramachandra Guha who has given this talk "Ten Reasons why India will not and must not become a Superpower" (look up in youtube). I would also like to Quote one of the most respected economist and social philosopher, Dr. Amartya Sen: "The danger of India becoming half-california and half-sub saharan Africa is real." This is all TRUE. Albeit, this is one part of the story. An elegant mind always chooses to take a real and whole perception, not in parts.

"There is great Opportunity, but also grave Concerns." - This is the blunt reality of India and of Indians. To call India a Super power or a Failed state is to expose one's own stupendous ignorance and to insult one's own intelligence.

Sir, that you have highlighted one dimension, let me express some "elegant features" about My Mother India:

1. Stable Government. India and China are two of the few developing countries which have had an 'by-and-large' uninterrupted government system (democracy or single-party), and unbroken system of governance ever since they were formally born post-WW II. A simple Wikipedia search will show how very few countries in most of Asia and Africa have NOT had political or military coups. About military coups, I am sure you are particularly familiar.

2. Power of Democracy. Let me enlighten the large # of Pakistanis who have no clue what "democracy in functioning" means. The four basic tenets of democracy: unbroken writ of durable constitution (keep changing your constitutions like crazy, Mr Haq), by-and-large free and fair elections (Q: How often do Pakistanis get to vote? A: As often as the military chooses to), smooth transition of governments (remember Mujibur Rahman of East Pakistan), and most importantly Civilian rule (There is a severe time and space constraint for me to attempt to explain what civilian government means. so kindly excuse) Indian democracy is far from perfect. This is a fact. But, beyond an inch-of-a-doubt, India is ruled by the writ of the people. If there is a corrupt government or an effective government, the credit goes to the public. Now the success story of India belongs to Indians, and, not some civilian or military dictator or single-party. (I challenge any student or academician of Political Science to dispute the definition of Democracy, I have given).

3. 'Responsible' Military. In the entirety of India's history, there was not a single instant of the military overstepping its bounds. It has no say on foreign policy, economic policy, or politics in general. It is largely respected by citizens for its chastity and sacrifice. And remember, Indian army is the most ethnically and religiously diverse Army in the world. Army in the borders - the nation prospers, Army in the country - the nation goes to gutters.

Sravan said...

Part 2

4. Lessons from Economy. Every nation has the potential - the key lies in harnessing it. There is no doubt that if Pakistan or any other currently dismal state can compete and may be even outdo USA and China. But its a big IF, a very big IF. For the past decade India has a average of 6-8 % growth and by the most conservative quote, is poised to at least have a 8-9% growth for the next decade. By the most conservative estimates around the world, including monetary organizations, India with this growth rate will become one of the top 5 economies by 2030. In the 21st century, India has once again shown to the world that if a country stays determined and acts, in spite of terrible shortcomings (some of which are eagerly highlighted in this blog0, can succeed in a big way. THE SUCCESS STORY OF INDIA IS NOT THAT IT HAS DEVELOPED, BUT, THAT IN SPITE OF THE BIG ODDS IT IS 'CURRENTLY' ON A STABLE PATH TO SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS.

5. The Talent Code. Sir, I'm sure that you like me - felt sometime in your life that if you were given opportunity you would not have moved out of your home country. Sir, have you aware of the reverse brain drain phenomena of China and India? The increase in the % of migrated Chinese and Indian professionals who are now prepared to go back to their home countries and work is a glaring phenomena. More than 10000 H1 visas allotted to India were unused in 2010. Can you understand, why?

6. The Idea is to keep fighting. One statistic which some online Pakistanis love to quote, "India has 2.5 million HIV infected, the 3rd largest in the world." Do they now know that according to the WHO, in the past decade the incidence of HIV is screening has dropped by 50%. This is not to deny that there are grave concerns in health sector of India. But, in each parameter of health, there is improvement. The growth in the health sector GDP in India is one of the highest in the world.

7. The Idea is to keep fighting. I must say, that Poverty in India is the largest in the world. I must also say this: in the past few decades poverty has moved from 65-80% (I'm giving a range because of varying % given: CIA, IMF, Indian govt) to 25-40 %. Is the figure by itself encouraging? NO! Is the progress promising? I feel, yes! And FYI, the middle class in India which is about 20-30% of the population are increasing 5% every years.

sravan said...

Part 3

7. The Idea is to keep fighting. I must say, that Poverty in India is the largest in the world. I must also say this: in the past few decades poverty has moved from 65-80% (I'm giving a range because of varying % given: CIA, IMF, Indian govt) to 25-40 %. Is the figure by itself encouraging? NO! Is the progress promising? I feel, yes! And FYI, the middle class in India which is about 20-30% of the population are increasing 5% every years.

8. The Idea is to keep fighting. India has the largest illiterate population on Earth. How many people know that the the 1991-2001 decade measured the largest surge in literacy growth? Since the past decade literacy has been growing at a rate of 0.8-1.0% every year. By 2020, the modest estimates for literacy in India is 80%. (One should not forget that when the country was 70-80% illiterate, the 'illiterate' people chose to elect NOT a religious extremist party, NOT a communist party, but a social democratic one. Does that ring a bell, Sir? I should say it would be 'as illiterate' to dismiss illiterate people as dumb people. But, that's not the main point. Illiteracy terribly deprives one of economic, social and political opportunity.)

9. Technology is GOD. The Idea is to keep fighting. In 1995, a minute fraction of the Indian populace used telecommunications. Now, more than 85% of them use a personal mobile phone. I would be dumb if I say it is the success of Indian government. It is the success of Technology in liberating mankind. It is the success of the government to harness and implement such technology in a opportunistic manner.

10. What does Bihar tells us? Viewers, if you are not familiar, read the success story of Bihar for details. It tells us not to "underestimate" any region's ability to come out of incredible odds. The success story of Bihar, which was considered the worst-state in India, is the success story of triumph of democracy against misrule. It is the success story of India.

Sravan said...

Part 4

Mahatma said, "Not taking steps because we are unsure or we are at great odds, is a sure way of not making progress." (not verbatim, this is how I remember)

To be very sure, I say this once again Mr. Haq, any sensible Indian wouldn't say India is a super power. Neither do I. But, INDIA IS ON THE MOVE. It is moving in the right direction and "the world knows it". It's on the move as it was in the days of Freedom Struggle. Remember the History, people, when all the people in the sub-continent fought as one: there were great setbacks, but, we kept going.

I have a word for my Indians: I say, Keep going. Jai Ho! Stand up for the rights of a Tamilian! Stand up for the rights of a Kashmiri! Stand up for the rights of a Tribal! Without this we cannot claim to be an Indian, we cannot claim to be a just Human. Our legacy is in the living giants of India - Amartya Sen (Hindu, Academican), Abdul Kalam (Muslim, Scientist), John Abraham (Christian, Celebrity), and many many others of many many Beliefs and Faiths. I will also say, if there is a constructive criticism we can offer to Pakistan, give, else we should keep our mouth shut. Dignity defines Human.

I have a Request to Pakistanis: A famous poet memorably said - Singhaasan Khaali Karo, Ke Janata Aathi Hai (vacate the Throne, for, the people are coming). Claim the throne of Pakistan. Don't let military dictators suppress you. Don't let religious extremists destroy you. Don't let greedy politicians rob you. Don't let a foreign country bomb you. Build your country, and the world will look up at you. Not even for an instant, think that this message is condescending. I say this to my fellow Indians. I say this to myself.

Practical outlook - Given the circumstances and history, I know it would be too romantic to think of India-Pakistan unity, West-East unity, Religious unity, etc. But remember guys - but, History has shown it's possible. It only takes effort & time. We need to bury Bigotry and sometimes bitter memories. Remember that one of the most bitter enemies in History - England and France - are now the closest allies, fought the two world wars as Friends.

I say this to all Asians: 21st century is claimed to be the century of Asia - let's lead the world in removing gender disparity, wealth disparity, and to bring a society which equally stresses on spirituality and material prosperity.

Sravan said...

Part 6

Sir, Let me conclude my disclosing one of the greatest secrets behind India's success and why it will be The Leader: China has no God to protect them (officially Irreligious). Pakistan has one god to protect them. India has Allah, Buddha, Christ, Ganesh, Mother... the list goes on. There you go. It all boils down to numbers strength :) :)

Allama Iqbal -
mażhab nahīñ sikhātā āpas meñ bair rakhnā, hindī haiñ ham, vatan hai hindostāñ hamārā.

Looking forward to correspond with anyone who gives honest criticism.

With Best Intentions as always,
Sravan Katragadda,
Life-time Student in the University called Earth,
Email: kssravan@yahoo.com

Sravan said...

Understanding Failed State Index:

Haq ji, Failed state index takes some definitive fixed criteria into account. Free elections, regularly, massive internally displaced people, military intervention in civilian rule, uneven development, deterioration of public services are some of them. It should only be obvious, if a long period of democratic stability is assessed, Pakistan will not fare well. This methodology of ranking gives a highly negative score of military intervention. What you unarguable is Facts. What can be argued is if you said "this criteria is not fair", or, "this agency is not competent to make this ranking". Kindly be very clear about it.


Riaz Haq said...

sravan: "Haq ji, Failed state index takes some definitive fixed criteria into account."

And where do these guys get the data from? By their own admission, the Foreign policy magazine editors say their index is based entirely on media reports. So it's the raw news reports, including a lot of noise which has been mostly negative for Pakistan lately, that have driven its ranking among failed states.

Do media reports reflect reality? I don't think so.

It is a well known fact that media coverage is heavily manipulated by western governments, particularly the United States.

For example, it is normal Washington practice to use well-timed media leaks in Washington Post, New York Times, CBS and other major media outlets, including blogs, twitter and new social media, to effect changes in policies and behaviors within and outside the United States. Such leaks are almost always attributed to unnamed officials, and intended to put pressure to act in ways preferred by the leakers.

Even the US presidents are not immune from such manipulation. In its recent issue, the Newsweek magazine has described how President Obama himself became the target of such pressure tactics during his Afghan policy review last year.

Recently, NPR's Madulika Sikka, an Indian-American producer of Morning Edition, put the effect of media coverage as follows:

But one thing I do want to talk about in the, you know, what is our vision of Pakistan, which often is one dimensional because of the way the news coverage drives it.

But, you know, we went to visit a park in the capital, Islamabad, which is just on the outskirts, up in the hills, and we blogged about it, and there are photos on our website. You could have been in suburban Virginia.

There were families, picnics, picnic tables, you know, kids playing, stores selling stuff, music playing. It was actually very revealing, I think for us and for people who saw that posting, because there's a lot that's similar that wouldn't surprise you, let's put it that way."

Riaz Haq said...

In spite of all of Pakistan's genuine problems and "failed state" nonsense, investors have remained fairly sanguine about Pakistan's future prospects.

KSE-100 has outperformed Mumbai Sensex and other BRIC stocks over the last 10 years, 5 years and 1 year.

Pakistan's key share index KSE-100 was just over 1000 points at the end of 1999, and it closed at 12022.46 on Dec 31, 2010, sgnificantly outperforming BRIC markets for the decade. Pakistan rupee remained quite stable at 60 rupees to a US dollar until 2008, slipping in 2008-2009 to a range of 80-85 rupees to a dollar. In spite of the currency decline, Pakistan's KSE-100 stock index surged 55% in 2009 in US dollar terms and 65% in rupee terms. During the same period of 1999-2009, Mumbai Sensex index moved from just over 5000 points to close at 17,464.81.

If you had invested $100 in KSE-100 stocks on Dec. 31, 1999, you'd have over $1000 today, while $100 invested in Mumbai's Sensex stocks would be worth about $400. Investment of $100 in emerging-market stocks in general on Dec. 31, 1999 would get you about $300 today, while $100 invested in the S&P500 would be essentially flat at $100 today.

Last year, there was over half a billion $$ worth of foreign buying at KSE. And remittances by overseas Pakistanis are approaching $10 billion and rising every year.

Riaz Haq said...

The recent tragic assassination of Gov Salman Taseer has caused many to rethink whether the South Asian Barelvi or Sufi Islam is really more tolerant than Deobandi or Wahabi Islam imported into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the followers of Barelvi Islam have not hesitated in supporting blasphemy laws, and they have shamelessly cheered the murder of Salman Taseer who spoke for repeal of such laws.

I also think the Barelvi or Sufi Islam in Pakistan has been hijacked by the feudal-politcal class of makhdooms (Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shah Mahmmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Amin Fahim, etc) to exploit their self-proclaimed lineage from Prophet Mohammad (their so-called Syed status) as a way to maintain their feudal-cum-spiritual power over the poor peasants in Sind and Southern Panjab.

This feudal domination of politics has badly hurt the emergence of real democracy and any advancement of the poor, illiterate rural folks in Pakistan, and contributed to the growth of religious extremism particularly in rural Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

Failed state of Pakistan feeding "Shining India"?

Here's a BBC story on India urging Pakistan to resume onion exports:

India is trying to persuade Pakistan to resume exporting onions overland to curb soaring prices.

The matter has been taken up with the government of Pakistan, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said.

Pakistan banned overland exports of onions to India on Tuesday with traders saying they feared shortages at home.

Last month, India abolished import taxes on onions after prices nearly tripled in a month.

"We have initiated talks and before not too long, we are hopeful we will find a solution to this, easing pressure within our country for onions," Mr Krishna told a press conference in Delhi.

Pakistan banned exports to India through the land route via the Attari-Wagah border crossing, although the sea route is still open.

Much of the trade, however, is by road and rail which are cheaper and quicker.

India's food inflation has risen for the fifth straight week this week to 18.32% - the highest in more than a year.

The price of onions, a key food staple for Indian families used in almost all dishes, has risen dramatically over the past month.

A kilogram which usually costs 20 rupees went up to 85 rupees ($1.87; £1.20) last month. At present, it is 65 to 70 rupees a kilo.

The rise has been blamed on unusually heavy rains in the bulk-producing western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat and in southern states, as well as on hoarders and speculators.

Discontent over food inflation has been a major headache for the government.

High prices of essential commodities such as onions have previously sparked unrest and helped bring down the national government in 2004.

Riaz Haq said...

After a slew of recent evidence of multiple acts of terror by the Sangh Parivar in India, the RSS is increasingly convinced that there is a move afoot to ban it, according to Bharat Bhushan.

RSS ideologue M G Vaidya wrote in a recent article: “ The present Congress, under the leadership of the new Mrs. Gandhi, needs a ban on the RSS — not to finish the RSS but to placate its Muslim vote bank.

Under these circumstances, a terrorist tag would be extremely damaging. Already graying, the marginalisation of the RSS would be accelerated. Funds from abroad will dry up, and domestic accounts of all associated organisations would be frozen. People would be wary of associating with it. Parents would advise their children to keep away from it. This is what the RSS is really worried about.

What is curious is that for preventing this predicament, its leaders do not blame their poisonous ideology which is essentially militaristic, demonises people of other religions and takes it upon itself to protect an exclusivist Indian nationalism. If the gray eminences of the RSS had any sense, they would distance themselves from the likes of Indresh Kumar. However, if the fire has already engulfed the outhouses and reached their door- step, they may find that there is no escape route left.

They will blame their favourite hate figures, the Nehru- Gandhi family for their predicament.

The RSS needs to dissolve itself. India needs no protection from self- styled militias. It has a state structure and judiciary capable of handling criminals and terrorists of various hues. It does not need religious vigilante groups to take revenge for jihadi terror or to save Hinduism, which has thrived for centuries without knobbly- kneed men in khaki shorts and black caps, bamboo staff in hand, taking part in an elaborate costume drama.

Source: http://www.sacw.net/article1884.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about the promise of Danish Schools, a series of boarding schools being set up in Pakistani Punjab by the provincial govt of chief minister Sahbaz Sharif for the poor as an alteranative to the madrassa system:

Outside the window, a Pakistani flag flutters, inside, a teacher asks a group of 6th-grader girls and boys, “Who can make a food chain?” A girl comes up to the board and uses a pen as a mouse to click and drag an animated plant to the first box, a worm to the second and a bird to the third. “Excellent,” Says the teacher. She goes and sits down with a smile on her face.

This is not an ordinary board, it’s a smart board, the first of its kind in Pakistan, and this is no ordinary school. Inaugurated January 18th, The Danish School System at Rahim Yar Khan stands in stark contrast to the rural terrain of this Southern Punjab city. Children enrolled in this school have to fit a certain criteria, not just that they have to pass an entry test, but they have to either have a missing parent, or both parents, they have to have an illiterate parent and they must have a monthly income of less than USD 100 - they must belong in short to the forgotten class of Pakistan’s poor and minorities.

This is affirmative action, giving the underprivileged a chance to have a level playing field. But how real is it? For one, it has the clear support of the government of Punjab which has faced severe criticism from all quarters about the surge of 25 billion rupees invested in a series of these purpose-built campuses for both girls and boys all over Punjab. These critics claim that money could have been better spent elsewhere on better alternatives like building roads or canals.
The Danish Schools stands as an alternative to madrassa education because the school provides free lodging and boarding to all its students. It not only gives students a rounded education in the sciences and the arts but also provides social and extracurricular exposure. An on call psychologist also monitors each of the student’s behavior and has counseling sessions with the children and their parent or gurdian for a smooth transition into boarding life.

Despite the challenges, there is a certain spark and energy in the entire Danish school core committee headed by LUMS Provost, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, and the teachers and students. At the inaugural ceremony, one child danced on Shakira’s Waka Waka, another child, Aasia Allah-Wasiah told a 500 odd gathering the story of her life, how she became an orphan and how Danish school was her only hope for a future.

Not all parents were this easily convinced of Danish School’s objectives. One asked the girls’ school principle, “Why would you give me back my child after giving her clothes and shoes and spending so much on her? I know this is a conspiracy to buy our children from us.”

Other parents objected to there being non-Muslim students eating in the same utensils. The management responded by saying “we all eat in the same plates as any Hindu or Christian boy because this school is for everyone equally.” Needless to say that Rahim Yar Khan, despite scattered industrial units is largely agrarian and the people are deeply influenced by the exclusivist brand of Wahabism.
With a meager amount of the GDP being spent on education, it is a positive sign to have politicians finally focus on this sector to secure their vote bank. With time the criticism towards these initiatives, such as the importance of Danish schools adopting the O-Levels system, may fine tune the programs into being more effective for the people. And especially those people who don’t have a voice.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on how Azim Premji's foundation is helping improve primary education in India:

PANTNAGAR, India — The Nagla elementary school in this north Indian town looks like many other rundown government schools. Sweater-clad children sit on burlap sheets laid in rows on cold concrete floors. Lunch is prepared out back on a fire of burning twigs and branches.

But the classrooms of Nagla are a laboratory for an educational approach unusual for an Indian public school. Rather than being drilled and tested on reproducing passages from textbooks, students write their own stories. And they pursue independent projects — as when fifth-grade students recently interviewed organizers of religious festivals and then made written and oral presentations.

That might seem commonplace in American or European schools. But such activities are revolutionary in India, where public school students have long been drilled on memorizing facts and regurgitating them in stressful year-end exams that many children fail.

Outside of India, many may consider the country a wellspring of highly educated professionals, thanks to the many doctors and engineers who have moved to the West. And the legions of bright, English-speaking call-center employees may seem to represent, to many Western consumers, the cheerful voice of modern India.

But within India, there is widespread recognition that the country has not invested enough in education, especially at the primary and secondary levels.

In the last five years, government spending on education has risen sharply — to $83 billion last year, up from less than half that level before. Schools now offer free lunches, which has helped raise enrollments to more than 90 percent of children.

But most Indian schools still perform poorly. Barely half of fifth-grade students can read simple texts in their language of study, according to a survey of 13,000 rural schools by Pratham, a nonprofit education group. And only about one-third of fifth graders can perform simple division problems in arithmetic. Most students drop out before they reach the 10th grade.
Narayana Murthy, a friend of Mr. Premji and chairman of Infosys, a company that competes with Wipro, said he admired the Premji Foundation’s work but worried it would be undermined by the way India administers its schools.

“While I salute Azim for what he is doing,” Mr. Murthy said, “in order to reap the dividends of that munificence and good work, we have to improve our governance.”

Mr. Premji says his foundation would be willing to work with private schools. But he argues that government schools need help more because they are often the last or only resort for India’s poorest and least educated families.

Mr. Premji, whose bright white hair distinguishes him in a crowd, comes from a relatively privileged background. He studied at a Jesuit school, St. Mary’s, in Mumbai and earned an electrical engineering degree at Stanford.

At 21, when his father died, Mr. Premji took over his family’s cooking oil business, then known as Western Indian Vegetable Product. He steered the company into information technology and Wipro — whose services include writing software and managing computer systems — now employs more than 100,000 people. He remains Wipro’s largest shareholder.
After visitors left a classroom at Nagla school, an instructor began leading more than 50 fifth-grade students in a purely rote English lesson, instructing the students to repeat simple phrases: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night. The children loudly chanted them back in unison.
Underfunding is pervasive in the district. But so are glimmers of the educational benefits that might come through efforts like the Premji Foundation’s.

drsush said...

Dear Riaz,
Your observations about India are biased but the truth of what you say cannot be denied. Well, for all the negatives you point out there are twice as many positives. More importantly, things are improving. During independence we were worse off than Pakistan in all the indices you mentioned. Our GDP was half that of yours and continued to be so for years. But we have pushed ahead of you in all spheres in the last ten years and thats a fact. I think Pakistan has something to learn from us and we have a lot to learn from you too.

I refuse to believe that pakistan is a failed state. It is a troubled state like most south asian states. Indian too has its problems which you brilliantly brought out. All nations that achieved greatness had to go through those phases. We will overcome them too.

I do not accept your beg,borrow or steal theory. The problem for India is not funds. We have enough to feed,educate and take care of our children. The problem is governance and corruption. I am very proud of the 'Right to Information' act and believe that it will revolutionise governance. I know you will point out the violence against the RTI activists. But it only suggests that the act is hitting the vested interests where it hurts.

I know India is far far from perfect. But Indians are voting with their foot. Droves of bankers,software professionals and doctors are moving back to India from the west(The same cannot be said of most south asian countries).

Terrorism either of the Islamic, Hindu or Maoist kind is our biggest challenge. We also recognise that the Maoist challenge is more a socio-economic one than a military one. Inspite of the hitches we believe that it can be countered.

To be honest i prefer your criticisms of India to the overly optimistic comments of GS etc. I also believe that Pakistan has the potential to do what India has been doing in the past ten years. It just needs a stable polity. We are the same people Mr Haq and the hatred is just fratricidal!! Well, i hope you visit India and see for yourself both the good and bad things.. Rest assured we are an intersting country!!

I do not care if India becomes a super power but i am very confident that in the next 10 years we will be in a much better state than what we are now. I think its time we give up our prejudices and look to the future.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is not alone in being targeted by the doomsayers, many othrers, including India's cheerleader Fareed Zakaria, have also been betting against the United States for decades. Here's an excerpt from a Time Magazine Op Ed by David Von Drehle:

Poor U.S. of A., forever in decline. the arrival of public theaters in Boston circa 1790 caused Samuel Adams to despair for the cause of liberty in the face of such debauchery. "Alas!" he wrote. "Will men never be free!" Charles Lindbergh fretted, "It seems improbable that we could win a war in Europe." Long before baseball, hand-wringing was the national pastime. We've never been virtuous enough, civilized enough, smart enough or resolute enough.

I was born into a country reeling from Sputnik, which revealed to the whole world that Americans are as dumb as rocks. John F. Kennedy had just been elected President, in part by bemoaning the "missile gap" between the mighty Soviet arsenal and our paltry few bottle rockets. "The United States no longer carries the same image of a vital society on the move with its brightest days ahead," Kennedy said in his final debate with Richard M. Nixon. That's the same Nixon who declared eight years later, "We are worse off in every area of the world tonight than we were when President Eisenhower left office." Hard to believe we could sink further, but we did, as the nightmare of Vietnam segued into the nightmare of Watergate, while the Japanese exposed the insufficiency of American enterprise. As I stumbled off to college, President Jimmy Carter was warning us about "a crisis of confidence ... that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will." Thanks to our horrible schools, we were — according to the title of a major 1983 report — "A Nation at Risk." Then our family values went down the toilet.

You'd think America would be as washed up by now as the Captain and Tennille. So how come we're so much stronger than we were 50 years ago? Somehow, in the 235 years since we got started, Americans have weathered Boston theaters and Soviet science prodigies, violent lyrics and sex out of wedlock. We've survived a Civil War, two world wars and a Great Depression, not to mention immigrant hordes, alcohol, Freemasons and the "vast wasteland" of network television. We've dodged the population bomb, the coming ice age, acid rain and the domino effect. America is to nations what Roberto Clemente was to right fielders. The Pirates legend fretted endlessly about how poorly he felt and how sick he was — while vigorously spraying hits and vacuuming fly balls.

So don't reach for the defibrillator paddles or the rosary beads quite yet.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2056582,00.html#ixzz1Fk9nsZR9

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a sad story of the growing population of Manipur widows in India as reported by the BBC:

For about 50 years, the Indian police and army have been battling separatist insurgents in the north-eastern state of Manipur, a conflict which human rights groups claim leaves at least 500 women widowed each year.

There were 10 of them. They were strikingly beautiful. They were all sitting chatting in a regular room in a regular house.

Nothing about the way they looked prepared me for the sad story they had to tell.

I only realised later that the book each of them was holding close to her was a family photo album. And that was the clue.

The album was full of pictures of their husbands and of their short lives together as families.

Edina, a young widow in her mid-20s with two children, is eager to show me her photographs.

She struggles to leaf through the pages. She suffered a stroke after hearing the news of her husband's death and her left side is now paralysed.

She told me how she had heard what happened to her husband on a chilly morning back in January 2009.

"He was a driver, and a very loving and caring father," she said. "That day after lunch, he went out and not long afterwards I heard, on the television news, that he had been killed by the security forces. They said he was an insurgent."

I asked Edina if the security forces had shown her any evidence for that claim?

"No," she replied in a choking voice, "and I know they are lying." Tears rolled down her cheeks, as she caressed a photograph of her husband, which she had arranged neatly in the album.

Stories of loss

These young widows meet every second Saturday to cry their hearts out and exchange stories about their losses.

It is a particularly strong image of this, one of the world's longest running insurgencies, here in the north-east of India.

The fighting has left many dead and injured - rebels, army and police officers, as well as innocent bystanders.

These young women have all lost their husbands, killed by the security forces.

They all insist that their husbands were innocent and had been picked up, under the special powers, and accused of being insurgents.

Being a widow with children in small towns in India means an extremely tough and deprived life.

Edina, Nina, Tony, Nitan and others became friendly with me after several hours talking, and began to open up and tell me a bit more about their lives.

"You know, we are young and beautiful and that makes our lives as widows even more tough," said one.

"Our in-laws and parents put a lot of restrictions on us. They don't like us to go out and work, as people start saying bad things about us.

"They are afraid we may remarry and that is considered very bad in our society."

I ask them if they would like to remarry, to fall in love? For a moment, they don't know how to react.

It is an option they are not really able to consider. They blush and start laughing.

Hunger strike

The sense of loss and void that one feels in Manipur is overpowering.

I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the controversial act, brought in more than 50 years ago, which gives these sweeping "special powers" to the armed forces.

They are regularly accused of abusing these powers.

For 10 years, activist Irom Sharmila Chanu has been demanding that the act be repealed.

This 38-year-old woman has been on hunger strike, and is alive only because she is force-fed at the hospital where she is kept in judicial custody.

I was allowed to meet her in 2007, but this time the authorities would not give me permission to see her.

But I went to the hospital anyway.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Maplecroft risk warning for investing in India, according to Times of India:

LONDON: The United Kingdom-based Global Risks Atlas 2011 on Friday described India as the 16th riskiest country to invest in for the security hazards it poses and rather embarrassingly clubs it with Niger, Bangladesh and Mali. The Atlas is published by Maplecroft, a consultancy founded by Alyson Warhurst, chair of strategy and international development at Warwick Business School.

The evaluation is structured on seven key global risks including macroeconomic risk and threats around security, governance, resource security, climate change, social resilience and illicit economies.

Maplecroft assessed India faces simultaneous threats of terrorist attacks from Islamists and Maoists. It also points at India's lack of social resilience despite a robust economic growth and cites its poor human rights record. It says large sections of the population lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and sanitation, and highlights its less productive workforce, greater susceptibility to pandemics and susceptible to social unrest.

A press release by Maplecroft lumps Pakistan with Russia on investment risk:

Dynamic political risks constitute immediate threats to business and Maplecroft rates 11 countries as ‘extreme risk.’ Most significantly, the emerging economy of Russia has moved up five places from 15th to enter the top ten for the first time, whilst Pakistan has also moved two places up the ranking to 9th.

The ‘extreme risk’ countries now include: Somalia (1), DR Congo (2), Sudan (3), Myanmar (4), Afghanistan (5), Iraq (6), Zimbabwe (7), North Korea (8), Pakistan (9), Russia (10) and Central African Republic (11).

Russia’s increased risk profile reflects both the heightened activity of militant Islamist separatists in the Northern Caucasus and their ambition to strike targets elsewhere in the country. Russia has suffered a number of devastating terrorist attacks during 2010, including the March 2010 Moscow Metro bombing, which killed 40 people. Such attacks have raised Russia’s risk profile in the Terrorism Risk Index and Conflict and Political Violence Index. The country’s poor performance is compounded by its ‘extreme risk’ ratings for its business environment, corporate governance and the endemic nature of corruption, which is prevalent throughout all tiers of government.
Jim O’Neil, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, states: "Growth is happening where political risk is most challenging. So, meticulous monitoring and mitigation now will enable business to flourish and benefit from the opportunities presented by the future growth economies of the BRICs and Next 11".

Looking to the longer term, the BRICs countries are witnessing increasingly worse structural political risk trends for 2011. China (25), India (32) and Russia (51), rated ‘high risk’ and Brazil (97) medium risk, have all seen risks increase compared to scores from last year’s Atlas.

Riaz Haq said...

UN Human Development Report 2010 shows that Pakistan ranks among the top 10 movers in HDI in the decade of 2000-2010.

See table 3 in Let's Talk Human Development.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story titled "India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire":

BANGALORE, India—Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer's experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

In the nation that made offshoring a household word, 24/7 finds itself so short of talent that it is having to offshore.

"With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees," says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. "Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny."

India's economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. Government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What's more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys," says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country's fifth graders can't read at a second-grade level.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a Sydney Morning Herald piece on India:

..India's euphoric victory in this month's cricket world cup final fits with a mood that its time has come. "The World at Our Feet," screamed a headline in The Times of India the morning after triumph.

And yet the numbers show India is a very poor world power. Its per capita income is $US1265 ($1207) according the International Monetary Fund's latest estimate. That's less than one third of China's and just 2.7 per cent of America's. The 2010 United Nations Human Development Index, a measure that combines income, education and life expectancy, ranked India at 119th out of 169 countries. That's only one place above East Timor. China was 30 places higher than India and Russia was 54 places up the list.

In India, more than 700 million people survive on less than $US2 a day and about 42 per cent of children aged five or less are under-weight. A UN report found there are 421 million Indians living in ''multi-dimensional'' poverty, a greater number than in Africa's 26 poorest countries combined.

Rapid economic change in India has created confronting anomalies. High-tech wizardry and medieval squalor live side by side. It is possible to access fast wireless broadband in villages where children are dying of starvation and thanks to the explosive growth of mobiles, more Indians probably have access to phone calls than toilets.

There is mounting evidence that the spoils of economic growth have become disproportionately concentrated among a small group of super-rich industrialists. Research by the former World Bank economist Michael Walton shows the combined worth of India's US dollar billionaires rose from the equivalent of 1.7 per cent of India's gross domestic product in 1999 to a peak of 23 per cent in 2008.

India's economic miracle, so often lauded abroad, is contested at home. Three of India's 28 states have communist governments. Leftist political parties, critical of India's economic trajectory, are an influential force in politics. India's dynamic volunteer sector, which includes tens of thousands of non-government organisations, has produced an army of activists who decry the social and environmental damage being done amid India's rapid development.

The sense of alienation and anger among India's poor has helped stoke a bloody Maoist rebellion in its most destitute regions. These insurgents - called Naxals after the eastern Indian village of Naxalbari where the movement began - are active in more than one-third of India's 626 districts. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has branded them ''the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country''.


The World Bank estimates the proportion of Indians living on less than $US1 per day (in 2005 purchasing power parity) fell from 42 per cent in 1981 to 24 per cent in 2005 but population growth meant the actual number of people living below that poverty benchmark was only reduced from 296 million to 266 million in that period.

In a new book, the British writer and historian Patrick French criticises journalists who "make a living by reporting ceaseless tales of woe" from the subcontinent. He is right to challenge the outdated stereotype of India as a poverty-stricken basket case but the media obsession with India's growth rate, urban middle-class and super-rich entrepreneurs can also be misleading.
Some analysts have attributed an apparent middle-class disengagement from mainstream politics to the power exerted by poorer ''vote blocks''. Very low voter turnouts in wealthy neighbourhoods of Mumbai and Delhi are cited as evidence of this apathy. But if the middle class cannot hold sway at the ballot box, it exerts influence in other ways.--------

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from Wall Street Journal story titled "India's Boom Bypasses Rural Poor":

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), as the $9 billion program is known, is riddled with corruption, according to senior government officials. Less than half of the projects begun since 2006—including new roads and irrigation systems—have been completed. Workers say they're frequently not paid in full or forced to pay bribes to get jobs, and aren't learning any new skills that could improve their long-term prospects and break the cycle of poverty.

In Nakrasar, a collection of villages in the dusty western state of Rajasthan, 19 unfinished projects for catching rain and raising the water table are all there is to show for a year's worth of work and $77,000 in program funds. No major roads have been built, no new homes, schools or hospitals or any infrastructure to speak of.

At one site on a recent afternoon, around 200 workers sat idly around a bone-dry pit. "What's the big benefit?" said Gopal Ram Jat, a 40-year-old farmer in a white cotton head scarf. He says he has earned enough money through the program—about $200 in a year—to buy some extra food for his family, but not much else. "No public assets were made of any significance."

Scenes like this stand in stark contrast to India's image of a global capitalist powerhouse with surging growth and a liberalized economy. When it comes to combating rural poverty, the country looks more like a throwback to the India of old: a socialist-inspired state founded on Gandhian ideals of noble peasantry, self-sufficiency and a distaste for free enterprise.

Workers in the rural employment program aren't allowed to use machines, for example, and have to dig instead with pick axes and shovels. The idea is to create as many jobs as possible for unskilled workers. But in practice, say critics, it means no one learns new skills, only basic projects get completed and the poor stay poor—dependent on government checks.
Others said the ban on mechanization limits the scope of projects to gravel roads and pits to capture water. Such programs last for only a couple of years and do little to improve village life. Balveer Singh Meena, a 31-year old farmer in the village of Mohanpura in northern Karauli, ekes out a living growing wheat and chickpeas. He eats a single Indian flat-bread known as roti and vegetables for every meal. By selling what little excess food they produce, Mr. Meena and his three brothers are able to make just over $400 per year, which must stretch to pay for an extended family of eight people.
But shortly after the program started in February 2006, workers complained that local leaders were docking pay and asking for money in return for job cards. The central government responded in 2008 by sending money directly to workers' bank accounts. But according to workers and auditors, the money takes so long to reach those accounts—up to 45 days—that workers are often forced to accept lesser cash payments from local leaders on the condition that they repay the money at the full amount.

Audits of the program in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh found that about $125 million, or about 5% of the $2.5 billion spent since 2006, has been misappropriated. Some 38,000 local officials were implicated, and almost 10,000 staff lost their jobs.

In one study of eastern Orissa state, only 60% of households said a member had done any of the work reported on their behalf. Earlier this month, the central government gave the green-light for the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's top federal criminal investigation body, to launch a probe into alleged misuse of program funds in Orissa....

Riaz Haq said...

A familiar refrain from many readers of this blog is that "Pakistanis (especially the educated) use India as their yardstick..."

Here's a recent Times of India headline:

Pakistanis happier than Indians: Gallup survey


Does the above headline suggests that "Indians (especially the educated) use Pakistan as their yardstick"?

Here are a few more Indian news headlines to ponder:

1. Pakistan ahead of India on human development indices: UN report


2. Doing business? India lags behind Pakistan!


3. India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh in sanitation


4. India worse than Pakistan, Bangladesh on nourishment


5. India is worse than Pakistan on gender equality


Riaz Haq said...

Considering all the massive negative propaganda in the Indian and western media about Pakistan, it is interesting to see that some Americans are noticing the 50 Mbps broadband access build-out in the "failed state" of Pakistan by a state-owned telephone company.

In a provocatively titled post "Osama bin Laden Getting Faster Internet Than You Have: Pakistan’s 50Mbps Future", an American blogger Philip Dampier complains as follows: "While America’s heartland is being wired for 3Mbps DSL service, residents in Pakistan are getting ready for speeds up to 50Mbps thanks to a major broadband expansion in the country".

Riaz Haq said...

Got more nonsense from Indian posters like "Pakistan managing to outperform India is one of the few rare cases, which qualifies for - "man biting dog".

Few areas? How many headlines did you see me cite? Few? I wonder?

And what are these headlines about?

These headlines deal with essentials like food, nutrition, sanitation, health, life expectancy, gender gap, roads, etc in which Pakistan is ahead of India.

Let me give you a few more:

1. India Could Use Pakistan's Infrastructure


2. India lags behind Pakistan in missiles


3. Affluenza: With love from across the border


4. WITNESS: Failed state? Try Pakistan's M2 motorway


Riaz Haq said...

Here are summary and salient points of Anatol Lieven's Pakistan: A Hard Country:

In the past decade Pakistan has emerged as a country of immense importance. Large, heavily populated, strategically placed between Iran, Afghanistan and India, Pakistan has since its creation just over sixty years ago been pulled in several different, irreconcilable directions.

In the wake of Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons, Osama Bin Laden's presence in its unpoliceable border areas, its shelter of the Afghan Taleban, and the spread of terrorist attacks by groups based in Pakistan to London, Bombay and New York, there is a clear need to understand this remarkable and highly contradictory place.

Far from seeing Pakistan as the failed state often portrayed in the media, Lieven's extraordinary new book instead treats it as a viable and coherent state that, within limits and by the standards of its own region rather than the West, does work. Lieven argues strongly against US actions that would risk destroying that state in the illusory search for victory in Afghanistan.

This work is based on a profound and sophisticated analysis of Pakistan's history and its social, religious and political structures. Lieven has interviewed hundreds of Pakistanis at every level of society, from leading politicians and soldiers to village mullahs and rickshaw drivers. In particular, his examination of the roots of popular sympathy for the Taleban in Pakistan draws on the testimony of people whose views are rarely consulted by Western analysts.

1. For most of the years since 1947, Pakistan has had higher economic growth rates than did India. Pakistan does not have the same pockets of extreme poverty, or for that matter the extreme wealth. The level of economic equality in Pakistan is relatively high.

2. Charitable donations run almost five percent of gdp, one of the highest percentages in the world and this reflects the emphasis on alms-giving in Islam.

3. A good quotation from a businessmen: “One of the main problems for Pakistan is that our democrats have tried to be dictators and our dictators have tried to be democrats.”

4. Agriculture pays virtually no tax and the government lends lots of money to businesses and doesn’t seriously ask for it back. As a result Pakistan collects far less revenue than does India, even comparing areas of comparable per capita income. If Pakistan were a state of India, it still would be considerably richer per capita than India’s poorest regions, such as Bihar.

5. The Pakistani state is nonetheless a lot more stable than most people think. In part this is because of the conservative structure of kinship and landholder power in the country.

6. The main threats to the future of Pakistan have to do with ecology and water, not politics.

7. The end of the book has a very interesting discussion about how U.S. actions in Pakistan affect different coalitions, feelings of humiliation, relative status relationships, etc.

Definitely recommended, as are Lieven’s books on the Baltics and Ukraine.




Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Pankaj Mishra's review of Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country", as published in The Guardian:

Pakistan, Anatol Lieven writes in his new book, is "divided, disorganised, economically backward, corrupt, violent, unjust, often savagely oppressive towards the poor and women, and home to extremely dangerous forms of extremism and terrorism". It is easy to conclude, as many have, from this roll call of infirmities that Pakistan is basically Afghanistan or Somalia with nuclear weapons. Or is this a dangerously false perception, a product of wholly defective assumptions?

Certainly, an unblinkered vision of South Asia would feature a country whose fanatically ideological government in 1998 conducted nuclear tests, threatened its neighbour with all-out war and, four years later, presided over the massacre of 2,000 members of a religious minority. Long embattled against secessionist insurgencies on its western and eastern borders, the "flailing" state of this country now struggles to contain a militant movement in its heartland. It is also where thousands of women are killed every year for failing to bring sufficient dowry and nearly 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in the previous decade.

Needless to say, the country described above is not Pakistan but India, which, long feared to be near collapse, has revamped its old western image through what the American writer David Rieff calls the most "successful national re-branding" and "cleverest PR campaign" by a political and business establishment since "Cool Britannia" in the 1990s. Pakistan, on the other hand, seems to have lost all control over its international narrative.

Western governments have coerced and bribed the Pakistani military into extensive wars against their own citizens; tens of thousands of Pakistanis have now died (the greatest toll yet of the "war on terror"), and innumerable numbers have been displaced, in the backlash to the doomed western effort to exterminate a proper noun. Yet Pakistan arouses unrelenting hostility and disdain in the west; it lies exposed to every geopolitical pundit armed with the words "failing" or "failed state".

Such intellectual shoddiness has far-reaching consequences in the real world: for instance, the disastrous stigmatisation of "AfPak" has shrunk a large and complex country to its border with Afghanistan, presently a site of almost weekly massacres by the CIA's drones.

Pakistan's numerous writers, historians, economists and scientists frequently challenge the dehumanising discourse about their country. But so manifold and obdurate are the clichés that you periodically need a whole book to shatter them. Lieven's Pakistan: A Hard Country is one such blow for clarity and sobriety.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's the intro to an interview of Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of the report, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India" as published by Democracy Now on Indian farmers plight:

A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—an average of one suicide every 30 minutes. The crisis has ballooned with economic liberalization that has removed agricultural subsidies and opened Indian agriculture to the global market. Small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. We speak with Smita Narula of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of a new report on farmer suicides in India.
SMITA NARULA: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this report that you are just releasing today.

SMITA NARULA: Our major finding for this report is that all the issues that you just described are major human rights issues. And what we’re faced with in India is a human rights crisis of epic proportions. The crisis affects the human rights of Indian farmers and their family members in extremely profound ways. We found that their rights to life, to water, food and adequate standard of living, and their right to an effective remedy, is extremely affected by this crisis. Additionally, the government has hard human rights legal obligations to respond to the crisis, but we’ve found that it has failed, by and large, to take any effective measures to address the suicides that are taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this number is unbelievable. Thirty—every 30 minutes, an Indian farmer commits suicide?

SMITA NARULA: And that’s been going on for years and years. And what these intense numbers don’t reveal are two things. One is that the numbers themselves are failing to capture the enormity of the problem. In what we call a failure of information on the part of the Indian government, entire categories of farmers are completely left out of the purview of farm suicide statistics, because they don’t formally own title to land. This includes women farmers, Dalit, or so-called lower caste farmers, as well as Adivasi, or tribal community farmers. In addition, the government’s programs and the relief programs that they’ve offered fail to capture not only this broad category, but also fail to provide timely debt relief and compensation or address broader structural issues that are leading to these suicides in the country....



Riaz Haq said...

In a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan helped secure the release of 6 Indian sailors among 22 sailors including 4 Pakistanis and 1 Sri Lankan.

Here's a report from Hindustan Times:

Six Indian sailors, held captive by Somali pirates for over 10 months, have been released and they will return home in the coming days, their family members said on Tuesday.

The release materialised after the continuous efforts of Pakistan-based Ansar Burney Trust, which is run by Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney.

The Indians were among the 22 crew members of MV Suez, an Egyptian cargo vessel which was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Aug 2, 2010.

"We are very thankful to Ansar Burney and Pakistan government for their help. They have paid a ransom of 2.1 million dollars to the pirates to make this release possible. Burney was negotiating with the pirates for the last few months," Sampa Arya, wife of Ravinder Gulia (30), one of the hostages and resident of Haryana's Rohtak town, told IANS Tuesday.

"I have talked to my husband over the phone. He said that they have been released and all of them are in good health. They will reach India in the next few days," she added.

Apart from the six Indians, the 22 hostages comprised 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan. The Indians include two from Haryana and one each from Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir. One of the Indians is from Mumbai.

The family members of the hostages had met many senior Indian politicians to secure their release but all their efforts went in vain.

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in this matter but nothing fruitful worked out.

"Burney had raised funds with the help of the Pakistan government. Here, the Indian government has let us down. We met many leaders but nobody helped us. They said paying ransom is not the right way. I have lost all my faith in Indian politicians," stated Arya.

Rajender Gulia, father of Ravinder, said, "Pakistan has helped us like an elder brother in this matter. We had lost all hopes as no Indian politician was ready to help us. Saving a human life was not important for them. But Pakistan emerged as a saviour for us."


Riaz Haq said...

India's IBN Live calls "MV Suez fiaso a PR disaster for India":

New Delhi: It's likely to be three days before the Indian sailors of the MV Suez released last week by Somali pirates after a $2 million ransom was paid come home.

But the Suez saga has been a series of mis-steps. India failed to negotiate the sailors' release, failed to protect them once they were free, and failed to bring them home. And it culminated with a row with the Pakistani govt. Why did India get it so wrong?

"We have already registered our protest with the government of Pakistan," said Foreign Minister SM Krishna.

The protest over and PNS Babur's alleged aggression registered, it’s time to assess India’s own response to the hostage crisis.

India failed to organise the ransom from private parties. The Navy and the government were silent for days even as sailors pleaded for help through the media.

INS Godavari was despatched only after PNS Babur had begun escorting MV Suez. India allowed a full 24 hours to elapse before rejecting Pakistani allegations of aggression by INS Godavari.

The botched up response is despite a naval warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden and a high powered inter-ministerial group created to handle piracy related incidents.

Experts say an inquiry must be conducted and responsibility fixed or else the Navy must be given a free hand to respond to crises.

"There must be an inquiry. Forget what we told Pakistan. We must know what went wrong and who took late decisions. The Navy must be given a free hand or have someone competent in charge," said Admiral Raja Menon.

The Navy sources admit there has been a loss of face but the government insists it did its best.

It's a PR disaster that has left the Navy red-faced and showed the Indian government's claims of being sensitive towards its citizens as false. The 39 sailors still being held hostage can only hope lessons are learnt from the Suez blunders


Anil said...

Pakistan nation-state has been crippled not only by the infiltration of CIA, but also terrorist sympathizers in Pakistan Army, and ISI

Riaz Haq said...

Anil:"Pakistan nation-state has been crippled not only by the infiltration of CIA, but also terrorist sympathizers in Pakistan Army, and ISI"

The Indian state is in fact far more crippled in helping its people as illustrated by widespread hunger, poverty and disease in India, and the latest fiasco of MV Suez.

And the Indian military is already infiltrated by Hindutva terrorists like Col Purohit, and now being infiltrated by US via India-US strategic partnership as MK Bharadkumar points out in his recent piece.


Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:

Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.

VDY said...

You talk about India's military expenditure a lot. Yet in another article you talk about China's role in Kashmir and the Chinese presence in the Indian ocean... What is India to do in this situation? Just roll over and let the Chinese dominate Asia? India is the balance in Asia. It is unfortunate that the Chinese are so antagonistic towards India. Had the relationship been better, there would be no need to spend so much money on defence.

vdy said...

Also lets not forget the spending is necesasry due to muslim extremists who are funded from Pakistan. Mumbai 2008? Pakistan is known for harboring terrorists, Osama bin Laden anyone??

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed on India as failed state published in The Financial Daily:

Over last few years the criteria for assessing the failure or otherwise of the states have changed marginally but the most important among them continues to be valid even now – the collapse of the institutions of democracy. The facts about Indian society as revealed by a former Governor of Tamil Nadu Maharashtra are quite sufficient to discern, why India is a failed state. The crux of the analysis is reflected for a common reader.
If some visitors to India from foreign countries go by the scenes on TV channels and by to the reports in our newspapers, they may return home convinced that India is already in danger of becoming a failed state. ....... However, certain disturbing features have appeared in the working of certain institutions which make one feel doubtful about their survival in good health. While it may be difficult to assess the vulnerability of these institutions and the democratic practices in India, one can easily identify two factors which should cause concern about India’s survival in good health as a state.
The first and foremost is the all pervasive corruption in practically every sector of activity, public or private. The charges of corruption against those responsible for holding the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010 is a disgraceful indicator of the extent to which corruption has spread in India. In the early years of Independence, India was ruled by a set of administrators and legislators who were- trained in the Gandhian values of treating public office as an office of trust to serve the people. However, with the rise of a new generation of rulers and legislators, corruption has come to be tolerated as an essential evil in our country. Public offices have always provided ample opportunities to the corrupt to enrich themselves in the short period of their occupying seats of power. This is quite apparent if we glance through the declaration of assets by candidates for election to the legislatures. Those whose assets were nominal just four or five years ago, have unabashedly shown large increases in their assets and no questions have been asked as to how they were able to perform the wonders of multiplying their assets. The reason is obvious. Most corrupt people who have succeeded in misusing their seats of power to enrich themselves know that no one will “cast the first stone” as everyone is guilty of the same offence.....

To begin with, the threat to internal security was treated as a nuisance when violence by Maoist groups started on’ a small-scale in three states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. Later, more states came to be affected by this menace – they were Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Now it .has spread to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttaranchal. Whenever the question of Maoist terror is discussed in the legislature, it is common to see members of the Cabinet expressing sharp differences about the strategy. In the past, Prime Ministers took very serious objection to any member of the Cabinet expressing his/her views on what should or should not be done after a definite policy had been adopted by the Cabinet. But today no such discipline is being followed.
Failure to take decisions in time has been the cause of avoidable delays in several government projects. The Maoists expect that if they hold out longer, government will one day come around to accepting their terms, including non-surrender of arms. Decisions on important issues like dealing with Maoist terror certainly require discussions to know the views of the people but there has to be a limit for such discussions and talks. Otherwise, decisions when taken about issues like Maoist violence may prove to be the proverbial cause for failures on the part of the government, namely too little and too late.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting excerpts from Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan-A Hard Country" on the role of religion and a description of Edhi Foundation as the essence of Pakistan's real civil society:

"Charities with a religious character tend to more favored and more trusted. It is also true of Pakistan's most famous charitable institution by far, Edhi Foundation, which is nonreligious; however, Abdus Sattar Edhi is himself a deeply religious man, known by the public at large as Maulana (a Muslim distinguished by his piety and learning)even though he is not a Muslim scholar and in fact greatly dislikes being called this.

There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its own elected representatives- to see the flag of the Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality".

Another excerpt from Lieven's book:

"Levels of trust in Pakistani state institutions are extremely low, and for good reason. Partly in consequence, Pakistan has one of the lowest levels of tax collection outside Africa. On the other hand, charitable donations, at almost 5% of GDP, is one of the highest rates in the world".

Lieven quotes the following commandment (2:172) from the Quran:

"Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteousness is, one who believes in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the prophets, and who gives wealth for His love to kindred, and orphans, and the poor, and the son of the road, beggars, and those in captivity; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives alms."

Riaz Haq said...

All the pretensions of western style institutions make little sense to most inhabitants of India and Pakistan and other former colonies.

The colonial legacy of parliamentary democracy and British style rule of law are alien concepts in South Asia and never touch the lives of over 90% of the population.

With few exceptions, the disputes and conflicts are resolved using traditional rules set and adjudicated by local village councils (panchayats and jirgas) which are at odds with the laws passed by the national and provincial legislatures and implemented by the governments' justice system.

Riaz Haq said...

India's Supreme Court has told the authorities in Chhattisgarh state to disband civilian militias because they are unconstitutional, according to the BBC:

The judgement is being seen as a significant blow to the state government.

The government regards the armed groups as an important part of its battle against Maoist insurgents.

Chhattisgarh is one of the states at the heart of the Maoist rebel insurgency.

The Supreme Court ruling covers two types of armed group.

Special Police Officers (SPOs) have a semi-official status. They receive small salaries from the government, are armed by the authorities and have basic training.

The Salwa Judum movement is less formalised. The government has sometimes described it as a spontaneous response to the Maoist insurgents.

But the authorities have certainly supported them, encouraging villagers to organise themselves into anti-Maoist forces, says the BBC's Jill McGivering, who has visited the area.

Some of these villagers also received training and guns.
Human rights concerns

Our correspondent says these local groups do have clear advantages over India's paramilitary forces.

They have a specialist knowledge of the jungle terrain and nearby communities and can understand local dialects. They can also provide valuable intelligence to the security forces.

But there have been human rights concerns about their role as armed law enforcers, partly because of the lack of clarity about their powers and accountability.

Some of them have been accused in the past of attacks on other villages, of destroying houses and killing people who were allegedly pro-Maoist.

Critics say that the fact they have government support and can act with impunity has also undermined the rule of law and blurred the lines between fighters and civilians.

A key question is how effectively the Supreme Court ruling will be implemented. Monitoring the process will not be easy in the state's remote forests.

The ruling could have implications, too, for other Indian states with similar state-supported militias.


Riaz Haq said...

Have the Chamars no right, asks Indian Supreme Court, according to India's Financial Express:

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has severely criticised “some lawyers, journalists and men in public life” for accusing it of judicial over-reach for entertaining public interest litigation filed by “genuine social groups, NGOs and social workers” espousing the cause of the poor and downtrodden.

In a startling observation, the bench said that “so far the courts have been used only for the purpose of vindicating the rights of the wealthy and the affluent.”

“It is only these privileged classes which have been able to approach the courts for protecting their vested interests. It is only the moneyed who have so far had the golden key to unlock the doors of justice,” the court said in a July 12 judgment.

The court said it is praised when it gives judgments in favour of the rich but condemned with a “theoretical debate raising the bogey of judicial activism” when it gives relief to the poor on a PIL.

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly, in a 45-page judgment, said the highest court will be failing in its constitutional duty if it does not accept genuine PILs and “those who are decrying public interest litigation do not seem to realise that courts are not meant only for the rich and the well-to-do, for the landlord and the gentry, for the business magnate and the industrial tycoon but they exist also for the poor and the down-trodden, the have-nots and the handicapped and the half-hungry millions of our countrymen”.

The judgment, written by Justice Singhvi, came on a PIL filed by an NGO, National Campaign for Dignity and Rights of Sewerage and Allied Workers, highlighting the frequent deaths of sewage workers trapped in manholes.

The apex court gave the government a two-month deadline to ensure that these workers are given protective gear and better working conditions.

The court said the judgment is meant to “erase the impression and misgivings of some people” that by entertaining PILs of social action groups/activists/workers and NGOs fighting for those who silently suffer due to actions and/or omissions of the state apparatus and/or agencies/instrumentalities of the state or even private individuals, the superior courts exceed the unwritten boundaries of their jurisdictions.

“There is a misconception in the minds of some lawyers, journalists and men in public life that public interest litigation is unnecessarily cluttering up the files of the court and adding to the already staggering arrears of cases which are pending for long years and it should not therefore be encouraged by the court. This is, to our mind, a totally perverse view smacking of elitist and status quoist approach,” the court said.

“If the sugar barons and the alcohol kings have the fundamental right to carry on their business and to fatten their purses by exploiting the consuming public, have the Chamars belonging to the lowest strata of society no fundamental right to earn an honest living through their sweat and toil?” the court said.

“The former can approach the courts with a formidable army of distinguished lawyers paid in four or five figures per day and if their right to exploit is upheld against the government under the label of fundamental right, the courts are praised for their boldness and courage and their independence and fearlessness are applauded and acclaimed. But if the fundamental right of the poor and helpless victims of injustice is sought to be enforced by public interest litigation, the so-called champions of human rights frown upon it as waste of time of the highest court in the land, which, according to them, should not engage itself in such small and trifling matters,” it said....


Riaz Haq said...

There was an article in Forbes magazine issue of March 4, 2002, by Steve Forbes titled "India, Meet Austria-Hungary" which compared India with the now defunct Austria-Hungary. Here is an excerpt from the text of that article:

Influential elements in India's government and military are still itching to go to war with Pakistan, even though Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has taken considerable political risks by moving against Pakistani-based-and-trained anti-India terrorist groups. Sure, Musharraf made a truculent speech condemning India's ``occupation'' of Kashmir, but that was rhetorical cover for cracking down on those groups. Washington should send New Delhi some history books for these hotheads; there is no human activity more prone to unintended consequences than warfare. As cooler heads in the Indian government well know, history is riddled with examples of parties that initiated hostilities in the belief that conflict would resolutely resolve outstanding issues.

Pericles of Athens thought he could deal with rival Sparta once and for all when he triggered the Peloponnesian War; instead his city-state was undermined and Greek civilization devastated.

Similarly, Hannibal brilliantly attacked Rome; he ended up not only losing the conflict but also setting off a train of events that ultimately led to the total destruction of Carthage. Prussia smashed France in 1870, annexing critical French territory for security reasons, but that sowed the seeds for the First World War. At the end of World War I the victorious Allies thought they had dealt decisively with German military power. Israel crushed its Arab foes in 1967, but long-term peace did not follow.

India is not a homogeneous state. Neither was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It attacked Serbia in the summer of 1914 in the hopes of destroying this irritating state after Serbia had committed a spectacular terrorist act against the Hapsburg monarchy. The empire ended up splintering, and the Hapsburgs lost their throne. And on it goes.

Getting back to the present, do Indian war hawks believe China will stand idly by as India tried to reduce Pakistan to vassal-state status? Do they think Arab states and Iran won't fund Muslim guerrilla movements in Pakistan, as well as in India itself? Where does New Delhi think its oil comes from (about 70%, mainly from the Middle East)? Does India think the U.S. will stand by impotently if it starts a war that unleashes nuclear weapons?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Economist magazine story about Indian interference in Bangladeshi politics on the side of the Awami League:

NOT much noticed by outsiders, long-troubled ties between two neighbours sharing a long border have taken a substantial lurch for the better. Ever since 2008, when the Awami League, helped by bags of Indian cash and advice, triumphed in general elections in Bangladesh, relations with India have blossomed. To Indian delight, Bangladesh has cracked down on extremists with ties to Pakistan or India’s home-grown terrorist group, the Indian Mujahideen, as well as on vociferous Islamist (and anti-Indian) politicians in the country. India feels that bit safer.

Now the dynasts who rule each country are cementing political ties. On July 25th Sonia Gandhi (pictured, above) swept into Dhaka, the capital, for the first time. Sharing a sofa with Sheikh Hasina (left), the prime minister (and old family friend), the head of India’s ruling Congress Party heaped praise on her host, notably for helping the poor. A beaming Sheikh Hasina reciprocated with a golden gong, a post humous award for Mrs Gandhi’s mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. In 1971 she sent India’s army to help Bangladeshis, led by Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, throw off brutal Pakistani rule.

As a result, officials this week chirped that relations are now “very excellent”. They should get better yet. India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will visit early in September to sign deals on sensitive matters like sharing rivers, sending electricity over the border, settling disputed patches of territory on the 4,095km (2,500-mile) frontier and stopping India’s trigger-happy border guards from murdering migrants and cow-smugglers. Mr Singh may also deal with the topic of trade which, smuggling aside, heavily favours India, to Bangladeshi ire.

Most important, however, is a deal on setting up a handful of transit routes across Bangladesh, to reach India’s remote, isolated north-eastern states. These are the “seven sisters” wedged up against the border with China.

On the face of it, the $10 billion project will develop poor areas cut off from India’s booming economy. The Asian Development Bank and others see Bangladeshi gains too, from better roads, ports, railways and much-needed trade. In Dhaka, the capital, the central-bank governor says broader integration with India could lift economic growth by a couple of percentage points, from nearly 7% already.

India has handed over half of a $1 billion soft loan for the project, and the money is being spent on new river-dredgers and rolling stock. Bangladesh’s rulers are mustard-keen. The country missed out on an earlier infrastructure bonanza involving a plan to pipe gas from Myanmar to India. China got the pipeline instead.

Yet the new transit project may be about more than just development. Some in Dhaka, including military types, suspect it is intended to create an Indian security corridor. It could open a way for army supplies to cross low-lying Bangladesh rather than going via dreadful mountain roads vulnerable to guerrilla attack. As a result, India could more easily put down insurgents in Nagaland and Manipur. The military types fear it might provoke reprisals by such groups in Bangladesh.

More striking, India’s army might try supplying its expanding divisions parked high on the border with China, in Arunachal Pradesh. China disputes India’s right to Arunachal territory, calling it South Tibet. Some Bangladeshis fret that if India tries to overcome its own logistical problems by, in effect, using Bangladesh as a huge military marshalling yard, reprisals from China would follow.


Riaz Haq said...

India's main planning body has said half a dollar a day is "adequate" for a villager to spend on food, education and health, according to the BBC:

Critics say that the amount fixed by the Planning Commission is extremely low and aimed at "artificially" reducing the number of poor who are entitled to state benefits.

There are various estimates on the exact number of poor in India.

Officially, 37% of India's 1.21bn people live below the poverty line.

But one estimate suggests the true figure could be as high as 77%.

The Planning Commission has told India's Supreme Court that an individual income of 25 rupees (52 cents) a day would help provide for adequate "private expenditure on food, education and health" in the villages.

In the cities, it said, individual earnings of 32 rupees a day (66 cents) were adequate.

The Planning Commission was responding to a direction from the court to update its poverty line figures to reflect rising prices.

India has been struggling to contain inflation which is at a 13-month high of 9.78%.

Many experts have said the income limit to define the poor was too low.

"This extremely low estimated expenditure is aimed at artificially reducing the number of persons below the poverty line and thus reduce government expenditure on the poor," well-known social activist Aruna Roy told The Hindu newspaper.

The Planning Commission also told the court that 360 million Indians are now being supplied with subsidised food and cooking fuel through the network of state-owned shops.

A World Bank report in May said attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty were not working.

It said aid programmes were beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.


Riaz Haq said...

"Pakistan is too nuclear to fail", said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a US Presidential hopeful and a member of House Intelligence committee during the Republican Presidential debate last night.

The phrase "too nuclear to fail" actually originated from a piece written by Brookings' Stephen Cohen published earlier in 2011.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Hindu on India's dismal human rights record:

Six months before India's human rights gets reviewed at the United Nations, the Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) in India released a report painting a dismal picture of its rights record.

The U.N. Human Rights Council examines the rights record of its members on a rotational basis every four years through a peer review process, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Reports by the civil society, U.N. agencies and the country under review are relied upon during the UPR. India's review is due in May next year.

“The report presents a very bleak scenario of the actual state of human rights across India. The government has shown positive signs in dealing with the U.N. human rights system in the past year. We hope that this change extends to the UPR review in 2012 and beyond. Nothing but a radical shift in economic, security and social policy is needed to meet India's national and international human rights commitments,” said the former U.N. Special Rapporteur and WGHR convener, Miloon Kothari.

“The last four years have seen a marked increase in the deployment of security forces and draconian laws to deal with socio-economic uprisings and political dissent. Conflict is no longer confined to Kashmir and the northeast but also many parts of central India. In all these areas, human rights violations are overlooked and even condoned. The legal framework and practice have entrenched the culture of impunity. People are increasingly losing faith in systems of justice and governance,” cautioned noted human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover.

She felt the military approach and the ongoing conflicts contradicted India's stated position in the U.N. that it did not face armed conflict and pointed out that militarisation was also being used to forward the state's ‘development' agenda.

“Today, our institutions are in disrepair and failing our needs. Our police need urgent reform. Our bar bench and our myriad commissions need much more vigour, commitment and accountability. Every moment reforms are neglected, thousands of tragedies occur and we cannot build a nation on that,” according to Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Executive Director Maja Daruwala.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a shocking story by BBC's Soutik Biswas about a battered Indian toddler girl:

For close to two weeks, the distressing story of a two-year-old toddler has grabbed India's attention.

A teenage girl brought the battered toddler to a hospital in Delhi and left her there. Doctors found she had serious injuries - human bite marks all over her body, broken arms and a partially smashed head. They said they had not seen abuse of this level on such a small child. Nearly a fortnight after she was brought to the hospital, the toddler is on life support in the intensive care unit.

It is still not clear who the mother of the toddler is, and who assaulted her and why. Sketchy details emerging in the media suggest she was passed around by a number of women before she landed in the hands of a 14-year-old girl. The girl has reportedly told the police that she got the toddler from a married man, who had befriended her and lived with her.

The man, a taxi driver, apparently acquired the child from a woman and wanted to raise her. The story of the teenage girl, if reports are to be believed, is equally shocking. She has apparently told investigators that her parents beat her when she was a child and when she arrived in the city, a number of men raped her and she was forced into the sex trade.

We still do not know who the toddler's parents are, why she was abandoned and why she suffered such brutality.

The story is, sadly, not unusual and mirrors the neglect, abuse and social bias that girl children suffer in largely patriarchal India. India has one of the highest female infant mortality rates in the world. Unchecked illegal sex selection abortions have led to a skewed sex ratio - 112 boys are born for every 100 girls in India, against the natural sex ratio at birth of 105 boys for every 100 girls.

India's record on protecting its children is shoddy. Thousands go missing every year and it doesn't appear to be a major concern for the authorities. A report by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) found that 11 children go missing in India ever hour. The 2010 National Crime Records Bureau says 10,670 cases of kidnapping and abduction of children were reported during the year, up 19% over 2009. The majority of these children belong to poor, marginalised families living in slums and resettlement colonies.

Most of us believe that a nation that cannot protect its children is a failure. The least the authorities can do is declare war on gangs who kidnap and traffic in children. Six years ago, federal investigators told the Delhi High Court that there were more than 815 gangs, comprising more than 4,000 people, involved in kidnapping children for the sex trade, for begging or for ransom in India. Was there ever a crackdown on them? We still don't know.


Riaz Haq said...

Economist and former US Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith called India a "functional anarchy" some 30 years ago, reports the BBC:

Now Ramachandra Guha, renowned historian and author of India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, says instability is India's destiny.

In a perceptive article in the latest issue of Prospect, Mr Guha explained why.
Mr Guha argues that democracy and nationhood in India face six complex challenges. They are:

Large sections of the population in the restive north-eastern states and in Indian-administered Kashmir want to break away from India
The festering Maoist insurgency threatens to further undermine territorial integrity in vast swathes of central and eastern India
Religious fundamentalism is "receding but by no means vanquished." A "sullen peace rather than an even-tempered tranquillity" prevails in the country
Public institutions are getting corroded. Political parties are increasingly resembling family firms; the police and bureaucracy are heavily politicised; corruption is rife and patronage triumphs over competence
Massive environmental degradation is promoting scarcity of resources and leading to discord and inequality. The poor suffer most from land grabs, deforestation and soil and water pollution
Growing economic inequities. One example: India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is worth more than $20bn, and his new home is a 27-storey high, 400,000 sq ft building in Mumbai, where 60% of the population live in grimy slums

"These cleavages reflect the revolutions underway: the national, democratic, urban, industrial and social," writes Mr Guha....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a quote from Times of India poking fun at the superpower claim:

With 21% of its population undernourished, nearly 44% of under-5 children underweight and 7% of them dying before they reach five years, India is firmly established among the world's most hunger-ridden countries. The situation is better than only Congo, Chad, Ethiopia or Burundi, but it is worse than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan or Nepal.

Today India has 213 million hungry and malnourished people by GHI estimates although the UN agency Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts the figure at around 230 million. The difference is because FAO uses only the standard calorie intake formula for measuring sufficiency of food while the Hunger Index is based on broader criteria.


Riaz Haq said...

LSE study finds India can not become a superpower, reports The Hindu:

Despite India’s "impressive" rise, its ambition to be a super power may remain just that—an ambition, according to an authoritative new study by the London School of Economics to which several Indian scholars have contributed.

It pointedly dismisses what it calls the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s "unequivocal verdict" during her India visit in 2009 that "India is not just a regional power, but a global power’.

The study, India: the Next Superpower? acknowledges India’s "formidable achievements" in fostering democracy, growth and cultural dynamism but concludes that these are nullified by its structural weaknesses, widespread corruption, poor leadership, extreme social divisions, religious extremism and internal security threats.

India, it argues, still faces too many "developmental challenges" to qualify for "super power" status, or to be considered a serious "counterweight" to China, a role sought to be thrust on it by some in the West. Some of the report’s authors wonder whether India should even aspire to be a super power given its institutional weaknesses and social and economic divisions.

Historian Ramachandra Guha, currently the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE, suggests that rather than being seduced by the bright lights of great power diplomacy, India should instead focus on reforming its institutions and repairing the social fabric that seems to be coming off its seams.

“We need to repair, one by one, the institutions that have safeguarded our unity amidst diversity, and to forge the new institutions that can help us. It will be hard, patient, slow work,” he writes.

The study, a summary of which was released on Wednesday, starts off by acknowledging that" India’s rise has certainly been impressive, and warrants the attention that it has commanded".

"India has been one of the world’s best-performing economies for a quarter of a century, lifting millions out of poverty and becoming the world’s third-largest economy in PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) terms. India has tripled its defence expenditure over the last decade to become one of the top-ten military spenders. And in stark contrast to Asia’s other billion-person emerging power, India has simultaneously cultivated an attractive global image of social and cultural dynamism," it says. But then come the "ifs" and "buts".

Plunging the knife into Indian ambitions, the report says:"Still, for all India’s success, its undoubted importance and despite its undisputed potential, there is cause for caution in assessing India’s claim to superpower status. India still faces major developmental challenges. The still-entrenched divisions of caste structure are being compounded by the emergence of new inequalities of wealth stemming from India’s economic success. India’s democracy may have thrived in a manner that few ever expected, but its institutions face profound challenges from embedded nepotism and corruption. India’s economic success continues to come with an environmental cost that is unsustainable."

These problems are compounded by India’s "pressing security preoccupations" arising out of "insurgent violence" affecting large parts of the country and long-festering cross-border disputes.

The best that India can hope for—the study offers as a consolation-- is "to continue to play a constructive international role in, among other things, the financial diplomacy of the G20".

"Yet the hopes of those in the West who would build up India as a democratic counterweight to Chinese superpower are unlikely to be realised anytime soon," it concludes....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas Op Ed on "Why India will not become a superpower":

India will not become a superpower, says Ramachandra Guha, renowned historian and author of India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy.

Taking the lead in a special report by the London School of Economics, Mr Guha outlines seven reasons to support his thesis.

The challenges which will hold India back, he writes, are the Maoist insurgency, the "insidious presence" of the Hindu right wing, degradation of the "once liberal and upright" centre, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, trivialisation of media, the sustainability of "present patterns of resource consumption" and the instability and policy incoherence caused by multi-party governments.

More importantly, Mr Guha believes that India should not even attempt to become a superpower.

"In my view, international relations cannot be made analogous to a competitive examination. The question is not who comes first or second or third, whether judged in terms of Gross National Product, number of billionaires in the Forbes or Fortune lists, number of Olympic gold medals won, size of largest aircraft carrier operated, or power of most deadly nuclear weapon owned," he writes.

"We should judge ourselves not against the achievements, real or imagined, of other countries, but in the light of our own norms and ideals... We are a unique nation, unique for refusing to reduce Indian-ness to a single language, religion, or ideology, unique in affirming and celebrating the staggering diversity found within our borders (and beyond them)."

In fact, as Mr Guha's teacher, the late historian Dharma Kumar, once said, Indians should applaud the lack of homogeneity.

"Instead of regarding India as a failed or deformed nation-state we should see it as a new political form, perhaps even as a forerunner of the future. We are in some ways where Europe wants to be, but we have a tremendous job of reform, of repairing our damaged institutions, and of inventing new ones," Ms Kumar had once written.

India, as the participants in the LSE study say, should strive to become a more inclusive and efficient society, rebuild its broken institutions and engage with the egregious problem of state corruption. Superpowerdom can wait.


Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Bloomberg piece by Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra on Pakistan's "unplanned revolution":

...I also saw much in this recent visit that did not conform to the main Western narrative for South Asia -- one in which India is steadily rising and Pakistan rapidly collapsing.

Born of certain geopolitical needs and exigencies, this vision was always most useful to those who have built up India as an investment destination and a strategic counterweight to China, and who have sought to bribe and cajole Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment into the war on terrorism.

Seen through the narrow lens of the West’s security and economic interests, the great internal contradictions and tumult within these two large nation-states disappear. In the Western view, the credit-fueled consumerism among the Indian middle class appears a much bigger phenomenon than the extraordinary Maoist uprising in Central India.
Traveling through Pakistan, I realized how much my own knowledge of the country -- its problems as well as prospects -- was partial, defective or simply useless. Certainly, truisms about the general state of crisis were not hard to corroborate. Criminal gangs shot rocket-propelled grenades at each other and the police in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood. Shiite Hazaras were being assassinated in Balochistan every day. Street riots broke out in several places over severe power shortages -- indeed, the one sound that seemed to unite the country was the groan of diesel generators, helping the more affluent Pakistanis cope with early summer heat.
Gangsters with Kalashnikovs

In this eternally air-conditioned Pakistan, meanwhile, there exist fashion shows, rock bands, literary festivals, internationally prominent writers, Oscar-winning filmmakers and the bold anchors of a lively new electronic media. This is the glamorously liberal country upheld by English-speaking Pakistanis fretting about their national image in the West (some of them might have been gratified by the runaway success of Hello magazine’s first Pakistani edition last week).

But much less conspicuous and more significant, other signs of a society in rapid socioeconomic and political transition abounded. The elected parliament is about to complete its five- year term -- a rare event in Pakistan -- and its amendments to the constitution have taken away some if not all of the near- despotic prerogatives of the president’s office.

Political parties are scrambling to take advantage of the strengthening ethno-linguistic movements for provincial autonomy in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Young men and women, poor as well as upper middle class, have suddenly buoyed the anti-corruption campaign led by Imran Khan, an ex-cricketer turned politician.

After radically increasing the size of the consumerist middle class to 30 million, Pakistan’s formal economy, which grew only 2.4 percent in 2011, currently presents a dismal picture. But the informal sector of the economy, which spreads across rural and urban areas, is creating what the architect and social scientist Arif Hasan calls Pakistan’s “unplanned revolution.” Karachi, where a mall of Dubai-grossness recently erupted near the city’s main beach, now boasts “a first world economy and sociology, but with a third world wage and political structure.”

Even in Lyari, Karachi’s diseased old heart, where young gangsters with Kalashnikovs lurked in the alleys, billboards vended quick proficiency in information technology and the English language. Everywhere, in the Salt Range in northwestern Punjab as well as the long corridor between Lahore and Islamabad, were gated housing colonies, private colleges, fast- food restaurants and other markers of Pakistan’s breakneck suburbanization....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on Indian parliamentarian Mani Shankar Ayer's speech in Lahore:

Indian Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar has said that Pakistan is not a failed state and any strategy by India built on this assumption will be “dangerously misleading”.

“Yes Pakistan has its difficulties. But so do we. So any strategy built on the assumption that Pakistan cannot hold is misconceived, misplaced and dangerously misleading,” Mani Shankar said during a lecture at a local hotel on Wednesday.

The lecture was attended by noted scholars, media persons and peace activists.

Shankar said, “Pakistan’s nationhood is firmly anchored in history, civilisation and spiritual belief. Pakistan has one of the largest populations in the world. It has a high degree of political and philosophical sophistication. Pakistan has a resilient economy, a strong bureaucracy and a strong military, and extremely lively and informed media. How can it possibly be a failing state?”

He said Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline was an excellent idea, which should have completed. “The idea of IPI pipeline was not merely aimed at meeting energy needs of India and Pakistan, but was to build confidence and trust between the two states,” said Indian writer and former diplomat.

He called for uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue between India and Pakistan. He admitted that the mindset of reconciliation was building faster in Pakistan than in India. He said that both countries could solve their issues through constructive engagement. “If there is no peace, there will be no prosperity,” he said.

He said that India needed to recognise that terrorism is a global issue. “Pakistan is a frontline state, with horrific consequences for itself. No state in the world has suffered as much from terrorism as Pakistan itself,” he said. He stressed the need to formulate a joint strategy to fight terrorism.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by Khan Sufiyan titled "India's Democracy Soaked in Blood" as published by Eurasia Review:

We arrived in Darzo (Mizoram, India) about ten in the morning. My orders were to get the villagers to collect whatever moveable property they could, and set their own village on fire at seven in the evening.

Night fell, I lit a torch myself and set fire to one of the houses. I knew I was carrying out orders, and would hate to do such a thing if I had my way. My soldiers also started torching other buildings, and the whole place was soon ablaze. Women were wailing and shouting and cursing. Children were frightened and cried. But the grown men were silent; not a whimper or a whisper from them. When it was time for the world to sleep, we marched out of Darzo .

We walked fifteen miles and the morning saw us in Hnahthial. I hated myself that night. I had done the job of an executioner. I called the Darzo Village Council President and his village elders and ordered them to sign a document saying that they had voluntarily asked to be resettled under the protection of the Security Forces as they were being harassed by the insurgents and that no force or coercion was used by the Security Forces.
They refused to sign. So I called them in one man at a time. On my table was a loaded revolver, and in the corner stood two NCOs with loaded sten-guns. This frightened them, and one by one they signed the documents.

(Lalkhama 2006. A Mizo Civil Servant’s Random Reflections. Ghazaibad:
Express Print House, pp.177-180)

In September 2011, state assembly of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) debated a report which uncovered presence of more than 2,000 unmarked mass graves not far from the Line of Control that divides Pakistan from IOK. The report, by Indian government appointed State Human Rights Commission, also issued its first official acknowledgment of the presence of these mass graves.

Such incidents have not only been reported from IOK but many other parts of India. The atrocities committed to counter many ongoing insurgencies in the name of democratic Union of India are wide-spread, horrendous and shameful, yet only a handful of the perpetrators has ever been brought to justice.

India has been able to bring some of these insurgencies under a measure of control. Yet the wanton atrocities committed by Indian security forces and the coercive manipulation of democratic process probably has been some of the major causes why India houses one of the largest number of freedom movements and secessionist groups, insurgencies and extremist groups and in any one country in the world. Currently, there are around 140 such known groups operating in 28 Indian States and 7 Union Territories.

There are parts of India where diverse set of freedom movement groups run their own independent governments, collect taxes, maintain functional bureaucratic institutions, judiciary and maintain well organized regular and trained armies. On 30 June 2012, the Army of Government of People’s Republic of Nagaland held an openly announced passing out parade of a batch of officers at their military base Khehoi, merely 40 kilometers from Rangapahar, Dimapur. Rangapahar is the Headquarters of Indian Army 3 Corps and is a big cantonment also housing large Para-military force nearby. Yet the Indian Army and other security apparatus did not have the courage to establish the writ of Indian government....


Anonymous said...

The only thing I admire is your zeal and spirit of defending you blog with detailed responses to almost every critic. I salute you for your patriotism and nationalist approach.
However , I am afraid to say.. remainder of your case is colored bubbles and smoking mirrors. Our countries have been through, and are still going though some tough times but it'll take us all a lot of effort to get back on our feet. The purpose of your article fails to take shape or form.
As an Indian I believe the region will only get stability if all SE Asian countries prosper.
Figures / history / sabre-rattling will only get a few whistles and cat-calls - but not improve our bottomline.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has formulated a comprehensive strategy for 'New Democratic Revolution' through a combination of military and political tactics to create base areas in the country side and gradual encirclement and capture of urban areas.

The CPI (Maoist) vision for it's 'protracted people's war' against the Indian state is elucidated in its strategy paper titled 'Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution'. This Maoist document contains a comprehensive plan of action to capture political power and usher in the 'New Democratic Revolution' in India.

According to a PIB press release, union minister of state for Home R P N Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) was the largest left wing extremist organization operating in the country and it was also response for almost 80 % of Naxal violence reported during the current year.

He said the objective involving creation of 'base areas', gradual encirclement and capture of the urban areas is sought to be achieved through armed warfare by the 'People's Liberation Guerilla Army' cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

Political mobilization through its 'front organizations' and alliances with other insurgent outfit, which in CPI (Maoist) parlance is called the 'Strategic United Front'.

Chhattisgarh has consistently remained the worst Naxal affected State with the rebels being active and have their presence in nearly half of the state's 27 districts. The Maoists are hyper active in tribal Bastar region, where they have established their liberated zone of 'Dandakaranya', spread over the forest regions of Bastar and parts of Andhra Pradesh. However, the state and security forces describe this region as "areas dominated by the Maoists".


Ardhsatya said...

Why are Pakistanis such bad losers? Your country is getting bombed every single day by America. Your situation is so pathetic that you dare not even object, because you need American charity to stay afloat.

Yes, yes, everything said about India's democratic greatness and economic development is a lie. Yes, Chandrayaan is a lie. So are Tata and Infosys and Reliance. The IITs are a big lie as well. Agni-V missile is a lie. India's $1.85 trillion economy, its $1.2 trillion BSE and $1.1 trillion NSE are all lies. India's G-20 membership is also a lie. India receiving American and Russian (also British and French) endorsement for UNSC permanent membership is also a lie. The BRICS summit meetings are also a lie. Everything is a lie as exposed by Zaid Hamid and you.

The only truth is in statistics on defecation and Maoism in India.

On the other hand, all the talk about terrorism in Pakistan is just a myth created by India. I guess the 100+ Shias in Quetta just vanished into thin air. Osama bin Laden was airlifted from New Delhi and planted in Abottabad 10 minutes before the so called American attack.

The only truth in Pakistan is its $40 billion stock exchange which has grown some 30% last year.

Riaz Haq said...

Ardhsatya: "The only truth is in statistics on defecation and Maoism in India."

The real truth is that India is home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people most of whom still practice open defecation.

There are more poor and hungry people in India than there are in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on the stunting of human capital growth in India:

At least 3,000 children as young as six are being recruited by insurgent groups across India, according to a new report published by a human rights group.

The New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights says the practice of using child soldiers is “rampant,” with the majority recruited in Maoist-affected states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

Maoist rebels, also known as Naxalites, have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as India’s greatest internal security challenge. They assert control over vast areas of land in central and eastern India. The insurgency was launched in the late 1960s in West Bengal. The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribes and the rural poor, and their ultimate goal is to create a communist society.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times Nobel Laureate economist-columnist on Ibn Khaldun's lessons for Microsoft and other established powers:

The trouble for Microsoft came with the rise of new devices whose importance it famously failed to grasp. “There’s no chance,” declared Mr. Ballmer in 2007, “that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

How could Microsoft have been so blind? Here’s where Ibn Khaldun comes in. He was a 14th-century Islamic philosopher who basically invented what we would now call the social sciences. And one insight he had, based on the history of his native North Africa, was that there was a rhythm to the rise and fall of dynasties.

Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert.

Sometimes, by the way, barbarians are invited in by a domestic faction seeking a shake-up. This may be what’s happening at Yahoo: Marissa Mayer doesn’t look much like a fierce Bedouin chieftain, but she’s arguably filling the same functional role.

Anyway, the funny thing is that Apple’s position in mobile devices now bears a strong resemblance to Microsoft’s former position in operating systems. True, Apple produces high-quality products. But they are, by most accounts, little if any better than those of rivals, while selling at premium prices.

So why do people buy them? Network externalities: lots of other people use iWhatevers, there are more apps for iOS than for other systems, so Apple becomes the safe and easy choice. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Is there a policy moral here? Let me make at least a negative case: Even though Microsoft did not, in fact, end up taking over the world, those antitrust concerns weren’t misplaced. Microsoft was a monopolist, it did extract a lot of monopoly rents, and it did inhibit innovation. Creative destruction means that monopolies aren’t forever, but it doesn’t mean that they’re harmless while they last. This was true for Microsoft yesterday; it may be true for Apple, or Google, or someone not yet on our radar, tomorrow.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Aljazeera report on Indian Maoist insurgency:

"You people say that India [has] got a republican, independent government, we say NO it is not so, and between these two there is a contradiction. You people say that India got independence on August 15, 1947, we say power-transfer happened. Semi-feudal, semi-colonial. Politicians, rich people and land owners are looting the country, and benefiting. You may know the current police law is from 1898, from Victorian times, so what has changed? What has changed is a few faces who sit in the parliament today. Like a new cap on an old bottle. The content of the bottle is still the same. So the common people are still deprived and they will rise," said their spokesman Gaur Chakravarty.
A 40-year long civil war has been raging in the jungles of central and eastern India. It is one of the world's largest armed conflicts but it remains largely ignored outside of India.

Caught in the crossfire of it are the Adivasis, who are believed to be India's earliest inhabitants. A loose collection of tribes, it is estimated that there are about 84 million of these indigenous people, which is about eight per cent of the country's population.

For generations, they have lived off farming and the spoils of the jungle in eastern India, but their way of life is under threat. Their land contains mineral deposits estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. Forests have been cleared and the Indian government has evacuated hundreds of villages to make room for steel plants and mineral refineries.

The risk of losing everything they have ever known has made many Adivasis fertile recruits for India's Maoist rebels or Naxalites, who also call these forests home.

The Maoists' fight with the Indian government began 50 years ago, just after India became independent. A loose collection of anti-government communist groups - that initially fought for land reform - they are said to be India's biggest internal security threat. Over time, their focus has expanded to include more fundamental questions about how India is actually governed.

In their zeal for undermining the Indian government, Maoist fighters have torched construction equipment, bombed government schools and de-railed passenger trains, killing hundreds. In the name of state security, several activists who have supported the Maoists have been jailed and tortured. Innocent people have also been implicated on false charges. These are often intimidation tactics used by the government to discourage people from having any contact with the Maoists.

The uprising by Maoist fighters and its brutal suppression by the Indian government, has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 1980, and displaced 12 million people. Many of the victims are not even associated with either side. They are simply caught in the crossfire. And the violence is escalating as both sides mount offensive after counter-offensive.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Ananya Vajpeyi on exceptions to Indian "constitutional democracy":

By enforcing extraordinary laws, by sending in armed forces, by granting impunity to soldiers and paramilitaries for their actions against armed or unarmed civilians, by denying citizens redress, justice or compensation, by creating a war-like situation for a population that has political, social, cultural and economic grievances possible to address without force, it is the state that sets aside the Constitution. The Indian state has done this too many times, in too many places, and for too long.

It is time for citizens in the so-called ‘normal’ parts of the country to consider how they want to defend their Constitution against such misuse and ill-treatment by the state, a procedure that leaves millions of people exposed to both everyday as well as excessive violence, and ultimately turns them against India. If the Indian Union sees any attrition to its territory in the coming years on account of separatism and civil strife (not such an unlikely scenario as hawkish policy-makers like to believe), this will have come to pass at least partly because the state allowed the cancer of exception to eat away at the body politic, and did not administer the medicine of constitutional reinstatement and restitution in time. It bears repeating that periodic exercises in the electoral process do not always prove to be a sufficient counterweight to the toxic effects of the AFSPA, even if elections are relatively free and fair (a tough challenge), and even if significant percentages of the relevant populations do turn out to vote.

The state’s reasoning for why military, paramilitary and police must replace civil agencies in the work of everyday governance, a step which can and does go horribly wrong, is that disruptive violence (from secessionist and insurgent groups) has to be met with restorative counter-violence (from the state) in order to ensure overall security for the population, and preserve the integrity of the Union of India. Defenders of the AFSPA insist that this is a sound rationale. But inevitably, questions arise: What are the limits of the immunity that such an extraordinary law grants to the armed forces, when does the justifiable control of terror become overkill, and when should a quantitative assessment about the necessary degree of force give way to a qualitative judgment about whether force is necessary at all, over and above alternative – peaceful – means of addressing the situation?

There appears to be a dire need for a system of checks-and-balances, perhaps also originating from the Constitution, to be instituted, so that the explicitly democratic mandate of the Indian republic may be strengthened against an always lurking authoritarian tendency (a legacy of the post-colonial state’s colonialist and imperialist predecessor).


Riaz Haq said...

A deadly trend has struck roots in India's Red Corridor over the past three years. A soldier fighting Maoists deep inside the jungles of central and south-central India is far more likely to be killed than his uniformed brothers taking on militants in Jammu and Kashmir, or insurgents in the North-east.
Rebels in the Red zone are killing more soldiers than are dying in all insurgency-hit areas put together.
Official data from the Union home ministry shows that at least one security personnel loses his life to Maoists every three days. The chance of the enemy surprising security forces makes the job of their personnel highly risky.


Sandeep said...

So much energy on India!! Would be better if it was spent on figuring out how to make pakistan do even better in its stellar statistical performance. If India is a failing state, that's fine. Let it go its own way. Spend your energy on making Pakistan even better than it is now. Why are you so India focused?

Riaz Haq said...

By dressing up “militants” as Muslims wearing skullcaps in a mock anti-terror drill, Indian police exposed not only communal mentality but low IQ and poor general knowledge negating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SMART — Strict and Sensitive, Modern and Mobile, Alert and Accountable, Reliable and Responsive, Techno savvy and Trained — law enforcers voiced at the recent conference of directors-general of police in Guwahati.
Footage of the drill showed commandos capturing “terrorists” in white-knitted skullcaps before bundling them into police jeeps. But do terrorists — even if they happen to be Muslims — don the Islamic skullcap to unleash murder and mayhem? I don’t think so.
The latest Global Terrorism Index (released by international think tank Institute of Economics and Peace) reveals that while jihadists were responsible for 15 percent of terrorism-related killings in India, Maoists accounted for the lion’s share of casualties — a whopping 50 percent — in 2013. The remaining 35 percent of deaths were caused by guerrillas fighting for statehood or independence in states like Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
Maoists have created a Red Corridor from the India-Nepal border to south India but the worst-hit states are Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Their goal is to overthrow the Indian government by force. The writ of the administration doesn’t run in large tracts of central India where there are no police stations, post offices, revenue collectors or even cellular network.
Similarly, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which gunned down 75 Adivasis or tribespeople, just before Christmas in its devilish pursuit of a separate homeland for ethnic Bodos in Assam, is one of the deadliest separatist outfits in business. New York survived 9/11. Mumbai is doing fine despite 26/11, thank you. I think that armed rebellions like the Maoist insurgency or secessionist uprisings in the northeast pose a far graver challenge to the Indian State. New Delhi should focus on neutralizing anti-national groups trying to seize power or dismember India instead of maligning Muslims who have never challenged the state till today.

Riaz Haq said...

#Maoist rebels, fighting for landless farmers, tribal people in #India, release 250 hostages. @AJENews http://aje.io/6hrb

They have been called India's biggest internal security threat, operate in 20 of India's 28 states and have thousands of fighters, according to the Home Ministry.
Their fight has cost thousands of lives including through bombings and attacks on police and soldiers.
Critics believe attempts to end the revolt through security offensives are doomed to fail, saying the real solution is better governance and development.

Riaz Haq said...

Holding Your Breath in #India #pollution http://nyti.ms/1eCMCxj by Gardiner Harris in New Delhi fir NY Times

We gradually learned that Delhi’s true menace came from its air, water, food and flies. These perils sicken, disable and kill millions in India annually, making for one of the worst public health disasters in the world. Delhi, we discovered, is quietly suffering from a dire pediatric respiratory crisis, with a recent study showing that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air.
And children are by no means the only ones harmed. Many adults suffer near-constant headaches, sore throats, coughs and fatigue. Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, had to leave the city for 10 days in March to cure a chronic cough.

It’s not just the air that inflicts harm. At least 600 million Indians, half the total population, defecate outdoors, and most of the effluent, even from toilets, is dumped untreated into rivers and streams. Still, I never thought this would come home to my family quite as dramatically as it did.

We live in a four-year-old, five-story apartment building that my wife chose because its relatively new windows could help shut out Delhi’s appalling nighttime air. Its cookie-cutter design — by the same developer who built dozens of others in the neighborhood — gave us confidence that things would function, by no means assured for new construction here.

About six months after we moved in, one of our neighbors reported that her tap water suddenly smelled like sewage. Then the smell hit another neighbor and another. It turned out that the developer had dug open channels for sewage that had gradually seeped into each apartment’s buried water tank. When we pulled up the floor tiles on the ground floor, brown sludge seemed to be everywhere.

I was in the shower when this sewage mixture arrived in our apartment. Sounds horrible, but I shrugged and toweled off because that smell is such a frequent presence here.

For much of the year, the Yamuna River would have almost no flow through Delhi if not for raw sewage. Add in the packs of stray dogs, monkeys and cattle even in urban areas, and fresh excretions are nearly ubiquitous. Insects alight on these excretions and then on people or their food, sickening them.

Most piped water here is contaminated. Poor sanitation may be a crucial reason nearly half of India’s children are stunted.

The list of health threats sounds harrowing when considered together, but life goes on and can be quite nice here. Our apartment building eventually installed aboveground water tanks. My children’s school and travel in the region are terrific, and many expats are far more influential here than they would be in their home countries.

Yet one afternoon this spring, someone in our neighborhood burned something toxic, and an astringent cloud spread around our block. My wife was out walking with a friend, and their eyes became teary and their throats began to close. They bolted back inside our apartment where they found Bram gasping again, for the first time in two years. In some places in Delhi, the levels of fine particles that cause the most lung damage, called PM2.5, routinely exceed 1,000 in winter in part because small trash and other fires are so common, according to scientists. In Beijing, PM2.5 levels that exceed 500 make international headlines; here, levels twice that high are largely ignored.


Riaz Haq said...

Economist: No good at risk

Have you heard the term "irrational fear"? There r people everywhere who develop irrational fears based on media hype

THE official death toll from the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001 was 2,974. But in 2002 America's death toll on the roads grew by more than 1,500—casualties of the terrorism-inspired exodus from safe aeroplanes to dangerous motor cars. A swan washes up on a British shore, dead from bird flu, and the press panics, while the 3,000 people who die every year on the country's roads (13 times the number of people who have ever died from bird flu) go largely unremarked.

Human beings are notoriously bad at dealing with risk. Two new books explore why, and investigate the effects that misunderstanding risks can have on public policy. The first, an excellent work by a Canadian writer, Dan Gardner, is a broad meditation on the nature of risk, beginning with a psychological explanation for why people find it so difficult to cope. Mr Gardner analyses everything from the media's predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda.

His take on terrorism in the book's penultimate chapter is refreshing. He punctures ludicrous claims that “this conflict is a fight to save the civilised world” (George Bush) or that terrorism's threat is “existential” (Tony Blair), and expertly deflates the more self-serving statements made by the terrorism industry that has mushroomed since the September 11th attacks.

Mr Gardner never falls into the trap of becoming frustrated and embittered by the waste and needless worry that he is documenting. A personal anecdote about an unwise foray into a Nigerian slum in search of a stolen wallet disposes of the idea that the author is immune to the foibles he describes. What could easily have been a catalogue of misgovernance and stupidity instead becomes a cheery corrective to modern paranoia.


Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of a piece by Ashly Tellis on what India must do to become a leading power:

For starters, the Indian state does not penetrate its own society sufficiently: there are still vast swaths—territorial and functional—where state power is conspicuous by its absence. In fact, the Indian state is overly present in those areas where it ought not to be, producing private goods for example, but seriously deficient in other spaces where it has no substitute, such as in administering law, order, and justice; providing various public and merit goods; and managing national security. Furthermore, the Indian state performs abysmally with respect to resource extraction: whether measured by direct, indirect, or property taxes, India’s tax-to-GDP ratios are among the lowest of its G20 or BRIICSAM (Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, India, China, South Africa, and Mexico) peers, and the incidence of tax evasion is also high. These realities underscore how pervasive underdevelopment, regressive economic policies, and poor enforcement capabilities combine to produce unproductive state-society interactions that ultimately subvert both India’s developmental aims and its acquisition of great power capabilities.
Finally, except where national security issues are concerned, the Indian state does not enjoy sufficient autonomy from its own society and seems unable to regulate social relations in ways that would permit it to pursue important national interests without being constrained by veto-wielders domestically. This problem is more intense in democracies, but the difficulties that successive Indian governments have faced in regard to subsidy reduction, trade liberalization, and labor law reform, for example—all widely agreed in India to be vital for future success—bode ill for expectations of any speedy expansion of state autonomy. It is unfortunate that the nature of electoral competition in India has actually sharpened its social cleavages, with democracy thus making the state even more susceptible to societal pressures. Therein lies a tragic irony: the very crosscutting cleavages that prevent any internal threats from becoming existential dangers to the country also end up weakening the state, thereby raising the question of how a state that cannot shape its own society can expect to shape the outside world—the ultimate hallmark of a great power.

Read more at: http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/04/05/india-as-leading-power/iwf5

Riaz Haq said...

The war in the heartland

A brief history of the Maoist insurgency in India

India has a long experience of dealing with insurgencies. But nothing has proven to be more challenging than the Maoist rebellion in central and eastern India that has led to a civil war of sorts in its very heart. Today, there are large swathes of land where the Maoist writ runs large. There is complete absence, or very little presence, of the Indian state in these areas. A few years ago, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the Maoists as the country's "biggest internal security threat." Today, the Indian state has pressed more than 100,000 security personnel in the Maoist-affected states. But the insurgency is far from over.

Naxalbari inspired and radicalised a whole generation of youth

The first seed of Maoist rebellion was sown almost half a century years ago in a small area in West Bengal. The Naxalbari area lay along Nepal and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), mostly inhabited by Adivasis, India's indigenous people. Most of them were landless peasants, working on a contractual basis on land owned by big landlords. They were treated very badly. The landlords took a lion's share of the crop, and the poor peasants did not get even enough to eat. Disputes over the sharing of harvest were very common.

In the mid 1960s, India was facing a severe food crisis. Millions of people were affected by the shortage of food. Many died of starvation. According to a survey of land ownership conducted around that time, it was revealed – and these were termed as conservative estimates – that 40 percent of the land was owned by only 5 percent of rural households. Life was a constant challenge for India's landless poor. On top of it, famines struck across India, in states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. To tide over the food crisis, the government envisaged and implemented the Green Revolution. While it did increase India's food grain output, the Green Revolution also created further disparities in society. It benefited only those farmers who could afford to buy chemical fertilisers and modern agricultural equipment.

Inspired by China's Mao Zedong and its ideology, a group of people, led by a man called Charu Majumdar began to work among the landless in Naxalbari. In short time, the peasants got organised and they began to fight the injustice meted out to them for generations. The violence began in May 1967, after a police inspector was killed by the rebels. In mid 1968, a group of these communists went to China to receive military and political training. The Maoist rebels began to be called as "Naxals" – from the village of Naxalbari where the first spark erupted. The Indian state sent its army that came down heavily on the rebels, managing to crush the rebellion in 72 days. Most of the leaders were arrested.

The Naxalbari movement might have failed but it inspired a whole generation of youth and served as an initiation to radical politics. In fact, the late 60s were heady days for the youth all across the world. In China a cultural revolution was in the offing. America was receiving a beating in Vietnam. On the streets of Calcutta, angry, restless youth were hurling crude bombs at police vans. Students from affluent families, studying in prestigious institutions were bidding goodbye to lucrative careers and going to the forests of Bihar and elsewhere to participate in the revolution. For such youth in India, Naxalbari became the shining light. And from there, the rebellion spread to other areas as well – to Midnapore in Bengal and to Bihar.


Riaz Haq said...

Is India a Flailing State?: Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization


India is an emerging global superpower as its rapid growth has transformed its economy and has maintained itself as the world’s largest democracy. But at the same time India lags in many dimensions—its malnutrition rate is one of the highest in the world, its immunization rates are lower than most African countries, and Bangladesh has a better infant mortality rate. I argue that this is in part because the India state is “flailing”—its very capable head is not longer reliably connected to the arms and legs of implementation. In the four-fold transition of economy, polity, administration, and society the administrative capability of the state is lagging. I use examples from services like health, education, and routine transactions like issuing driver’s licenses to show that the agents of the state routinely do not implement the tasks they are assigned—causing a massive divergence between de jure and de facto reality. The paper concludes with speculations about the causes of flailing and possible future trajectories.