Tuesday, 15 August 2017

India’s I-Day survey — What young India wants (NewsX)

Published on 15 Aug 2017
As we celebrate 70 years of freedom we bring you the findings of a special survey carried out by Businessworld — a survey that will give you an insight into the mood of the nation. Businessworld polled large sections of corporate India including over 400 chief executives and directors of companies spanning varied sectors in 12 cities across the country as well as scores of ordinary Indians about the state of the country and India's journey thus far.

Who they believe have been the most important and visionary Prime Ministers of India.

What according to them have been the country's biggest achievements over the last 7 decades.

Where they believe the country has made the maximum progress and areas where we still have a lot of catching up to do.

Where India stands on the global stage. And most importantly what do the youth of India the millennials think about where the country is headed and whether India is truly leveraging its demographic dividend.

And to discuss the mood of the nation we have a special panel — Jagdish Khattar, Former Managing Director of Maruti Udyog; Anurag Batra, Editor in Chief of Businessworld which has conducted the survey; Professor M D Nalapat, Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian; Vinayak Dalmia, a business analyst. The politicians on the panel are Sudesh Verma, BJP Spokesperson; and Pawan Khera, Congress Spokesperson.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Pak GHQ using PLA ‘neocons’ to damage India-China ties (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

PLA has warned Beijing that diluting stance on Doklam would embolden other countries.
Analysts tracking developments within the China-Pakistan alliance of the two militaries warn that the Pakistan side is seeking to move the relationship “from the strategic to the tactical”. GHQ Rawalpindi’s expectation is that in future, field operations will take place in a coordinated manner, and both sides will participate in actions undertaken on the initiative of any of the partners. The analysts say that the intention of GHQ Rawalpindi is to make the China-Pakistan military alliance “acquire the core characteristic of NATO, which is that a conflict involving one of the parties will inevitably bring in the other”. There has been a deepening rift with the United States—caused by the unwillingness of Washington to sign off on GHQ-ISI plans for destabilisation of Afghanistan and India—that has brought the Pakistan army closer to the PLA, which has adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy towards the several subversive activities of the Pakistan army in its neighbouring states, including Iran, Afghanistan and India. Especially during the final two years of the Barack Obama administration, the Pentagon has repeatedly cautioned GHQ Rawalpindi not to continue with its proxy wars against India and Afghanistan, even while adopting a policy of “wilful blindness” towards activities targeting Iran. Very quietly and without any direct public acknowledgement of the fact, the generals in Islamabad have moved Pakistan into the anti-Shia military alliance led (and funded) by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. While the alliance speaks of countering Iran, in actual fact, it is directed against any effort by the Shias to acquire parity with the Sunnis (including the Wahhabi layer). The judicial coup against Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was caused by the former Premier’s aversion to some of the “special operations” being conducted in Iran, Afghanistan and India by GHQ-ISI. It is expected that his successors will once again adopt the policy urged on the civilian leadership by the military, which is to “see, speak and hear no evil”, i.e., the new leaders should not seek to know about—much less block—ISI special operations cleared by GHQ.
The neo-conservatives in the United States, including the closet neo-conservatives clustered around Hillary Clinton, favoured the use of force and believed in establishing the dominance of the US across regions through use of the military. Within the PLA, especially during the past nine years, there has developed what may be termed a “neocon” wing that leans towards a resort to force and considers it necessary that China should establish not just primacy as now, but US-style dominance over South, South-East and East Asia, through the use and demonstration of military superiority. While North Korea has succeeded in diverting the attention of Japan in a manner favourable to China, the Pakistan army has fallen behind in ensuring that India gets similarly diverted away from its northern neighbour. Hence, the persistence with which “neocon” elements in the PLA have been encouraged by GHQ Rawalpindi to insist on completion of a “Road to Nowhere” in the Doklam area bordering Sikkim. The only value that such a road would have would be to serve as a jumping off point for a land attack on India in the eastern sector, which is why the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is emphatic that it should not get completed.
Given the efforts of GHQ Rawalpindi to put in place a NATO-style mutual security alliance with Pakistan, it is logical to assume that such a road may get used in future, should India-Pakistan relations deteriorate to the point where a conflict becomes inevitable, and China fall into the mutual alliance trap set for it by GHQ. Placing the responsibility for the initiation of a conflict with India in the hands of the generals in Islamabad would be to give a flamethrower to an arsonist, and would be deadly to Chinese national interest, but this is precisely what the Pak-oriented brass in the PLA is pushing for.
Admittedly, the PLA has found the Pakistan military to be a valuable storehouse of information about US military tactics and equipment. Decades of closeness between the Pentagon and GHQ Rawalpindi has ensured that there still remains a residual pro-Pakistan group within the defence and security establishment in Washington that shares Islamabad’s antipathy towards India. Training with the Pakistan army has been helpful in giving the PLA insights into what they may face, should there be a face-off in future over Taiwan or Korea with the US military, especially the Navy and the Air Force, both wings of which have interacted extensively with their Pakistani counterparts. GHQ Rawalpindi has allowed their Chinese counterparts to gain access to “the entire treasure trove of secrets” that have been accumulated during the years when it was the US and Pakistan that were partners in arms, especially during the eight years when George W. Bush was President and Pervez Musharraf was the supremo in Islamabad. Although he has several times sought to find favour with Beijing, that capital has always seen Musharraf as being too close to the US, especially in view of the fact that practically his entire family has long been residing in that country. The present Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, General Q.J. Bajwa, enjoys a warm rapport with Beijing, even more than his predecessor Raheel Sharif, who is being urged to soon jump into the political arena as a proxy for the military.
GHQ Rawalpindi has convinced many within the PLA leadership that India is “firmly in the US camp” and should therefore be regarded as a rival, if not yet a foe. Hence, the PLA calculation that a strong stand against India’s actions in Doklam would signal to the region that it is China, and not India, that holds the aces. This, it is expected, will lead to a falling of the dominoes such that the other countries in South Asia will move into as close a relationship with China as Pakistan already has. The PLA has warned the leadership in Beijing that diluting their stance now on Doklam would have an immediate impact on all the countries with which Beijing has territorial claims, and embolden them to follow “the India example, rather than the Philippines example”. That country has refrained from emphasising its victory over China in the International Tribunal over the South China Sea matter, and under President Rodrigo Duterte has become as close to Beijing as Pakistan is, echoing the views of the Chinese side in international fora, most recently during the ASEAN meeting. Success through military or diplomatic means in getting India to reverse its insistence (that the rights of Bhutan should be given priority) would serve as a lesson to all other countries in South and Southeast Asia that it would be futile to seek to challenge China. Just as the US neocons were eager for conflict, so are those of a similar mindset in the PLA. However, it remains to be seen if President Xi Jinping will put at risk friendly relations with India to indulge the risk-takers in the Central Military Commission at Beijing. The Chinese leadership is aware that India presents a huge market for Chinese infrastructure, energy and telecom companies. The latter, especially, require access to the Indian market in order to take on the likes of Apple and Google in future, as they are intending to do. Even a short war would entail the invocation of the Enemy Property Act against Chinese assets in India, most likely leading to their confiscation. That would be a very steep price to pay for the privilege of building a few hundred metres more of motorable road in the Chumbi wilderness. However, from the viewpoint of GHQ Rawalpindi, their interest (as indeed, those of Japan, South Korea, the EU and the US, all of which are competing with China in the Indian market) lies in a conflict between Delhi and Beijing that could sour commercial and other ties between the two most consequential capitals of Asia for over a generation.
Because of the adoption by the Chinese side of several of the Pakistan army perceptions about India, a series of Chinese actions have taken place that have had a harmful effect on Sino-Indian relations. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a case in point. By initiating such a road within Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Beijing is implicitly legitimising Pakistan as the country to which Kashmir belongs, else how can an officially named “China-Pakistan” corridor pass through PoK? The Chinese side, if it had any sense of the mood in Delhi now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in charge, could at the least have called the segment within PoK the “Kashmir link road” and begun the actual CPEC at the Pakistan border, rather than at the Kashmir border. Similarly, the Belt and Road Initiative conference that took place in May in Beijing in effect became a CPEC conference, with even the Pakistan army nominees in charge of PoK attending. Had an official Indian representative attended side by side with PoK officials, that would have given legitimacy to Pakistan’s illegal occupation of that territory. Similarly, the repeated blocking of India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group has convinced many in Delhi that Beijing does not regard India as an equal, despite its words and statements to the contrary. GHQ Rawalpindi is moving ahead in its mission of poisoning relations between Delhi and Beijing for at least a generation more, by ensuring that the PLA launch a war against Indian forces. Such a war would quickly expand into the skies and the seas. The US, Japan and Australia could then expand their naval Freedom of Navigation patrols in the South China sea, and this time, they would be joined by India. An attack on India would finally ensure that the block placed by the Lutyens Zone over the Modi government signing the three Defense Foundation Agreements with the US gets broken. The lesson of such a war, that China is now back in the era of Mao and is ready and willing to use force whenever a situation arises, would bring ASEAN closer to India and the US, thereby de facto forming an Asian NATO that would commit its members to collective action, should any of them get attacked by a power outside the alliance. In other words, the effect would be the reverse of what GHQ and the PLA neocons are forecasting.
China would lose both security as well as a lucrative market, should the PLA accept the advice of its Pakistani partners and launch an attack on Indian positions at Doklam. A better path for both India and China would be for India to participate in the Belt & Road Initiative (once the mislabelling of the road in Kashmir as part of the China-Pakistan corridor gets corrected) and for China to sponsor India’s entry into the NSG. A clear undertaking can be given by both sides that neither will, in future, cross established boundaries, and that across the Line of Actual Control, there will be a standstill situation until the border gets permanently demarcated. That probing patrols across the lines will cease. The Chinese side can announce a review of the Doklam road project pending discussions with Bhutan and India. Completing that road is hardly worth a conflict between two countries that have much to gain from peace and much more to lose through war. Prime Minister Modi has shown that he is the strongest PM India has had since Jawaharlal Nehru. The latter transformed India, and Modi is expected to do the same in the years ahead. As for Xi Jinping, he is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. It is likely that he will remain popular even after five more years as Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and become Chairman of the CCP in 2022, the way Mao was during his lifetime. Two such strong leaders are very capable of performing a task much more difficult than going to war, which is keeping the peace between the two most populous countries on the planet. Hopefully, the September BRICS summit at Xiamen will witness a meeting of minds between Xi and Modi that keeps the peace and ensures that the focus be on development, rather than war. The snares and games of GHQ Rawalpindi are as toxic to China as to India, and must fail.

Ram temple will transform Hindu-Muslim relations (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

As suggested by Shia petitioners, a mosque should be erected in a nearby location.
Even a cursory visit to a country such as Saudi Arabia will show the separation between Shia mosques and those catering to Sunnis. The Babri Masjid was built as a Shia house of prayer, although in a legal manoeuvre, it got reclassified as Sunni just before 1947, through the decision of a judge who subscribed to the same school of theology within the great faith he belonged to, as that which his verdict favoured. To accuse him of bias may be unjust, but from then onwards, Shia organisations were sought to be excluded from activities connected to the mosque. Now they have re-entered the legal arena, seeking to re-establish their historically valid claim to being the actual trustees of the mosque, rather than the (Sunni) Wakf Board, which was given control by the Faizabad judge. A comprehensive review of the historical evidence would almost certainly result in the Shia community being given back legal authority over what remains of a structure that was destroyed in 1992 by kar sevaks. This was as a consequence of a lack of effective protection by the Narasimha Rao government, which went by assurances related to the safety of the structure that were quickly shown to be incorrect. What is not in dispute is the fact that hundreds of millions of individuals believe the Babri Masjid to have been erected on the very site where Lord Ram was born. Similarly, a structure was constructed atop what is almost universally regarded within the Hindu community as being the birthplace in Mathura of Lord Krishna, and (in Varanasi) a mosque was built on what is believed to be the site of an ancient Shiva temple. Those within India and outside with an interest in ensuring toxicity within the Hindu-Muslim relationship would like these three locations to remain as they are, an oozing wound on the psyche of a billion people.
This columnist is clear that the battles and events described in the Mahabharata actually took place, and it is evidence of the persistence of colonial mindsets in a country that won its freedom seven decades ago that historians steeped in the external prejudices that have suffused Nehruvian thought, continue to regard the Indian epics as “myths”. Were Italians to regard Julius Caesar as a fantasy, or Greeks as a historical untruth the life and conquests of Alexander, they would be called insane. Those who acknowledge the truth of the epics of ancient India are not termed mad, merely “fanatics” who seek to invent history. Or in other words, be accused of precisely what colonial-era historians and their successors in post-1947 India did. Which was to create an ersatz history that subliminally ensured that any sense of pride in being sons and daughters of the subcontinent would get stamped out.
Unfortunately, more than a few champions of the Correct History (as distinct from Colonial History) cause are aiming at the wrong target by demanding the extinction, rather than spread of a useful weapon of global empowerment, which is the English language. Such faulty targeting is an error common in the history of India, and which has been responsible for the fact that even in 2017, this country is dependent on foreign sources for almost all its core defence and technological needs. As has been pointed out by worried scientists, even laboratory equipments need to be imported, as very few items are indigenously produced. Were sanctions on such supplies to get imposed, much of R&D would halt. Not, of course, that there is a surfeit of genuinely swadeshi R&D anyway, most of it being re-heated versions of concepts and models from countries that are less dismissive of their own talent than India. The widening trajectories of the indigenous capabilities of India and China show the extent to which the retention of the colonial model of bureaucracy, housing, healthcare and education has damaged the future of India. In the chemistry of a people, history is at the heart, and acknowledging that Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are as real in history as Alexander and Julius Caesar, is essential to historical truth. Such a factual history, rather than continuing with colonial-era myth-making, is a necessary step towards a rejuvenated Indian nation. In this context, were the birthplaces of Lord Ram at Faizabad, that of Lord Krishna at Mathura, and the spiritual centre of gravity that is the former structure in Varanasi consecrated to Lord Shiva, to be gifted to their Hindu brothers and sisters by the Muslim community, such a princely gesture would douse the flames of tension rising between the practitioners of these two noble faiths. Once this transfer takes place, any attempt by individuals to change the status of other houses of worship in this country on historical grounds should be met with police bullets. No further change on the lines of the three already mentioned should be asked for, or granted. Those irresponsible enough to do so should be shunned.
There are fanatics in all communities, even within those that are known for their modernity and rationality, such as the Jains, Sikhs and Parsis. A tiny substratum of believers in the Two Nation theory popularised under the British should no longer be allowed to block the path towards the comprehensive communal harmony in India that will dawn with the building of temples at the three sites mentioned. Also (in Faizabad and Mathura), historical complexes should be constructed in a traditional architectural way that tells the life stories of Lord Ram and Lord Krishna, and to which every individual on the planet should be welcomed. Epic heroes are universal, whether they be from India, Europe or elsewhere. They each belong to all humankind. Additionally, as suggested by the Shia petitioners in the Babri Masjid case, a mosque should be erected in nearby locations in the three centres, which would be visible symbols of the mercy, compassion and peace that so fills the Holy Quran. The gesture of agreeing to the relocation of the three places of worship in order to ensure lasting communal harmony would be the finest 70th birthday gift to the entire nation. It would show the world that Muslims in India are second to none in their respect and tolerance for other faiths.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Modi & Xi: war or peace? (Gateway House)

In this special episode, Professor M.D. Nalapat joins us to discuss the current border stand-off between India and China, sharing a unique glimpse into the policy psyche of India, China and the United States. 

Please open the following link to listen to Prof. M D Nalapat's views on the topic:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Rescue Sino-Indian ties from the Pak morass (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat 

Were the brass in Beijing not so enmeshed with Rawalpindi, the Doklam road may never have been built, as it is of value only in case of an attack on India.

Since the 1950s, when Field Marshal Ayub Khan ensured that the military in Pakistan won primacy over the civilian authority, the men in khaki have evolved into a parasitic force that drains away the finances and the energy of Pakistan. It must be admitted that the army in Pakistan has shown considerable skill in finding support across the spectrum of nations. To religious absolutists in the Gulf Cooperation Council, GHQ Rawalpindi is the nuclearised spear tip of resurgent Wahhabism. To the US, it was the most effective partner in ensuring that Af-Pak gets cleansed of elements planning to attack either side of the Atlantic Ocean. To China, it has been an effective diversion, sapping the energy and attention of India, the only country in Asia with a realistic chance of matching Beijing’s success in accumulating Comprehensive National Power. To smaller members of SAARC, Pakistan is a lever that keeps those in Delhi who are prone to Big Brother attitudes, in check. Again in the case of the US, during the period when India was a “friendship treaty” ally of the USSR, the calculation in Washington was that a Pakistan military on US-provided steroids would be sufficient to weaken Delhi and finally get it to give up its nuclear and missile self-sufficiency on the premise of Islamabad doing likewise. During the Bill Clinton years in particular, US officials were unrelenting in their efforts at ensuring such a “cap, reduce and eliminate” outcome for India’s nuclear and missile systems, apart from working to ensure that Kashmir became a safe zone for Wahhabism and its practices. The Wahhabi International grew substantially in potency when Bill Clinton occupied the White House, although later, the serial follies of the George W. Bush administration only added to the problem, which finally morphed into the ISIS mutation when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. This was in an administration dominated by Clinton confidants working nominally under President Barack Obama, but actually reporting to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Both have been consistent “in deed” supporters of the Pakistan military, although “in word” their stance has often been different. 
George W. Bush ensured the safety of Osama bin Laden, as well as thousands of Al Qaeda recruits during 2001-2003, thanks to the White House largely outsourcing the locating of such elements to the Pakistan army, the very agency that was sustaining them. Despite the hundreds of US troops being killed or maimed as a consequence of hostile action perpetrated by auxiliaries of the Pakistan army, only recently has there been the realisation that putting an acknowledged arsonist in charge of the Fire Department may not be the best way of ensuring that the blaze does not spread. Change was inaugurated on 20 January 2017. President Donald Trump has nominated some very capable individuals to his national security team, such as Adam Lovinger and Lisa Curtis, and hopefully others equally clued in about ground realities in the battle against extremism will follow. Unlike George W. Bush, who entrusted Pervez Musharraf with the task of eliminating the Taliban, and who instead revived it, Donald Trump publicly acknowledged in the presence of Narendra Modi the need for India to help lead the effort at ensuring stability to Afghanistan, something that had been offered in 2001 by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, but spurned by Bush-Cheney as a consequence of their trust in the Pakistani military. However, although no longer able to beguile Washington the way they have succeeded in doing for decades, the generals in Islamabad have found a new superpower sponsor, China. The Peoples Liberation Army seems in thrall to the Pakistan military to such a degree that they appear willing to risk an armed conflict with India so as to make the generals at GHQ Rawalpindi rush for the champagne bottles. Such a war would lead to a meltdown in India-China economic relations, which on present trends have the potential to cross $300 billion within five years. It would also significantly reduce the leverage of both Beijing and Delhi with Washington, which could then cherry pick among both in a manner that promotes the specific interests of the US administration. Additionally, it would create a dilemma for Moscow, which has for long been working towards close trilateral ties between Russia, China and India, and has been using SCO, BRICS and other fora to promote this objective. 
In time, the PLA will realise that the Pakistan army is not a conventional force, but an army committed to global jihad. However, by then the damage to Sino-Indian relations would have been done, setting back the growth trajectories of both India as well as China. Were the brass in Beijing not so enmeshed with their counterparts in Rawalpindi, the Doklam road may never have been built, as it is of value only in case of an attack on India. The stance by the Modi government that road construction should be halted is therefore justified. However, a way out has to be found of the morass into which Sino-Indian ties appear to be sinking. The forthcoming meeting of BRICS Heads of Government in China may provide just such an opportunity. Two old friends, Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping, could informally meet and discuss bilateral cooperation. Should India participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) without prejudice to issues relating to sovereignty, it may even serve to bring down tensions with Pakistan, once Indian commerce flows freely into and through that country as a consequence of India gaining full access to the China-built corridor inside Pakistan. Thanks to Prime Ministers Modi and Sheikha Hasina, a similar result has already taken place with Bangladesh. As well, a separate offshoot that links India, China and ASEAN via Myanmar could be launched. To show its good faith, China could join those countries seeking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and later an expanded UNSC, without prejudice to its stance that Japan should not be included. For decades, US-Pakistan military ties kept India and the US far apart. The same fate should not fall on relations between China and India as a consequence of the present equally grotesque alliance between a Wahhabised army and a country fighting against that same theology within its own boundaries. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Hillary Clinton: Too networked to nail (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

PRESIDENT Donald John Trump is correct in his  view that there seems no appetite within the  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the US Department of Justice to pursue an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, including the actual sources of the copious streams of cash that flowed into its coffers during the period when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. The grease of politics is money, lots of it, and neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party is immune to the effects and the influence of those who invest large sums of cash to individual politicians. They do this the way they make any other investment, which is to ensure that a handsome profit ensues in the future from the moneys spent in the present. The more influential a politician, the more likely it is that money will flow in a continuous stream to his or her direct and indirect bank accounts.  Was it entirely a coincidence, for example, that Foxconn announced the building of a $ 10 billion facility in the very location that is the bailiwick of House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan? there would have been some moves between the two sides before the decision was tken. The Speaker has made no secret of his dislike of Donald Trump, and is clearly among those in the Republican Party that are working in private to ensure that Trump resigns in favour of Vice-President Mike Pence.  The Veep has been steadfast in his loyalty to his boss thus far, knowing full well that if he gets the top job in the world (that of the US President), it will not be because of any moves made by him, but by factors outside his control having to do with the McCain-Clinton-led campaign to get Trump to quit. It has therefore been a wise move on the part of Vice President Pence to behave with complete propriety towards President Trump, even while all around him, his party leaders are synchronising their activities with the Democratic Party, which still remains in the control of the Clinton family.  Indeed, in Chelsea Clinton, the family has an attractive future candidate for Senator and perhaps even the Presidency. This columnist way back wrote of the possibility of Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump becoming political rivals, and this is a scenario that no longer seems as improbable as it was then. Barack Obama is clearly unwilling or unable to establish his leadership over the Democratic Party, something that would have been a matter of course, had Bernie Sanders prevailed over Hillary Clinton in getting nominated as the Democratic Party candidate for the US Presidency.  The hubbub over Russia is a diversion meant to obscure the real story, that of how the nomination was stolen from Senator Sanders by the Clinton machine. Of course, Sanders went into Stockholm syndrome mode after he was cheated of the prize through the machinations of the Clinton backers, and stumped across the country as a fervent admirer of Hillary Clinton, despite knowing her Wall Street and external connections. From that time onwards, the Sanders faction has been steadily marginalised within the Democratic Party leadership. The party itself morphed from being friendly to the working and middle classes to being a vehicle for the rich under Bill Clinton, who removed the constraints on Wall Street placed during the 1930s. Because of that wilful error of judgment, the 2008 financial disaster became an inevitability, as will another shock, once the Republican administration now in power dilutes the brakes on Wall Street greed placed by President Obama. How has Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to enjoy immunity from prosecution despite the fact that  Donald Trump – who publicly proposes to send her to jail – was elected on November 8,2016? Why is there near-zero appetite within the investigative agencies of the US government to hold her to account the way it has done in the case of so many other politicians,and which it is seeking to do even where President Trump is concerned? The answer vests in the fact that over the eight years that they were in power, Bill and Hillary Clinton coopted a large number of officials into being their agents. Those responsive to requests from the Clintons saw their careers enhanced, while those who were recalcitrant suffered professionally. During the George W Bush years, Bill Clinton in particular ensured a close personal relationship with the new president, thereby ensuring that his favourites could be inducted and promoted because of the goodwill of the 43rd President.  Of course, when Barack Obama was elected, the Clintons were back in full play, as the 44th President made his peace with the Clinton machine by allowing his administration to be dominated by Bill and Hillary loyalists. Hundreds of officials have therefore become part of the Clinton machine, including several who are nominally independent or Republican. Any investigation into the Clintons would expose them as well. Hence the closing of ranks against any genuine investigation of the doings of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady is too well networked to seriously probe, as any such enquiry would place at risk the immense support network of the Clinton machine within the bureaucracy. Hillary in 2017,quite simply, is too big to jail, just as certain banks were too big to fail in 2008.

China helps Pakistan to build 6 dams on Indus river in PoK (WION)

Published on 4 Aug 2017 (WION Gravitas)
Pakistan is constructing 6 dams on Indus river in PoK with China's help. This dam diplomacy of China might start a long going conflict with India. Watch to know more. Prof. M D Nalapat is among the panellists.  

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Nawaz ouster prelude to GHQ-China alignment (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Pakistan army is convinced that Beijing has shed any earlier notions of neutrality between New Delhi and Islamabad, and has become fully aligned with Pakistan in practice. 
The judicial coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan is the prelude to the end of Pakistan’s own version of “non-alignment” and the start of a process of “alignment”, according to analysts based in the Middle East who are monitoring developments in South Asia. These analysts had earlier drawn attention to GHQ Rawalpindi’s objective of removing Sharif through a Pakistan Supreme Court verdict that would disqualify him (Gen Raheel Sharif plans judicial coup against Nawaz, The Sunday Guardian, 6 November 2016). A key reason behind Sharif’s removal was the conclusion of GHQ Rawalpindi that the earlier policy of non-alignment between Beijing and Washington, which the Pakistan military had been following since the mid-1970s, needed to be jettisoned in favour of a policy of an exclusive-in-practice alignment with China.
Since George W. Bush broadened the US “War on Terror” in 2003 by invading Iraq, much of the officer cadre of the Pakistan army had (according to Middle East-based analysts) accepted the Wahhabi view that the campaign against Saddam Hussein was, at the core, a war against the global Muslim community. Resentment against the US military had been building up within the officer ranks of the army since the 2001 temporary takedown of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pashtun officers, in particular, had chafed at what they saw as compromises being made by then military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf to US commands that were not even thinly cloaked as “requests”. Despite the reality that Musharraf only superficially obeyed Washington’s commands and, in fact, was able to rescue much of the Taliban-Al Qaeda coalition from the US military, did not assuage such sentiments, as the reality of “verbal compliance and substantive non-compliance” was known only to a few trusted members of the higher ranks of the Pakistan military, while the lower and middle ranks took their cue from the barrage of reports in Urdu, Punjabi and Pashto media about Musharraf’s “betrayal” of the cause of the Afghan jihad. These vituperative anti-US outpourings were tolerated, and indeed encouraged by Musharraf on the grounds that “freedom of the press” needed to be respected by the “democratic dictator” that his admirers within the White House and the Pentagon styled him as. Of course, such reports would also go to show that the Pakistan military establishment was cooperating with US diktats, when in fact the reverse was the case.
During 2006-2009, linkages between GHQ Rawalpindi and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) multiplied on a scale unprecedented in past years. The 2008 financial collapse across both sides of the Atlantic discredited the NATO member-state establishments, while China remained relatively unaffected and quickly regained its growth momentum. According to the analysts spoken to, by the close of 2013, many times more officers in the Pakistan army saw China as the Ally of Choice for Pakistan than they did the US, and from that time onwards, this gap in perception has only grown. Since then, the Chinese have serially blocked India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and to get the United Nations to declare Masood Azhar and others as global terrorists. This has convinced the Pakistan army officer corps that Beijing has shed any earlier notions of neutrality between India and Pakistan, and has emerged as being fully aligned with Pakistan in practice, even though the diplomatese used to describe its actions may be different.
Since 2015, within the officer corps of the Pakistan army, sentiment has hardened against the US and warmed towards China, so much so that they are working for a time to come when Islamabad will do to Washington what Egypt under Anwar Sadat did to the Soviet Union in 1972, when the Egyptian strongman sent packing more than 18,000 Russian military personnel from his country, signalling a newfound comprehensive alliance with the US that has lasted to this day. However, both the PML(Nawaz) as well as the PPP leadership are opposed to such a wholesale replacement of the US strategic alliance for that with Beijing, which is why both needed to be weakened and ultimately rendered irrelevant in the politics and therefore the governance of Pakistan. The plan to mount a judicial coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has its origins in the bid by the military leadership to in fact, if not formally, jettison the earlier policy of “non-alignment” between the world’s two superpowers in favour of an exclusive alliance with China, “exactly as the US has an alliance with Japan”. The GHQ view is that the Zardari-led PPP is already “terminally challenged in the leadership department”, with Asif Zardari already discredited and son and heir Bilawal Bhutto “clueless about both politics and Pakistan”.
GHQ Rawalpindi has yet to move away from its core objective of ensuring that the Union of India splinter into multiple states, which at best would be bound together in a loose coalition that lacks an effective central authority. Large sums of money have been spent in an effort to widen fissiparous tendencies within India, including through funding groups that are let loose to commit acts of violence against members of the minority community. According to the philosophy underpinning state power in Pakistan, Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations that lack the capacity to live at peace and cooperate with each other. It is this creed that has led to the systematic reduction of the Hindu population in Pakistan. GHQ Rawalpindi is seeking to expand the number of those in India who believe in the “Two Nation” theory, so that in every state, and indeed each city and even panchayat, communal trouble will erupt. Fortunately, both Hindus as well as Muslims in India are overwhelmingly moderate, and refuse to obey the handful who preach a doctrine of exclusion and separation from each other. US administrations have long made it clear to the Pakistan army that they back the unity of India and remain opposed to any step that would create a divide between communities. This refusal to back GHQ Rawalpindi in its core goal of melting down India has led to a stance within the Pakistan military that the historical alliance of Pakistan with the US is no longer desirable, and should be replaced with an understanding with a partner more tolerant of the foundational ethos and objectives of the Pakistan army.
The PPP and PML(N) leaderships being essentially businesspersons, they do not buy into the GHQ theory that India is “ripe for collapse”, and have often acted as a brake on GHQ schemes against the Union of India that have come to civilian attention. According to the analysts consulted, this has led to the conclusion by the army leadership that both the PML(N) as well as the PPP should be rendered irrelevant in the politics of Pakistan and replaced with formations that have (sometimes secretly) signed on to the GHQ platform of a disintegrating India. The worry is that otherwise, the world’s most populous democracy will, within less than a generation, emerge as the globe’s third superpower, together with the US and now the PRC.
Thus, the Sharif family (as also the Bhutto-Zardaris) is likely to be given little respite from a planned spate of corruption allegations against them, designed to ensure that public esteem falls to a level such that by 2018, when the time for general elections rolls by, neither will have a significant presence in the National Assembly. Evidence is being collected against them that is intended to get released in a steady flow, soon to be combined with legal processes of the sort that was used to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power. Even if the Sharif family signs on to the replacement of the “non-alignment” policy of the past between China and the US, with the stance of alignment with China that is favoured by GHQ Rawalpindi, such a change of heart is unlikely to convince the generals to walk away from their efforts at ensuring that the next government in Pakistan follow the orders of the men in khaki in word and deed in a way that neither Sharif nor Zardari did.
Of course, to keep going the illusion of “non-alignment”, such a government is likely to give a prominent position to Imran Khan, who is a favourite of several individuals in the US and the UK. It will be a diluted repeat of Musharraf’s policy of speaking something and doing another, the line that ensured the return of Al Qaeda and the Taliban because of the credulity and incompetence displayed by President George W. Bush, with Imran Khan in the role of PR Manager Pervez Musharraf, of course this time around with zero executive power, albeit a fancy title such as Foreign Minister or Deputy Prime Minister.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Should China adopt a more aggressive foreign policy towards external threats? (CGTN)

Published on 29 Jul 2017
China now stands at a crossroad in terms of its national security strategy, with a clear split between “dove” and “hawk” tactics.

CGTN's Dialogue has invited experts from China and India, including Prof. M D Nalapat to examine the different attitudes towards China’s approach to foreign security concerns as well as the influence of nationalism on its decision-making process, placing their debate in the context of the current Sino-Indian border standoff.

US Congress returns to its 1930s follies (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat
The US Congress regards Russia as remaining the primary challenger to US interests, even though it is obvious that it is China who has stepped into the role.
After Adolf Hitler was ensconced in power in Germany in 1933, the US Congress (Senate and House) retreated even further into isolationism, passing the 1935, 1937 and 1939 Neutrality Acts. These barred the involvement of the United States in foreign conflicts, and stopped weapons sales even to friendly countries. Such legislative myopia encouraged Hitler in the belief that the US would remain out of the European war, which he then unleashed by the 1938 Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Encouraged in their cowardice by the “hands off” attitude to Hitler by a US Congress, which still saw the USSR under Stalin as the prime foe, France and the UK connived at the surrender to Hitler of Czechoslovakia, a country that at that point in time had the military strength to hold off a German invasion, especially if assisted by London and Paris. Countless lives would have been saved, had Chamberlain the wisdom of Churchill in fashioning a partnership with Stalin against Hitler, but that was not to happen. Instead, a war that took more than 40 million lives was the result. As for the US, it was brought into the war by the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour by Japan, and by Germany declaring war on it soon afterwards, another of the many follies committed by the former corporal of the Kaiser’s Army, who within 24 years since the 1914-19 war had become the master of his country.

Unlike in the case of Nazi Germany, even during the 1917-21 period of consolidation of Communist Party power over what was named the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), no effort was made by Moscow to wage war on its European neighbours, even though some of them had used armed force in a half-hearted bid to topple the Lenin-led government. Still, London, Paris and the US Congress saw Stalin as the main foe, and not Hitler. Similarly, Vladimir Putin has not moved even a twitch to get back primacy over Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the other East European countries that Moscow once dominated. What Putin has done is to seek a stoppage of the march of the avowedly anti-Russia NATO alliance to the very security core of the country, in Crimea. However, given the speed at which the US Congress is duplicating the 1930s Congress in focusing on the wrong enemy, it is likely that a war may, in brief years, erupt over control of the Baltic republics. Would the US, France and Germany risk the safety of New York, Berlin and Paris to save Latvia, Lithuania and Latvia from Moscow, or leave them to their fate? The answer is obvious, and their constant goading of Moscow may be leading to the conclusion in the Kremlin that Russia’s avoidance of attack on vulnerable states in Europe does not pay.
By inflicting pain on Russia disproportionate to its presumed transgressions, the US Congress is creating a set of circumstances where Moscow has little to lose if it unleashes much of its anti-Atlanticist arsenal against those seeking to choke its economy the way the US and European powers sought to sanction and blockade Japan in the 1930s. The new sanctions add to the hostile moves against Moscow of an EU motivated by US-EU anger against Russia for blocking NATO’s bid to integrate Ukraine into the anti-Russia fold. Perhaps this is Berlin’s reward for Moscow, which, under Gorbachev, passively accepted the union of the GDR with the FRG in 1991. Possibly because she is from East Germany, Angela Merkel seems incurably anti-Moscow, just as the Polish-American father of the Afghan jihad, Zbigniew Brezezinski, was. She has a partner in Russophobia, the US Congress, which is controlled by those who have refused to let go the prejudices created during the decades of Cold War between Washington and Moscow.
China is the biggest beneficiary of the fresh round of anti-Russia sanctions that the US House of Representatives has passed with majority.
The US Congress regards Russia as remaining the primary challenger to US interests, even though it is obvious that it is China that has stepped into such a role because of its emergence as the Other Superpower. China is the biggest beneficiary of the fresh round of anti-Russia sanctions that the US House of Representatives has passed with an overwhelming majority, reminiscent of the 1964 Tonkin Gulf resolution. Both the US as well as the EU are driving Moscow into a strategic alliance with Beijing that—together with the One Belt One Road grand plan of Xi Jinping—has made Beijing a player in Europe that will, on present reckoning, reach within the term of office of Xi Jinping the same scale as the US has long held in Asia. Especially once the bankruptcy of at least three EU member states becomes impossible to conceal through IMF-led financial legerdemain crafted in the expectation that Russians, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and Arabs will sink their money in the European sinkhole, the way nationals of these countries lost hundreds of billions of dollars in the 2008 financial meltdown.

Almost certainly unintentionally, the US Congress, aided by Russia-phobic chancelleries in Europe, is preparing the way for a military conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation in parts of Europe as well as the Middle East. The 1930s folly of adopting a self-defeating strategy is back, and this time as well, war will be the result.


Friday, 28 July 2017

China biggest gainer from US Russia sanctions (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

On August 7, 1964 the US Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, that authorised President Lyndon Baines Johnson to adopt “all possible means” to ensure the defeat of North Vietnamese forces that were seeking to take over South Vietnam through their proxies. The resolution was passed in the heat of anger over a (fake) report that the North Vietnamese had twice attacked a US naval vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin. There is a lot of hullabaloo about fake news these days, mainly by those unreconciled to the reality of Hillary Clinton being defeated by the candidate her handlers saw as giving her a walkover.
Their calculation was that a Clinton victory was certain once Donald Trump got nominated as the Republican candidate. The Clinton machine is similar to NATO headquarters, in that both refuse to accept that they have made any mistake. Hence the blame has been cast not on the candidate herself but on the Kremlin. The Democratic Party,is still controlled by the Clinton machine, with former President Obama serving in an associate capacity and Senator Bernie Sanders neutralised. The Clinton machine has joined hands with anti-Trump elements in the Republican Party to hardsell the myth that the 2016 US Presidential election was stolen on behalf of Donald John Trump by Vladimir Putin.
In times past, George W Bush had similarly pushed the fake news about Saddam Hussein holding on to vast sticks of Weapons of Mass Destruction, while the Obama administration – especially when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State – worked overtime to disseminate the false news that it was the Assad regime in Syria and not the “moderate” fighters that NATO was backing that was slaughtering Christians, Druze and Shia in Syria. The Christians of Iraq and Syria in particular have been forgotten by the US and the EU just as the wartime alliance against Adolf Hitler ignored the increasing evidence that the German Fuehrer was systematically annihilating both Jews in all the countries that the Wehrmacht had occupied.
The Jews of Europe were left to their fate then, just as the Christians of Iraq and Syria have been since the 2003 occupation of Iraq and the effort by Hillary Clinton, Cameron and Hollande since 2011 to eliminate Bashar Assad, a program of action that led to the refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of extremist groups in the Middle East. To claim, therefore, that the Trump campaign or Presidency has the patent on Fake News is to indulge in that very crime against the right of the public to expect the truth from the politicians they elect, a right seldom enjoyed in the pervasive culture of greed and dissimulation that comprises the muddy field of politics. In 1964, fake news of a North Vietnamese attack led to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and to the loss of blood and treasure in a war that the US eventually lost to the North Vietnamese.
The Sanctions Resolution just passed the US House of Representatives by as overwhelming a majority as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution is on course to ensure that the US gets embroiled in a new war, this time in the Middle East and perhaps Europe as well, with Iran and Russia. The Resolution also sanctions North Korea, thereby further strengthening the already prevalent view in Pyongyang that the only way to ensure the survival of the North Korean regime is to possess nuclear weapons and delivery systems capable of reaching the US coast. At a time when the US and the EU need the help of both Moscow as well as Teheran to eliminate Daesh nests in the Middle East, what may be termed the Second Tonkin Gulf Resolution is designed to ensure a split into at least two hostile segments within the anti-ISIS coalition.
Unlike in 1964, when President Johnson connived at spreading false reports about a North Vietnamese series of attacks that never took place, in 2017 President Trump is himself a victim of the fake news that it was Moscow and not Hillary Clinton herself who caused her defeat. The Atlanticist lobby is working at speed to ensure that a reset is avoided that would replace the thinking of a never to return past with a construct suiting current realties. This would replace the centrality of the Atlantic Ocean with the Indo-Pacific as well as Germany and France with Japan and India as the key US allies on the Eurasian continent. The US House and Senate are lagging behind the White House in understanding such a change in circumstances.
There were those who, in 1939 and to an extent even in 1941, wanted Franklin Roosevelt to attack the USSR rather than Germany. Were the present US House of Representatives and Senate been there during that time, this is what would have happened, to glee from Adolf Hitler. It is very likely that agencies in Russia sought out information on the US Presidential poll in 2016, but so would several other intelligence agencies of other countries. Indeed, more than a few would have backed Hillary Clinton. It is astonishing that there a Special Prosecutor has been appointed to probe any links between the Trump organisation and Russian entities, but none to examine the funding received by the Clinton Foundation and correlating this flow with the diplomatic stance of the US during the period these moneys entered the coffers of a foundation that has within a short while become among the largest in the US.
Overall, while his tweeting may have been of value to Reality Television Star Donald Trump, they are a perceptorial downsizing of President Trump. The 45th US President needs to understand that his current avatar is of an entirely a different level from all his past avatars put together, and act and react accordingly. The new sanctions against Russia form part of a presumably unintended gift by the US Congress to China. The new measures will drive both Iran and Russia closer to Beijing, a country whose troops and warships are already at the doors of Europe via the alliance with Moscow. And as for North Korea, while they will be of zero value in stopping the nuclear and missile program of Supreme Leader Kim, they too will ensure a closer tilt towards China. Overall, it is China that will gain the most from the war being waged by the Atlanticists against President Trump.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Reince Priebus damages President Trump (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

THE 45th President of the US, Donald John Trump, has the lowest approval rating six months into his tenure of any of his predecessors for the past 70 years. Trump has acted in character by tweeting a brave face on it by claiming the low number was an achievement. Every Head of Government of a major country confronts a situation where a comfortable wall closes around him or her and those outside the charmed circle of those in power. This barrier prevents genuine facts from reaching the leader, while those around him present a distorted picture of reality so that he will not understand that the main problem is not outside but inside. That it is her or his core team that needs examination, and in significant measure, change.
The problem becomes worse when important members of the core team have either a low level of integrity or have agendas different from that of the Head of Government who has given them the jobs they hold, or both. Even good policies get distorted and changed in the process of preparing the details, with the consequence that the effect is different from that which was intended. After being sworn in on January 20, President Trump made the same mistake that countless other leaders from across the world have. He chose as the members of his core team not those he needed to implement his policies, but those he liked to have around him. However, many leaders don’t usually take well to be told of the mistakes they are making. They prefer to hear how wonderful they are, and how the critics are just jealous or hostile.
The legal red lines for a high-ranking member of the US President’s staff such as Jared Kushner are several times more than for an ordinary citizen, even if he be his son, Donald D Trump Junior. It was extremely courageous of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to consent to being inducted into the Trump administration despite the legal risks, issues that keep many individuals from agreeing to exchange their private status for that of official members of an administration, and hopefully both will escape unscathed from the experience. It must be admitted that democracy in the US is far more obvious in its vigour than it is in most parts of South Asia.
US media is feisty, as it is protected by the constitutional protection given to freedom of speech, something that was diluted beyond recognition by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in India a few years after he took office on August 15, 1947. So eager was the new government to take over from the British that the swearing in was held not in the morning but at midnight. Ironically, immediately afterwards, Nehru and his entire Council of Ministers made the former Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the highest ranking individual in the newly independent country by appointing him Governor-General. Although Mountbatten requested Jinnah too to give him the same post in Pakistan, this was refused and Jinnah himself became the Governor-General of Pakistan. Of course, it must be added that by ensuring that Mountbatten continued as Head of State (with Nehru being Head of Government), the Prime Minister of India was able to get advice almost within a stone’s throw from not just Lord but Lady Edwina Mountbatten.
The charming Lady Edwina had strong views on several subjects, and never hesitated to make these known to the Governor-General as well as to the Prime Minister, who took her views even more seriously than her own husband. The White House staff is coordinated by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, whose agenda seems to be to ensure a political career for himself in a post-Trump world. Hiring those with political – or financial – ambitions carries a large measure of risk. Priebus has sought to please as many Republican Party grandees as he can, usually by making the President adopt several of the measures that each of them have been pushing, sometimes for decades.
As a consequence, the decisions flowing out of the Trump White House are like a necklace of stones of different colour, type and shape. Many of the policies conflict with each other or with the overall interests of Trump himself. For example, had the President focussed on what got him elected, the promise of a strong economy that would include those left out of prosperity during previous decades, he would have launched a Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Plan immediately on taking office. This is a subject Trump knows well, and he could have put together a group of capable administrators to implement plan, once it got cleared by US House of Representatives and the Senate.
Urban renewal would have created a foundation for jobs, as would initiatives designed to ensure leadership in the Knowledge Economy. Instead, by lumping engineers from Chennai with farm labourers from Chiapas, the new administration has hindered the flow of talent needed by US industry. As for healthcare, this is a subject neither Trump nor his staff was expert in. By bowing to the wishes of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and making it the first major legislative project of his, Trump has hurt himself badly.
A Chief of Staff totally fixed on protecting his boss would have warned Trump off such a risky, ill-thought out move rather than egged him on. And staff that behaved more as professionals rather than as courtiers would have warned the US President of the pitfalls of making much of the media his enemy, rather than befriending it the way Businessperson Trump was so expert in. Reince Priebus may get his wish and have a political career, perhaps as a US Senator or Governor. But that will come at cost of President Trump, whose staff need to be those whose only agenda is to ensure his success rather than build future careers by obliging many in Republican Party who would be delighted were Trump to resign before his term ends.

Lutyens Delhi, stop weakening Global India (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat
When Prime Minister Modi comes up with a transformational idea, care should be taken to ensure that the details get worked out by those who are not Lutyens Lok.
On a scale unprecedented since the days of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the NDA II government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has effectively won control of both the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha, and now its own candidates will soon be installed as President and Vice-President of India. Both the executive as well as the legislature have come under its sway, which means that from now onwards, there are scant obstacles to fulfilling the task that Candidate Modi promised to achieve, which is to ensure “Achhe Din” throughout India through double digit growth. India needs to grow on an average of 12% for a generation if it is to ensure that its society gets largely free of the tensions that have been all too obvious between different segments. 6.7% is just not enough for social stability in a context of the substantial annual growth in numbers of the population and the coming of age of a young, aspirational cohort that will not be satisfied with the low level of income and flawed basket of rights of previous generations.
Every ministry and department tasked with matters dealing with the economy needs to make sustained growth the focus of their actions, and not other metrics that are of interest only to mutual fund managers from the US and Europe, who have since 1993 been making a lot of money out of India, for example, by frequently and silently promoting a bull run in select stocks through the narrow base of share indexes, thus ensuring that retail investors come in at elevated levels, and then selling out to them at a huge profit. Of course, each time this tactic leaves hundreds of thousands of small investors the poorer. And whether in the form of royalties or allocation of expenses towards boosted “Headquarter” costs, billions of US dollars get sent out of the country each year by entities that employ very few people and do very little for the overall progress of the economy. At the same time, the home governments from which such entities come insist on concessions concerning intellectual property rights, health and pharmaceuticals, WTO, climate related issues and much else.
Thus far, Lutyens Delhi has been expert in giving away major concessions and getting a pittance in return. Take for example the Missile Technology Control Regime, which India has signed. This ought to have been done only after we got the extra layer of security from interference provided by membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Without NSG cover, India has joined the MTCR—and soon the Australia and Wassenaar groups—in a subsidiary position to NSG members. Successive Lutyens-led governments in India have given this country the worst of both worlds, by (correctly) not joining several groups and yet abiding by their restrictions when the very purpose of not joining was to act in a manner freed of such curbs. India would, by now, have built up an average $10 billion annual trade each in space, nuclear energy systems and in missile sales by 2017, had the Lutyens Zone abandoned its craven refusal to take advantage of the freedoms that its stances against discriminatory treaties gave this country. There is no gain to an individual who is free, yet persists in remaining in jail. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soon entering the fourth year of his term, it is likely that “Lutyens barriers” to action will swiftly get dismantled by him and India act in a manner such as that other Giant of Asia, China, does.
Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi comes up with ideas that have the potential to change India, but thus far, many of these measures have been diluted by Lutyens Lok involvement in the process of finalisation. An example is demonetisation, where avoidable errors such as a mismatch between ATMs and currency sizes caused delays. Another drawback was the lack of attention paid by the RBI (which acts like a Lutyens fragment, although based in Mumbai) to ensuring that liquidity in the economy remain unaffected by the revolutionary decision on DeMo made by the Modi government. This columnist would have instead suggested a 5% deduction on total bank deposits over Rs 1 lakh, that would be used to fully recapitalise the banking system. These would be paid back through Income Tax (IT) payment deductions beginning from the third year and continuing for three more years. Recapitalised banks would result in more bank lending (which is far too low at present), thereby ensuring higher growth and therefore enough additional revenue to take care of the revenue loss through the IT deductions.
Another necessary policy that has been implemented by Modi is GST. But it ought to have been implemented within the first year of NDA II, in the glow of the May 2014 Lok Sabha victory. Given that the measure will take between two to three years to get digested by the economy, such a process of re-adjustment would have been completed by now, rather than remain incomplete even in 2019, the year when Lok Sabha elections next take place. As for the compliance issues created by the GST, these often result in a substantial number of units and individuals in effect being asked to go through college board examinations without having completed even elementary school tests. Rather than introduce a hyper complex system and afterwards seek to simplify it, it would have been best to initially put in place a system where compliance was not as big a practical difficulty as it is in the present GST framework. Instead of One Country One Rate, there are now multiple rates each for the Centre, state and inter-state. When Prime Minister Modi comes up with a transformational idea, care should be taken to ensure that the details get worked out by those who are not Lutyens Lok, so that the full effect of Modi’s planning can be felt on the economy rather than get diluted through Lutyens style dilution of a grand idea.

The Roundtable: Political realignment — Post Presidential polls (NewsX)

Published on 22 Jul 2017
The 2017 Presidential elections saw a very interesting equation within the opposition. Especially, with the JDU breaking ranks and voting with the government's presidential candidate. Earlier, Nitish Kumar praised Modi's move against black money, demonetisation and now when it came for a choice for joint presidential candidate, he supported NDA's candidate, Ramnath Kovind. So this week on the Roundtable we discuss the political realignment post Indian presidential elections.

Debating this on The Roundtable we have Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Rajya Sabha MP and BJP Leader; Pawan Khera, National Spokesperson of Congress Party; Pavan Varma, JDU Leader and MD Nalapat, Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian in conversation with our Senior Executive Editor, Priya Sahgal

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

China moves heavy war gears to Tibet. Should India be scared? (WION)

Published on 19 Jul 2017
Prof. Nalapat on WION Gravitas panel: China has moved tens of thousands of tonnes of military vehicles and equipment into Tibet amid a continuing stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops in Doklam in the Sikkim.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Pahlaj Nihalani shames 21st century India (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat
Hopefully, the I&B Ministry will step in to ensure that the CBFC gets manned by individuals subscribing to the practices and needs of a democracy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working towards creating an environment in which knowledge start-ups in India will flourish rather than—as has largely been the case thus far—perish. Freedom of speech is an essential component of such an ambience, and this means the right to say and to write views that will be the reverse of what many others subscribe to. Cinema is a principal method of communication with the public, and countries such as the UK have established themselves for the quality of their offerings. Indian cinema can take on any competitor, including Hollywood, throughout the world, if only those making films had the creative freedoms that are taken for granted in countries such as the US. Such a movie industry would be an important source of both employment as well as soft power, but not if Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani can help it. Among the less than inspired choices of the NDA II government, there has been a lengthy record of his unfortunate cinematic interventions, allegedly in the service of Indian culture, although a brief taste of some of the films he himself has made would leave an individual bemused as to the Nihalani concept of India’s culture. However, he has set a new record in absurdity by the cuts introduced to a documentary on Amartya Sen, who is known in India as among the most loyal admirers of the Nehru family, and whose devotion to the First Family of the Congress Party has been recognised, including by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointing him as the Chancellor of Nalanda University, despite the absence of visible signs of familiarity with global Buddhist traditions and teachings. A well-regarded filmmaker, Suman Ghosh, has completed a documentary on the Nobel laureate. It is unlikely that there would have been traffic congestion close to cinema theatres showing the film, even in Kolkata, but for the publicity that it has received from the CBFC, which has directed that the words “cow”, “Hindutva”, “Gujarat” and even “Hindu India” be excised from the documentary before releasing it for public view.
Why should mention of the cow be excised, although it is a reality that several influential individuals proudly and publicly affirm the cow to be their mother? The mother of this columnist was not a cow, but a human being, but he does not have the right to deny to others the right to affirm the opposite. That is the requisite of a culture of free speech, of democracy, of the right to hold and publicly proclaim views of every person’s choice. Morarji Desai was sprightly even in his 90s, and it is difficult to prove wrong his belief that an early morning glass of his own urine was the cause of such longevity And it is not always possible to demonstrate that cow urine has miraculous properties. However, it would be wrong for agencies of the state or busybodies acting in their name to prevent individuals from either affirming or denying the properties of cow urine. As for Gujarat, Chief Minister Modi sought multiple times to get the Army to intervene, but was unable to persuade the Central government to do so early enough. Modi’s inspired stewardship of Gujarat convinced his political opponents that he would be their most formidable rival. There has been a coordinated effort to blacken Narendra Modi’s reputation, and even in 2017, anything that goes wrong in India soon gets pinned to the door of his South Block office, including this latest blooper of a cow bleeper from Pahlaj Nihalani, despite it being entirely a CBFC decision. The Prime Minister of India would not have had the time to intervene in the matter of a documentary about an economist, unless the day had 240 hours, rather than merely 24. This is clearly a Nihalani decision, but it is noteworthy that several of the members of that body are standing by the newly-established “Sen precedent” and defending a CBFC action designed to convince the rest of the globe that freedom of expression is dead in India.
If the members of the CBFC are to be believed, the mere mention by Amartya Sen of what he regards as the “criminality of Gujarat” in the 2002 riots would inflame the state such that there would presumably be fresh incidents of violence. Having gone multiple times to Gujarat, it is safe to affirm that yet another articulation (this time in the documentary) of the same view that Sen has expressed several times in locations across the world would not set the Sabarmati afire. Indeed, it would have passed unnoticed. Hopefully, the I&B Ministry will step in to ensure that the CBFC gets manned by individuals subscribing to the practices and needs of a democracy, or at the least, withdraws the order it is reported to have passed on the Ghosh documentary, before this country becomes a global object of ridicule and scorn.
Prime Minister Modi, now that he is entering the fourth year of his term, needs to ensure that India join the rest of the civilised world in removing such colonial laws as “criminal defamation” from the statute books. The thrust and parry of debate in a democracy will be fierce and often unpleasant, but it is a necessary condition not simply of democracy, but of the culture of freedom and transparency needed for Start-Up India to generate the thrust needed to create tens of millions of additional jobs. Freedom of the internet, the universal spread of the internet, high surfing speeds and a sensible policy towards education, are all needed to ensure that PM Modi’s dream of a youthful and innovative India energised and awakened becomes a reality during the time that he is in office.