Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alleged "Spy" Gupta's Delhi Arrest Suspicious

Coming just days before the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) summit in Bhutan, the arrest of Indian diplomat Madhuri Gupta on charges of spying for Pakistan is raising many serious questions among analysts and commentators.

On April 22, the 53-year-old Gupta was asked to return to New Delhi ostensibly to help prepare for the SAARC summit in Bhutan, according to a report in Time magazine. After landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport, she was taken away by the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials for interrogation in an undisclosed location. Twenty-four hours later, she was handed over to Delhi police, charged with treason and accessing confidential documents under India's Official Secrets Act, and passing sensitive information on to ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency. Indian news agency PTI is reporting that the head of India's intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) in Islamabad is also being investigated. Her alleged visit to the Indian side of the LOC in disputed Kashmir region are among her suspicious activities being investigated by Indian authorities.

Some of the probing questions being asked relate to the timing of the arrest just prior to the SAARC summit, the level of access a low-level diplomat like Gupta had to India's classified information, the role and the motivations of India's Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials, and Gupta's possible role as a double agent working simultaneously for both India's RAW and Pakistan's ISI. Other questions include as to why was India's intelligence agency RAW kept out of the loop? Is the Indian IB attempting to delay, or even scuttle the resumption of India-Pakistan composite dialog? Did Gupta run afoul of her Indian handlers that led to her outing and arrest?

S.M. Mushrif, former Police Chief of Maharashtra and the author of "Who Killed Karkare?", believes that the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) is up to its neck in conspiring with the extreme Hindutva groups against Indian Muslims and creating trouble between India and Pakistan.

The power establishment that really runs the affairs of India (Mushrif says it is not Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi) does not want to expose the rabidly anti-Muslim Hindutva terrorists, and by extension, see peace between India and Pakistan.

The Times of India hints at the possibility of Gupta being double agent working for both Indian and Pakistani spy agencies. In a piece titled "Spy Games", the Times argues that there are many questions that need to be answered by the officials in the Gupta espionage case. It says: "For those pressing charges against Gupta, the questions that need to be probed are: When and how was Gupta contacted by Pakistani agents? Was she allowed access to information above her clearance level? How long did it take for her activities to be noticed on the Indian side? And perhaps most importantly, what was her motivation for becoming a double agent? Finding the answers to these questions could go some way towards revealing the lacunae in our security protocols abroad and preventing recurrences of such breaches."

Some of the Indian analysts are probably correct in their assessment that at least a part of the Pakistani "establishment" does not want serious progress in talks with India. But I also believe there is a similar anti-Pakistan establishment in India that wants to thwart any possibility of peace with Pakistan.

I often hear references to India's "shadowy security establishment" and "agencies" by Indian columnists like Siddarth Varadarajan in The Hindu newspaper, and allegations against "some vested interests in militants and agencies" by politicians like Mehbooba Mufti after the Srinagar hotel attack earlier this year.

Espionage cases like this need to be thoroughly investigated. However, I do not think it's likely that the public will ever learn the full truth in this case.

Related Links:

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Dialog

India's Covert War in Pakistan

Hindutva Terror

Who Killed Karkare?

Bloodbath in Kashmir Valley

Behind India's Bust of a Pakistani Spy

Spy Games

Monday, April 26, 2010

India's "Indigenous" Copies of Foreign Nukes, Missiles

A Times of India report last year claimed that "Pakistan has surged well ahead of India in the missile arena". It also lamented that "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".

Along with raising the alarm, the Indian report offered the usual excuse for the alleged missile gap by boasting that "unlike Pakistan, our program is indigenous".

Let's explore the reality of the "indigenous" claim repeated ad infintum by Indian government and New Delhi's defense establishment.

US-European Origins of Indian Missile Program:

APJ Abul Kalam is credited with designing India's first satellite launcher SLV3. Its design is virtually identical to the American Scout rocket used in the 1960s. According to the details published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Abul Kalam spent four months in training in the United States in 1963-1964. He visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, where the U.S. Scout rocket was conceived, and the Wallops Island Flight Center on the Virginia coast, where the Scout was being flown. Soon after Abul Kalam's visit, India requested and received detailed technical reports on the Scout's design, which was unclassified.

US Scout and India's SLV3 are both 23 meters long, use four similar solid-fuel stages and "open loop" guidance, and lift a 40-kilogram payload into low earth orbit. The SLV's 30-foot first stage later became the first stage of the Agni.

The United States was followed by others. Between 1963 and 1975, more than 350 U.S., French, Soviet, and British sounding rockets were launched from India's Thumba Range, which the United States helped design. Thumba's first group of Indian engineers had learned rocket launching and range operation in the United States.

India's other missile, the "Prithvi" (earth), which uses a liquid-propelled motor to carry a one-ton payload 150 miles, resembles the widely sold Soviet Scud-B. Indian sources say that the Agni's second stage is a shortened version of the Prithvi, according to Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project.

France also launched sounding rockets from India, and in the late 1960s allowed India to begin building "Centaure" sounding rockets under license from Sud Aviation.

The aid of the United States and France, however, was quickly surpassed by substantial West German help in the 1970s and 1980s. Germany assisted India in three key missile technologies: guidance, rocket testing, and the use of composite materials. All were supposed to be for the space program, but all were also used for military missiles.

The cryogenic stage used in a recent failed satellite launch by India was a copy of the Russian cryogenic rocket engine and the cryogenic technology transferred to India in the 1990s. According to Non-proliferation review of 1997, it has emerged that Russia continued transferring rocket engine technology to India in 1993 after its agreements with the United States stop such transfer under MTCR. This reportedly resulted in the completion of 60 to 80 percent of the transfers to India.

North American Origins of India's Nuclear Bomb:

India's nuclear program would not have advanced without a lot of help from Canadians that resulted in Indian copies of Canadian reactors to produce plutonium for its nuclear bombs.

India conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1974. Indians used 40 MW Canadian Cirus reactor and U.S. heavy water both imported under guarantees of peaceful use and used them openly to make plutonium for its 1974 nuclear blast.

In 1972, Canadian-built 100 MWe Rajasthan-1 nuclear power reactor became operational, serving as the model for later unsafeguarded reactors. Another Rajasthan unit started operating in 1980 and two units in 2000. In 1983, India's 170 MW Madras-1, a copy of Canadian Rajhastan-1 reactor, became operational. A second Madras unit followed in 1985. According to the Risk Report Volume 11 Number 6 (November-December 2005), the heavy water and other advanced materials and equipment for these plants were smuggled to India from a number of countries, including the USSR, China and Norway, according to The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Some of the firms, such as West German firm Degussa, were caught and fined by the United States for re-exporting to India 95 kg of U.S.-origin beryllium, usable as a neutron reflector in fission bombs.

In May 1998, India conducted two rounds of nuclear weapon tests. Last year, the media reports indicated that Kasturiranga Santhanam, the coordinator of India's 1998 nuclear tests, went public with allegations that India's Pokhran II test of a thermonuclear bomb in 1998 was actually a fizzle. The device, designed to generate 45 kilotons, yielded an explosion equivalent to only 15 to 20 kilotons of TNT.

Heavy Dependence on Imports:

India is overwhelmingly dependent on foreign imports, mainly Russian and Israeli, for about 70 per cent of its defense requirement, especially for critical military products and high-end defense technology, according to an Indian defense analyst Dinesh Kumar. Kumar adds that "India’s defense ministry officially admits to attaining only 30 to 35 per cent s elf-reliance capability for its defense requirement. But even this figure is suspect given that India’s self-reliance mostly accrues from transfer of technology, license production and foreign consultancy despite considerable investment in time and money".

On the same theme, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that "India has had little success with military equipment production, and has had problems producing Russian Su-30MKI fighter jets and T-90S tanks, English Hawk training jets and French Scorpene submarines."

On India's perennial dependence on imports, here's how blogger Vijainder Thakur sees India's loose meaning of "indigenous" Smerch and other imports:

"The Russians will come here set up the plant for us and supply the critical manufacturing machinery. Indian labor and technical management will run the plant which will simply assemble the system. Critical components and the solid propellant rocket motor fuel will still come from Perm Powder Mill. However, bureaucrats in New Delhi and the nation as a whole will be happy. The Smerch system will be proudly paraded on Rajpath every republic day as an indigenous weapon system.

A decade or so down the line, Smerch will get outdated and India will negotiate a new deal with Russia for the license production of a new multiple rocket system for the Indian Army.

China will by then have developed its own follow up system besides having used the solid propellant motors to develop other weapon systems and assist its space research program."

India does export some armaments but its modest record of producing and exporting weapon systems is evident from the fact that India’s defense annual exports averaged only US$ 88 million between 2006-07 and 2008-09. By contrast, Pakistan exported $300 million worth of military hardware and munitions last year.


There is plenty of evidence and documentation from sources such as the Wisconsin Project to show that the Indian missiles and bombs are no more indigenous than Pakistan's. The fact is that neither India nor Pakistan were first to split the atom, or to develop modern rocket science. The Industrial Revolution didn't exactly start in India or Pakistan or even in Asia; it began in Europe and the rest of the world learned from it, even copied it.

The differences between India and Pakistan in terms of the technology know-how and the knowledge base are often highly exaggerated to portray India as "technology power house" and Pakistan as a backwater. Some of these analyses by Indian Brahman pundits and commentators have racial and religious overtones implying that somehow Brahmin or Hindu minds are superior to those of the people of other religions or castes in South Asia.

What is often ignored by such anti-Pakistan Indian analysts is the fact that neither of the two Indian pioneers, nuclear scientist Homi Bahbha and rocket scientist Abul Kalam, belong to the Hindu faith or the Brahmin caste. The false sense of Indian superiority is pushed by self-serving Indian and some western analysts to justify their own biased conclusions.

These analysts have fed what George Perkovich described in his book "India's Nuclear Bomb" on page 410 as "general Indian contempt for Pakistan's technical capabilities" and may cause serious miscalculations by the Indian security establishment about Pakistan's defense capabilities. Indian chauvinistic analyses have been put in perspective by another piece in Newsday (Friday, May 15, 1998; Page A5: "India Errs Nuclear Power Isn't Real Power"), in which George Perkovich talked about the rise in India of a radicalized, ultra-nationalistic BJP for the "glory of the Hindu race and rashtra (nation)". Perkovich added that "the Bharatiya Janata Party, has long felt that nuclear weapons offer a quicker ride to the top. Like atavistic nationalists elsewhere, they believe that pure explosive power will somehow earn respect and build pride."

The extreme right-wing influence on South Asian analysts has the potential for serious miscalculations by either India or Pakistan in the nuclear and the missile arena, and it does not augur well for the future of Indo-Pak region and the world at large.

Related Links:

India's Nuclear Bomb by George Perkovich

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Cyberwars Across India, Pakistan and China

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Space Capabilities

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Scientist Reveals Indian Nuke Test Fizzled

The Wisconsin Project

The Non-Proliferation Review Fall 1997

India, Pakistan Comparison 2010

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Global Firepower Comparison

Evaluation of Military Strengths--India vs. Pakistan

Only the Paranoid Survive

India Races Ahead in Space

21st Century High-Tech Warfare

World Military Spending

Indian Attempts to Scuttle F-16s For Pakistan

Attrition Rates For IAF and PAF

Mockery of National Sovereignty

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BRIC, Chindia and the Indian Miracle

India's rapid economic growth has brought it enormous positive attention of the world media, billions of dollars in foreign investments, and new-found status on the international diplomatic scene. Goldman Sachs has promoted it by coining the term "BRIC" which groups India with other major emerging markets like Brazil, China and Russia as an investment destination. Inclusion in G20 has put the Indian leaders alongside the world's richest G7 nations. Indian business leaders in partnership with India's planning commission have mounted unprecedented "India Everywhere" branding campaign at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland each year. Indian writers have been promoting "Chindia" which seeks to put India on an equal footing with China.

Goldman Sachs has clearly contributed to the euphoria about India, by projecting that its economy could be 50 times its 2006 size by 2050, which would make it the world's third largest, after China and the United States. However, Goldman's Jim O'Neill has also said that when he ranked countries by the potential risks to their growth — everything from inflation to corruption — India ranked 97th in the world, behind Brazil and the Philippines. London-based Maplecroft terror risk index based on 2009 data ranks Iraq first, Afghanistan second, with Pakistan and Somalia third and fourth respectively. They are rated at extreme risk along with Lebanon 5, India 6, Algeria 7, Colombia 8 and Thailand 9, according to Reuters.

The UK-based risk advisory group's index tracks the risks of an attack, the intensity of violence as measured by casualties per incident, a country's history of extremist violence and threats made against it by groups such as al Qaeda.

"Media coverage can often skew public perceptions of terrorism risk in a country by publicising mass casualty attacks," said Maplecroft political risk analyst Eva Molyneux.

Having been subjected to a barrage of Indian marketing messages in the last decade, I have been trying to assess how much of it is real, and what part is just pure hype by the western and Indian media. A recent interview given by Dr. Jayati Ghosh has helped me put it in perspective. Dr. Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics and currently also Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Comparing China and India:

Here are the key points Dr. Ghosh makes:

1. Talk of Chinindia is nonsense. China and India are two very different countries with different histories. India has never done the hard work of basic reforms that China did decades ago. Unlike India, early reforms combined with greater state control on the economy have helped China achieve rapid and massive reduction in poverty.

2. Unlike China, India does not run any trade surplus or current account surplus to fund its growth. In fact, India has been running significant twin deficits. India depends much more on foreign investments for its growth than China.

3. Although large number of Indians estimated at 110 million have been the main beneficiaries of India's rapid economic expansion, their numbers are only about 10% of India's 1.1 billion people. The growth has excluded the rest of the 90% of the population, leaving them in abject poverty.

4. Instead of fighting against economic injustice, people are being divided along ethnic, religious and caste lines. There is an increase in all kinds of unpleasant social and political forces in India, where people are turning against each other, against linguistic, caste and faith groups, because they can't hit at the system—it's too big. So they pick on somebody their own size, or preferably smaller.

Comparing India and Pakistan:

There are some arrogant Indians in cyberspace as well as the physical world who contemptuously dismiss any comparison of India and Pakistan. However, the responsible Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in terms of basic nutrition and sanitation.

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, said India's Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

"There has been an enormous infusion of funds. But the National Family Health Survey gives a different story on malnourishment in the country. We don't know, something is just not clicking," Hameed said.

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 in 2008 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's National Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the since 2001.

India might be considered 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, has said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

While a mere 14 percent of people in rural areas of India - that account for 65 percent of its 1.1 billion population - had access to toilets in 1990, the number had gone up to 28 percent in 2006. In comparison, 33 percent rural Pakistanis had access to toilets in 1990 and it went up to an impressive 58 percent in 2006.

Similarly in Bangladesh, 36 percent of rural people have access to proper sanitation. The corresponding figures for Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were 30 percent and 86 percent respectively.

“This is a huge problem. India has made some progress but there is a lot to be desired. The speed in which we are (India) increasing the toilet usage will not help much,” Burgers told IANS, a day before an international sanitation campaign in Delhi.

She, however, said that the huge population in India is a major challenge. Burgers said that between 1990 and 2006, rural areas of the country has witnessed a growth of 181 million people of which 39 million people did not have access to toilets.

According to the international health and sanitation watchdog, there are at least 2.5 billion people across the globe who do not have access to toilets and 50 percent of them are in the south Asian region.

Pakistan's water quality is not good, but it is significantly better than in India.

On page 288 of his book "Water management in India" the author P. C. Bansil quotes a UN study that says India ranks a poor 120 on a list of 122 countries in water quality.

India's neighbors Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan rank much better at 40, 64, 78 and 80 respectively.

Growing Poverty in India:

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 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".

Here is the entire transcript of Dr. Ghosh's interview:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Joining us again from Amherst, Massachusetts, from the PERI institute, is Jayati Ghosh. She's a professor of economics at the Center for Economic Studies and Planning at the School of Social Sciences at JNU in India. Her recent book is After Crisis. Thanks for joining us again, Jayati.


JAY: So there's a lot of talk about the growth and expansion in India and China, and especially India these days. We're hearing again about the Indian miracle. Whose miracle is it, anyway? And is it such?

GHOSH: No, it's not actually a miracle. In fact, I think—first of all, let me clarify. India and China are very, very different. We really can't compare them. And all this talk about Chindia and so on, it's nonsense, because China is a fundamentally different country. It's not just that it has had much more rapid growth for a longer period and been more successful in poverty reduction, but it's a whole different institutional system. It still has much more substantial state control, especially over finance. It is still able to manipulate the nature of the growth of the economy more directly through the central state than India is. And because it had a revolution and because it had land reform and egalitarian income distribution it was operating on a much more equal asset base, which then allowed economic policies to have different effects. India is different. In India we never did the hard work in terms of the major transformations, like asset redistribution, land reform, and so on. We still have a very unequal society, of course, income distribution as a distribution.

JAY: Well, before we go to India, let's just back up to China for a second, because we'd been hearing that a lot of that income distribution, land reform, and a lot of that's been undone over the last 10, 15 years, and this kind of rise of state-managed capitalism in China is going back the other way. Is that not the case?

GHOSH: To some extent. But remember that the base on which it was operating was still fundamentally more egalitarian. And that's important because, you know, the major episodes of poverty reduction in China, if you look at it, are the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, and these were periods when agriculture prices rose and benefited the farmers. Now, that helped poverty reduction and income distribution, because there was egalitarian land distribution—it was the peasant households that benefited and became less poor and all of that kind of thing. So poverty reduction had been closely related to that feature of China, which is very different from India. But you're right that the pattern of growth from the early 1990s has been in equalizing, has been one which has, you know, focused on this export-led growth paradigm in the coastal region, neglected the west and the central regions, you know, brought in migrant workers, often in terrible conditions, by suppressing growth in the countryside. All of that did happen. Again, I think the difference is that from about 2002 you find that the Chinese state is more aware of this, so there's a shift in terms of public investment towards the central and the western regions. The latest stimulus package disproportionately they're spending in the west and the central regions of the country. There was an attempt to give more rights to migrant workers who are normally denied all the rights that are available to urban workers. There is now the attempt to revamp the health system and make it once again something which is affordable for all Chinese citizens. So there has been a shift in the recent past in China.

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.

JAY: What's happening politically? Do you see a reflection of resistance as a result of all this, coming from the impoverished people?

GHOSH: Well, you know, unfortunately, I think that there is a tendency now in India for these very major income distribution shifts and this very significant increase in exploitation and destitution not to have a political voice. It's surprising to me. Food prices have been going up by 20 percent now for two years. When this was happening in the '70s, you had food riots all over the country. You had major social instability. You don't have that today. You don't have that same outcry. We've had a big crisis where lots of workers lost their jobs, people's money wages are falling. You don't find the outcry. What you do find is the increase in all kinds of unpleasant social and political forces, where people turn against other linguistic groups, they turn against other caste groups, they turn against other religions, you know, because you can't hit at the system—it's too big. So you pick on somebody your own size, or preferably smaller than you so you can actually bash them up.

JAY: But why is that in a country like India, which is one of the few countries that has had a kind of left political tradition that has more or less remained intact?

GHOSH: Well, I wish I could say it's intact. I think the left also, in India, it's still, I think, a very vibrant and very important political force, but it is under attack and it's under attack from both the right and left. It's under attack from imperialist forces who want to suppress a genuine left movement in India. And it's been queried by a lot of confusion by all kinds of conflicting, you know, political groups that are based on caste or on religion or on other kinds of identity politics. I do believe, though, that the future of the left is integral to the future of India as we know it, which is to say a secular democracy. So it's absolutely critical to keep that left voice not just alive but expanding in India.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Jayati.

GHOSH: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Here's the complete video of Dr. Ghosh's interview:

Related Links:

Comparing India, Pakistan in 2010

The India You May Not Know

Western Myths of Peaceful, Stable, Prosperous India

100 Million More Indians Slide Below Poverty Line

No Indian Miracle

UNESCO Water Ranking of Nations

India Worse Than Bangladesh, Pakistan in Nutrition

India Trails Pakistan, Bangladesh in Sanitation

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised

Escape From India

Reflections on India

After Partition: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The "Poor" Neighbor by William Dalrymple

Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

Access to Improved Water Sources Rankings HDR

Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?

CO2 Emissions, Birth, Death Rates By Country

India Worse Than Pakistan, Bangladesh on Nutrition

UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17 Percent

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Amartya Sen on Hunger in India

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

Asia Gains in Top Asian Universities

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

India-Pakistan Military Comparison

Goldman Sachs' Investment Risk Ranking of Nations

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Energy Crisis

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Abundant, Cheap Coal Electricity For Pakistan

Coal is the cheapest and the most common fuel used directly or indirectly to produce electricity and heat in the world today. Global coal consumption was about 6.7 billion tons in 2006 and is expected to increase 48% to 9.98 billion tons by 2030, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). China produced 2.38 billion tons in 2006. India produced about 447.3 million tons and Pakistan mined only about 8 million tons in 2006. 68.7% of China's electricity comes from coal. The United States consumes about 14% of the world total, using 90% of it for generation of electricity. The U.S. coal-fired plants have over 300 GW of capacity.

Thar desert region in Pakistan is endowed with one of the largest coal reserves in the world. Discovered in early 1990s, the Thar coal has not yet been developed to produce usable energy. With the devastating increases in imported oil bill and the growing shortages of gas and electricity in the country, the coal development is finally beginning to get the attention it deserves. Coal contributes about 20% of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions but it is the cheapest fuel available, according to Pew Center on Global Climate Change. It can provide usable energy at a cost of between $1 and $2 per MMBtu compared to $6 to $12 per MMBtu for oil and natural gas, and coal prices are relatively stable. Coal is inherently higher-polluting and more carbon-intensive than other energy alternatives. However, coal is so inexpensive that one can spend quite a bit on pollution control and still maintain coal’s competitive position.

At the end of the decade of 1990s when the economy was stagnant, Pakistan had about 1200 MW excess capacity. Between 2000 and 2008, the electricity demand from industries and consumers grew dramatically with the rapid economic expansion that more than doubled the nation's GDP from $60 billion to $170 billion. The Musharraf government added about 3500 MW of capacity during this period which still left a gap of over 1500 MW by 2008. The economy has since slowed to a crawl, the electricity demand has decreased, and yet the nation is suffering the worst ever power outages in the history of Pakistan. As discussed in an earlier post, Pakistan's current installed capacity is around 18,500 MW, of which around 20% is hydroelectric. Much of the rest is thermal, fueled primarily by gas and oil. Pakistan Electric Power Company PEPCO blames independent power producers (IPPs) for the electricity crisis, as they have only been able to give PEPCO much less than the 5,800 MW of confirmed capacity. Most of the power plants in the country are operating well below installed capacity because the operators are not being paid enough to buy fuel. Circular debt owed to the power producers and oil companies is currently believed to be largely responsible for severe load shedding affecting most of the nation.

The circular debt has assumed alarming portions since 2008, resulting in the current severe power problems. Former finance minister Saukat Tarin recently told the News that “in real terms the circular debt has swelled to Rs108 billion which mainly includes non-payment of Rs42 billion by KESC, Rs21 billion by the government of Sindh and Rs15-16 billion from commercial consumers to the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco)". Just prior to leaving office, Tarin decided to raise Rs. 25 billion as a small step toward settling the swelling unpaid bills owed to power producers.

Per capita energy consumption in Pakistan is estimated at 14.2 million Btu, which is much higher than Bangladesh's 5 million BTUs per capita but slightly less than India's 15.9 million BTU per capita energy consumption. South Asia's per capita energy consumption is only a fraction of other industrializing economies in Asia region such as China (56.2 million BTU), Thailand (58 million BTU) and Malaysia (104 million BTU), according to the US Dept of Energy 2006 report. To put it in perspective, the world average per capita energy use is about 65 million BTUs and the average American consumes 352 million BTUs. With 40% of the Pakistani households that have yet to receive electricity, and only 18% of the households that have access to pipeline gas, the energy sector is expected to play a critical role in economic and social development. With this growth comes higher energy consumption and stronger pressures on the country’s energy resources. At present, natural gas and oil supply the bulk (80 percent) of Pakistan’s energy needs. However, the consumption of those energy sources vastly exceeds the supply. For instance, Pakistan currently produces only 18.3 percent of the oil it consumes, fostering a dependency on imports that places considerable strain on the country’s financial position. On the other hand, hydro and coal are perhaps underutilized today, as Pakistan has ample potential supplies of both.

The country's creaky and outdated electricity infrastructure loses over 30 percent, some of it due to rampant power theft, of generated power in transit, more than seven times the losses of a well-run system, according to the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank; and a lack of spare high-voltage grid capacity limits the transmission of power from hydroelectric plants in the north to make up for shortfalls in the south.

It does seem that Pakistan is finally getting serious about utilizing its vast coal resources to produce electricity and gas. Talking recently with GeoTV's Hamid Mir, Pepco Managing Director Tahir Basharat Cheema shared the following list of coal projects being launched:

1. The Sind Government has awarded a 1200 MW project to extract Thar coal and produce electricity to Engro Power.

2. A similar 1200 MW project is being undertaken by Pepco in Thar. The Pepco project also includes a 700 Km transmission line to connect Thar plants with the national grid.

3. An experimental project for underground coal gasification is being built by Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr. Mubarakmand to tap underground coal to produce 50 MW.

4. Another experimental 50 MW project using pressure coal gasification is planned by Pepco.

The coal and various renewable energy projects are expected to be online in the next 2 to 5 years. If these projects do succeed and more investors are attracted to the power sector, then Pakistan has the potential to produce about 100,000 MW a year for a century or longer. But these efforts will not help in the short or immediate term. What is urgently needed is decisive action to resolve the circular debt problems and restore power generation to full installed capacity immediately.

Here is a video clip of former president General Musharraf talking about the worst ever load shedding being faced by Pakistanis today:

Related Links:

Pakistan's Twin Energy Crises of Gas and Electricity

Pakistan's Load Shedding and Circular Debt

CO2 Emissions, Birth, Death Rates By Country

US Fears Aid Will Feed Graft in Pakistan

Pakistan Swallows IMF's Bitter Medicine

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

Pepco Increases Load Shedding By 5 Hours

Pakistan's Gas Pipeline and Distribution Network

Pakistan's Energy Statistics

US Department of Energy Data

China Signs Power Plant Deals in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Projects

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Energy from Thorium

Comparing US and Pakistani Tax Evasion

Zardari Corruption Probe

Pakistan's Oil and Gas Report 2010

Circular Electricity Debt Problem

International CNG Vehicles Association

Lessons From IPP Experience in Pakistan

Correlation Between Human Development and Energy Consumption

BMI Energy Forecast Pakistan

Saturday, April 17, 2010

UN Says Pak Needs Truth, Reconciliation and Reform After Bhutto's Murder

In its 65 page report released recently, the United Nations' Commission of Inquiry holds the Musharraf government primarily responsible for security lapses in protecting Benazir Bhutto, and blames federal, provincial and district governments for failing to to protect her or properly investigate her tragic assassination.

Plenty of Blame To Assign

In addition to assigning primary responsibility to the Musharraf administration, the commission concludes that there is plenty of blame to go around all of the players involved in Benazir Bhutto's security. The report says that Pakistan suffers from deep, long-standing and systematic problems in terms of the lack of basic professionalism, and the absence of overall competence at all levels of the government. Along with the incompetence and unprofessional conduct of the officials, the report also finds that "the PPP’s security for Ms Bhutto was characterized by a lack of direction and professionalism". Mr. Rehman Malik, the man in charge of Benazir Bhutto's security, is now in charge of Pakistan's internal security as the country's interior minister since 2008, in the midst of the worst ever carnage unfolding on the nation's street.

The UN commission report expresses its dismay at the absence of any serious investigation into her death by her own party's government headed by her widower during the last two years. It says, "Ms Bhutto was killed more than two years ago. A government headed by her party, the PPP, has been in office for most of that time, and it only began the further investigation, a renewal of the stalled official investigation in October 2009. This is surprising to the Commission."

Tension Between PPP and Police

The report suggests that there was tension between police and the PPP workers when the police struggled to control a mass of PPP members attempting to climb on the stage at Liaquat Bagh on the day of the Bhutto murder. The Commission finds that the police were indeed passive in their security role after the scuffle with some of the PPP members on securing the stage. The commission "believes it was unprofessional if the Rawalpindi District Police reduced their level of alert to any degree as a result of wounded pride".

Benazir Bhutto's Responsibility

The commission members hold Benazir Bhutto at least partially responsible for ignoring the advice of Major Imtiaz who was assigned by the Musharraf government as a security officer to be with her at all times. She also disregarded warnings from the ISI chief about risks to her life at Liaquat Bagh. The report says that Major Imtiaz "advised Ms Bhutto on her own security responsibilities. He noted that he had advised her many times not to expose herself by standing through the escape hatch of her armoured car to wave to the crowds, but she would usually ignore his advice and sometimes express anger at being told what to do. On the day of her assassination, Major Imtiaz did not advise Ms Bhutto not to stand up through the escape hatch." However, the report says that the then intelligence chief General Nadeem Taj "met with Ms Bhutto in the early morning hours of 27 December at Zardari House in Islamabad" and "urged her to limit her public exposure and to keep a low profile at the campaign event at Liaquat Bagh later that day".

Pakistan's History of Political Assassinations

The report recognizes that the Bhutto assassination on December 27, 2007, was not the first in Pakistan's history of political assassinations which have remained unsolved. The report puts it as follows:

"Ms Bhutto’s assassination was not the first time in Pakistan’s brief national history that a major political figure had been killed or died in an untimely fashion. The country’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 in the same park where Ms Bhutto was assassinated; the assassin was killed by police on the spot, but broader responsibilities, including who might have been behind the killing have never been established. Ms Bhutto’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, president of Pakistan from 1971-73 and prime minister from 1973-77, was deposed in a military coup in 1977, charged with the murder of a political opponent’s father and hanged in 1979. Many believe that the judicial process against Mr Bhutto was deeply flawed and politically-motivated. Later, General Zia ul Haq, the military leader who deposed Mr Bhutto and ruled Pakistan for 11 years, died in a plane crash together with the United States Ambassador to Pakistan in 1988; investigations by the United States and Pakistan into the crash came to conflicting conclusions, and it remains the object of much speculation. Other killings of political figures that have never been solved include the deaths of Ms Bhutto’s two brothers, Shahnawaz, who was killed in France in 1985 and Murtaza, killed in Pakistan in 1997. The list continues to grow, more recently with the killings, among others, of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a 79-year old Balochi nationalist leader in a military operation in August 2006 and three other Balochi nationalist leaders in April 2009, including Ghulam Mohammed Baloch."

Botched CSI or Cover-up?

The report specifically refers to the botched crime scene investigation (CSI) after the assassination. “The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands,” it said. “The one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab (provincial) committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether this amounts to criminal responsibility.”

While UN commission sees the hosing down of the crime scene "soon after the blast" as "whitewash", any cursory look at the standard CSI practice in hundreds of murder cases in Pakistan would suggest otherwise. In a post on this subject back in January, 2008, here is what I wrote:

"There is a total lack of professionalism in the way the law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan go about their business. Even a cursory review by a lay person who has watched CSI:Miami or other US police shows on TV can see that no established crime scene procedures are understood or followed in Pakistan. The police do not immediately seal off the crime scenes. The police do not take time to carefully collect and preserve crime scene evidence such as detailed pictures, sketches, weapons, bullet fragments, explosives residues, blood swatches, fibers, vehicles etc. The police do not immediately contact the people present in the vicinity, interrogate them professionally and record their statements. They do not order an immediate autopsy in murder cases. They let the media and even ordinary folks just walk into the crime scene, disturb it and take pictures etc. They order that the crime scene be hosed down as quickly as possible even before it is scrutinized adequately for clues."

Corruption, Incompetence of Police Force

"The Contours of Police Integrity" by Carl Klockars, et al, talks about the lack of professionalism among Pakistani police officials as follows:

"The causes of police misconduct in Pakistani society are deeply embedded in the country's socioeconomic and political structure. To begin with, the society is highly tolerant of corruption in general, as indicated by Transparency International....A police officer is expected to posses a high degree of intelligence and the interpersonal skills required to exercise in enforcing the law. However, the level required of the constables, who (together with head constables) comprise 89% of the police force (Chaudhry, 1997, p. 101), is matriculation or even less. Such educational requirements have created a situation in which the majority of the police force have a low level of education. The education of a typical constable can not support the the demands of the job; the constable is therefore someone who is trained to serve as a mechanical functionary obeying the orders of those more senior rather than an officer using personal judgment to solve policing issues....Both police officers' importance as members of government apparatus and their influence as a result of their estimated illegal income make policing such an attractive profession that people are willing to pay any price to get their dear ones positions in the police force. Politicians attach such importance to police service that even the members of National Assembly get their close relatives (such as sons and brothers) inducted into the police service as deputy superintendent of police-by direct notification of the prime minister and without any exam or procedure."

In what Newsweek recently called "transfer industry" in South Asia, the bribe-rich police precincts ( called thanas) in Pakistan are "sold" to the highest bidder to become the station house officer (SHO or thanedar), who then has a "license" to recoup what the appointee paid and make additional "profit" for himself and his superiors. Such appointments encourage continuing massive corruption and incompetence in the police departments.

The fact is that a large number of police officers are recruited because of their political connections rather than their competence. It is hard to expect such a police force to be either professional or competent, as has been demonstrated time and again in a recent spate of violence, including political assassinations such as Benazir Bhutto's.

The three-member UN panel, led by Chilean Ambassador to UN Heraldo Muñoz and included Marzuki Darusman, former attorney-general of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran official of the Irish National Police, has urged the Government of Pakistan to undertake police reform in view of its “deeply flawed performance and conduct.”

Need For Truth, Reconciliation and Reform

Instead of engaging in media spin to politicize the Commission's report to settle political scores, the PPP government should immediately begin in earnest the long overdue process to change the culture of corruption, incompetence and impunity.

The report recommends the establishment of a fully independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and terrorism in Pakistan in recent years in view of the backdrop of a history of political violence carried out with impunity.

The first serious police reform effort since independence was launched during the Musharraf years that was widely applauded, even embraced briefly by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif until it caught the eye of the Musharraf critics. The draft of Pakistan Police Ordinance 2001 was aimed at organizing a police system, which is “independently controlled, politically neutral, non-authoritarian, people friendly and professionally efficient.” Even though the text of the 2001 Ordinance has been significantly altered since then, first by the Police Order of 2002 and then by the Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance of 2004, the initiative still retains a fairly good blueprint for police reforms. It is as of now referred to as the Police Order 2002. Unfortunately, there has been no progress on it in the last few years.

Unfortunately, the hopes of reform in Pakistan are already being dismissed by key officials. “I have witnessed history in my country for the last 60 years and nothing is ever taken to conclusion,” Pakistan's UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said in an interview with Businessweek. “We have had great trauma in Pakistan that did not lead to reform.”

Hope For the Future

Talking about her husband and current president Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto reportedly told senator and family friend Dr. Abdullah Riar that "Time will prove he is the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan". Let us see if Zardari can live up to his late wife's expectations of him by taking the UN advice on launching a South African style "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Zardari: Nelson Mandela of Pakistan?

CSI: Pakistan?

Police Reform in Pakistan

Reforming Police in South Asia

Intelligence Failures Amidst Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

CSI Training in Pakistan

UN Report on Bhutto Assassination

The Contours of Police Integrity

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Burn Garbage to Solve Pakistan's Electricity Crisis?

Among other things during a visit to Pakistan last year, the frequent power outages, commonly called "load shedding", and piles of garbage in the streets made a distinct impression on my family and I. Since our return to the United States, I have been wondering if it is possible to solve both problems at once? Clean up the streets by collecting garbage, and burn the collected trash to generate more electricity? It seems that the Danes are doing exactly that, according to a story in today's New York Times.

Denmark's Community Power Plants:

The new plants in Denmark are far cleaner than conventional incinerators. Such new type of plants convert local community trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago.

As a result of new innovations, Denmark now regards garbage as a clean alternative fuel rather than a smelly, unsightly problem. And the incinerators, known as waste-to-energy plants, are welcomed by many upscale communities of professionals that vie to have them built.

Denmark now has 29 such plants, serving 98 municipalities in a country of over 5 million people, and 10 more are planned or under construction. Across Europe, there are about 400 plants, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones, according to the New York Times.

Pakistan's Mountains of Garbage:

With the consumption boom of packaged products in the last few years, it seems that Pakistani cities are inundated with rubbish, and the garbage collection and waste disposal systems are totally inadequate. Here is an excerpt from my post in July 2009 about visit to Karachi:

"We saw lots of heaps of stinking trash in several parts of the city along the roadside on our way. It seemed as though the Karachi garbage collectors were on strike, but my impressions proved to be incorrect, as I was told that this was normal in several parts of Karachi. The government owned and operated garbage collection systems pick up less than 50% of the solid waste generated and the remaining uncollected garbage rots on the streets, posing serious health risks for the growing population. The massive piles of garbage also plug up the already inadequate storm water drains resulting in serious flooding in the monsoon months of July and August every year. None of the major cities in Pakistan have an adequate solid waste management system, though Karachi city government has reportedly contracted with a Chinese firm to establish and operate such a system. The waste collection and management firm, Shanghai Shen Gong Environmental Protection Company Limited, will start its operations of collecting litter from across the city from August 14, 2009 - initially in only six of the eighteen towns of the city of Karachi. And, as expected, this service will not come free, nor should it. Karachi-ites will be required to pay Rs. 100 to 1,000 per month as public utility charges under six categories (according to lot size) on their residential units. Businesses built on 200 sq yards to 10,000 sq yards or more will have to pay Rs. 500 to Rs. 5,000 in garbage collection fees while industrial units covering an area of 1,000 sq yards to 5,000 sq yards and above will be billed Rs. 500 to Rs. 2,000 per month. There have already been howls of protests against these garbage collection fees and it will be interesting to see how effective CDGK (City District Government of Karachi) will be in ensuring payments."

Unfortunately, I am told that things have gotten much worse since last year. The City District Government of Karachi (CDGK) has since been dissolved, and the privatization of garbage collection has not materialized. At the same time, the energy crisis has become significantly more acute, with extended hours of "load shedding" on a daily basis.


There is no real substitute for dramatic improvements in government's energy policies and governance to solve the acute energy problems Pakistan faces. However, I do think the Danish experience is worth exploring by at least some of the communities in Pakistan. Instead of just complaining about mounting garbage piles, and running noisy and polluting diesel generators to fill the growing power gap, it is time for some of the upscale urban communities to start taking a page from the European experience to kill two birds with one stone. Based on the "clean energy" designation, these projects might even qualify for dollars from carbon credits under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Upscale communities such as Defense Housing Societies should seek guidance from their Danish counterparts to establish a few pilot projects to prove the concept in Pakistan.

Similar efforts can be undertaken in the industrial sector as well, with various industrial estates leading the way to solve their power problems. Rachna Industrial Park near Sheikhupura has already launched a 25 MW trash-burning power plant project currently underway.

Here's a video explaining waste to energy processes:

Related Link:

Load Shedding and Circular Debt in Pakistan

President Musharraf Video Defense on Power Crisis

Creative Financing of Pakistan's Energy Projects

Eleven Days in Karachi

Garbage Disposal in South Asia

Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash

Going Through the CDM Process

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Renewable Energy for Pakistan

Pakistan Inks Hydroelectric Power Deals

Carbon Offsets Under Fire

The Politics of Climate Change

Cap and Trade and The New Carbon Economy

Electric Power Crisis Worsens in Pakistan

Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness

Social Entrepreneurs Target India and Pakistan

Grameen Shakti Solar For Pakistan

Waste-to-Energy Needed in Pakistan

Climate Change Worsens Poverty in India

Carbon Trading: Opportunity For Pakistan

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cyber Wars Across China, India and Pakistan

Last year at the World Economic Forum, U.S.-based security software firm McAfee's CEO Dave Walt reportedly told some attendees that China, the United States, Russia, Israel and France are among 20 countries locked in a cyberspace arms race and gearing up for possible Internet hostilities. He further said that the traditional defensive stance of government computer infrastructures has shifted in recent years to a more offensive posture aimed at espionage, and deliberate disruption of critical networks in both government and private sectors. Such attacks could disrupt not only command and control for modern weapon systems such as ballistic missiles, but also critical civilian systems including banking, electrical grid, telecommunications, transportation, etc, and bring life to a screeching halt.

Richard Clark, the former US cyber security czar, explained in a Newsweek interview the potential impact of cyber attacks on privately owned and operators infrastructure as follows:

"I think the average American would understand it if they suddenly had no electricity. The U.S. government, [National Security Administration], and military have tried to access the power grid's control systems from the public Internet. They've been able to do it every time they have tried. They have even tried to issue commands to see if they could get generators to explode. That's the famous Aurora experiment in Idaho. Well, it worked. And we know there are other real cases, like the power grid taken out in Brazil as part of a blackmail scheme. So the government knows it can be done, the government admits it can be done, the government intends to do it to other countries. Even the Chinese military has talked publicly about how they would attack the U.S. power grid in a war and cause cascading failures".

As if to confirm Walt's assertions, the Chinese hackers have allegedly stolen Indian national security information, 1,500 e-mails from the Dalai Lama’s office, and other sensitive documents, according to a report released by researchers at the University of Toronto. Media reports also indicated that government, business, and academic computers at the United Nations and the Embassy of Pakistan in the US were also targets. The UofT report also indicated there was no evidence to suggest any involvement by the Chinese government, but it has put Beijing on the defensive. Similar reports earlier this year said security investigators had traced attacks on Google and other American companies to China-based computers.

Chinese hackers apparently succeeded in downloading source code and bugs databases from Google, Adobe and dozens of other high-profile companies using unprecedented tactics that combined encryption, stealth programming and an unknown hole in Internet Explorer, according to new details released by the anti-virus firm McAfee and reported by Wired magazine. These hack attacks were disguised by the use of sophisticated encryption, and targeted at least 34 companies in the technology, financial and defense sectors, exploiting a vulnerability in Adobe’s Reader and Acrobat applications.

While the Chinese cyber attacks on US and India often get wide and deep coverage in the western media, a lower profile, small-scale cyber warfare is also raging in the shadows between India and Pakistan, according to some reports. These reports indicate that around 40-50 Indian sites are being attacked by Pakistani hackers on a daily basis whereas around 10 Pakistani sites are being hit by their Indian counterparts.

According to Pakistani blogger Arsalan Jamshed, cyberwars between the two countries started in May 1998. Soon after India officially announced its first nuclear test, a group of hackers, believed to be Pakistani, called milw0rm broke into the Bhabha Atomic Research Center web site and posted anti-India and anti-nuclear messages. The cyberwars usually have been limited to defacing of each others' sites. Defacement causes only superficial damage, in which only the home page of a site is replaced with hacker's own page, usually with some message for the victim. Such defacements started in May 1998 and continued during Kargil War in 1999 and then during that era when the tension between India and Pakistan was at its peak from Dec 2001 to 2002. Therefore, the period between 1999 to 2002 was very crucial, when the troops were busy across the LOC exchanging fire and the hackers were busy in defacing each others' websites.

In 2003, Indian and Pakistani hackers attacked each others' servers using variants of Yaha-Q email worm to shut down about 20 different applications, including personal firewalls and anti-virus software, according to Tony Magallanez, a system engineer with Finland-based F-Secure Corp.

Last year, there were news reports of Indian cyber attacks on Pakistan's Oil and Gas Regularity Authority. In retaliation, some Pakistani attackers hacked the websites of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, the Center for Transportation Research and Management, the Army's Kendriya Vidyalaya of Ratlam and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). In one particular instance, Pakistani hackers removed the "most wanted" list from the Indian state Andhra Pradesh's CID (criminal investigation department) website and replaced it with messages threatening their Indian cyber rivals.

Unwelcome computer intrusions by Pakistani hackers are not new. The nation has the dubious distinction of being the birth place of the first ever personal computer virus known to mankind. Popularly called the 'Brain virus', it was created in 1986 by two Pakistani brothers, Amjad and Basit Farooq Alvi. This virus, which spread via floppy disks, was known only to infect boot records and not computer hard drives like most viruses today. The virus also known as the Lahore, Pakistani, Pakistani Brain, Brain-A and UIUC would occupy unused space on the floppy disk so that it could not be used and would hide from detection. It would also disguise itself by displaying the uninfected bootsector on the disk.

Responding to the increasing threat perception of cyber attacks, the Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta has called for leveraging Indian strengths in Information Technology to build cyber warfare capabilities in India.

According to a Times of India report last year, the Indian Army is boosting the cyber-security of its information networks right down to the level of divisions, which are field formations with over 15,000 troops.

In addition to creating cyber-security organization to protect against cyber attacks and data thefts, the Indian Army leaders have also underlined the urgent need for "periodic cyber-security audits" by India's Army Cyber Security Establishment (ACSE).

The Indian Army's actions are a response to reports that both China and Pakistan are bolstering their cyber-warfare or information warfare capabilities at a rapid clip.

While the India-Pakistan cyber conflict is at best the stuff of minor league, the real major league contest is likely to occur between the United States and its major adversaries, particularly China. The Pentagon already employs legions of elite hackers trained in cyberwarfare, according to a Wired Magazine story in November, 2009. But they mostly play defense, and that's what Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla wants to change. He'd like the US military's coders to team up with network specialists abroad to form a global geek squad. Together, they could launch preemptive online strikes to head off real-world battles.

Among other things, the Wired magazine story had a scenario discussed by John Arquilla where an elite geek squad of world hackers could be used to prevent India-Pakistan nuclear war by taking out the command and control systems of both nations.

The increasing cyber attacks on U.S. government's networks and critical infrastructure, and the growing complexity of IT infrastructure, are driving a surge in federal cybersecurity spending; the U.S. federal government's total cumulative cybersecurity spending would be $55 billion between 2010 and 2015, according a report by Homeland Security News Wire. At the same time, countries such as China and Russia recognize the fact that the United States has an unfair advantage over them in cyber warfare simply because most of the operating system and infrastructure software used in the world today has its origins in the United States. These concerns are fueling efforts by most major nations in the world to enhance their cyber security, and they are focusing on development of capacity to retaliate as a deterrence.

As to the potential cyber component of any future wars between India and Pakistan, its dramatic impact could reverberate across the globe as the computers used in South Asia for outsourced work from the United States and Europe come under crippling attacks from hackers on both sides. Here is how Robert X. Cringeley describes it in a June 2009 blog post captioned "Collateral Damage":

"Forget for the moment about data incursions within the DC beltway, what happens when Pakistan takes down the Internet in India? Here we have technologically sophisticated regional rivals who have gone to war periodically for six decades. There will be more wars between these two. And to think that Pakistan or India are incapable or unlikely to take such action against the Internet is simply naive. The next time these two nations fight YOU KNOW there will be a cyber component to that war.

And with what effect on the U.S.? It will go far beyond nuking customer support for nearly every bank and PC company, though that’s sure to happen. A strategic component of any such attack would be to hobble tech services in both economies by destroying source code repositories. And an interesting aspect of destroying such repositories — in Third World countries OR in the U.S. — is that the logical bet is to destroy them all without regard to what they contain, which for the most part negates any effort to obscure those contents."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Nature of Future India-Pakistan Warfare

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Foreign Origin of India's Agni Missiles

Pakistan's Space Capabilities

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

John Arquilla: Go on the Cyberoffensive

Pakistan Defense Industry Going High Tech

India-Pakistan Military Balance

21st Century High Tech Warfare

Women Reps to Close India's Gender Gap?

Guest Post By Rakesh Mani

As Jawed Naqvi has pointed out in Dawn, there is no proven linear relationship between the representation of women in parliament and their emancipation. Pakistan’s assembly has 22% female representation, he argues, more than double the figure in India. Yet Pakistan ranks near the bottom in most global rankings on women’s freedom and status. American women, on the other hand, have no reservations. Their seats in the United States Congress are won on merit alone. And they aren’t faring too poorly at all.

Despite laudable intentions, the Women’s Reservation Bill that passed with a thumping majority in India’s upper house is deeply flawed because of its pitch and delivery. Parties on either side of the political spectrum have joined hands to support the bill in order to appear politically correct, but at the expense of being reasonable.

Empowerment ought to be the prerogative of all Indian women, not just some. Several critics have argued, rightly, that the majority of reserved female seats will be taken up by wives and daughters acting as proxies for established male leaders.

Not all women are equal. Some have distinct advantages over others; whether due to dynasty, religion, caste or myriad socio-economic factors. The arguments justifying reservations for women also end up justifying the case for providing sub-reservations to pinpoint what type of women can run for election to reserved seats.

Political parties field candidates based solely on their ability to win. Even for women’s constituencies, the candidates that they field are going to be the ones that have the best chances of winning the seat. Without sub-reservations, female candidates will be disproportionately represented by politically active, upper-class party members who have strong chances of victory.

A second, more serious, flaw could potentially accelerate the atrophy of credibility in our democratic system.

Parliamentary democracy is founded on the premise that in return for the vote; an elected MP will serve the people of the constituency. This creates accountability: the MP’s re-election hinges on the value of the service provided to the people. But all that is now changed.

The Bill’s rotational method of reservation will make two-thirds of parliament, about 360 members, one-term MPs. 181 women’s seats will get reserved in a general election, and 181 other general seats will be reserved for women in the following election. MPs will have little incentive to serve their electorate as they know they will be ineligible for the next election.

Women MPs can, of course, still seek re-election through what will become non-reserved seats. But that will be hard given that she will have to battle leaders who are well-established in the area after barely five years to nurse her constituency.

The rotational system will allow MPs to sate their personal interests for the duration of their term, instead of working for the people. If MPs are no longer going to be accountable to their electorate, and the foundational premise of parliamentary democracy is broken, then perhaps we should abandon our first-past-the-post parliamentary system for something that works better for the citizens.

But the still more damning criticism of the bill lies elsewhere.

As Jawed Naqvi has pointed out in Dawn, there is no proven linear relationship between the representation of women in parliament and their emancipation. Pakistan’s assembly has 22% female representation, he argues, more than double the figure in India. Yet Pakistan ranks near the bottom in most global rankings on women’s freedom and status.

American women, on the other hand, have no reservations. Their seats in the United States Congress are won on merit alone. And they aren’t faring too poorly at all.

The problem does not arise from legislative representation, but from social mindsets. The real tragedy is that Indian women suffer a thousand forms of discrimination.

Millions of girls die before they are even born – the stark foeticide, infanticide and dowry killing figures are testament to this. Girls that are lucky to make it into the world live a life of discrimination when it comes to nourishment, healthcare, education and opportunities for employment.

Those that do make it to the workforce are paid less than their male counterparts for the same roles, and have to live in fear of suffering the indignity of harassment, abuse and rape.

How much of this is going to change with more women in parliament? The Constitution and a numbers of laws already provide for gender equality. The problem does not lie in our society’s ability to pass women-friendly laws, but rather in implementing them at the grassroots level.

Indian women face problems because of the attitude of society. Without social understanding and acceptance, laws on gender equality are difficult to implement.

What we need is increased social activism in daily lives at the grassroots level, not more female legislators. If we need reservations for women, it is in the police forces, the judiciary and in the civil services – those bastions of male hegemony that implement the high-minded laws that we pass in the legislatures.

It is India’s entrenched exploitative system and her ability to enforce laws through the tentacles of government that needs to change, not the gender ratio in the parliament building.

The writer is a 2009 Teach For India fellow, and a writer and columnist for a variety of publications. Email: rakesh.mani@

Here's recent video of Prof Jayati Ghosh of Nehru University debunking the myth of the "Indian Miracle":

Related Links:

Gender Inequality Worst in South Asia

Women's Status in Pakistan

WEF Global Gender Gap Rankings 2009

India, Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Female Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Pakistan's Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in India and Pakistan

Female Genocide Unfolding in India