Sunday, October 4, 2015

India's Superpower Delusions: Modi's Flawed Policies

"If you (India) want to run with the big dogs, you have to stop pissing with the puppies".
 Robert Blackwill, Ex US Ambassador to India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Top Foreign Policy Advisor Ajit Doval 

What Mr. Blackwill said about India back in 2006 still rings true with Modi's foreign policy team's poor handling of Nepal.  In a piece titled "Has Narendra Modi's foreign policy bubble burst", a BBC report summed up the situation in the following words:

"For many in India, Narendra Modi is seen as the country's best brand ambassador. That's quite apparent from his many overseas visits in his first 16 months in office - he has generated plenty of interest, airtime and drawn adulation from the extensive Indian diaspora. But that may not be enough in sustaining relationships in the neighbourhood, as he is fast finding out."

India's Regional Ties:

There seems to be emerging consensus that Prime Modi's "Neighborhood First" policy he announced at the time of his inauguration last year appears to be on the verge of collapse.

The Hindu Nationalists' foreign policy spearheaded by former RAW Chief Ajit Doval is causing rapid deterioration of India's relations with most of its neighbors ranging in size from China and Pakistan to Maldives and Nepal. Written during Prime Minister Modi's recent US visit, including a large reception given by Indian Americans in Silicon Valley, an opinion piece by policy analyst Jyoti Malhotra concludes as follows:  "So as the prime minister charms America, flanked by his two key aides Ajit Doval and S Jaishankar, the thought surfaces: Let him also spare a thought for India’s crisis-ridden neighbourhood".

India's Biggest Policy Blunder:

India threw away its substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan when the Hindu Nationalist government of Atal Bihari Vajapayee decided to carry out its nuclear tests in 1998.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains his country's policymakers blunder as follows: "Nuclear weapons have reduced Pakistan defense cost while we (India) have been forced to spend tens of billions of dollars to acquire latest military hardware in a bid to retain the edge. Its shows in the defence budget of the two countries since 1999 nuclear blasts. All through 1980s and 90s, Pakistan was spending around a third of its government budget and 5-6% of its GDP on defence, or about twice the corresponding ratios for India. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defence spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons."

Ajit Doval's Rhetoric Against Pakistan:

Kant argues that the Hindu Nationalists blunders in the past have severely limited India's policy options vis-a-vis Pakistan. Here's how how he concluded his Op Ed in Business Standard: "In this environment, a hard talk by Mr Doval followed by a high-decibel drama by the government on the National Security Advisor’s talk between the two countries seems nothing more than a show for the gallery. The audience may be applauding right now, but claps may turn to boos as the public realises the inconsistencies in the script and the pain it inflicts on the hero."


Hindu Nationalists' superpower delusions have led them to policies that are hurting India's position in South Asia region and the world. No amount of hard talk by Ajit Doval can change this fact.  Former Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has recently said: "India and Pakistan need sustained engagement to realise the vast potential of benefits of liberalisation of trade and investment in the South Asian region." Modi and Doval need listen to Mr. Singh. India's best bet is to engage with Pakistan as well as other neighbors on a sustained basis to deal with the realities as they exist.

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses the subject with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

India-Pakistan Tensions; Kunduz Fall; Delhi Beef Murder; Oregon Shooting from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Link:

Haq's Musings

Modi's Pakistan Policy

Modi in Silicon Valley

Rise of  the Sangh Parivar

India's Israel Envy: What If Modi Attacks Pakistan

Jaswant Singh on India's Foreign Policy's "Strategic Confinement"

Ex RAW Agent Document's India's Successes in Pakistan


Indian Eye said...

Does this imply that had Pokhran II not taken place Pak would not have had the nuclear capability ? No.

Pak always had it, it was brought to the fore in 1998. India knew it all along.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Eye: "Does this imply that had Pokhran II not taken place Pak would not have had the nuclear capability ? No. Pak always had it, it was brought to the fore in 1998. India knew it all along."

There are dozens of "nuclear threshold" states in the world...many European and East Asian nations can build a bomb on short notice. Pakistan was also a nuclear threshold state in 1998.

But there's a big difference between a "nuclear threshold" state and an actual nuclear-armed state.

Had India not become a declared nuclear state, Pakistan would not have either, nor would it have built a large nuclear arsenal of warheads and missiles that it has since 1998.

Mayraj said...

Modi has blundered in every policy area.

Indian Eye said...

WELL SIR.... like an ex indian general said "you can't fight USA without the bomb".... going nuclear isnt about pakistan... we have hostile China.. more importantly USA was hostile in those decades too....

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Eye: "WELL SIR.... like an ex indian general said "you can't fight USA without the bomb".... going nuclear isnt about pakistan... we have hostile China.. more importantly USA was hostile in those decades too..."

Forget about US.

China is just an excuse. The fact is that India's entire military and its armaments are designed to fight in the plains of Punjab and deserts of Rajasthan, not on the mountains between India and China.

Anonymous said...

Written by Vivek Wadhwa.

Ghulam Sethi said...

Maybe you missed the reports from the World Economic Forum. In particular, how Modi is dismantling bottlenecks in infrastructure, business and competitiveness. Political challenges remain in land acquisition but India's ranking has improved a lot overall. I understand you have to focus on the negatives for your predominantly Pakistani audience but by doing so you will miss the positive changes happening in India.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's grand delusion of Digital #India - The Hindu. #ModiInSiliconValley #SiliconValley #DigitalIndia …

The idea of attacking poverty by increasing mobile connectivity in a country that ranks 55 in the Global Hunger Index is just fantasy

Interviewer: What would you regard as the most outstanding and significant event of the last decade?

Siddhartha: The… war in Vietnam, sir.

Interviewer: More significant than landing on the moon?

Siddhartha: I think so, sir.

— “Pratidwandi” (The Adversary), 1970

The most fundamental debate for our youth is the choice between Android, iOS or Windows. — Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A glib modernity has perpetrated the belief that technology can bring about the liberation of human beings. Therefore, it is not surprising that the post-colonial history of colonised nations is also largely a history of this unrealisable fantasy. Digital India is the latest enchantment. The irony is that what goes missing in the search of a “technological fix” is human beings themselves. What should worry us is not the digital divide, but the fundamental divide between a rapidly growing technological capability and a snail-like growth in eliminating human deprivation.

Mr. Modi’s Digital India speech at Silicon Valley showed his remarkable continuity with the policies of post-independence governments, which grievously ignored the fundamental bases of development, health and education, leading to colossal failures in eliminating deprivation. Is it of any surprise that in 2011, 50 per cent of rural India was illiterate or semiliterate? Or that dengue overwhelms New Delhi now? All this is the result of an impoverished understanding of development as merely economic growth and progress in science and technology, rather than ensuring basic human capacities and dignity. Hence, we are in a conjuncture in which 71 per cent of rural India owns mobile phones while 75 per cent of it lives on Rs. 33 per day.

Riaz Haq said...

Retired General Hoon of #India reveals Brasstacks was prep for invasion of #Pakistan by #Indian Army Chief in 1987 …

Operation Brasstacks was the army’s preparations for a war against Pakistan and not a military exercise, says Lieutenant General PN Hoon (retired), who was the then commander-in-chief of the Western Command. The revelation was made by the veteran during the launch of his book, “The Untold Truth”, on Saturday evening.
In the book, Lt Gen Hoon has revealed behind-the-scene politics of major operations and events that took place during his 40-year service in the army. While in one chapter, the author has called the Operation Blue Star a “botched-up operation”, in another chapter he has revealed that Operation Brasstacks was a “war against Pakistan”.
“I have written about operations I have been part of and no one else knows about till today,” said the author.
The chapter 9 of the book reveals the inside story of Operation Brasstacks. It was in peacetime in January 1987 that the Indian Army began moving to the western border carrying live ammunition. The citizens were told that it was an exercise. The book suggests that “it could only be a preparation for a war”
Talking about the operation, Lt Gen PN Hoon said, “Brasstacks was no military exercise, it was a plan to build up a situation for a fourth war with Pakistan. And what is even more shocking is that the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was not aware of these plans of a war.”
The author said that it was General Sundarji’s (the then chief of army staff) and minister of state for defence Arun Singh’s plan to provoke Pakistan “into launching an offensive in Kashmir”.
“... an attack on Kashmir would be an attack on India and in the garb of the exercise that India was already conducting, India would go into a full-fledged war with Pakistan,” reads the chapter.
Lt Gen Hoon said that it was during a dinner party on January 15, 1987, (Army Day) that the PM came to know about the exercise.
“Rajiv Gandhi asked me, ‘How is the western front?’ To this I replied, “Mr Prime Minister, sir. The western army is in fine fettle and very soon I shall be past our battle stations and will give you Sind on one side and Lahore (Pakistan) on the other,”said the author.
“Rajiv was totally aghast and visibly angered. He left the party immediately. The PM did not want to go into a war. Hence, on January 20, Sundarji, pleaded me to stop moving forward,”he added.
When asked as to why Arun Singh and Sundarji would want a war while keeping the PM in the dark, Lt Gen Hoon said: “It was a power game. Sundarji wanted to become a Field Marshal and Arun Singh wanted to become the Prime Minister.”
Apart from these issues, the book reveals behind-the-scene politics when India was forced to take over Sikkim. The author has tried to expose the true nature of political mindset, which should have been protecting the economic, political and strategic interests of the country.
The author also reveals that how President Giani Zail Singh was planning to take the help of the army in dismissing Rajiv Gandhi. “The army had a role to play in the plans to dismiss Rajiv Gandhi. The conflict between the former President Giani Zail Singh and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was well known by all. But what is still not known is the real politics that continued during the period and how army was involved in all this,” mentions the book.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Sidhartha in the movie Pratidwandi was a leftist by inclination, the sort who ruled India for more than 50 years and kept India poor and backward.


Riaz Haq said...

Exports ↓
Manufacturing ↓
Services ↓

: Exports from India are still not out of the woods, with 23 key sectors, including petroleum, engineering and leather, declining in August mainly due to a fall in global prices and demand downturn. In all, 23 out of 30 sectors monitored by the commerce ministry were in the negative zone last month, data showed.

This has prompted exporters' body FIEO to seek immediate intervention of the government to arrest the decline.

A gauge of manufacturing activity in India fell to a seven-month low in September, providing fresh evidence that a recovery in the South Asian economy remains sluggish.

The seasonally adjusted India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, prepared by Markit, fell to 51.2 from 52.3 in August, according to Nikkei research released Thursday. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion while a reading below that signals contraction.

"Growth of Indian manufacturing production was weighed down by a difficult economic climate," Pollyanna De Lima, an economist at Markit, said.

New orders rose at the weakest pace since June, with export-order growth slumping to the slowest in two years. As a result, manufacturers cut jobs to keep costs in check.

"This bodes ill for the economy in the near-term and suggests that manufacturers' expectations for future output growth are clouded with uncertainty," Ms. De Lima said.

Bengaluru: India’s pivotal services industry lost some momentum in September as demand weakened despite firms cutting prices for the first time this year, a business survey showed on Tuesday.

Riaz Haq said...

If #India economy is really growing 7.4%, why is consumer sentiment at 3-year low? Is #Modi fudging GDP? #BJP …
The survey shows that not only are consumers worried about current conditions, they also don’t expect any improvement in the medium term. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Indian consumers are turning increasingly pessimistic about the economic recovery. The MNI India Consumer Sentiment Indicator, from Deutsche Borse, fell to a three-year low in September, suggesting that demand continues to be lacklustre. That sentiment is completely out of sync with the rosy estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) growth. The survey shows that not only are consumers worried about current conditions, they also don’t expect any improvement in the medium term.

“Seen through the eyes of our survey respondents… the short- to medium-term outlook looks less compelling, with consumer confidence at a record low and little sign of a quick turnaround, ” said MNI chief economist Philip Uglow.

Simply put, the 75 basis points rate cut that happened from January to September wasn’t good enough to boost demand and convince consumers that things will improve. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

It’s not just consumer sentiment that is pessimistic. Expectations for business conditions improving one year from now fell to their lowest since September 2013, when India was battling a sharply depreciating rupee. Besides, consumers were the least optimistic about their household finances, with both current and future measures of personal finances falling to record lows.

This level of pessimism ties in with other indicators as well. For instance, the Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for India shows there has been no improvement in manufacturing employment since the Narendra Modi government took charge at the Centre.

In September-end, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut rates by another 50 basis points to boost demand. It remains to be seen whether it will boost the much-needed confidence.

“So far the rate cuts have had little impact, with consumers particularly concerned about their finances. The recent cut in the policy rate by RBI should help, although for now our survey suggests that household spending will remain capped,” said Uglow.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan seeks to join the mainstream of the international nuclear order with Beijing’s support. Washington has offered words of qualified encouragement. A June 2015 US-Pakistan joint statement “emphasised the desirability of continued outreach to integrate Pakistan into the international nonproliferation regime.” But Pakistan’s path to the mainstream faces many obstacles.

The immediate objective of Pakistan’s mainstreaming diplomacy is to be accorded a civil nuclear deal like that given to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008. Islamabad also seeks to become an NSG member, alongside India. Or, failing this, to block India from becoming a member. The NSG operates by consensus, meaning if India became a member it could block Pakistani membership in the future.
India is pushing hard for admission in 2016, with support from the Obama administration and other NSG members, including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Russia, and the UK. There is not yet consensus about Indian membership, but New Delhi’s case is advancing. The window for Pakistan’s mainstreaming into the global nuclear order is closing.
Since Pakistan is already receiving nuclear reactors from China — and since it cannot finance reactors elsewhere — why does it need or want to be an NSG member? Presumably, the answer has to do with standing in the nuclear order equivalent to India and not being frozen in an ‘inferior’ position.
India was able to secure a nuclear deal by leveraging international commercial interest in its nuclear market, and by offering improved strategic political relations to the US and others. Pakistan lacks these means of suasion, making a commercial N-power path to mainstreaming unlikely. For Pakistan, the path to success lies in n-weapon-related initiatives.
Pakistan has worked hard to build diverse nuclear capabilities, which it will retain as a necessary deterrent against perceived existential threats from India. At this juncture, Pakistan’s military leadership can choose to accept success in achieving a ‘strategic’ deterrent against India, sufficient to prevent nuclear exchanges and a major conventional war. Alternatively, it can choose to continue to compete with India in the pursuit of ‘full spectrum’ deterrence, which would entail open-ended nuclear requirements. These choices lead Pakistan to two starkly different nuclear futures and places in the global nuclear order.
Pakistani officials reiterate their intention not to enter an arms race with India, but the growth in Pakistan’s N-weapons complex suggests otherwise. More nuclear weapons and more fissile material will not deter India to a greater extent than is already the case. On the other hand, more nuclear weapons and more fissile material will not help Pakistan address its internal political, economic, and security challenges. Nor will these programmes help Pakistan join the nuclear mainstream.

Read more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Indian haw RAMAHARITHA PUSARLA (NitiCentral) on "Pakistan’s Nuclear Posturing and the Americans":

two US think-tanks The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and The Stimson Centre together released a report titled: “A normal nuclear Pakistan” a fortnight ago (1). The report authored by Toby Dalton and Michael Kripon quite characteristic of the US double speak, justified its infallibility towards Pakistan and postulated subtle rationalisations for normalisation Pakistan’s nuclear arena. Drawing parallels to the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, the authors appealed to the US to consider Pakistan for a similar kind of treaty paving way for its eventual entry into global nuclear regime. Authors plead the US administration to extend concessions to Pakistan and seriously contemplate on helping it become “a normal nuclear state” on par with India. This intimidating explanation logically strengthens India’s doubts of the US double standards. It is intriguing as how the report chooses to ignore malefaction of Pakistan and its alarming pace of vertical proliferation of nuclear arms.

Despite being identified as the aggressor in Indo-Pak Wars of 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 Pakistan seems to have floored the defence analysts of the US by invoking the apprehensions of being over ridden by a bigger country – India. With its obsessive paranoia of India as the enemy, Pakistan has embarked on a race of outcompeting India in nuclear weapons production. Post 1998 India shifted gears and focussed on building conventional military capabilities while Pakistan was relentlessly engrossed in bomb-building. While Pakistan blames India for the nuclear build-up in the region, international community must raise a toast to India for maintaining peace in the region despite unequivocal provocations from belligerent Pakistan and a nuclear weapon state China. Seeking a waiver of all the brutal terrorist activities funded by it to organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried the gruesome Mumbai blasts, it assures that it conducted massive clamp down operations against extremist groups. But alas! Counter terrorism operations were directed against Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that targets the military. It is now a known fact that LeT works in collusion with Pakistan’s military and intelligence services and expectedly so, in spite of concrete evidence furnished by India stating its direct involvement in the Mumbai blasts no legal action has been taken. Pakistan in fact revels in patronising the scourge of terrorism and considers extremist groups as real assets of state. But tactfully complains of being victims of terrorism (read as Pakistani Taliban) and for not getting enough credit for containing some extremist groups.

Till now the popular deterrence theory holds that possession of nuclear weapons would deter nuclear exchanges and other conventional military threats. Nuclear weapons are reckoned as long term fixed assets of state since they checkmate the aggression of rivals. Observers world over feel that repeated provocations by Pakistan coupled with sustained toleration of sponsored extremist activities might inadvertently educe India into a battle with its neighbour. Principally nuclear states behave responsibly and try to avoid evade situations that can spark a war. But the combative nuclear posturing of Pakistan indicates that it is not a normal state. Envisaging a framework for mainstreaming Pakistan’s nuclear program is dangerously preposterous and illogical.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian hawk RAMAHARITHA PUSARLA (NitiCentral) on "Pakistan’s Nuclear Posturing and the Americans":

two US think-tanks The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and The Stimson Centre together released a report titled: “A normal nuclear Pakistan” a fortnight ago (1). The report authored by Toby Dalton and Michael Kripon quite characteristic of the US double speak, justified its infallibility towards Pakistan and postulated subtle rationalisations for normalisation Pakistan’s nuclear arena. Drawing parallels to the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, the authors appealed to the US to consider Pakistan for a similar kind of treaty paving way for its eventual entry into global nuclear regime. Authors plead the US administration to extend concessions to Pakistan and seriously contemplate on helping it become “a normal nuclear state” on par with India. This intimidating explanation logically strengthens India’s doubts of the US double standards. It is intriguing as how the report chooses to ignore malefaction of Pakistan and its alarming pace of vertical proliferation of nuclear arms.

Despite being identified as the aggressor in Indo-Pak Wars of 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 Pakistan seems to have floored the defence analysts of the US by invoking the apprehensions of being over ridden by a bigger country – India. With its obsessive paranoia of India as the enemy, Pakistan has embarked on a race of outcompeting India in nuclear weapons production. Post 1998 India shifted gears and focussed on building conventional military capabilities while Pakistan was relentlessly engrossed in bomb-building. While Pakistan blames India for the nuclear build-up in the region, international community must raise a toast to India for maintaining peace in the region despite unequivocal provocations from belligerent Pakistan and a nuclear weapon state China. Seeking a waiver of all the brutal terrorist activities funded by it to organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried the gruesome Mumbai blasts, it assures that it conducted massive clamp down operations against extremist groups. But alas! Counter terrorism operations were directed against Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that targets the military. It is now a known fact that LeT works in collusion with Pakistan’s military and intelligence services and expectedly so, in spite of concrete evidence furnished by India stating its direct involvement in the Mumbai blasts no legal action has been taken. Pakistan in fact revels in patronising the scourge of terrorism and considers extremist groups as real assets of state. But tactfully complains of being victims of terrorism (read as Pakistani Taliban) and for not getting enough credit for containing some extremist groups.

Till now the popular deterrence theory holds that possession of nuclear weapons would deter nuclear exchanges and other conventional military threats. Nuclear weapons are reckoned as long term fixed assets of state since they checkmate the aggression of rivals. Observers world over feel that repeated provocations by Pakistan coupled with sustained toleration of sponsored extremist activities might inadvertently educe India into a battle with its neighbour. Principally nuclear states behave responsibly and try to avoid evade situations that can spark a war. But the combative nuclear posturing of Pakistan indicates that it is not a normal state. Envisaging a framework for mainstreaming Pakistan’s nuclear program is dangerously preposterous and illogical.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian hawk RAMAHARITHA PUSARLA (NitiCentral) on "Pakistan’s Nuclear Posturing and the Americans":

Despite the insidious attitude of Pakistan the report appeals to help Pakistan to become normal state. It recommends Pakistan to fulfil five conditions for its nuclear normalisation. These are: shift from the full spectrum deterrence to strategic deterrence, limit production of tactical weapons or short range delivery weapons, become amenable to talks on the fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT), delineate civil and military nuclear programs and finally sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). But Pakistan wielding to any these conditions is next to impossible as their military leadership firmly believes that nuclear weapons are matter of national survival. Further the recent US-Pakistan joint statement indicates that President Obama clearly favours integration of the Pakistan to the global nuclear order (4). Reassured of Washington’s consent the National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan began making unauthenticated claims that India has fissile material enough for 2000 warheads (5).

China has so far chaperoned Pakistan’s odyssey into the nuclear arena but with the US too giving into the Faustian bargaining of the Rawalpindi overlords, India might witness unprecedented ceasefire violations and intransigent infiltrations bids. The most debilitating account of the report has been its nonchalant account of Pakistan despite nurturing anti-India terrorists.

Riaz Haq said...

#Delhi hosting #Baloch insurgent leader Hyrbyar Marri as #India's guest. #Pakistan …

Indicating the changing policy towards extending support to separatist movements in Pakistan, India on Thursday confirmed the presence of the representative of Baloch leader Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri in New Delhi.

Confirming the report published in The Hindu, Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said the presence of the Baloch representative proves again that “India has always been home to the persecuted people from all over the world.”

The Hindu had reported on Thursday that the New Delhi-based Balaach Pardili, a representative of the Hyrbyair Marri-led Baloch Liberation Front/Free Balochistan Movement, has begun campaigning for the freedom of Balochistan from Pakistan. The London-based Mr. Marri confirmed to The Hindu that Mr. Pardili has been assigned the task of representing him in public events in India.

Mr. Pardili, who appeared in public on October 4 under the banner of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (BSKS), told The Hindu that he is ready to campaign under the banner of BSKS for separation of Balochistan from Pakistan. The Baloch Liberation Front has once again contacted The Hindu to confirm its growing connection with India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said the presence of Mr. Pardili in Delhi proves India is fomenting trouble in Balochistan. A Pakistani diplomatic source said that in response, Pakistan might take up issues in India’s North-eastern region. The Baloch leadership, in a statement to The Hindu, has reiterated that their presence in India is part of the worldwide strategy of the Baloch fighters to restore the freedom of Balochistan.

In a phone call to The Hindu from London, Mr. Marri said the Baloch exiles in the West are a tiny but effective group of campaigners who have struggled hard to draw India’s attention. “We deserve India’s support as India is the largest democracy and we believe India must shoulder the responsibility of upholding the tradition of democracy and human rights in the South Asian region.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Kasuri effect: #India acknowledges secret #Kashmir draft, #Balochistan link. #Pakistan

The Baloch issue with India has also figured in Mr Kasuri’s book, though not quite as dramatically as The Hindu report states.

“I want to say here that Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have a full measure of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s no gainsaying that it is a futile and self-defeating motive to hurt the other side, because both are capable of destabilising each other or wreaking havoc. There is no substitute to good sense and for talks at every possible level,” he told this correspondent in a conversation.

Files recording the unsigned documents, exchanged by both sides, were personally handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his predecessor at a May 27, 2014 meeting, the Indian diplomat told the Express.

The paper confirmed that the Indian official was speaking even as Mr Kasuri was in New Delhi to release the Indian edition of his book, ‘Neither a hawk nor a dove’. The Express described the book as the first insider account of India-Pakistan secret diplomacy on Kashmir.

Mr Kasuri’s book quotes General Musharraf as stating that the secret Kashmir agreement envisaged joint management of the state by India and Pakistan, as well as demilitarisation of the territory.

The Indian negotiator said the final draft of the framework agreement in fact spoke of a “consultative mechanism”, made up of elected representatives of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, as well as officials of the two national governments. The consultative mechanism, he said, was mandated to address regional “social and economic issues”, like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.

New Delhi, the official said, had rejected General Musharraf’s push for institutions for joint management of Kashmir by the two states, arguing it would erode Indian sovereignty.

Prime minister Singh’s hand-picked envoy, Ambassador Satinder Lambah, and General Musharraf’s interlocutors, Riaz Muhammad Khan and Tariq Aziz, held over 200 hours of discussions on the draft agreement, during 30 meetings held in Dubai and Kathmandu, the Express said.

“Lambah, a former intelligence official recalled, was also flown to Rawalpindi on a Research and Analysis Wing jet as negotiations reached an advanced stage, travelling without a passport or visa to ensure the meetings remained secret.”

Rasheed said...

Excellent points. Yet, I believe it is short term relief, as even the major economies of the world find it overwhelmingly expensive to maintain the nuclear arsenal. UK has even contemplated doing away with her nuclear weapons. If Pakistan's GDP does not grow rapidly, it would not be able afford to continue to grow and maintain the nuclear arsenal. And nuclear weapons are only good for a specific type of conflict. If the war is being fought in each other's cities, like current guerrilla war and terrorism, nuclear weapons are of little use. So, simply relying on nuclear weapons would not help. Pakistan Army would continue to spend large amounts of money on conventional weapons. In the end, it would become a race like US vs. Soviets completion, where Reagan essentially forced Soviets to go bankrupt, notwithstanding its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has to find a solution to survive and thrive, without capitulating on its national interests.

Riaz Haq said...

Rasheed: "Excellent points. Yet, I believe it is short term relief, as even the major economies of the world find it overwhelmingly expensive to maintain the nuclear arsenal. UK has even contemplated doing away with her nuclear weapons. If Pakistan's GDP does not grow rapidly, it would not be able afford to continue to grow and maintain the nuclear arsenal. And nuclear weapons are only good for a specific type of conflict. If the war is being fought in each other's cities, like current guerrilla war and terrorism, nuclear weapons are of little use. So, simply relying on nuclear weapons would not help. Pakistan Army would continue to spend large amounts of money on conventional weapons. In the end, it would become a race like US vs. Soviets completion, where Reagan essentially forced Soviets to go bankrupt, notwithstanding its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has to find a solution to survive and thrive, without capitulating on its national interests."

Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal while spending much less on defense as % of GDP than it was when it relied entirely on conventional arms. It costs much less to build credible nuclear deterrence than to build conventional deterrence. US-Soviet comp does not apply because neither Pakistan nor India are superpowers will global footprint. The two are regional powers at best.

Riaz Haq said...

Half the Kids in This Part of #India Are Stunted due to malnutrition, open defecation. #DigitalIndia #Modi #BJP

India is a vigorous democracy that has sent an orbiter to Mars. Yet its children are more likely to starve than children in far poorer nations in Africa.

In a remarkable failure of democracy, India is the epicenter of global malnutrition: 39 percent of Indian children are stunted from poor nutrition, according to government figures (other estimates are higher). Stunting is worse in India than in Burkina Faso or Haiti, worse than in Bangladesh or North Korea.

“The average woman in India ends pregnancy weighing less than the average woman in sub-Saharan Africa begins pregnancy,” Coffey writes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The upshot is that many children are malnourished in the uterus and never recover.

The second new theory is poor sanitation, particularly open defecation. About half of Indians defecate outside without using toilets. The result is that children pick up parasites and chronic infections that impair the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients — and 117,000 Indian children die each year from diarrhea, according to Unicef.

That may explain an anomaly: Infant mortality is lower for Indian Muslims than for Hindus, even though Muslims are poorer. One reason may be that Muslim villagers are more likely to use outhouses.

This is a life-or-death matter. Governments invest in tanks and fighter aircraft to defend their people, when the greater threat to their citizens comes from their own poop.

Still, few recognize the risk. Worldwide, far more people have access to mobile phones than to toilets. That’s because phones are seen as the higher priority. In the villages that Austin and I visited, villagers routinely had mobile phones, but very few had outhouses. Even fewer used them: It’s easy for aid groups to build latrines, harder to get people to use them.

Riaz Haq said...

#India Capital Shame: Baby Girls Aged Two And Five Gang-Raped in #Delhi … via NDTV​

Just a week after the horrific rape and torture of a four-year-old girl in Delhi, two more cases of young girls being gang-raped have been reported from the capital. Both the girls have suffered severe injuries and are recovering in hospital.

In the first case, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl was raped allegedly by two men who abducted her on a motorbike from outside her house in west Delhi's Nangloi area on Friday. Neighbours later found her lying unconscious and bleeding profusely at a nearby park.

The girl's mother has claimed that her daughter was kidnapped while she was watching a 'ramleela' performance near her house. "My girl was watching 'ramleela' when there was a power cut. That is when they kidnapped her," she said.

The girl has suffered severe damage to her private parts and has bite marks on her body, said Swati Maliwal, the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women who visited her today.

"Woke up to two incidents of gangrape of a two-year-old year old and five-year-old. Bleeding not stopping for the two-and-a-falf year-old year old. On the way to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital (sic)," she had posted on Twitter this morning.

No arrests have been made in the case so far. The police have released video footage from security camera near the girl's house that shows the two men with the child on a bike. The bike is yet to be traced.

The same day, a five-year-old was raped allegedly by three men in east Delhi's Anand Vihar area. The girl was reportedly alone at home when one of the accused, her neighbour, took her to his house and then allegedly raped her along with his friends.

"Her clothes were partially torn with blood stains all over them. Some locals saw her and she told them she was sexually assaulted," an officer from Anand Vihar police station told news agency AFP.

Tests later confirmed she had been subjected to multiple assaults, he said. All three accused have been arrested.

Riaz Haq said...

#Mumbai Police thrashed two young #Muslims, asked them to go to #Pakistan, accuses victims' relatives. #India @dna
Residents of Mahim, two 19-year-olds Asif Shaikh and Danish Shaikh were allegedly detained and tortured by a few Bandra police officers on suspicion of being Pakistani terrorists or ISIS agents on Saturday, a leading daily reported.

Asif who works as a gym trainer was with Danish near Bandra Reclamation on the way back home from Bhabha Hospital, when they were allegedly picked up by the police.

Victims' relatives and neighbours allege that both Asif and Danish were detained and grilled for over three hours and were beaten badly. They were even asked to "leave India and go to Pakistan" by the police, they said.

Asif was hit with belts and batons and Danish slapped and punched, after which the police finally made a call to their parents to take them back.

It is not clear whether the detention of Asif and Danish was made an official entry in police records.

Asif's photo published in the news report shows the brutality he was treated with, but the police is yet to make comment on the incident.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s economic recovery much slower than expected: BofA Meryl Lynch Trims GDP growth from 6% to 5.5% for 2015-16 …

Global financial services major Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Monday said Indian economy is recovering at a much slower-than-expected pace, but faster enough to overtake Brazil and Russia to become the second largest emerging market after China.

The firm on Monday also trimmed its growth forecast for India to 5.5% from 6% for the current fiscal, as per the old GDP series. As per the old series, the base year for calculation of national accounts was 2004-05.

“Is recovery happening? Yes, but even more slowly than we expected. At the same time, India’s relatively faster growth is allowing it to overtake Brazil and Russia in GDP to emerge as the second largest emerging market after China,” BofA-ML said in a note.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has now adopted the new series of National Accounts with 2011-12 as base year and subsequently revised the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate to 6.9% in 2013-14 from 4.7% and 5.1% in 2012-13 from 4.5%.

The RBI has also lowered its economic growth forecast for the current fiscal to 7.4% from its previous projection of 7.6%. The April-June quarter GDP slipped to 7% from 7.5% in the preceding quarter. “We have cut our GDP forecasts to 5.5% from 6% for 2015-16 and to 6.5% from 7% for 2016-17 (in the old GDP series) on poor rains as well as delays in global recovery and domestic lending rate cuts,” it added.

The global brokerage firm said that the coming months could see a consumption recovery largely driven by four factors -- softer lending rates, public sector salary hikes after the 7th Pay Commission, household savings on lower oil prices and a possible hike in wheat MSP before the early-2017 Punjab/UP polls.

On RBI rate cut, BofA-ML said, “We expect the RBI to cut another 25 bps in February after it meets its under-6% January 2016 inflation mandate.” Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, on 29 September, effected a more-than-expected interest rate cut of half a per cent to boost the economy.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex CM of #India occupied #Kashmir Farooq Abdullah: People in Valley will think (Quaid-e-Azam) #Jinnah was right.

Former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said on Monday that people in Kashmir may start to think that Mohammad Ali Jinnah was right about his two-nation theory.
“The trend that has started, it is the most difficult phase for the people of Kashmir… I am afraid that people in Kashmir will start to think that Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah was right about his two-nation theory,” he said, referring to the recent incidents in Dadri, Udhampur, Mumbai and today’s attack on MLA Engineer Rashid in New Delhi.
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Abdullah said he should worry more about the country than about the Bihar elections. “I warn you that this country belongs to everyone. The day you start to think it only belongs to you, you should be ready to see this country fragmenting into pieces,” he said.
“PM should know that he is not the PM of only one community. He is the PM of 1.3 billion people. He should stand up. Instead of fighting the Bihar elections, he should think of how to save Hindustan from such elements,” said Abdullah.
“Very serious action must be taken if you want to uproot these elements,” he said. “If you wait, this spark will turn into a fire that will be beyond control,” he added.
“What you did in Dadri or anywhere else, India is not this. Today, these people have tarnished the image of India, not only in India but across the world. India, today, feels threatened by these elements,” he said.
“I have to say with regret that Muslims, all the minorities are living in danger. They are scared. They feel threatened — for their lives, for the lives of their children,” said Abdullah. “This didn’t happen earlier. This didn’t happen during Vajpayee’s time.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India #Punjab holds emergency meeting to defuse #Sikh violence after desceration of scriptures

administrators of Sikh gurdwaras, or temples, have tightened security in the chambers where the holy texts are kept.

An opposition politician resigned from the state assembly and three leaders resigned from the state’s ruling party, saying not enough was being done to investigate the 11 October desecration.

Hackles were raised after police fired into a crowd of protesters, killing two men.

Amar Singh Chahal, a top police official, said officers opened fire after protesters had pelted the police with stones and set two police vehicles ablaze in Faridkot district. An investigation has been launched, he said.

The opposition Congress party called for the state government to be placed under direct federal control. “We have demanded that the Punjab state government be dismissed and president’s rule be imposed. They are no longer capable of ruling,” said Sunil Jakhar, leader of the Congress party in Punjab.

Punjab is one of India’s top agricultural states, and the highway blockades have stranded hundreds of lorries carrying fruit, vegetables and other produce.

Religious tensions have been brewing in several northern Indian states over the enforcement of a ban on the slaughter of cows by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi. Hardliners have been demanding a ban on all beef sales. Most beef sold across India is buffalo meat.

A 50-year-old Muslim was beaten to death last month over claims his family had eaten beef. Last week, a village mob beat to death a Muslim accused of smuggling cows to be slaughtered for beef, and on Sunday, a 20-year-old Muslim lorry driver died after he was set on fire over rumours he had been transporting cows for slaughter.

Riaz Haq said...

US Stars push #India's Daughter, shocking documentary of #Delhi gang rape & murder of Jyoti Singh, into awards race

Banned by the Indian authorities, Leslee Udwin’s harrowing documentary India’s Daughter has been endorsed by some of Hollywood’s biggest names before its US release on Friday and is tipped for Oscars success.

India's Daughter review – this film does what the politicians should be doing
This documentary, which focuses on the assault of Jyoti Singh on a bus in Delhi in 2012, may not contain much that will surprise Indians, but its determination to shed light on the country’s rape crisis should inspire change
Read more
Udwin’s film centres on the gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, which sparked protests across India and caused worldwide outrage. The hour-long documentary features interviews with Singh’s bereaved parents, as well as a number of the accused rapists and their families. Four of the six men charged with sexual assault and murder have been sentenced to death by the Delhi high court.

Last week, Meryl Streep introduced India’s Daughter at a New York event, proclaiming she was on the campaign to get Udwin’s film nominated for a best documentary Oscar. “When I first saw [the film] I couldn’t speak afterwards,” Streep said.

Along with Freida Pinto, Streep was also present at the film’s US premiere in March, a week after the film was screened by the BBC in Britain.

On Tuesday in Los Angeles at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Sean Penn also threw his support behind the film.

Introducing India’s Daughter, Penn said that the film is by no means pleasant to watch, but vital to experience. “I was never sure that films are important – until last week,” he said.

Comparing Udwin’s film to an MRI, Penn added: “It made me ponder manhood. It reminded me of a trip I took with my children many years ago to Tanzania. I remember saying to our guide how extraordinary it was to see a culture last the way it had been for a thousand years. And the guide said to me: ‘Don’t wish the static upon anyone. It will kill them.’”

During a post-screening discussion moderated by educationalist Ken Robinson, Udwin thanked Streep and Penn for their work to promote the film, but stressed that the support she has received in India is more meaningful. A photo showing a rape protestor holding a placard that read “Thank You Leslee” especially moved her, she said.

India’s Daughter: ‘I made a film on rape in India. Men’s brutal attitudes truly shocked me’
Read more
The documentary was to have initially aired on an Indian television station during International Women’s Day in March, but a court order halted the broadcast. According to Indian authorities, it was done in the interest of maintaining public order.

The film is still banned from playing in India, but after it aired on BBC earlier in the year, it went viral on the internet, attracting a huge audience in India.

Addressing the ban, Udwin said: “I think it’s fair to say that any country that thinks it can ban a film in the digital age should see a psychiatrist.”

She added, however, that she pays a company to try and keep India’s Daughter from being shared illegally on the internet: “I am a law-abiding human being and the film is banned in India, where I have been threatened by prosecution. And frankly, I love India and I want to go back there.”

Riaz Haq said...

Bill Gates' wife Melina Gates on sex crimes in #Modi's #India: "What's happening in #India is horrific"

In an exclusive interview with The Times of India, American businesswoman and philanthropist, Melinda Gates, expressed outrage against increasing cases of rape and sexual assault on women in India, calling the present situation “horrific”.

Riaz Haq said...

The Holy Cow: #India's most dangerous animal. #Modi #BJP #beefmurder via @qzindia

Op Ed by Amalendu Misra:

As a child waiting for my gum in the local corner shop in Varanasi, India, I would stare at a large print hanging on the wall.
The print in question was a picture of a generously proportioned cow with the head and bust of a woman. Growing up, I learned that it was the image of Kamadhenu—a Hindu goddess fabled for providing bounties to her worshippers.
In the anthropomorphic world of Hinduism, all cows descend from this “divine bovine”. What is more: more than a million Hindu deities reside in the cow’s body. So it falls upon the devout Hindu not only to worship the humble cow, but also perform their sacred duty by protecting it. This explains the baffling—to tourists, at least—Indian curiosity of cows standing listlessly in the middle of busy motorways without any harm coming to them.
But, in India, where the slaughter of cows and sale of beef is restricted in 24 of the country’s 29 states, that sacred duty has taken a violent new turn. Hindu lynch mobs are taking to the streets. Their target: Muslims

Unlike their Hindu counterparts, Muslims do not associate cows with sacredness, and they eat beef. This does not gel well with some right-wing Hindus who wish to punish Muslims for their perceived profanity.
In late September, a Muslim man was murdered near New Delhi by a lynch mob on suspicion of killing and eating a calf. Shortly afterwards, a lorry driver in the disputed region of Kashmir was petrol bombed as the mob suspected him of ferrying cattle to be slaughtered in another province. And on Oct. 19, Hindu activists smeared black ink and engine oil on the face of a Kashmiri lawmaker in New Delhi over allegations that he held a “beef party”.
Skirmishes between protesters against the killings and police have erupted.

Several hard realities are overlooked by these violent Hindu radicals. The average Indian Muslim doesn’t eat beef because of some religious prerequisite, as many die-hard Hindus would have us believe. Instead, the decision to eat it very often boils down to economics.
In India, beef is, and has always been, cheaper than any other meat (chicken, goat or lamb). Kilogram for kilogram, it is even cheaper than potatoes in some places. For poor Muslims living on the economic margins, beef is the only source of a wholesome meal.

There are also Hindus who eat beef for the same economic reasons. Poverty-stricken and living outside the Hindu caste hierarchy, they don’t pay much attention to the religious prohibitions against killing cows and eating beef. And yet radical Hindus don’t complain about them.
Then there is the trade in other bovines. India, for example, is the largest exporter of buffalo meat and hide. In the Hindu pantheon, mahish—the humble buffalo—is a handmaiden of demonic forces and enjoys no religious protection. The cow, meanwhile, is an altogether different case. Harm it and you are harming Hinduism by proxy.
To some orthodox radical Hindus, this is a crime worthy of violent retribution.


The Bulgarian writer Elias Canetti’s work Crowds and Power is an excellent tool to better understand the ongoing Hindu mob psyche. The mob is a crowd overwhelmed by a distorted belief. Rather than recognising itself as the cause of societal problems, the mob feels that it is a liberating force that Hindus can pin their faith on.
Unless the ruling leadership puts a brake on this mob frenzy and denounces its spurious ideology, civic life in India is likely to spiral into further anarchy.

Riaz Haq said...

#India was better off under #British rule: #Hindu #RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. #UK #Pakistan via @timesofindia

Expressing concern over the dominance of 'rich and powerful people' in politics, besides the soaring inflation rate, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said that India's situation was better during the British rule.

"After Independence, the dominance of rich and powerful people in politics and rising inflation have worsened the country's situation, which is worse than what it was during the British rule," Bhagwat said.

Speaking at a function organized by Bhonsala Military School (BMS) to celebrate its platinum jubilee year in Nashik on Monday, Bhagwat said, "All political parties were in power some or the other time during the last 64 years since Independence, but the situation has not improved. Hence, citizens must introspect over what went wrong."

Stating the importance of imparting education through the mother tongue, he said, "Today, there is an insistence on education in a foreign language (English), instead of education in the mother tongue. As a result, the importance of the foreign language has increased to a large extent in the country."

Bhagwat laid stress on the need for imparting military education to students, citing rising threat to the nation.

He said, "Even 64 years after Independence, India is being threatened by China and Pakistan. With rising concerns over internal security, we should give top priority to military education to students to make India strong."

Bhonsala Military School was founded in 1937 by leader Dr B S Moonje, who also played a role in mentoring RSS founder K B Hedgewar.

"The school was founded by Moonje to protect the nation and has so far served as a feeder institute to fulfill the backlog of military officials," Bhagwat said. Senior RSS functionary Prakash Pathak said that the BMS was going to start a similar facility exclusively for girls in Nashik city

The BMS, run by the central Hindu military education society (CHMES), is also mulling setting up a flying club and a pilot training institute, besides a centre for service preparation and aeronautic engineering education. "We have received a lot of proposals from states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand for setting up military schools there and will soon take a call on this issue," Pathak said.

BMS students, also called 'ramdandees', earlier gave a salute to Dr Moonje. Bhagwat also released a book, 'Smaran Samaranche', written by Nashikite Girish Takale.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's strange preoccupation with #Pakistan. India needs to look within for homegrown extremism #Modi via @dwnews

In 2003, on a flight to Hong Kong, I had a Frenchman and an Indian sitting behind me. Both must have been in their 30s, as was I. Their conversation throughout the flight was quite audible, especially when the Frenchman begun to groan about the time that he had spent in Mumbai (in the early 1990s).
He was telling the Indian how he (and his wife) got caught up in a riot that had erupted after mobs of Hindu extremists attacked and destroyed an old mosque in the Indian city of Ayoudhia in 1992.
"It was horrific," he told the Indian. "The rioters were attacking people with sticks and I even saw some of them trying to set a Muslim man on fire."
"The rioters were Hindu?" the Indian asked.
"Well, they were attacking Muslims, so they must have been," the Frenchman replied. "My wife refuses to go back to India now," he added, laughingly.
I concentrated a bit more on the conversation because I was now eagerly waiting for the Indian's response.
And voila: "Usually such riots are funded and instigated by the Pakistanis," came the explanation.
One of my eyebrows went north and I hoped the Frenchman would ask exactly how Pakistan could be involved in starting riots in India.

He didn't. He just went on about his ordeal, and how his wife had made them take the very next flight back to Paris.
"It's worse in Pakistan!" the Indian shot back. "It (Pakistan) is destabilizing the whole region."
"Maybe, but we were in India," the Frenchman reminded him.
I couldn't help but turn around and intervene in the conversation: "Can I just pop in, and speak to my South Asian brother here?" I asked the Frenchman. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Addressing the Indian in Urdu (which is quite similar to Hindi), I said: "Bhai (brother), have you ever been to Pakistan?"
He replied in English: "No, but my father went back in the 1970s. Are you Pakistani?"
"Yes," I replied, "and I am flying to Hong Kong to whip up a riot among the Indian community there."
The Frenchman snickered and so did the Indian. I raised my small green can of Carlsberg, and added: "Here's to the usual mutual accusations and counter-accusations between India and Pakistan. And to the freedom of Kashmir and Khalistan!"
This time the Indian did not snicker, but the Frenchman did, knowing well that I was being entirely sarcastic. The Indian raised his paper cup full of white wine and spouted out his own toast: "And here's to Pakistan stopping being such a nuisance and becoming a part of India again."
I smiled: "Well, it all depends on how the Indian community in Hong Kong treats our French friend here after I incite them to burn a mosque in downtown Hong Kong."
The Frenchman laughed out loud: "So, it's true. This is exactly how we (in France) perceive the way Pakistanis and Indians engage with one another."
I agreed: "Absolutely!"

Riaz Haq said...

#China refuels #Nepal as #India fails to deliver - via @FT

China is to supply fuel to its impoverished neighbour Nepal for the first time, amid a halt in Indian supplies that has severely disrupted life in the mountainous country still struggling to recover from April’s massive earthquake.
Nepali officials flew to Beijing on Monday to negotiate the terms of the petroleum purchase deal, which will in effect end the longstanding role of India’s state-owned Indian Oil Company as Nepal’s monopoly fuel supplier.

Nepali government officials have said the initial transaction will lead to China providing 1.3m litres of fuel, but analysts suggest it could evolve into a long-term arrangement that would end Nepal’s dependence on India.
The deal comes as Nepal and its 28m people face crippling fuel shortages amid severe disruptions to supply from India.
“Nepal is reeling,” Kanak Mani Dixit, publisher of Kathmandu-based Himal Southasian magazine, told the Financial Times. “The hospitals don’t have oxygen. The ambulances don’t have gasoline and the roads are empty. All industry has come to a standstill.”
New Delhi denies imposing a deliberate fuel blockade on its poorer neighbour, blaming the disruption on the unwillingness of Indian truckers to pass through parts of Nepal where residents are protesting — sometimes violently — against a recently adopted constitution.
But after nearly a month of fuel and cooking gas shortages, most Nepalis believe the crisis is the result of New Delhi seeking to force the country to change the document.
“India is trying to blunderbuss its way to forcing Nepal to be a client state and do its bidding so the Indian state can get what it wants,” said Mr Dixit. “But India must understand that it is playing with fire, which will ultimately not do itself any good.”
Nepal’s constitution — crafted after more than nine years of tortuous negotiations — was adopted in September with a two-thirds majority of Nepal’s elected constituent assembly. But it has been criticised by members of the Madhesi community, which lives in Nepal’s plains, accounts for 32 per cent of the total population and has close ethnic, cultural and social ties with people from the adjacent regions of neighbouring India.
Many Madhesi politicians are aggrieved that the plains — home to about half of Nepal’s population, including people from other ethnic communities — was not designated as a distinct province but divided into different parts of multiple provinces. Madhesis have seen this drawing of state boundaries as a deliberate plot to weaken their political influence.
New Delhi has not called publicly for any particular changes, but has urged Nepal to find a “mutually acceptable solution” that will satisfy all parties.
The tension between Kathmandu and Delhi is an unfortunate turn in a relationship that was poised for strong improvements a year ago, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian premier in 17 years to visit Kathmandu.
In an emotional address to Nepal’s constituent assembly in November last year, Mr Modi won many hearts by speaking in Nepali, emphasising the ancient cultural, spiritual and social ties between the two countries, and promising to help boost Nepal’s physical and economic “connectivity” to India.
India also won many hearts with its rapid rescue and relief efforts after Nepal’s devastating earthquake in April.

Riaz Haq said...

Unusual appeal: #India central bank head Rajan calls for tolerance in speech at #IIT #Delhi. #Modi #BJP via @WSJ

MUMBAI—The head of India’s central bank made an unusual appeal for tolerance in a speech Saturday, triggering a debate about whether he was trying to send a message to the country’s leaders.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said Saturday that India’s tolerance and tradition of debate and openness help form the foundation for its current and future success.

Speaking to the students of his alma mater—the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi—he said tolerance means not being so insecure about one’s ideas that one cannot subject them to challenge.

“The first essential is to foster competition in the market place for ideas,” Gov. Rajan according to a copy of the speech posted on the RBI’s website. “Without this competition for ideas, we have stagnation.”

While he didn't mention Indian politics today or any group, party or politician, some interpreted his statements as a warning to New Delhi. An RBI spokeswoman said the speech should be read as a plea for tolerance in India, something the government is also pursuing.

His statements come at a time when some intellectuals, activists and opposition politicians have been urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to do more to reduce communal tension.

On social media some people welcomed Mr. Rajan’s sophisticated attempt to connect freedom, innovation and economic progress. Others said he should stick to monetary policy.

Mr. Modi’s government has been facing mounting criticism for not being decisive enough in reprimanding acts of intolerance that have dominated media attention in recent months.

While many groups have long criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for its roots in Hindu nationalism, protest shifted to a new level in September, when a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob after a rumor spread that his family was eating beef.

Some BJP leaders have ratcheted up their campaign for cow protection amid religious polarization surrounding the issue and this has increased the pressure on Mr. Modi.

Critics—including some of India’s most prominent artists, writers and scientists—say Mr. Modi’s rise to power last year emboldened Hindu fundamentalists and increased intolerance toward religious minorities, particularly India’s large Muslim population.

Cows are sacred to India’s Hindus—which make up over 80% of the country’s 1.2 billion population—but are accepted as food by the Muslims and Christian populations.

Disputes about beef eating, a long-standing conflict in India, are more indicative of a general atmosphere of intolerance that some say is rising in the country. A number of high-profile writers and scholars have returned national awards they had won for their work to protest what they call an attack on Indians’ right to free speech.

With his speech Saturday, Gov. Rajan seemed to be lining up one of India’s most respected institutions with those who demand vigilance against intolerance.

“No one should be allowed to offer unquestioned pronouncements,” Gov. Rajan, a former International Monetary Fund Chief Economist said. “This means encouraging challenge to all authority and tradition.”

Riaz Haq said...

The Interviews Blog : If #intolerance in #India continues, #US liberal press will isolate #Modi again Aatish Taseer: …
Author Aatish Taseer has written The Way Things Were. Speaking with Srijana Mitra Das, Taseer discussed writers returning their awards against cases of intolerance in India, how this is being seen internationally – and why his own belief in PM Modi has suffered a blow:
What is your view on authors returning their awards against what Nayantara Sahgal feels is rising intolerance in India today?
I have no special love for the people protesting – of course they loathe Modi. Of course they’re settling scores. Of course there are Ongee tribesmen in the Andaman Islands, yet unacquainted with the art of letters, who have more writing talent than Nayantara Sahgal. But that’s not the point – the point is, the grounds for their protest, regardless of their motives, are unimpeachable.
Critics say the literary scene protesting includes Congress-based patronage networks – is that fair?
I’m sure that’s true. All governments put their people in place. And intellectuals do have political agendas. But if you want to replace them, do so with people of ability – you can’t replace them with people whose only qualification is a violence of opinion.
This is the intellectual gap between India’s old elite and this new lot – they’re so angry about power in this world that’s suddenly become theirs.
I’m sure they have reason to be. But if you want to change things, come with intellectual heavy artillery of your own. You can’t just tear the world apart without any thought of what you’re going to put in its place.
They hate Romila Thapar, Amartya Sen, Sheldon Pollock. Fine – but come to the table with as much reading as them because these are very serious people who’ve spent their lives thinking very hard about their subjects.
If they’re to be denounced now, they deserve the courtesy of being denounced by their equals – not by some plagiarist garden gnome who wouldn’t know a shashti tatpurusha if it came and sat in his lap.
How are India’s writers returning awards being seen internationally?
Very badly. I was at a screening in New York. The liberal press, from The New York Times, etc., was there. On India, all anybody could talk about was the lynching – and how important it was now for their leaders to put daylight between themselves and Modi.
That press is very powerful in America – if next year, there’s a Democrat president and this bad business in India continues unchecked, there’ll be a lot of pressure to put Modi out in the cold again.
No one wants India to fail – but equally, no one wants to be tainted by prejudice. Consider Obama’s reaction when a black teenager is shot in America – that’s what good leaders do when a crime occurs that’s representative of a country’s deepest tensions.
Do you think PM Modi could have handled Dadri differently?
I thought his silence after Dadri was revolting – for me, it was a turning point. Here’s this man, pronouncing on every little thing – and 50 kilometres from Delhi, a man is lynched, because of hysteria his cohorts whipped up, and he doesn’t have a word of comfort to offer the dead man’s family? Nothing to say to millions wondering what this means? He waits a week before breaking his silence with an utter banality. And we’re subjected to primitive statements from his ministers.
I wish i could say his silence was calculated – but i think it was an aspect of the bigotry that comes as second nature to the Modi government. They can’t open their mouths without something ugly tumbling out.
It’s not that Modi wanted Mohammad Akhlaq lynched – he just didn’t care that he was.
This, in a leader, is a terrible failing.

Riaz Haq said...

#BJP leader Arun Shourie on growing intolerance in #India : Managing economy means managing the headlines. #Modi …

On Monday, in a sharp attack on the Modi government, BJP leader Arun Shourie contended that it believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people had started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Doctor Singh (Manmohan Singh) ko log yaad karne lag gaye hain (People have started recalling the days of Manmohan Singh). The way to charaterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same,” Shourie said at book launch function.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of an event organised by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) ministry, Naidu said government of India is at no fault in any of the incidents which have taken place and some people were unnecessarily try to highlight them and trying to defame the country.
“Some people may have made comments here or there may have made some comments but they have been disowned by the party, disowned by the government,” Naidu said adding that even the Prime Minister had made his views clear on the issues.
Opposition parties have criticised the government over incidents like Dadri lynching saying it signified rising intolerance.
Naidu however said that the government agenda is only development and asked people not to be carried away by the “disinformation campaigns by political opponents.”
“Some people are saying intolerance has increased. Yes unable to accept the people’s mandate the opposition has become intolerant,” Naidu said.
When asked about Shourie’s comments that he felt there was never a weaker a PMO as now, Naidu said it need not be discussed as some people were saying that the Prime Minister is all powerful while others saying he is weak.
Attacking the Congress, he said the party had ruled by lying for years and was making baseless allegations. Divisive tendencies in the country are a result of wrong policies of the Congress, Naidu added.
Earlier in his speech at a workshop organised by HUPA, Naidu said that people are not interested in blame games but want development.
He said Indian economy holds hope for the world and though some people were trying to disturb, he felt that people of India and those who invest are wise and won’t be deterred by noises here and there.
He said some incidents had taken place in different states and they have to be taken care by state governments. They have to be nipped in the bud.

Riaz Haq said...

A Nuclear Arsenal in #Pakistan, #India and Far Beyond

NY Times Op Ed by Nadeem Hotiana

“The Pakistan Nuclear Nightmare” (editorial, Nov. 8) portrayed Pakistan as a country irresponsibly building its nuclear arsenal. We disagree.

Pakistan was not the first to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia; India was. Recent public reports confirm that India continues to grow its nuclear program by testing missiles with longer ranges, working on coming fissile material production facilities, and investing in a nuclear triad that inevitably requires a larger nuclear arsenal.

India also propounds war-fighting doctrines while being ascendant as one of the world’s largest importer of military hardware. A special waiver for India for nuclear trade is another destabilizing step.

Pakistan has for decades offered proposals to India for nuclear restraint, including a strategic restraint regime that could address concerns raised in the editorial.

As late as September, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan made fresh proposals for peace in South Asia in his speech at the United Nations. Sadly, India has refused to engage.

Peace can be better served by focusing the world’s attention on India’s lack of constructive response to Pakistan’s proposals, its investment in destabilizing technologies and its aggressive posturing.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's why the world laughs at Indians' delusions of being a global power:

1. Recent World Bank report on student learning in South Asia shows Indian kids perform very poorly on math and reading tests. Buried inside the bad news is a glimmer of what could be considered hope for Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperforming their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities". The performance edge of Pakistani kids over their Indian counterparts is particularly noticeable in rural areas. The report also shows that Pakistani children do better than Indian children in reading ability.

2. Indian kids rank at the bottom on international standardized tests like PISA and TIMSS.

3. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has said India will never be a great power with its uneducated and unhealthy population.

In a recent visit to the LSE, Sen laid out his thoughts in black and white. In an interview to Sonali Campion and Taryana Odayar, he explains why the Narendra Modi government's economic philiosophy is completely wrong — and bound to fail.

"India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. It’s never been done before, and never will be done in the future either."

"India is trying to be different from America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Singapore, China — all of them. This is not good way of thinking of economics."

Sen then warns of the inherent contradictions of this approach:

"The whole idea that you could somehow separate out the process of economic growth from the quality of the labour force is a mistake against which Adam Smith warned in 1776. "

Sen is harshest when asked about the comparison between India and China

"By 2009 they could bring in a scheme of universal healthcare and by 2012 they are well in the 90s in terms of percentage coverage of health insurance. China are able to do that if ten people at the top are persuaded.

In India, ten people is not sufficient. You have to carry the population. Against the blast of propaganda that happened in the general elections last year — fed on one side by the activism of the Hindutva Parivar, and the other side by the gigantic money of the business community — it is slow to correct ongoing deficiencies."​

Riaz Haq said...

Farooq Abdullah: #India Does Not Have the Power to "Retrieve #Pakistan-Occupied #Kashmir" (Azad Kashmir) … via @ndtv

SRINAGAR: Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday defended his assertion that "Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is part of Pakistan and will remain with it", saying neither New Delhi has the power to retrieve that side of the divided line, nor would Islamabad be able to take this part of Kashmir.

"After doing politics all these years, I do not see that we have the power to retrieve that (PoK) or they (Pakistan) can retrieve this (J-K)," Mr Abdullah, who is also the president of opposition National Conference (NC), told reporters in Srinagar.

He said by that formula Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir" will become Pakistan's region with the similar autonomy that we have and by that then the borders will become easy and everybody from here can have access to that place and everybody from that Kashmir can have access to this place".

"So, we can trade, our boys can marry girls from there and their boys can marry girls from here. It will be, you know, like a joint a joint family. That will settle many of problems of India and Pakistan.

"Once this is acceptable, then we will not need all the troops here and they will not need to put all the troops there. And we will have a happy situation," he said.

Mr Abdullah said the only "trouble" with that solution is that the "shops of those who want the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to remain as such will close down."

"They are surviving because of the division and their shops will close once there is a solution," he said, referring to those who criticised his remarks.

Reacting to the criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the former Union Minister said it was a suggestion put forth by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who belonged to the BJP.

"Vajpayee went to Pakistan via bus and he spoke to (Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif. He suggested him to keep that (PoK) and we will keep this (J-K).

"He was BJP PM, was he not? When he gave this suggestion then, why are they (BJP) enraged now? If they have any other solution and they think they can occupy that (PoK) by military might, why are they not doing that then?" Mr Abdullah asked.

Mr Abdullah said his party would support any other solution which could help in creating good relations between India and Pakistan.

"I believe if there is any other solution which can create good relations among Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and India and Pakistan, National Conference has no problem in accepting that. I have said this earlier several years ago and I will continue saying this," he said.

The National Conference president said dialogue is the only option to address all issues.

"Dialogue is the only solution. There is no other solution. We have had so many wars, did that solve our problems? Is there any other way by which you think there will be a solution. I do not see it," he said.

He said Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan have realised that there is no alternative to dialogue.

"Now after my remarks, what happened by the God's grace. India and Pakistan premiers met in Paris with love.

It is because there is no other solution (than dialogue)," he said.

He said it is the people of Kashmir on both sides who are dying because of the situation. "One explosion here and tourism disappears. What industries we have here. Shopkeepers, houseboats, hotels are sitting idle, there is no business.

"They have the fear of terrorism. When will this end? When will we sleep at ease?" he said.

Mr Abdullah said he was a free citizen and would not apologise to anyone over his remarks.

"I am not going to apologise to anybody, I am a free citizen of this country and as a free citizen I put my view.

Riaz Haq said...

#India is second most ignorant nation of the world after #Mexico: Survey … via @ibnlive

London: India has the "dubious honour" of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access. The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people "over-estimate what we worry about", a lot of major issues are underestimated.
"Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish," the survey said. The rankings of the nations were based on the "Index of Ignorance" which was determined by questions about wealth that the top one per cent own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.

Most Indians "underestimate" how much of their country's wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1 per cent, the survey said, adding that the top 1 per cent actually own an "incredible" 70 per cent of all wealth. The survey also found that most Indians "hugely overestimate" the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33 per cent when the true figure is under 1 per cent.
While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 percentage points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said. India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics. Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said.

However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality. In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent - an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.

Riaz Haq said...

Look Who’s Going To #Pakistan After Telling Opponents to "Go to Pakistan" #India #Modi #BJP #Swaraj via @sharethis

As “go to Pakistan” quickly went from curse to foreign policy initiative, we woke up to find India’s foreign minister in Islamabad, rather than all those “Modi-baiters” and “beef-eaters”. It is a good moment to recap what has comprised a policy on the western neighbour all these months that this BJP-led government has been in charge in New Delhi.
Wounded Tiger, journalist Peter Oborne’s history of cricket and nationhood in Pakistan, recalls how Pakistan came to play its first Test series as an ICC nation in 1952 in India. India must have had supreme confidence at the time to have allowed this just five years after a bloody Partition. It has also been a long time since A.B. Vajpayee, in Parliament, alluded to a visit to the washroom by an eminent MP, who is a peacenik and frequent traveller to the Indo-Pak border, as one to Pakistan. Pandemonium followed, as Pakistan as a term for the washroom was a familiar insult.

Much distance has been travelled since, comprising bus journeys, infiltration, track twos, wars and four-point peace plans. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks brought Pakistan back to the centrestage, but some deft handling in India prevented it from becoming a vicious part of domestic politics, in a way that happened periodically, to obliquely refer to Indian Muslims. But that detente effectively ended with the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign. In his articulate and sharp campaign, the current prime minister urged the former UPA 2 government to “doob maro, doob maro (go drown yourselves)” for even meeting Pakistani ministers and officials. In that context, the invitation to the Pakistan PM in May last year was a surprise, but since then, references to Pakistan had harked back to a much earlier time-frame. Until, of course, “go to Pakistan” was taken literally by none else than the affable foreign minister.
The desire to re-hyphenate with Pakistan has been witnessed over the past 20 months or so. Pakistan has become the most domestic of foreign policy issues and the most foreign of domestic policy ones. Senior ministers, MPs and other leaders, with clockwork regularity, urged Indians of a certain description to “go to Pakistan”. Totally unmindful of the enormous hurdles the Pakistan high commission has strewn in the way of the most willing travellers to Pakistan, cabinet ministers and ruling party MPs kept urging departures. Union Minister Giriraj Singh started the trend early, when he said at an April 2014 rally that Narendra Modi’s critics would “have to go to Pakistan”.
The calls to travel came regularly after that, and the BJP president even suggested this year that a fireworks party might break out in Pakistan if the BJP lost Bihar.

Riaz Haq said...

#India blockade has shattered my dreams, says #Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli. #NepalChokedByIndia via @timesofindia

Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Sunday said his dream to develop the Himalayan nation as "vibrant" had been shattered by the "embargo imposed by India". Receiving a memorandum submitted by academicians on Sunday, Oli said his plan to make Nepal a developed nation was under a cloud. Nepal's economic growth witnessed a sharp fall following the April 25 earthquake which claimed over 9,000 lives and devastated vast areas of the nation.

After being elected prime minister, Oli said, he had made many commitments to the nation, including ending the long daily load-shedding, plying electric vehicles in Kathmandu, and building a self-reliant economy. "I had dreamt several dreams on becoming prime minister," he said.
"I became prime minister in a very difficult situation. As we were trying to overcome the pain caused by the quake, the embargo along the border came as a serious jolt," he added, "I have been trying my best to overcome the pain and suffering."

Oli admitted that he had not been able to fulfil his commitments because of the unrest in Nepal's southern plain for the last four months. Due to protests and demonstrations at the border, thousands of Nepal-bound freight vehicles are stuck on the Indian side of the border

This has brought the economy of the landlocked Himalayan nation to a grinding halt. Officials say that if the standoff continues, Nepal will soon face a humanitarian crisis.

Riaz Haq said...

Strategic Insights from #India: The big power of #Pakistan's little Nasr tactical nuclear missile. #USA …

Aah, you little beauty, you little Nasr, you have finally brought two major powers to their knees, and that too without firing a single shot.
Out there in the US, there is real consternation that this micro-mini Pakistani tactical nuke will fall into the hands of jihadis who would then use it against the American mainland. Washington has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in securing Pakistan’s big, strategic nukes but to the Nasr it has no answers. Why?
Because the Nasr is a javelin-like structure, deployed in the battlefield against tanks, and under the operational command of a brigadier. Think of how many brigadiers there are in Pakistan’s seven hundred thousand-strong army— two hundred, three hundred, five hundred— and that would be the number of tiny Nasrs floating about in the battlefield.


On bended knees, America is imploring Pakistan to get rid of the Nasrs. But Pakistan must have its pound of flesh. Washington is abuzz with a civilian nuclear deal for the Pakistanis. The contours are faint but it seems to involve access to nuclear technology, as well as membership of the nuclear suppliers group, a facility not yet afforded India.
Pakistan insists that the Nasrs are safe and are only for use against India were the latter to implement its Cold Start Doctrine: a rapid ingress of armoured forces into Pakistan, the destruction of a few jihadi camps, and then a steep withdrawal back into India. But so high is the risk associated with a potential leak of the Nasr, that Washington has put pressure on India to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir.
An India that was only willing to talk terror with Pakistan has within the space of a couple of weeks turned turtle to not only talk Kashmir but all aspects of the relationship. Oh, how the Pakistani military must be gloating.

Riaz Haq said...

#India wants to be included in #Afghanistan-#Pakistan trade pact | Business Line …

India has urged Pakistan to make it a member in the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement (APTTA) that was signed in 2011. This would allow the entry of containers from Afghanistan into Attari through the Wagah border land station.

This will help India expand trade ties with Afghanistan through seamless connectivity and enable New Delhi have a greater say in the trading system of the region.

“Besides, signing the pact will also allow Afghanistan goods to crossover the Wagah land station and enter India through Attari. So we have asked Pakistan to include us as a member in APTTA but they have not yet responded,” a senior official told BusinessLine.

At present, trucks and containers from Afghanistan are not able to send their exports seamlessly to India through the land border. They have to drop the goods, meant for India, at the last checkpoint at the Wagah border which is then picked up by the Indian authorities. But, India is not able to send any goods to Afghanistan, the official said. “Attari is just a few metres away from Wagah, if they can allow the trucks till Wagah, then why not Attari? That way India can also send its exports meant for Afghanistan through the same ICP and save a lot of time and money,” the official added.

While Afghanistan has given its nod to the proposal, Pakistan is yet to respond.

The issue was also raised by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her recent meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and her Pakistan counterpart Sartaj Aziz.

India is also trying to access Afghanistan by establishing connectivity with Iran through the Chahbahar Port under a trilateral transit arrangement.

India’s shipments to Afghanistan contracted by 11 per cent to $422.56 million last fiscal compared with $474.34 million in 2013-14. Two-way trade between the countries stood at $684.47 million in 2014-15 registering a meagre 0.20-per cent growth from $683.10 million in 2013-14, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Riaz Haq said...

Ajit Doval – The #India spy who spent 7 years in #Pakistan Under Cover as a #Muslim. #RAW #BJP #Modi …

Ever since the Narendra Modi government appointed Ajit Doval the National Security Advisor (NSA), various stories regarding this great Indian spy have been unfolding.
Doval, a highly decorated IPS officer of Kerala Cadre, who retired as Director Intelligence Bureau in 2005, has many interesting and daring stories credited to his stint with the Indian spy agency.

The current NSA, considered as James Bond of India, remained as an undercover agent in Pakistan for seven years posing as a Pakistani Muslim in Lahore.

The NSA has prepared a secret mission to bring India's most wanted man and terrorist Dawood Ibrahim back to India, according to reports.

For years Doval has advocated the improvement of internal security capacities and Defence in a practical manner. Unlike the past NSAs who preferred to look at external issues, Doval concentrates on building India`s internal capacities.

It is the National Security Advisor to whom intelligence agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau report, rather than directly to the Prime Minister. Due to such vested powers NSA is a prominent and powerful office in the bureaucracy.

Riaz Haq said...

High joblessness in #Modi's #India forces 75,000 high-school & college grads to beg on the streets via @timesofindia

"I may be poor but I am an honest man. I beg as it fetches me more money, Rs 200 a day. My last job of a ward boy in a hospital got me only Rs 100 a day," said Dinesh Khodhabhai (45), a class 12 pass who can speak half-way decent English.
Dinesh is part of a motley group of 30 beggars who seek alms around Bhadra Kali temple in Ahmedabad. Before their work begins, they sip hot tea offered gratis by a city philanthropist.
Sudhir Babulal (51) is a third-year BCom fail beggar who earns Rs 150 per day. Sudhir had come to Ahmedabad from Vijapur town with dreams of a good life but masonry jobs were erratic, fetching him Rs 3,000 for a 10-hour shift and nothing for weeks on end. "After my wife left me, where was the need to keep a house? I sleep on the riverfront and beg," said Sudhir.
Dashrath Parmar (52), who has an MCom degree from Gujarat University, is another pan-handler. This father of three, who aspired for government service but lost even the private job he had, today lives off free meals offered by charity organizations. His mother is hospitalized.
Ashok Jaisur, who cleared high school from Mumbai, begs in Lal Darwaza area. He left his job as a security guard after he lost sight due to cataract and now begs.

"I have only one wish: to make my son Raj an animator," says Ashok who feeds his nine girls and wife from income earned off the streets.
"It's difficult to rehabilitate beggars as they get lured back due to easy money," says Biren Joshi of Manav Sadhana, an NGO working with beggars.
"People with degrees turning to begging reflects the grim employment scenario. People turn to soliciting alms when they do not get decent jobs and have no social support to fall back on," says sociologist Gaurang Jani.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's siege on #JNU: #Hindutva's battle for #India's classrooms is out in the open via @qzindia

The clusterfuck that is the current row over Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not really about Kanhaiya Kumar’s alleged sedition. It is merely one episode in a colossal tussle between the Left and Right over a prize catch: education, the shaping of the future citizen.

And there is apparently no place too low to go in pursuit of that quest.
The Indian state has criminally neglected education for decades. Despite plenty of primary schools, a Right to Education Act, and all the right policy noises, our education system is abysmal. Schools are often just empty rooms; teachers are absent or barely more literate than their students; a lack of infrastructure—from toilets to educational materials—hinders both enrolment and learning outcomes. Kids suffer the same social discrimination inside classrooms as they do outside.
Higher education has gotten more attention, and islands of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and JNU regularly produce people who do India proud. But in general, the absolutely crucial role of education in nation-building has suffered from an inexplicable lack of political backing.
Today’s central government, for all its dull-witted devotion to Vedic flying machines and cow urine, is sharply cognizant of the power of the classroom. And it will do all it can to capture it and cast it in its image. The Sangh Parivar is very clear about what kind of Indians it wants in India, and much more driven and organised in the pursuit of that aim.

Want a Hindutva nation that purges itself of “westernised”, “socialist” thinking? Catch ’em young and mould them.
Campuses are rich sources of leadership. You just have to take the campus as a place where people are exposed to new ideas and learn to think for themselves, and recast it as a boot camp. And if you can’t corral them into your way of thinking, intimidate them with the threat of violence.
The patriotism bogey

That project of re-educating India along Hindutva lines has been underway for much longer than two years. The RSS shakha is a potent classroom, and there are Hindu groups that enthusiastically train armies of children in the use of weapons and rhetoric to “fight ISIS” (read Muslims). This project has only picked up momentum since May 2014.
Narendra Modi’s right-leaning Hindutva government is deeply anti-intellectual, obscurantist, and regressive. Its ministers are comically incompetent, its public relations tone-deaf, and its instincts stone age.
Smriti Irani, India’s human resources development minister, wasn’t chosen for her progressive educational views. From the cultural chaperoning of Indian cinema-goers by the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani to the ruckus at the Film and Television Institute of India over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan to the mess at JNU, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going for the jugular of Indian education.
When, crying sedition, the home ministry waded into what should have been an internal university matter at JNU, it did so with naked strategy, wearing only a bikini of incompetence.
But however stupid and embarrassing this government may be, it is very good at replicating its thinking by stoking rage and hatred.

Riaz Haq said...

#China to build rail link with #Nepal to end #India's monopoly on land trade route to land-locked #Himalayan nation …

Underlining the growing role of China in South Asia, Nepal on Monday secured transit rights through China following an agreement in Beijing between Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Earlier, China extended a ceremonial welcome to Mr. Oli who held official talks with the Chinese leadership. News reports said Mr. Oli would also conclude agreements on building of multiple train routes connecting Nepal with China’s key production centres.

However, playing down the impact of the agreements between Nepal and China, official sources told The Hindu that the future of the agreements depended on the issue of “economic viability” of the transit facilities and train connectivity projects.

The Ministry of External Affairs, however, refused to issue an official statement immediately, considering that the agreements were between two sovereign countries.

However, officials pointed out that India-Nepal ties could not be compared or curtailed by Nepal’s agreements with China.

“After all, 98 per cent of Nepal’s third country trade goes through India and to the port of Kolkata,” an official pointed out. India at present has two rail lines under construction and three more are being planned to increase Nepal’s trade ties.

During the February visit of Prime Minister Oli to New Delhi, India agreed on giving dedicated access to Nepal to the port of Vizag.

Officials pointed out that in comparison to the Nepal-China agreement, India and Nepal had 25 crossing points, two integrated checkpoints and 2 more checkpoints were under construction.

Even as official sources played down the impact of the transit rights through China, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli clinched in an agreement with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing on Monday and other proposed agreements for rail connectivity, diplomat and academic Dr. S.D. Muni pointed out that the development represented “a challenge not just for India but for entire South Asia.” However, he cautioned, it should not trigger a panic reaction from India.

Dr. Muni pointed out that China would have to ponder about how it could implement a rail and transit agreement for Nepal without opening up the Tibet region to the world.

“Rail connectivity from Nepal to China will be used by the non-Chinese to travel to China through Tibet. Will China open up Tibet to facilitate connectivity for Nepal?” asked Dr. Muni.

The agreements, however, will take some time before being implemented on the ground and political developments may impact the deals concluded. However, Dr. Muni pointed out that the implementation of the deals would depend on how far China was willing to invest in Nepal considering the economic and political risks associated with the deals. However, as of Monday, Nepal could not seal a vital fuel supply agreement with China which Nepali sources said would also come up for detailed discussion during the seven-day visit of Mr. Oli to China.

Nepali commentator Kanak Mani Dixit, pointed out that the five month-blockade on the Nepal-India border which ended in February, “pushed Nepal to open its northern borders with China for transit trade.”

“Historically, the Himalayas were seen as barrier but now the Himalayas can be a connector between Nepal and China,” said Mr. Dixit, underlining that transit and train agreements will create new dynamics in South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's aid to #Nepal dwindles to $22 million vs #China's $37 million in 2014-15 - The Economic Times

India's aid to Nepal has dwindled by over 50 per cent in the last five years to USD 22 million while China's assistance to the land-locked nation doubled, a Nepalese Finance Ministry report says, amid Nepal's deepening ties with the Communist giant.

Chinese aid of USD 37.94 million was disbursed in the 12-month period in 2014-2015 which made it the fourth largest bilateral donor to Nepal behind the UK, the US and Japan, according to Nepal's Development Cooperation Report 2014-15.

Riaz Haq said...

#Asia's sweetheart: Why the region's giants are wooing #SriLanka? #China #India #Japan #US

Situated almost in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there is no escaping Sri Lanka's centrality.

The country lies just a few nautical miles away from the super-busy east-west shipping route, through which an estimated 60,000 ships pass every year, carrying two-thirds of the world's oil and half of all container shipments.

Now, with Asia's economic rise, experts say Sri Lanka's location has become even more alluring. Not only are three Asian powers - China, Japan and India - playing dominant roles in the global economy at the same time for the first time, there are also increasingly attractive markets and trade opportunities in Asia.

"Sri Lanka is the pivotal point for a global grand strategy," R. Hariharan, a retired Indian army colonel and specialist in South Asian geopolitics, told CNBC. "Sri Lanka's geography gives it an advantage disproportionate to its size."

The small island nation with a population of 22 million has been rediscovering its strategic location for the past few years as it comes out of a 26-year civil war that depleted government resources and held back development. As Sri Lanka looks for assistance to reboot its economy, a largely two-way tussle for influence in the country and, in turn, the region is on.

Riaz Haq said...

#Nepal cancels President visit as #India-#Nepal ties sour. #Nepal recalls its Ambassador in #Delhi via @sharethis

In a move without parallel, the Nepal government had cancelled the trip of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to India barely 72 hours before her departure for Delhi, without giving any reason. This was coupled by another act of vengeance, the recall of its ambassador, Deep Kumar Upadhyay in Delhi.
Both these acts came barely 24 hours after Prime Minister K P Oli defeated a move to unseat him from the post, under an initiative taken by the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress. The move was to have seen Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the second largest constituent in the cabinet, lead the new government.

The move collapsed at the last minute after Dahal entered into a fresh deal extracting promises from Oli that he will withdraw all politically motivated cases pending against Maoist leaders and cadres during the decade-long insurgency dating back to 1996.
Oli reportedly believes that India was behind the move to topple him. The decision to scrap president’s visit to Delhi, along with the recall of Ambassador Upadhyay, clearly indicate that Oli is upset with India.
A seasoned Nepali diplomat, someone not enamoured of India and its role in Nepal, went to the extent of calling it an ‘unfriendly act’. Bhandari who became President a week after Oli, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), took over as the prime minister in October, belonged to the same faction of party, and apparently do not differ much in her views on India.
Bhandari’s proposed visit was being viewed as a move to explore traditional cordiality in bilateral relations that suffered a series of setbacks especially after India supported the Madhesi groups anti-constitution protests and the subsequent blockade for months beginning in September, csusing Nepal an acute shortage of essential goods and fuel.

Riaz Haq said...

Doval Doctrine can’t help #India make peace with neighbors #Pakistan #China #RAW … via @httpstwittercomasiatimesonline


Ajit Kumar Doval, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is the second most important official in the government of India. His close ties with Prime Minister Modi reminds one of BN Mullik who, like him, was IB chief (1950-64), had close relationship with then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and influenced his key decisions on Kashmir, Pakistan and China. But Doval is going a few steps ahead of him with his hard line on Kashmir, Pakistan and China. The ‘doctrine’ named after him and expounded by him in two lectures delivered in 2014 and 2015 is analysed here in the light of the Pathankot airbase attack

A former Director General of Police Punjab, a crusader against the drug-trafficker-politician nexus, observed in an interview (Outlook magazine, May 12) that a ‘sleeper cell’ of the terror groups was involved in the Pathankot attack.

India’s national security establishment, while dealing with the attack, had failed to examine the role of drugs-arms trafficking and money laundering networks operating in the border areas of Punjab and Pakistan with links to terrorists. This would have called for a cooperative approach between Indian and Pakistani security and criminal justice establishments.

Doval is a hawkish thinker, activist and speaker popular in the predominantly right wing middle class social circles of India. He has delineated his approach to Pakistani terrorism in his Nani Palkiwala Memorial Lecture, 2014 and the Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture, 2015.

Pakistani terrorism against India, according to him, is a tactic to achieve ideological and political advantages.

So the enemy has to be engaged at three levels: defensive, defensive-offensive and offensive modes. The often resorted to ‘defensive’ mode is ineffective and irrelevant.

The “offensive-defensive mode” required going into Pakistan and tackling the problem where it originated. To make it clear, he used the famous phrase: “You may do one Mumbai; you may lose Baluchistan.”

This seemed to be crux of the Doval Doctrine. Either Pakistan give up terrorism against India as a state policy or India would let it “bleed with the Taliban”.

Doval states that terrorist organizations could be bought with money, weapons and manpower. Or a “paradigm shift” should occur with the use of high technology and “intelligence-driven covert operations”.

Doval used a boxing terminology and deplored the Indian tendency to punch below its weight. It must punch not below or above its weight but improve its weight to hit proportionately.

Doval emphasized that “individual morality should be imposed on the larger interest of the state”. The values of the state are above the values of individual.

Doval-approved covert operations were conducted by the then Army Chief General VK Singh who set the Technical Support Division and carried out several such ‘operations’ in Baluchistan, part of Pakistan, in 2015. Baluch dissident leaders were hosted in Delhi and the Baluch Liberation Organization (BLO) has existed in Delhi since 2009 (Indian Express, October 23, 2015).

Aggressive actions by Doval against Pakistan included the cancellation of the Foreign Secretaries’ meet in August 18 2014 and the NSA’s in August 22 2015.

Modi, on the advice of Doval, has adopted a hard line on Pakistan and has refrained from commenting on the peace efforts made by his predecessor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in back channel diplomacy with President Musharraf and has ignored the four-point formula evolved to settle the Kashmir dispute.

Riaz Haq said...

Two years on, Narendra #Modi "hasn't achieved anything yet" as he struggles to realize #India’s dreams. #BJP

Narendra Modi's sweeping victory in the May 2014 Indian general election prompted jubilation among his Hindu supporters in Varanasi, the northern city on the Ganges he had chosen as his parliamentary seat.

The energetic leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata party seemed to usher in a radical change from the sclerotic Congress government he had deposed, promising jobs for the young, toilets for the poor and economic reforms for investors and entrepreneurs.

Two years on, and even Mr Modi's supporters in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, are beginning to wonder if the prime minister will be able to achieve half of what he has pledged — whether the target is a clean-up of the polluted Gangesor the revival of Indian manufacturing.

"Modi's a realist," says one retired banker in Varanasi, "but he hasn't achieved anything yet. People say he needs more time."

Higher up the Ganges in Kanpur, the industrial city once known as the Manchester of India, business leaders say the erratic supply of electricity has improved slightly. But there are few new jobs for the 1m or so young Indians who enter the workforce each month: lack of power, the difficulty of acquiring land, restrictive labour laws and constant interference by bureaucratic and corrupt government inspectors have made sure of that.

P. Chidambaram, a Congress leader and former finance minister, says the government is "on a dangerous path" of promoting polarisation, while the BJP's Arun Shourie, a disenchanted former confidant of Mr Modi, laments the "intimidation and silencing" of the government's critics.

Yet the principal complaint about Mr Modi is not that he is a domineering Hindu puritan but that he has failed to do much for economic development.

"His concept of development is a few large, shining and conspicuous projects," says Mr Shourie, referring to such Modi-led campaigns as "Make in India" and "Digital India". Or, as Mr Chidambaram puts it: "Where are the jobs?"

Business leaders say it is unfair to suggest that nothing has been achieved, although few of them would agree with Jayant Sinha, minister of state for finance and a former McKinsey partner, when he says "we are fundamentally changing the nature of Indian capitalism" to help entrepreneurs.


Mr Modi also faces intense resistance to change from Indian bureaucrats and is undermined by ineffective cabinet ministers he seems unwilling to sack. He sometimes finds his initiatives blocked by state governments — such as that of Uttar Pradesh — controlled by parties other than the BJP. Banks are constrained from new lending by a mountain of bad loans for infrastructure and industry dating back to previous administrations.

Priyankar Upadhyaya, a political scientist at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, says Mr Modi "desperately" wants economic development and finds himself stuck in a "trap of expectations" set by hopeful voters.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's man Doval's meddling: #India losing the neighbourhood - The Hindu. #Nepal #SriLanka #Maldives #Pakistan #BJP

Save for Bhutan and perhaps Bangladesh, much of South Asia has major grievances against New Delhi today. Clearly, then, there is something fundamentally wrong with the BJP-led government’s neighbourhood diplomacy. If so, what is it that New Delhi has done to deserve the ire of its neighbours? While New Delhi’s not-so-friendly relationship with Islamabad is unsurprising, what has provoked the other countries, some of which figured very high on Mr. Modi’s bilateral priorities, to suddenly come out openly against India?

Nosey in Nepal

One of the major reasons for India’s growing unpopularity in the regional capitals is its increasing tendency to interfere in the domestic affairs of its smaller neighbours, either citing security implications or to offset the target country’s unfriendly strategic choices. Take the case of Nepal, for instance. New Delhi was deeply upset with the Constitution passed by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in September last year. Its unhappiness resulted from the legitimate feeling among the people of Terai, especially the Madhesis and Tharus, living close to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, that they have been short-changed by the country’s new Constitution. But a substantive political argument was thwarted by poor diplomatic style.

Meddling in Sri Lanka

If New Delhi’s Mission Kathmandu was both a failure and distasteful, its ‘subtle interference’ in Sri Lanka in the run-up to the island nation’s elections last year has set a dangerous precedent. New Delhi had proactively promoted the coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose anti-Tamil record and pro-China tilt was resented by New Delhi. Several reports at the time claimed that Colombo had asked New Delhi to withdraw the Research and Analysis Wing’s station chief in Sri Lanka for allegedly working to ensure the victory of the anti-Rajapaksa coalition.

While involving ourselves in regime changes in the neighbourhood is a terrible idea in the longer run, we must ask whether the regime change in Colombo has actually prompted it to declare itself pro-India. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while visiting India last year, removed any such misgivings by saying, “Sri Lanka is neither pro-India nor pro-China.” The new government in Colombo has been vigorously courting Beijing for economic and infrastructural assistance, something it knows fully well that New Delhi can only provide in small measure.

Riling the Maldives regime

Maldives, yet another traditional ally of ours, has also been resenting the Indian reactions to its domestic political developments. New Delhi, being highly critical of how the pro-India former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was jailed by the current regime under terrorism charges, publicly stated that “we are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed”. The Maldivian government responded by saying it hoped that India would “adhere to the principle of Panchsheel and will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives”.

During External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Maldives in October last year, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s office issued a sharply worded statement that his “government will not tolerate foreign parties interfering with the country’s domestic issues”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan sends 30-bed field hospital to #SriLanka, 17 doctors coming to help flood victims- The Hindu …

Hospital has operation theaters, and x-ray laboratories, two special cargo aircraft carrying relief items also expected.

Even as relief and rescue operations continued in Sri Lanka, the government of Pakistan sent a 30 bed fully-equipped field hospital and relief materials.

A release of the Pakistan High Commission here stated that the field hospital had operation theaters and x-ray laboratories. Two special cargo aircraft, carrying relief items, were also expected to reach Colombo shortly. Besides, 17 Pakistani doctors would be arriving in Sri Lanka for providing health care assistance.

Oz announces contribution

The Australian government said it would contribute $5,00,000 to UNICEF for humanitarian assistance, including the provision of clean water and sanitation for children in shelters.

On Sunday afternoon, the number of deaths in the country went up to 84 with the recovery of 11 more bodies. Toll in Aranayaka, the site of last week’s landslip, stood at 32 and the district of Kegalle accounted for 50 deaths. As of now, 2.37 lakh persons were kept at relief camps. President Maithripala Sirisena visited Wellampitiya, Meethotamulla and Kolonnawa, all located in Colombo district, and met the flood-affected people.

3.4 lakh people affected

Of about 3.4 lakh affected people in the country, the Western Province accounted for around 2.43 lakh persons. There were about 94,151 persons hit by the floods in the Kolonnawa division and 24,824 – Kaduwela, both in the district of Colombo. In the neighbouring Gampaha district, Wattala had 35,407 affected persons; Biyagama – 21,302 and Kelaniya – 16,202, according to a report of the government’s Disaster Management Centre.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian CSO estimates overstate #GDP, Use Wholesale price deflator, not retail price deflator #Modi #GDP #India #GDP

Gap in methodology arose from the use of smaller-than-appropriate weights for CPI

The Central Statistics Office’s GDP figures released on Tuesday overstates the extent of growth, according to analysts. A number of statistical deficiencies plague the data, they said. The main issue is that not all of the growth that the figures show is on account of real growth. Much of it is purely on account of the increase in prices, which ought to have been deflated out adequately. According to HSBC Global Research the gap in the methodology arose from the use of smaller-than-appropriate weights for consumer price inflation in the GDP deflators. It found that correcting the consumer- and wholesale-prices mix in the deflators, giving them equal weights, suggests India’s Gross Value Added (GVA) grew 6.2 per cent in the January-March quarter, slower than the official estimate of 7.4 per cent.

“Price changes that boost nominal earnings are being ascribed to real growth,” JP Morgan Research wrote in a note to clients. “Much of the value-added is because of input prices falling more than output prices (i.e., nominal margins being boosted), which needs to be deflated out.” The faulty approach can be seen in the manner manufacturing value-added was deflated.

Input prices
Input prices are falling more than output prices, boosting the nominal margins, and inflating much of the value-added in the manufacturing sector. In the absence of adequate deflation, manufacturing growth was exaggerated, wrote HSBC Global Research.

CSO data put real manufacturing growth at 9.3 per cent in the January-March period. This was at odds with the IIP data for the same quarter, which showed a mere increase of 0.2 per cent, JP Morgan wrote. Similarly, inadequate deflation also affected the way tax changes were incorporated into the GDP data. It led to overestimation of taxes, which drove the GDP well above the GVA. GDP is calculated as a sum of GVA and indirect taxes from which the value of product subsidies is deducted. The difference in the GDP and GVA growth estimates is striking; it widened to 0.4 per cent from 0.1 per cent in the previous financial year. Separately, data show that contraction in exports is slowing, according to HSBC.

Riaz Haq said...

The Bargain Basement Sale of #Modi's #India's Sovereignty to #Washington … via @thewire_in

By drawing even closer to the United States and signing binding agreements, India is giving up years of carefully calibrated balance in its foreign policy.

This is the first of a three-part series on India’s foreign policy.

In two lacklustre years of governance the BJP has done very little to fulfil its promise of economic revival and vindicate the trust that the people of India had bestowed upon it. That may be why its propagandists have worked overtime to portray the signature of the Logistics and Supply Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the USA, and President Obama’s designation of India as a “major defence partner” as a huge success in his foreign policy.

With very few exceptions, commentators in the national media have fallen in line with this assessment. Only a few have noticed that in his eagerness to cement a closer defence relationship with the US Modi had given away India’s most prized asset – its zealously guarded independence of foreign policy – in exchange for a barrage of flattery and a bunch of verbal assurances that do not even add up to the proverbial thirty pieces of silver .

Declaring India a major defence partner has cost the US nothing. Unlike NATO or the US’s defence treaty with Japan, it is not a mutual defence pact and does not bind the US to coming to India’s aid if it is attacked. The most that India can possibly aspire to is a relationship somewhat similar to that of the US with Israel, where the US constantly reiterates its determination to come to Israel’s aid if it is attacked, but not via a defence treaty.

But India is not Israel. Its India-born American community is rich, and becoming politically more influential by the day. But it can never, even remotely, aspire to the power to shape US policy. American military power is not, therefore, ever likely to be deployed against India’s two main adversaries, Pakistan and China: Pakistan because it too is ‘a major non-NATO ally’, and China because it is simply too big for an already war-weary nation to take on.

In sharp contrast, the commitments that India has made to become worthy of this award (for that is all it is) are concrete, onerous and, worst of all, open-ended. Indian diplomats who have been involved in the negotiations insist that, unlike the Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA) that the US has signed with its other allies, it does not give the US Navy and Air Force an automatic right to use Indian bases while waging its wars. What it will facilitate automatically is the refuelling, restocking and repair of their craft at Indian naval and air bases during joint exercises, anti-piracy and other UN-sanctioned operations in the Indian Ocean.

This is the assurance that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had rushed to Beijing to give to the Chinese after postponing the signature of LEMOA at the last minute during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to Delhi in April. But in practice, these caveats against automatic involvement in America’s wars are hollow because Delhi will find it exceedingly difficult to deny these facilities to the US once the latter has committed itself to a military operation – because of the angry reaction that will provoke in the US media, and the Congress.

LEMOA is also only the thin end of a rather fat wedge. The US has made it clear that signing it will make it easier to acquire sensitive dual-use technologies. But to get the most out of it, India will have to sign two supplementary “foundational” agreements, the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

The US needs these to ensure that sensitive technological information shared with India does not get passed onto ‘unfriendly’ countries. But this concern will cut both ways. Its immediate result will therefore be to cut India off from access to cutting edge Russian armaments and technology.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Pakistan hawk & ex spy Ajit Doval shaping #India's aggressive foreign policy under #Modi #BJP via @business

He spent seven years undercover in Pakistan, recruited rebels as informants in disputed Kashmir, and once disguised himself as a rickshaw driver to infiltrate a militant group inside India’s holiest Sikh temple. Now some consider Ajit Doval the most powerful person in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi picked Doval as his National Security Advisor, a position that holds more sway than the ministers of defense and foreign affairs. It puts Doval in charge of talks with arch-rival Pakistan. He visits arms manufacturers to discuss strategic capabilities, and orchestrates the response to militant attacks, liaising daily with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, the nation’s top diplomat.
Since Doval took the job, he has supported a nationalist agenda while adopting a tougher line against hostile neighbors. That has growing economic ramifications as China funds a $45 billion trade corridor through Pakistan that bypasses India and as both China and India eye resource-rich neighbors in central Asia like Afghanistan.

“Every strategic issue in this region involves security in a way that it doesn’t in other regions,” says R. K. Sawhney, a former director general of military intelligence who’s known Doval for nearly two decades. “As the profile of the country grows, the profile of the national security advisor grows.”
Short, trim and bespectacled, Doval shuns the limelight and rarely appears in public. His office said he wasn’t available for an interview. Six people who have known him personally for years—some of whom requested not to be identified because he dislikes publicity—said Doval is overseeing India’s most delicate diplomatic issues.
Shortly after taking office, Modi sent Doval as his special envoy to Afghanistan and brought him on his first foreign trip to Bhutan. He’s also special representative in charge of talks with China over a disputed border, a task made more difficult as China plans to invest millions into transportation links through Kashmir, an area claimed by both India and Pakistan.
In December, Doval flew to Bangkok for a secret meeting with his Pakistani counterpart in an effort to restart peace talks between the two nuclear-armed nations.

Calls for Doval’s replacement intensified after Home Minister Rajnath Singh suffered a politically embarrassing trip to Pakistan in August that Doval pulled out of at the last minute, according to press reports. A spokesman for the prime minister's office declined to answer questions about Doval.
“The best experts on how to deal with terrorism, how to think about diplomacy and foreign affairs—they are not being consulted,” opposition politician Rahul Gandhi, son of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, said in January. Doval’s job is “strategy, not tactics.”
No government website carries Doval’s profile. A biography provided during a lecture he gave in August 2015 in Mumbai stated he was born in 1945 in Garhwal, in a northern region now called Uttarakhand, and graduated with a master’s degree in economics from the University of Agra in 1967 before joining the police force.

In 1972, he moved to the Intelligence Bureau, where he spent three decades, including stints in the restive regions of India’s northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, and the U.K. Doval is fluent in Urdu, the main language used in Pakistan. He told an audience in November 2014 he had lived in Pakistan for seven years, getting plastic surgery to remove signs his ears had been pierced—an indication of his Hindu roots.
“I haven’t seen anyone else at his level who would continue to come into the field,” said S.S. Virk, former director general of police in Punjab who was shot during the Golden Temple operation and says Doval visited him at the hospital. “He was an outstanding operator.”

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Pakistan hawk & ex spy Ajit Doval shaping #India's aggressive foreign policy under #Modi #BJP via @business

Those who know him describe him as a heavy smoker with an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge, taking guests at his home in Noida near New Delhi for drinks in a library in the basement lined from floor to ceiling with hundreds of books.
After retiring from the Intelligence Bureau, Doval founded the Vivekananda International Foundation in 2009. In its red sandstone and concrete headquarters in a tony district of Delhi, Doval has courted foreign diplomats and high-ranking defense officials, striking hawkish, nationalist views that resonated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Doval wields more influence than previous national security advisers in part because of his credibility and experience in intelligence and security matters,” said Sameer Patil, who served in the prime minister’s national security council secretariat under the previous Congress government. Patil said it was long rumored that Doval advised Modi even before he was elected prime minister in 2014.
In papers published during that time, Doval argued for a more assertive foreign policy and a beefed up military. He warned of India’s “eroding maritime preeminence" in the Indian Ocean, of Pakistan’s attempts to influence Afghanistan and the Taliban, and said China’s development was "not an assured peaceful rise."
“India has a mindset that, where it hits, it punches below its weight,” he said at the August 2015 lecture. “We have to increase our weight and punch proportionately.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi #Doval policy on #Pakistan is backfiring as "chickens come home to roost". #Kashmir #UriAttacks #India …

The terrorist attack on the Indian Army base camp at Uri in the early hours of Sunday gives a sickening feeling that the asymmetric war with Pakistan, which began tapering off a year ago, is restarting. (here) What has happened to our Pakistan policy?

There are always ‘red lines’ in diplomacy and the most important ones are always the self-imposed ones. I can ‘declassify’ a vital information, namely, that in the a priori history before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014, we took care not to violate the ‘red lines’ – crying hoarse over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan or hobnobbing with Baluchi secessionists.

The present government has breached those ‘red lines’. The National Security Advisor in the government Ajit Doval openly threatened to ‘do another Bangladesh’ to Pakistan by splitting Baluchistan province. PM has now tacitly acknowledged that that threat is actually his government’s policy.

The PM’s admirers are cheering wildly. They are thrilled he is taking a leaf out of Chanakya to put Pakistan in its place – ‘Samam, Danam, Bhedam, Dandam’, et al. They are speculating in the social network sites where our training camps for Baluchi rebels could be located. Some say Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, bordering Sindh, is ideal.

Whoever advised PM to ride the Baluchi tiger must be a moron of the first order. Make no mistake, the attack on Uri army base is an act of retaliation from across the border.

I wrote only two days ago that Americans could be in possession of intelligence regarding likelihood of a terrorist strike. (See my blog Washington’s Modi blues.) There are obviously grey areas that need explaining by the government. Couldn’t the security establishment anticipate that a Pakistani retaliation was inevitable?

The public opinion should comprehend how dangerous is this shift in our country’s policies. The Indian policy consistently factored in that a realistic solution to the Kashmir problem would somehow devolve upon international recognition to the Line of Control.

Not even mavericks thought it was within the realm of possibility to annex POK. Equally, we knew that even if public sentiments in POK turned critical of Islamabad, that didn’t mean tilt favouring integration with India. As for Gilgit and Baltistan, chances of annexing those remote regions are simply non-existent.

Nonetheless, we did invoke POK now and then – never Gilgit and Baltistan, though – whenever we needed to nail Pakistani propaganda. Period.

We secretly hoped for the integration of POK, Gilgit and Baltistan as full-fledged Pakistani provinces (similar to the process currently under way with regard to FATA), hoping that would erode Pakistan’s locus standii on Kashmir. (Smart thinking today should be to encourage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.)
However, government legitimised our propagandistic stance as India’s official policy. And it took a great leap into the dark by making Baluchi nationalism the stuff of our prime ministerial diplomacy.

Had PM ever visited Pakistan, even once, he’d have known how deeply scarred that country’s psyche is even today, after four decades, that India cut open its womb once and took away one half. No matter the sound rationale of our ‘humanitarian intervention’ in East Pakistan, the fact of the matter is that no country ever did such a thing to a neighbouring country in all of modern history.

Yet, the ruling elites are strongly signalling that India planned to team up with Afghanistan to dismember Pakistan. The Indian Express newspaper commented editorially that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s recent visit to Delhi marked the launch of an interventionist policy similar to the saga in Sri Lanka in the eighties. (here) The Uri attack came 5 days after Ghani’s visit.

Riaz Haq said...

#India needs cool heads after #Kashmir attack but #Modi is a prisoner of his own bluster. #Pakistan #UriAttacks

the crucial - and more serious - question is whether India has the capability and intelligence to carry out targeted strikes or wage a limited war inside Pakistani territory.
Most experts say that successive governments don't appear to have built these capabilities. There is media chatter on why the air force should carry out surgical air strikes inside Pakistan, but many experts believe it would not be easy as Pakistan has robust air defence systems. There are even doubts whether India has built capabilities for unconventional deterrence.
The problem with Mr Modi's government, according to defence analyst Ajai Shukla, is that it has "escalated the rhetoric [against Pakistan] but has not created military capabilities and planning structure to respond in a more forceful manner [against terror attacks] than the previous government".

Now the government appears to have become a prisoner of its own bluster. "The danger of being trapped in your own rhetoric is that you can be forced into an aggressive response and then be ill-quipped to handle the escalation," says Mr Shukla.
So is India's tradition of so-called "strategic restraint" against Pakistan the only answer?
For one, the jury is out whether the policy has worked or not. There are no easy answers.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta of Delhi's leading Centre for Policy Research think tank says strategic restraint has served India quite well. "Pakistan will be isolated, except for China, and we should call for financial sanctions," he says. Also, he believes Sunday's attack will put Pakistan on the spot and let the pressure off Kashmir at the UN General Assembly meeting this week.
"We have actually boxed ourselves into a bit of corner by our public discourse, where the clamour to do something reckless is now great. Otherwise we are winning the long-term battle," says Professor Mehta.
Cold logic
Others like C Christine Fair, defence expert and author of Fight to the End, a scholarly account of Pakistan's army, differ. "If the objective is to deter Pakistan to stop pursuing terror against India it hasn't served the purpose. Does the international community feel any more compelled to take India's side because of its strategic response? Not really," she says.
Others feel that "strategic restraint" masks a morbidly cold logic that India, a country of more than a billion people with one of the largest standing armies in the world, can absorb the deaths of soldiers in terror attacks without any major political upheaval. "India is growing economically, Pakistan is not. So we can sacrifice a couple of hundred people in attacks, without risking a war. That's what the thinking behind strategic restraint is, which nobody really talks about," says an expert.