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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Prof. Nalapat on Pak Elections - Sharif the Punjabi will fight Imran a Pak Army proxy (PGurus)


For perhaps the first time, the Punjab political family is going up against the Punjabi-dominated army. Will this be beginning of the collapse of Pakistan? A must watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59s_AIiRAIQ&feature=youtu.be 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Minimum Government is decades overdue (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

‘Hanging’ the gun used in a murder is about as logical a punishment as it is to try and choke off the few freedoms available to social media platforms in India.

Lynchings have been taking place in India for centuries, the difference being that these days, they are almost certain to get captured on the cameras installed on cellphones. Child lifting is an execrable offence, and used to happen frequently in several cities across India, notably Mumbai during the 1960s, when small children living in mainly makeshift accommodation used to disappear, only to emerge later in distant locations with some of their limbs sawed off, or their eyes gouged out, or their tongues chopped in half. Some had had substances smeared across their bodies which caused eruptions that were horrible to behold, all the better to make people throw coins at such unfortunate importuners so as to make them go away. These days, there are so many other ways of making money that such deformed child beggars appear to have almost disappeared, despite the fact that practically none of those responsible for the systematic mutilation of children so as to set them loose to beg were caught by the police. “Hafta” (or bribes given to the police) being commonplace even during those times, this was no surprise. In these “modern” times, a considerable proportion of child lifting is related either to ransom or to sex trafficking in the very young. Given the uncertainties and delays in the justice system in India, it is not a surprise that some citizens administer on the spot punishment (often capital) to those they suspect of this crime. News reports about child lifters and lynchings appear to have led to some perverted minds posting photographs, locations and other descriptions on social media of individuals they seek to destroy, whether this be because of jealousy, or greed for the property that would be left behind by those lynched on the basis of false reports about them. Expectedly, a call has risen to “lynch” (through suppression or at the least severely controlling) social media platforms.
This columnist is no addict of social media, and does not even know the passwords of accounts that are operated by a few dedicated well-wishers, mainly to disseminate his work. It is as yet more proof of the innovation-smothering nature of the governance system that unlike in China, there is no WeChat, Baidu, Weibo, nor even a Jack Ma in India. There are, of course, some internet companies that do data crunching work for foreign customers, a few of which have parlayed their reputations into ensuring for themselves land and other benefits from the state at very low prices. But there is no domestic counterpart to Facebook, Yahoo! or Google or Microsoft, and the fact that there are brilliant NRIs at the helm of some of these global giants is scant compensation for India’s failure to emulate China in creating its own web titans. Digital India is at present largely a digital colony of the US and a few Chinese companies. However, seeking to suppress them is not the answer, but ensuring an ecosystem where domestic companies can grow to giant size. What would make the difference is when Prime Minister Narendra Modi acts on his promise of “Minimum Government”, by which he presumably means minimal state interference with the lives and occupations of the 1.3 billion citizens of this country. To act against the operation of internet platforms that are used by hundreds of millions each day would be akin to declaring as criminal implements such as a knife or a stick, on the grounds that these are usually the weapons used by those who motivate putative lynchers against their victims. India’s underpaid, overworked police force seems unable to identify and apprehend the few who deliberately spread toxic “child lifter” messages about other citizens on the web, while our justice system continues to remain slow in coming to a final verdict about any crime. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to eliminate “unnecessary” laws, but left this task to the bureaucracy (which, in its continuing 1870s avatar, seeks to retain all edicts that add to their power and discretion over the citizen). Small wonder that most of the laws that have been discarded are those that are unenforceable because they have lost their relevance decades ago owing to the changes in circumstances that time inevitably brings. Such pruning of dead law is different from cutting away at the many colonial-style laws designed to keep civil society under the heel of the civil service. India is more “corrupt” than Norway because 90% of what is legal in that Scandinavian paradise is illegal in an India still under the jackboot of the 1862 Police Act.
“Hanging” the gun used in a murder is about as logical a punishment as it is to try and choke off the few freedoms available to social media platforms in India despite Pramod Mahajan’s efforts at state control of the internet medium and industry through an Information Technology (IT) law. The legislation he got passed, and which was made still more regressive by the UPA (and left undisturbed by the present government) caused the end of the phase of hypersonic expansion that the IT industry had witnessed since 1989, the year when Silicon Valley discovered Bangalore. It was Jawarharlal Nehru, celebrated as a democrat par excellence, who oversaw changes in the Constitution of India that have been used since then to punish free expression. It is from this 1950s legislative root and its offshoots that a climate of intolerance to dissent has grown in India side by side with rituals such as the screening of the National Anthem in cinema halls even during peacetime. It is from the longstanding absence of an accommodative attitude towards the “other” (including, during the UPA days, those who opposed appeasement of Wahhabism; and these days, citizens who have a taste for bovine meat) that intolerant strains of public conduct have multiplied. The mass lynching of a human being is an act of terror, and should be treated in law and by the police as being the equivalent of ISIS recruits cutting the throats of their captives. It is not the medium nor even the message that is responsible for the eruptions of barbarity that we see captured on cellphones in India, but a mindset nourished on the restrictions, regression and restraints that have continued with state patronage to remain commonplace in India even after the colonial era. The time to fulfil the promise of “Minimum Government” is long, long overdue.

Friday, 6 July 2018

John Bolton needs to get real (Sunday Guardian)

Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat

THE favourite animal in Atlanticist societies is the domesticated dog. The animal is wholly dependent for its sustenance and indeed survival on the human master (or mistress). It shows the deep springs of its (actual or feigned) gratitude by wagging its tail and repeatedly licking the master at every opportunity. The domesticated dog is slavish and wholly non-threatening, an ideal companion for tens of millions across both sides of Atlantic Ocean. The operative word is non-threatening. Both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi rendered themselves so by surrendering the WMD in their possession. However, they still behaved as though they were equals of the members of Atlantic Alliance who took away their deadly weaponry.
Saddam Hussein had (most probably falsely, according to “Reporter”, the autobiography of the brilliant journalist Seymour Hersh) been accused by British and US intelligence agencies of having launched a conspiracy to assassinate “Poppy”, not the plant grown in such profusion in Afghanistan but the term used by George W Bush when referring to his father George H W Bush. Hence, although distracted by about a year because of 9/11, once President of the United States, George W Bush made it his life’s mission to eliminate Saddam Hussein, which he finally did in a couple of years, the hanging of the man having been conveniently recorded through a cellphone. Saddam was not obsequious enough, and did not act in the slavish manner expected of him once he had been disarmed after he foolishly invaded Kuwait, so it was without dissent that he was eliminated. As for Kaddafy, even after giving up his WMD stockpile and being at the mercy of NATO thereafter, he used to growl at Atlantic Alliance, including at the United Nations. Such lese majesty had to be punished and it was.
Gaddafi and his regime were bombed out of office and the man himself was (again to the accompaniment of video recordings) sent to the Day of Judgment in a manner that would make the word “barbaric” appear to be a severe understatement. Images of his capture and execution were met by cackles from Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy, the three responsible for the Libyan change of regime which took place in 2011. While the operation was going on, this columnist had on several occasions warned that NATO’s action in Libya would provoke a flood of refugees into Europe, together with hundreds of individuals radicalised enough to set up terror modules within the EU. Such warnings were ignored, as views coming from outside the Atlanticist lobby usually are by the incestuous, navel gazing planners and strategists of an alliance that has lost its primacy to Asia since 1997.
John Bolton is a US patriot but has had far too much exposure to Europe and way too little to Asia. Hence the disconnect from reality of some of his views, such as on North Korea, the only way to get Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to irretrievably surrender his nuclear and missile assets and capability would be war. While such a conflict would have been relatively painless during the period in office of President Bill Clinton, the potential cost in human lives and treasure climbed steeply by the close of the second term of President George W Bush. His successor ducked the issue, refusing both war as well as peace, thereby leaving a very limited menu of choices for President Donald J Trump. Although Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe apparently believes that going to war against Pyongyang is still a desirable option, it is doubtful of millions of those who voted for the LDP in previous elections would support that party under Abe were they to realize that close to 500,000 Japanese would be casualties of a war with North Korea.
Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has shown extraordinary skill in accelerating his country’s nuclear and missile programme to a stage where an attack on the DPRK by the US and Japan (South Korea under Moon Jae-in is unlikely to join such an effort) would lead to a minimum of two million casualties in the region, including hundreds of thousands of US citizens in Guam and the Philippines. Shrewd number cruncher that he is, President Trump has given primacy to an effort to convert the DPRK from a threat to an opportunity, by signalling peace and friendship rather than war. If the US and Japan (South Korea has already made that choice) wish to avoid a war that could over time ( given the effects of radiation) push casualty figures to 3.5 million, the only option is to establish a friendly relationship with Pyongyang. Prime Minister Abe, a fervent patriot devoted to making Japan great again, should encourage Japanese companies to invest in North Korea, thereby lowering to insignificant levels any situation where Japan could face a second nuclear strike after 1945, this time from the forces commanded by Supreme Leader Kim. John Bolton forgot that he was not talking as a television talk show star but as the National Security Advisor of the United States when he spoke of the “Libyan solution” being applied in the case of North Korea.
From that moment onwards, any chance that the Kim regime would agree to surrender its WMD stockpile fell to a level indistinguishable from zero. The US NSA still seems to be living in a pre-2011 world. Where promises of safety made by the US in exchange for WMD stockpiles was believed. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton destroyed that trust by the manner in which she went after Gaddafi despite the loss of trust in US promises created by George W Bush going after Saddam Hussein in a gesture to “Poppy”. President Trump can ensure that Pyongyang morph from a threat into an opportunity by ensuring that obstacles are not placed in the way of South Korea (and hopefully Japan and India, besides other countries) entering into business linkages with Pyongyang. The more these are, the lower the risk of a conflagration that could turn nuclear within days.
The period in history when Asian rulers behaved the way domesticated dogs do to their masters is over, especially in East Asia, where the countries of the region are now equal to Europe in their commercial prowess. The defining quality about Donald Trump is that he understands the real world. While taking ultra-tough positions in the beginning stages of a negotiation, he moves from that with finesse, the way he has on North Korea. As Trump’s National Security Advisor, it is time for John Bolton to get real and understand that the path he claims is possible has been shut by the mistakes made by the Sarkozy-Clinton-Cameron trio. These are the three responsible for the migration crisis that is overwhelming Europe, and yet few understand their responsibility for the deeds which resulted in the flood of refugees into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.
 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Stop mothballing Priyanka and Varun (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

Holding a new generation guilty or responsible for the sins actual and perceived of their ancestors makes no sense. We need leaders wedded to 21st century mindsets.


What decided the last Lok Sabha verdict was the 2009-2014 record of the Manmohan Singh government, along with the public perception of Congress president Sonia Gandhi as an individual more concerned with securing the future of her Italian relatives than the 1. 26 billion people of the country of her in-laws. The 2019 Lok Sabha result will hinge on the record of the Narendra Modi government during the previous five years, including its lack of success in prosecuting and sending to prison any central-level leader of the UPA, a formation that was relentlessly labelled as corrupt beyond imagination by Modi during the 2014 election campaign. Either the UPA leadership was not corrupt, and only falsely labelled as such by the BJP, or the new government is unable or unwilling to enforce accountability for past misdeeds. Add to that negativity a plunging rupee, a tax system still anchored to the colonial “squeeze the natives” model, and the continuing control by the state of most aspects of a citizen’s life. All these make it more and more likely that the next government will be a collection of parties united by their desire to send Modi into retirement, exactly as disparate groups came together in 1977 to ensure an “Indira Hatao”. Prime Minister Modi has asked the people to give him time till 2022 to fulfil the promises he has made, but to those who are at the lower end of the economic pyramid, even a week is too long a time to wait for succour to arrive. Modi will need to do more in the next six months than he has during the previous 49, not speaking on the stump but working in his office, or the BJP will go the way the Congress Party did in 1989.
Should Modi’s party return to the opposition benches in May 2019, it could make a comeback in 2024 if the new government retains the UPA policy of selective communalism and statism. Interestingly, younger leaders such as Akhilesh Yadav and Telangana CM KCR’s talented son and daughter seem to have understood the depth of the hunger for change of the electorate. Rahul Gandhi had given rise to expectation that he would adopt a course different from that of his predecessor, but lately seems to be reverting to his UPA-era role of being led by Sonia Gandhi, and thus not finding the energy or the inclination to move beyond her 1930s “Cambridge socialism” so as to lead the charge towards a 21st century makeover of his party. Rahul ought to lead campaigns such as the abolition of triple talaq or universalising the teaching of English in primary and secondary schools. He ought to press for lower taxes and an end to Babu Raj. Such a policy transformation would include an effort designed to do away with several colonial-era laws and practices, bringing back freedom of choice in diet, dress and lifestyle to all, and avoiding Sonia Gandhi’s indulgence towards Wahhabism. That Rahul Gandhi still declines to publicly back the abolition of triple talaq or the building of the Ram temple are signs that the policy clouds of the Congress past still hang over the present. Unless this changes, the Congress Party will not reach the 150 Lok Sabha seats the party can secure were it to walk away from the errors made during the UPA era. An example of how lost opportunities are hurting the party is the lack of a role given to Priyanka Gandhi, who would be an immense asset to her party, having as she does much of the charisma of her paternal grandmother. Thus far, Priyanka has scarcely been deployed by the Congress Party, although those who say that this is because Italian (and Indian) mothers prefer sons to daughters in positions of responsibility may be wrong. Certainly her husband is not a poster boy for Gandhian values, but even should the Modi government find the will in the short time it has left to make Robert Vadra accountable for past transactions, this will not damage Priyanka’s political potential, as she has a standing within her party and the country independent of her spouse. Perhaps Rahul needs to show that he is no Manmohan Singh, but the actual and not the notional leader of his party, by ensuring a role for Priyanka that matches her capabilities.
The Congress Party is not the only formation ignoring obvious talent. Varun Gandhi has shown his qualities through the systematic way in which he has joined in the public discourse on policy. Several of the points made in his writings and speeches are worthy of implementation, while the MP’s personality matches that of his father. Even during the worst period of his life (just after the 1977 defeat of his party), Sanjay Gandhi had a presence and a leadership style that awed his contemporaries. The history of his party would have been different if some unseen force had not filed away at the control wires on his aircraft so that they snapped after a few tugs of the joystick, sending the small aircraft into a death-dive. “Each One Teach One” or “Plant More Trees”, not to mention overpopulation or the abolition of Soviet economic models, remain as relevant in 2018 as they were in 1973 when Sanjay first expounded on his vision for India, although it must be added that several of the methods adopted by his acolytes were unpardonable. Varun has the zeal and magnetism of his father, and it is the BJP’s loss not to make much better use of such qualities in its youthful MP. For example, by ensuring a Rahul Gandhi-Varun Gandhi battle in Amethi during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and in the interim, recognising rather than ignoring Varun’s potential within the party organisation. Holding a new generation guilty or responsible for the sins actual and perceived of their ancestors makes no sense, and hopefully both Varun and Priyanka (not to mention Rahul) will accept that past precedents need to be replaced with ideas relevant to the people and the times of the present. India has been searching since decades for leaders wedded to 21st century mindsets and methods, a quest that continues. 

China joins U.S. and India against Pak terror funding (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

Turkey hosts leaders of many groups tethered to violent solutions to political problems. Indications are President Erdogan gave command to ‘stand by Pakistan come what may’.


The “Wuhan Spirit” ensured that China joined with India, the United States, Russia and the European Union in rejecting the bid of Turkey to take Pakistan off the “Grey List” of terror funding of the 37-nation Financial Action Task Force at its plenary meeting in Paris last week. The Pakistan delegation sought the support of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, China and Turkey to be taken off the Grey List of countries that have made unsatisfactory progress in stopping terror funding. Should Islamabad not show visible progress in stopping terror funding within 15 months, it will be placed on the terror Black List, which at present includes only Iran and North Korea. The Pakistan delegation argued that “Muslim nations should stand together” against any move by FATF to place “the world’s second largest Muslim country” on the Grey List, aware that it was only a short step from there to the Black List, which would make it mandatory for the world’s significant trading nations to impose financial sanctions on Pakistan. Inspired by the fight-back against Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia under the direction of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and the rejection of extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood by another important Muslim country, Egypt, the GCC rejected such lobbying and pointed out that Muslims themselves have been the worst victims of terrorism and therefore should unite in support of moves to choke off funding to terror groups.
Interestingly, Turkey has found itself on such a list on multiple occasions, and now hosts the leaders of several groups tethered to violent solutions to political problems. Soundings within Ankara indicate that President Erdogan himself gave the command to “stand by Pakistan come what may” out of worry that the same label may get affixed to Turkey. Under President Erdogan, as many as 15 armed extremist groups, active mostly in the Middle East, have substantial segments of their leadership resident in Turkey, including two groups associated with the Pakistan army’s ongoing campaign of terror against India.
Although several calls were made from Rawalpindi GHQ to the headquarters of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) in Beijing to ensure that China joined with Turkey in getting Pakistan dropped from the Grey List, now that President Xi Jinping has taken charge of the “India Account” (the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in the case of China), it was not possible for pro-Pakistan voices in the PLA to join hands with pro-Pakistan, India-phobic elements in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Beijing to make the Chinese delegation at the FATF plenary side with Pakistan at the expense of those countries that were longstanding victims of Pakistan terror groups. Saudi Arabia in particular had been lobbied very hard by the Pakistan delegation at the plenary meeting, but that country stood behind India in the matter of ensuring that Pakistan was on the Grey List. Although as yet the pro-Pakistan lobby in the PLA is blocking UN action against certain leaders of Jaish as well as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, at the Paris meet, the Chinese delegation did not demur when these entities were all included in the list of organisations to which funds should be cut off totally, no matter the fake names they operate by. Although the Pakistan delegation swore, for example, that funds to Hafiz Saeed as well as his media access have been cut off, during 2015 and 2016 there were nearly 70 Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) public rallies in Pakistan, almost all of which was reported by the Pakistan media, which is known in its reporting to go by the wishes of the ISI. On average, there were nine violent incidents per month in Jammu & Kashmir that were caused by those sent across the border from the well-funded terror training camps in Pakistan. Of course, the JuD has now morphed into the Tehreek-e-Azaadi-e-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK) from mid-January last year. And while Hafiz Saeed has been “detained” in 4-star comfort, both Abdul Rehman Makki and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi (both designated as terrorists by the US) remain free to roam across Pakistan and recruit impressionable youths to their terror outfits, the destructive purpose of which gets described by LeT and JuD leaders publicly in speeches every day. As for Saeed, while still technically in detention, he gave a live press conference outside the JuD headquarters to 11 media channels, in each of which he threatened violence and mass terror in India. Saeed continues to reside at 4 Chauburji, Lahore, and runs a network of colleges and hospitals that receive money from Pakistan and outside, especially the Middle East.
The LeT still operates not only in India but in Europe and Afghanistan, and there are reports that it is setting up a base in the US. Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) has now spread to 13 countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Myanmar, Somalia and Yemen. Terror groups active in Pakistan and from there to other countries include TAJK, FiF, HuNM, ISIS, HuD, JeD and the various strands of the Taliban. It is unlikely that GHQ Rawalpindi will stop funding such auxiliary organisations in the 15 months’ grace period FATF has given it. Thus far, the Pakistan army was confident that China would block action against it as a sponsor of terror, no matter what it did in every country except of course China. However, the Wuhan Spirit created by the Modi-Xi discussions has ensured that Beijing joined hands with India and other countries to hold Pakistan to account for its use of terror as a weapon of war. China being on the same page as India on the issue of terror factories and their funding during the Paris plenary, shows that Xi will no longer allow certain elements in the military to blindly back Islamabad at the expense of China’s reputation as a fighter against the terror factories of the world, many of which operate from Pakistan.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad creates history (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat

MOST analysts assume that the restrictive practices that had been the norm in Saudi Arabia until King Abdullah Al Saud and thereafter Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman took charge had been part of the country’s history from the beginning. In much the same way, they saw as “natural to the Afghan people” the societal mores enforced during the period when (with US support) the Taliban controlled 86% of Afghanistan. The fact is that Afghanistan was a modern, moderate country in line with the wise example set by Prophet Mohammad, who showed by example his respect for women as well as for those who belonged to faiths different from that which had been revealed to him. Only when he was engaged in a war (and this did not happen very often) was the Prophet constrained to adopt the practices needed to ensure victory over those seeking to destroy him and his rapidly expanding flock. There were Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists living peacefully among their Muslim neighbours, especially in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan.
The Pashtuns in particular were known for their liberal and tolerant spirit, changes taking place only after the CIA intervened in favour of Wahabbism the way the agency had in Saudi Arabia after Ayatollah Khomenei took over power in Teheran in 1979 and directed his fire at the US and Israel. Not even secretly, Saddam Hussein was encouraged to attack Iran soon afterwards, and supplied even with chemical weapons for the purpose by the US and the UK. Of course, after he invaded Kuwait, Saddam was a marked man, finally getting defeated in 2003 on the pretext that he had supplies of WMD that both London and Washington knew were not there, else they would not have dared to invade the country with hundreds of thousands of troops but confined their actions to the air. Nearer home, during the period when Zahir Shah was King of Afghanistan, women were wholly free to adopt the dress and lifestyle they chose.
It was only after the Soviet invasion that first the Carter and later the Reagan administration in Washington gave open backing to religious fanatics eager to rid the country not only of the Soviet invaders but of anyone else who did not subscribe to a restrictive interpretation of the faith that placed severe limits on human conduct and reduced the people to a lowly status when compared with the Taliban rulers, who even weeks before September 11,2001 were welcome visitors to the US State Department as well as,on occasion, the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. Most of the trips made by Taliban representatives to the US were funded either directly by the US administration or paid for by GCC states at the request of US officials. It was only after 1979 that Wahabbism grew deep roots within Saudi Arabia, a transformation that had the blessings of the US and the former ruling power, the UK. It was when King Abdullah took over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2005 that the lavish financial assistance given to Wahabbi institutions was slowed down and the rigid constructs of Wahabbi societal norms were slowly relaxed.
The King’s death ten years later gave rise to fears that the re-entry of Saudi Arabia into the comity of nations with a moderate ethos would get halted. However, the opposite has taken place. Almost as soon as he was appointed Crown Prince by King Salman (the successor to King Abdullah), Muhammad bin Salman accelerated the de-Wahabbization of Saudi Arabia. Initially, this met with opposition from those whose bank balances and lifestyles had prospered as a consequence of the annual flow of billions of dollars to Wahabbi institutions. However, the Crown Prince did not lose his nerve but took on the Wahabbi establishment with full force, backed by his father King Salman Al Saud, who saw in the youthful prince an individual with the qualities needed to ensure that Saudi Arabia smoothly enter into the 21st century from the 16th. Wahabbbis and their global backers have created a perception that the overwhelming majority of Muslims subscribe to their narrow – and wrong – interpretation of a faith based on the qualities of compassion, beneficence and mercy.
Analysts and commentators in the US and the UK in particular were at first dismissive of both the intentions as well as the degree of success of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in his efforts at returning his country to the moderate values that were the norm before Wahabbism was given a cortisone boost by external agencies. However, it must be said that President Donald J Trump has from the start given the Saudi Crown Prince full backing, and this has been an important factor in his success. Hopefully the Crown Prince will extricate Saudi Arabia from its external conflicts (such as in Yemen) and concentrate on driving Wahabbism away from Saudi Arabia. Success in this task will change the history of not merely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but the entire world.
 

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

BJP top leaders holds Press conferences across India to highlight the darkest period 'Emergency' (NewsX)



The BJP today is observing a black day across the nation to mark the anniversary of emergency imposed in 1975 by the then PM Indira Gandhi. Prime Minister Modi launched a scathing attack on the congress and said that the emergency was imposed for one family's hunger for power. Other BJP top leaders will holds press conferences across the country to highlight how it was the darkest period of independent India. Meanwhile Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has said that the emergency must be taught as a part of school curriculum to sensitise youth towards the darkest phase of Indian history.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

NewsX Global Environmental Conclave begins; Professor Nalapat speaks on environment (Sunday Guardian)


NewsX in association with Sunday Guardian brings to you global environmental conclave today. Various issues like environmental sustainability, role of PSU's in environment and climate change, global impact of pollution will be taken up at the conclave. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, filmmaker Mike Pandey, MOS Jitender Singh are expected to attend.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Freedoms are essential for economic growth (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

The many obstacles to freedom of speech and choice in India need to be dismantled.


Once the BJP secured a majority in the Lok Sabha on 16 May 2014, several thinkers from what gets described as the “saffron camp”, and who earlier had been dismissed as lightweights, found a new prominence. For decades, they had pointed out errors in the history books of the post-1947 period, which literature in essence is similar to those used during the period when it was the Union Jack and not the Tricolour flying above the top of Raisina Hill. However, they then exhibited the same error of seeing certain other historical events through rose-coloured lenses. For the “saffron” scholars, the period before the Muslim invasions and European conquests of the Indian subcontinent were a golden age. They were not. Several of the rulers of that period were venal, repressive and incompetent, while many had social views as regressive as those earlier held by Manu, whose edicts about women in particular were later adopted wholesale by Abdul Wahhab in his wanderings within the Nejd desert of what is now Saudi Arabia. More than 85% of the population of the land of our ancestors was disallowed by considerations of “caste by birth” from taking up arms to defend their territories against invasions. Once an individual’s caste got determined by birth rather than by occupation, the ossification of society commenced, rendering it easy prey for invaders from Persia, Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Arab world, not to mention later conquests by the European powers. If pre-Mughal India had been the paradise of justice and plenty described by those who simultaneously (and correctly) point to the atrocities committed on the people during the past millennium by outside invaders, it would never have collapsed to armies that were, culturally and materially, substantially below the levels reached by their domestic conquests.
After freedom was secured in 1947 (after the British lost confidence during 1944-46 that the “native military” would for much longer go against their own people to protect the colonial ruler), the Union of India was a shadow of what British India had been in terms of territory and influence. From the Arabian Sea to the Himalayas to the Arakan, the primacy of Delhi shrank and rapidly disappeared once those who had spent years leading the fight for Independence from British-era jails took charge. A factual history of the past millennium needs to replace the nursery tales created by Nehruvian historians, but a similar candour is needed in examining the faults in the society and politics of what came before, during what the nursery tales (this time of the “Right”) term as India’s Golden Age.
Wahhabis regard as blasphemy any deviation from the line taken by them on events and personalities, and so do those who have driven away the writings of A.K. Ramanujan from college shelves because he gave a version of the Ramayana different from that favoured by self-appointed “protectors” of the name of Lord Ram. By such actions, they are belittling the glory of one of the greatest figures in history, a life that ought to be taught in every school in India for the insights it offers. The historical reputation of Lord Ram does not need such epigones as its champions. Lord Ram’s glory can easily withstand critical assessments. Behaving the way Wahhabis do in seeking to stop differing interpretations of Lord Ram will only recreate the social faultiness which a millennium ago caused our land to succumb to invasions. Rather than strengthen it so as to enable India to take its place as the Third Superpower, after China and the US, censorship and intolerance to opposing views and lifestyles will weaken India. The only way policymakers in our country can ensure employment and income levels sufficient to move the economy into the Middle Income range within a generation is to generate a manifold expansion in the Knowledge Economy. This requires the abolition of the constrictive framework that has been created for education in India. But this would not be enough. It was its relatively liberal traditions that led to the success of Bangalore as an Information Technology hub, just as it is the relaxed societal atmosphere at NRI-filled Silicon Valley which helps ensure its dominance in the global Knowledge Economy table. Such should be the ruling ethos and ecosystem in India.
Rather than flex their muscles against helpless individuals, such imitators of Wahhabi mores need to concentrate on the forces that seek to break (or at the least severely weaken) India. Among them are groups which work through agitations and propaganda to prevent the mining of coal, iron ore, copper, uranium and rare earths within the country. It is very likely that the copper plant in Tuticorin that got shut down after protests was operating in a manner that added substantially to pollution. If so, the state government ought to have temporarily taken over the company and ensured cleaner processing of raw material rather than allowing it to be closed. Its shutdown means more copper has to be imported from outside the country, the way coal is in a country nature has endowed immense resources of the substance with. Madushree Mukherjee has written a book (Churchill’s Secret War) that ought to be taught in classes across the country rather than the fiction spewed out by Nehruvian historians. She shows how British rule changed India from a manufacturing hub into merely a producer of raw materials. Several shadowy groups operating in India seek with anti-industry rhetoric and activity to prevent even raw materials from being extracted in this country, much less manufacture.
Whether it be the effect on press freedom of the ease with which criminal defamation cases can get filed or the manner in which Saudi-model crackdowns occur on those adopting a diet or lifestyle different from those choices favoured by zealots, there are still too many obstacles to freedom of speech and choice in India. These need to be dismantled, not simply because that is the moral thing to do, but because such is the only way individual initiative can flourish in India the way it does in the countries to which Indians are forced to flee to ensure more productive lives than India’s colonial governance system makes possible.

PGurus with Prof Nalapat on US N Korea summit, US Trade sanctions on China and India (PGurus)


PGurus with Prof Nalapat on US N Korea summit, US Trade sanctions on China and India. Also discussed are the extent of Wahabism in the Pak Army and its consequences.

Trump and Xi lock horns over global primacy (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

Trump knows that it is Beijing and not Moscow that needs undivided attention ‘if the US is to ensure that it remains the globe’s largest economy’.


Almost the entire mainstream media in the US dislikes Donald Trump, and it shows. Television news reports, talk shows and newspaper commentary are filled with a toxicity towards Trump that is reminiscent of the vitriol directed against Chief Minister Narendra Modi from 2002 to around 2012, the year when he became a serious prospect for the Prime Ministership of India. The abuse did little to damage Modi’s electoral prospects in his home state, and the constant level of negative commentary about Trump in the midst of an improved performance by the US economy is proving unable to reverse the steady rise in the approval rating of the 45th US President, which may soon cross the politically significant 50% mark. The Democratic Party has yet to recover from its folly of having been forced by the (still dominant) Clinton personal and political machine to reject Senator Bernie Sanders as the party’s nominee for the 2016 Presidential contest. Given the atmosphere in the US during that year, Hillary Clinton was certain to lose to Trump and Sanders to win. The US would have changed under a President Sanders in a manner as comprehensive as it is during the tenure of President Trump, but in a wholly different direction. However, on the issue of dealing with a rapidly nuclearising Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it is likely that Sanders would have trod much the same conciliatory path that Trump has been taking, except that in the latter’s case, his actual objectives and strategy remain a secret to all except the President himself and a handful of his confidants, many of the closest of whom are outside government, and most of whom have to date remained outside media attention. Indeed, those who have been written about in the media as being “close” to Donald Trump have usually found their welcome significantly reduced once such flattering reports come out. Influenced by an overwhelmingly hostile media across both sides of the Atlantic, the global perception about President Trump is that he changes his mind often and lacks either vision or a well thought out plan of action that could fulfil his stated objectives. The reality is that Trump does indeed have both a vision as well as a plan designed to ensure its fruition, but covers up both through camouflaging them with tweets and statements that deliberately confuse and mislead his audience, including the countries or the interests that he is targeting. Those close to him say that he has a “laser focus” on objectives that are hidden from public view, and among the most consequential of these is to repeat what Ronald Reagan did with the USSR, this time in the case of the People’s Republic of China. With an eye on trendiness and potentialities, Trump “has been aware for over eighteen years” (in the words of an individual who has had contact with him even after 20 January 2017) that “the only threat to the continued primacy of the US in the global order is China”, especially now that Xi Jinping, a leader in the transformational mould of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has established firm control over the Chinese Communist Party and through that, both the administration as well as the military in what is on track to soon being the world’s largest economy.
ATLANTICISTS FIGHT TRUMP
The ecosystem of the Washington Beltway consists of a dense matrix of think tanks, consultancies and state, as well as private agencies staffed by “experts” who have devoted decades of their lives to “understanding issues” from the 1940s perspective of the Atlantic Alliance. Although global geopolitics has reduced the significance of the European side of the Atlantic and at the same time steadily increased the importance of the Asian side of the Pacific, those with cosy sinecures within the Beltway remain moored to the 1940s worldview, exactly as do the international institutions set up during that period, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, NATO and the IMF. All four have at the core of their control systems the countries forming the Atlantic Alliance, an aberration that continues mainly because US policymakers continue to think and act as though the post-1945 world still exists, and not the world after the firebreak caused by the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the event which first gave a glimpse to the international community as to the identity of the Second Superpower.
Had India post-2014 adopted the “Minimum Government” model promised by Narendra Modi in his 2014 Lok Sabha electoral campaign, by now its annual rate of growth would have crossed the 12% mark and by 2019, it would have been obvious both that Modi would win a second term and that India would soon become the world’s Third Superpower. However, the economic policies and administrative practices of the BJP-led government have in practice been such as to throw both conclusions into doubt. In contrast, the US under Donald Trump and China under Xi Jinping are both transforming themselves at speed, with China outpacing the US in the extent of internal systemic changes. “Digital India” remains a digital colony of the US and China, while “Make Babies in India” seems more accurate a description of the present situation than Make Manufactures in India. Whether in the US or in China, the policy elites of both agree that the immense unlocked potential of India remains locked by a governance mechanism that stifles rather than creates value. The manner of rollout of GST has made Franz Kafka’s depictions of bureaucracy seem a model of simplicity and efficiency, while the less said about the way in which the RBI implemented the 8 November 2016 changeover from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 notes as well as the change in size and colour of Rs 500 notes, the better for those who seek to keep their blood pressure under control. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been badly let down by important elements of his team, but being a large-hearted man, this has not resulted in any adverse impact on their careers. In fact, the reverse has taken place, with several of the “heroes in reverse” of demonetisation and the version of GST formulated by North Block moving on to higher responsibilities. Similarly, those responsible for missteps such as forcing through an alliance between the BJP and the PDP in Kashmir or who persisted even after 2014 with the Manmohan brain-free plan of an alliance of India with Japan, Brazil and Germany to help secure a permanent UN Security Council seat (in fact, the move has almost doomed India’s prospects) either remain at their posts or have moved on to better pastures, thanks to the generous and forgiving spirit that is the distinguishing characteristic of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi.
“The Europeans are hanging on to the coattails of the US and are dragging us down while pushing themselves up. This must change”, a key confidant of Trumpworld revealed, adding that “the US should not always be giving to Europe but should be getting as well, and this is something US Presidents (before Trump) have not bothered to ensure”. An associate went on to add that “(German Chancellor) Merkel makes much of her surplus from trade from the US, but that does not stop her from constantly attacking US policies and even the President personally in (what she regards as) private gatherings”. At the same time, “to the President in person she (Merkel) is very respectful. This is hypocrisy”. Another serial offender is UK Prime Minister Theresa May, “who talks to her staff in disrespectful terms about the Administration and even the President despite the special relationship between the UK and the US”. A relationship, he added, which President Trump is fully committed to. He pointed out that Trump “early on promised the UK that it would be at the head of the queue in trade agreements”, and that “this is a promise he intends to keep”, although (Prime Minister) May’s often censorious tone has created a distance between the White House and 10 Downing Street. Those privy to the thinking of President Trump say that there exists substantial evidence that elements of the British establishment connived with Hillary Clinton in seeking to damage the Presidential prospects of Donald Trump. “The Clintons have maintained extensive and lucrative contacts, including with the GCC, Russia and China, but the US media and FBI just want to look at the Trump family, “whose own contacts are few in comparison to the Clintons or the Bush clan”, a senior insider complained, adding that “they cannot forgive the President for refusing to be led by the nose the way Obama was for almost all his term”.
BEIJING NOT MOSCOW
If Trumpworld insiders are correct, Donald Trump has “for several years” known that it is Beijing and not Moscow that needs the undivided attention of US policymakers “if the US is to ensure that it remains the globe’s largest economy well even in the 21st century”. The US Head of State is “an old-fashioned patriot whose eyes still moisten when he sees Old Glory (the flag) being lifted”, and “it would be torture to him to watch the US economy take second place to that of China”. While a host of appointments (such as those of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) were made “in a futile staff-directed effort to pacify the Beltway, increasingly Trump is forming around him a team that acknowledges that the primary challenger to US supremacy—in fact, the only serious challenger in exactly 99 years—is China. These include National Security Advisor John Bolton and Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, both of whom have been savaged by the pundits of the Beltway almost as viciously as Trump has been. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while Director of Central Intelligence, “paid particular attention to the systematic manner in which each and every member of the Trump team and family were sought to be approached by individuals linked to the PRC”. According to those in contact with the President, “Pompeo warned the President each time such an approach was made” and in the case of the Trump family at least, “whenever there was such a warning, those close to Trump immediately downsized or gave up entirely contacts identified as potential or actual agents of influence” or “useful idiots of the challenger country” i.e. the People’s Republic of China. Unlike his predecessors, “who allowed their (Atlanticist) prejudice against Russia to dilute their vigil on China”, Secretary of State Pompeo “is entirely on the same page as his boss as to which country needs to be the focus of attention and action”. It may be added that Team Trump “has developed considerable respect for (Chinese Communist Party General Secretary) Xi Jinping for his ruthless determination to ensure that China reaches the top of the global table during his tenure”. During his (by now several) interactions with President Trump, “it became clear that Xi was quick to understand the nuances of an issue and how it could be turned into an advantage for China” in a manner absent from his two previous predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. These Trumpworld fixtures add that “the Chinese leadership has become so confident (of the future ascendancy of their country) that they openly declare their intentions in both manufacturing as well as in technology in words that admit of no other meaning than global dominance for the Chinese”. At the same time, the “unprecedented scale of the Belt & Road Initiative has exposed Team Xi’s ambition to make China the hub of global commerce”, including through making the RMB (or Chinese currency) as ubiquitous in global financial transactions as the US dollar has been since 1945”.
LAST CHANCE
“If the US had acted in the high-minded manner mouthed by President George H.W. Bush after (the events of) 1989 in China and followed a policy of constraining the development of that country rather than shrugging away 1989 as of little consequence, workers in the US would not have undergone the agony of the hollowing out of its manufacturing base to China, which took place during the Bush and Clinton period”, an insider within Trumpworld said. According to him, “Both Bill Clinton as well as the two Bushes (during their terms as President) were indulgent to China and cared not a hoot about the economic consequences of such generosity to US interests”. He added that “if the sources of some of the funds that were made available to the Bush library and private interests of family members, and to the Clinton Foundation, were to be seriously examined by the FBI, some missing dots and dashes in alien influence on US policy may get bridged”. However, “the FBI is desperate to protect the Clintons while forcing the removal of President Trump”. Why? Because of the “deep roots that the Clinton machine has within the agencies, especially the machine’s tactic of assisting in secretly providing jobs and other help to those close to agency personnel, including spouses, mistresses and children”, beneficence that often continued beyond an official’s retirement. “President Trump knows that this is the last chance for the US to reverse the seemingly inevitable climb of China towards global leadership (replacing the US), and he intends to take it, no matter how difficult the path”. Team Trump is aware that Xi Jinping is the most formidable competitor the US has had since the 1930s, and that “efforts will be made by the lobbies active on the East Asian giant’s behalf to scare and shock USG (US Government) away from seeking a less one-sided trading relationship with China”. Already, he added, “a cacophony has gone up of those arguing in defence of the longstanding policy of allowing China to race ahead through taking away our technologies”. However, he was emphatic that “the President will not be deterred, as he shrugs off abuse and always moves ahead doing what he knows has to be done”. The probability is, therefore, that the trade scuffles between Beijing and Washington will intensify.
THE NORTH KOREAN CASE
Recent US policy towards the DPRK (North Korea) highlights the innovative approach of the 45th President of the US, who has thrown away (failed) past precedents in his search for a winning strategy. While there remains a steady drumbeat of demands that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un denuclearise “completely and irreversibly” (a practical impossibility in the technological age), there may be a default strategy hidden away in the inventive mind of the unconventional businessperson who has been elected to lead his country by the US electorate. This may be to “co-opt Kim Jong Un into being a US ally”, exactly the way skilled diplomacy (initiated during the period in office of Barack Obama) has resulted in a de facto alliance between Hanoi and Washington. Kim is seen as a leader untethered to the ideologies of the past, and a steady warming of ties with the US may result in his modernising the DPRK economy the way Deng Xiaoping did in the 1980s. Such a transformation could come about even if the US were not to participate directly in the North Korean economy, leaving that to South Korea and to other powers such as India that may be eager to tap into the mineral and other resources of the northern part of the Korean peninsula. The calculation is that the more the Kim Jong Un regime gets integrated into the global economy, the less the possibility (or indeed the need) for him to adopt an aggressive line with his neighbours. Even Japan’s approach may change, with the hawkish Shinzo Abe being replaced with a more conciliatory politician in much the same way as Moon Jae-In took over from Park Gun-hye in Seoul. The “Surrender or War” option that Abe favours in dealing with Pyongyang could result in several hundred thousand Japanese citizens getting incinerated in the event of a conflict with North Korea, a reality that may persuade enough Japanese voters to move away from Abe to result in the defeat of the LDP. Because North Korea is treated as an outlaw (and has no other way of securing access to materiel and money than through clandestine and unwholesome methods), its weapons capability may be used as a threat as a consequence of the hostility against it. However, if Pyongyang gets integrated into the world economy (and not just China’s), Supreme Leader Kim’s incentive for hostile action would get considerably lowered. By giving Kim Jong Un unprecedented “face” through the personal meeting, and possibly even a visit to Washington, Present Donald Trump has (a) given Kim freedom of action in place of total reliance on Beijing and (b) shown him the benefits of adopting a benign rather than a threatening demeanour. The Shinzo Abe-John Bolton solution (which like the Iraq or Afghanistan campaigns has no Plan B) would result in a minimum of two million casualties (President Trump’s own estimate is 30 million). Tensions around and within the Korean peninsula have for the first time since the 1950s been brought substantially down by the personal diplomacy of President Moon of South Korea, Supreme Leader Kim of North Korea and, most consequential—indeed indispensable—of all, President Trump of the United States.
Although many of his tactics may be camouflaged in “red herring” rhetoric, his acolytes say that the objective of President Donald J. Trump is clear “in his own complex mind”. It is to retain the Numero Uno title of the US against all comers, most notably the formidable challenger that is Xi’s China. Ultimately, insiders within the Trump ecosystem say that a significant slowdown of the momentum of progress in China could get caused by “smart” policy. And that this will result in a fall in public support for the Chinese Communist Party sufficient to create a mass reaction within that vast country. Hence their confidence that President Trump will (especially if he gets a second term) be for China what Reagan turned out to be for the USSR.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Melania Trump shows up ‘Lucifer’ sessions (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat

ONCE again, travel from Delhi to the United States, this time to New York, was smooth, the flight arriving an hour early on a Saturday evening. The taxi service booked for transportation from Kennedy Airport to the hotel responded with equal speed, ensuring that an alternative vehicle was sent early enough to ensure zero wastage of time at the airport. Although CNN feeds its international viewers a daily (indeed, hourly) diet of horror stories about Donald Trump’s America, the officers at the immigration desk who cleared entry into the US were their usual polite and efficient selves. India has become a focus area for the US, now that the Indo-Pacific has displaced the Atlantic as the geopolitical plot of the globe, and presumably this may help explain the fact that US consular services in and to India remain at a high standard.
Hopefully, just as in a few airports elsewhere, the Modi government will go ahead with setting up pre-clearance facilities at some airports in India, so that the flights can land as a domestic flight, thereby avoiding immigration queues coming after a long flight. There are, of course, countries whose citizens are these days finding it much harder to get a US visa than was the case during the tenure in the White House of Barack Obama. Sometimes, a tougher policy may generate results. In 1994 New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani launched a series of police actions against crime in New York city and improved the law and order environment before demitting office eight years later. More than twenty years later, almost the entire city is still as safe as when Giuliani left it. However, although the program was a success, and Giuliani became a recognised name worldwide after the September 11,2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre, he was way behind most challengers in his efforts at winning the Republican Party nomination as well as in his efforts at becoming a US Senator.
There was something that was excessively harsh about Giuliani, a facet of his personality that seemed almost as abrasive as the personality of Josef Stalin rather than a politician in a democracy. However, he established a close relationship with Billionaire Trump, and after November 8,2016, President Trump ensured that the former New York Mayor got back into prominence, although he refused to make him either Secretary of State or Defence. However, Giuliani has been nominated by the President as his Attorney, and about the only benefit that Trump seems to have got from this symptom of loyalty is the fact that almost every day, Giuliani metaphorically puts both his feet into his mouth and in the resultant furore, less vitriol is expended on the President than would have been the case were the former New York Mayor not media fodder. Some of the appointments made by Trump have clearly been based on repaying loyalty to him, a propensity not uncommon in politics, where politicians need to reward loyalty or begin to lose the same among their followers.
A Trump appointment that is severely affecting the international image of the US , especially in countries other than members of the Atlantic Alliance, is that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The former Senator’s home state of Alabama was known for the cruelty that was inflicted on slaves brought over from Africa to work on cotton plantations. Unfortunately, Sessions gives every indication of retaining residues of the psychological disturbances that characterise those who believe that skin pigment ( or its absence) is a reliable indicator of the kind of person a human being is. Slaveholder plantations in Alabama separated black children from parents the way Germany under Hitler did in the case of Jews and the Roma population, both of which he sought to exterminate, with regrettable success. As Attorney General, Sessions has put in place a process by which young children are being violently separated from their parents, if the latter have crossed illegally into the US.
According to Sessions, such measures have been sanctioned by the Christian scriptures, quoting passages from St Paul (Romans) to make this grotesque case. The fact is that Jeff Sessions is headed for hell, and by separating fathers and mothers from their (often very) young, he resembles Lucifer in a manner that brings discredit to the image of the US as the land of liberty. Citizens are horrified at the slave plantation techniques used by the US Border Patrol in the matter of wrenching apart even infant children from their parents, yet he persists with retaining Sessions as Attorney General out of a sense of personal loyalty.
However, an individual who is (together with daughter Ivanka Kushner) the closest to President Trump has spoken out in a manner that Ivanka has not, to the disappointment of millions in India whose affection for the First Daughter rose as a consequence of reports of her close relations with the Indian-American community in the US, and her brief but successful visit to Hyderabad in India, where she charmed all the individuals who came in touch with her. First Lady Melania Trump (or President Trump) has yet to visit India, yet many in the country have warmed to the subtle but firm rebuke she administered to the slaveholder attitude of Jeff Sessions in the matter of separating children from parents. Apart from Melania Trump, another individual who has reacted to such an atrocious move is Pope Francis, who has not disappointed those who expected him to make his voice heard on the issue.
 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#TrumpKimSummit :Triumph for Trump (Organiser)

M D Nalapat

US President Donald Trump has followed his instincts while dealing with Kim Jong Un and not depended on the stale, failed advice of those under whose watch the North Korean issue was allowed to balloon into a deadly threat.

Since the close of 1939-45 intercontinental war, countries across both sides of the Atlantic fashioned international constructs designed to protect their privileges and advantages even after de-colonisation.
 
The Bretton Woods system does not even make a pretence at being even-handed. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s primary task is to rescue the euro from itself, while that of the World Bank is to ensure that US business continues to dominate global commerce. In the UN, a majority of three of the all-powerful Permanent Five members of the Security Council are from a single military alliance, NATO, while the ICJ, the WTO and other so-called “international” organisations in practice gravitate to the stands regarded by the Atlantic Alliance as favourable to itself. Unity across both sides of the North Atlantic has been the foundation of the reality of Europe enjoying a premium on its actual strength. This premium comes from the manner in which North America and West Europe control the post-1945 “international order” and bend it in directions favourable to themselves.
 
Worryingly for the Europeans, Asian economies are outpacing them by substantial margins, and are today far more important to the economic health of the US than Europe has been since the close of the 1990s. Thus far, the Atlantic Alliance has survived because of the fact that what is termed the Washington Beltway (the equivalent of India’s Lutyens Zone) continues to place the interests of the Europeans above those of the US. Had they done the latter, there would have been a faster and smoother transition from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific alliance than is the case at present. While Barack Obama talked of a “reset to Asia”, the Clinton machine sabotaged such a move. Only President Donald Trump has sought to actually implement such a necessary shift in US strategy Only if Russia is the Numero Uno rival of the US will it make sense to have France and Germany (indeed, the entire Atlantic Alliance) at the core of the US policy. However, from the earliest years of the present century, it is China that has assumed that role. The country has continued its upward trajectory in economic heft and has by now emerged as the Second Superpower, with a strong likelihood that it will be the primary superpower within 15 years. In the vast reaches of the Indo-Pacific (which from the start have been defined by this writer as the entirety of the Pacific and Indian oceans), the only way the US can remain ahead of China in power projection and influence is by a close military relationship with India. And if the security challenge presented by North Korea to the US is to be eliminated, Washington will need at the least a neutral Russia and a friendly Taiwan on its side. Only such a coming together of select Asian powers with the US can ensure that China does not intervene militarily (openly or otherwise) in the eventuality of a military decapitation strike on North Korea (the DPRK). While Bill Clinton and George W Bush (especially in his first term) could have taken out North Korea’s nuclear and missile assets without significant collateral damage, except to North Korea itself.
 
However, by now Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has operationalised a war machine that has the capability to inflict around two million casualties in Japan, South Korea, US military assets in the Philippines and parts of the US such as Guam and very soon Seattle and Los Angeles. The hand bequeathed to President Trump by his predecessors is a weak one, and made still weaker by the sabotage (motivated by their desire to retain the primacy of the Atlantic Alliance over US policy) of Trump’s efforts at making Moscow an ally of Washington, something that was on offer throughout Bill Clinton's two terms but which was rejected by him out of the Arkansan’s consideration for European interests over those of the United States Donald Trump is accused of “frequently changing his mind” when the reality is that he sets an objective, keeps it secret except to his closest advisors, and then goes about altering tactics to meet changing circumstances. His objective in Asia is to isolate China by bringing as many significant powers as possible into the US rather than the Chinese camp. Were he to “do a Vietnam” with the DPRK and make that country a friend of the US the way Hanoi has become, it would be a coup that would immediately make East Asia a safer place. If the military option (and its casualty levels) is taken off the table, the only other option is to make North Korea a friend so that Pyongyang has no longer the need to provocatively flex its nuclear and missile muscle at the security alliance of Japan, the US and South Korea.
 
Rather than act in a “reckless” manner, the way he is described by Atlanticist media and analysts, President Trump has shown immense skills in “giving face” to Kim Jong Un in a way no other country has done with him, his father or his grandfather. A Kim visit to Washington (to howls of protest from the “Depose Trump” capitol gang) would deepen the process of engagement such that a start could be made on the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. How do those who find fault with Trump’s astute diplomacy at Singapore expect Supreme Leader Kim to make moves towards downscaling confrontation if he continues to be regarded as an outcast? Ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons may take years, perhaps more than a decade. However, ensuring that North Korea converts itself into an opportunity (for business and other linkages) and not a threat to some of its neighbours could get accomplished even by the close of 2018, provided Donald Trump follows his instincts on the matter of dealing with Kim and not the stale, failed advice of those under whose watch the North Korean issue was allowed to balloon into a deadly threat to not just Japan and South Korea but the US itself.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Rahul should support, not oppose, reform (Sunday Guardian)

M D Nalapat

The Congress Party is following the tradition first adopted by Nehru and Patel of placing the (colonial model) Civil Service above India’s Civil Society.

Some days ago, an unnamed worthy called and referred to the Karkardooma courts while informing this columnist that he would soon face prosecution and worse. What was the crime? Being tardy by a few days in clearing a bill of Rs 1,100 of Tata Indicom, a company that has gone out of business. It is sobering to read Arun Shourie’s book, Anita Gets Bail (and that too in the daytime and not late at night, the way it was granted to our fabled business and political leader, Karti Chidambaram). Bail ought certainly to be a routine right of any citizen not yet found guilty of a crime, but often is not. Given that the British-era (and centuries-old) laws of our democracy give a terrifying number of agencies the power to deprive a citizen of his or her liberty even for a sum as trifling as a rupee, the agent’s threat once more revealed the contempt of the post-1947 political class towards the rights of the ordinary citizen in “post-colonial” India. Elected politicians share with officials an attachment to British-era laws, for these give them immense power over citizens not well connected. That a company (or those acting as its agents) is emboldened enough to threaten to deprive a citizen of his or her liberty on a matter that would rank as a petty—and civil—dispute in any other democracy indicates why daily life in India remains a hazardous enterprise. Not leaping to attention when the National Anthem gets sung in the theatre, accidentally brushing against a member of the fair sex while walking, sending off a tweet that offends any of our 1.27 billion citizens. These are a few of the thousands of ways in which a citizen can find himself thrown into the quicksand that the legal system is in a country, where cases drag on for decades. And yet there is an entire army of individuals who thus far have almost totally escaped the clutches of the law, and these are the “unknown” but easily identifiable individuals in the banking system who have cost taxpayers more than Rs 600,000 crore of current value during the past decade and counting, by gifting loans to those who had zero intention of repaying the same.
Not all NPAs are caused by an intention to cheat the financial system. Some have their origin in business conditions gone bad as a consequence of factors beyond the borrower’s control. And there are those individuals who have refused to scurry away to London or Singapore, but who have worked hard at repaying their creditors, and succeeded. Such individuals need to be named, recognised and honoured by government rather than ignored the way they have been. Instead, it is often those who have—in effect—stolen huge sums who adorn VVIP anterooms and the society pages of newspapers. The Indian Express (which, let it be admitted, is the first newspaper this columnist picks up in the morning) has mentioned in its 15 June issue that a record Rs 1.44 lakh crore of “bad loans” were written off by India’s commercial banking system. While private banks wrote off Rs 79,940 crore during the past ten years, the State Bank of India alone accounted for Rs 123,137 crore of bad loans written off during the same period this year alone. Who were the sanctioning authorities during this period? Does anybody know or care? Some within a stock exchange have been reported to have given unfair access to select brokers, resulting in an “insider” windfall to a few HNIs. More than a few of those who were associated with this still enjoy positions of power and patronage, and have been appointed to their posts either by the government or with its blessings. This columnist has long said that an exhaustive inventory of current lifestyles of the top 500 public officials during the past decade may be instructive and easy to accomplish.
An administration needs to be judged by the median income of the inhabitants of the country in which it is operating, and by such a metric, India’s is among the worst in Asia. Despite this, there is a collective howl of protest when even the most minimal of administrative reforms gets carried out. The Congress Party, during its decade in office under Manmohan Singh, ignored the numerous very useful suggestions of the Veerappa Moily committee. Earlier, Arjun Singh and N.D. Tiwari had attacked Prime Minister Narasimha Rao when he carried out a few reforms during 1992-93, affecting his confidence so badly that the reform process visibly slowed in the final three years of his term. Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts at broad-basing—to a very limited extent—the pool of recruitment into the IAS is being met with fierce opposition from a party led by a relatively youthful leader who ought to be leading the charge towards altering the British-era system of the present in a manner that better meets the needs of the 21st century. By demanding a rollback of even a baby step towards reform, the Congress Party is following the tradition first adopted by Nehru and Patel of placing the (colonial model) Civil Service above India’s Civil Society. Rahul Gandhi in his earlier avatar of general secretary of his party correctly demanded the end of laws that criminalise defamation or send gay men to prison. It is not expected of a party under his leadership that it opposes even a wholly inadequate lateral entry of domain experts from Civil Society into the Civil Service.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Kim, Moon and Trump as peacemakers (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat

MANY in Israel regard themselves as a European country rather than a part of Asia. Although it ought to have been made a member decades ago, the only reason why this small but dynamic country has not been admitted to NATO is perhaps because of a lingering prejudice in the minds of several Europeans who have yet to get over the hangover of 1936-45, the period when Adolf Hitler made it his primary mission to commit genocide against a people whose contributions to Germany were substantial. Bill Clinton and his successors presided over the eastward march of NATO.
Now that Donald Trump has been elected the President of the United States, the chances for Israel to be admitted to NATO are brighter than they ever were. Of course, while both culturally and largely ethnically Israelis are indeed European, the same cannot be said for Japan. which is the only Asian member of that Atlanticist club, the G-7. Although the Japanese justified their victories over the UK, France and the Netherlands in the South-east Asian theatre by painting themselves as liberators of the local inhabitants from European colonisation, their subsequent rule was at least as bad as that of the powers they replaced. In India, the Nicobar islands came under Japanese control during the 1939-45 war, and upon taking over, executions and other acts of cruelty became the norm against the peaceable community there, so much so that the earlier period of servitude (to the British raj) seemed much better than rule by the Japanese, who conjured up a racial theory similar to that peddled by their wartime allies, the Germans.
After their 1945 defeat by the US, Japan became a willing member of the US alliance network, and within the G-7, sought to act more “western” than the actual “westerners” ie the Europeans and the Europeanists elsewhere, for example in the US and Canada. Japanese aristocracy has often wandered the globe in top hat and tails, trying to look as much like their peers in Europe as possible, shedding the elegant dress of traditional Japan, a country with a long history and civilisation. In the 21st century, because Asia is becoming more consequential than Europe, Japan’s effective status as a “European country in Asia” is becoming not an advantage but a handicap, shutting it out of Asia Only solutions. In the Korea talks, for example, Tokyo is only a bystander and not a player. For a time, Russia was made a part of the “G-7” club, at least on the record.
However, the presence of this huge, brooding once superpower disconcerted France and Germany. Once Vladimir Putin threw off the obsequiousness towards the US and western Europe of Boris Yeltsin (and a similar eagerness to please the Atlantic alliance on the part of Dmitry Medvedev), an excuse was found to expel Russia from the club. Not that it mattered, for the centre of gravity of the world economy had moved from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, and the discarding of the welcome mat to Russia by the EU resulted in Moscow becoming deeply involved in other parts of the world, including in the Middle East, where it has now become the second-most important outside power, after the US. When Moscow under Putin is being treated as an enemy, it is no surprise that on several issues, Russia is taking a stand in opposition to NATO, an alliance that was explicitly set up to battle it, a task that still seems its primary goal, despite the 1992 fall of the Soviet Union.
From Saudi Arabia to Turkey, countries in this fissile region are turning to Russia, usually at the expense of the NATO powers, specifically the UK and France (which country is not finding it easy to sell its expensive fighter aircraft to air forces beyond India). Although Trump pledged to voters in the US to work towards cooperation with Russia, he has been forced as President to continue with the Russophobic Atlanticist policies that have held sway within both sides of the North Atlantic. However, it would appear that despite such guided Trump-seeking missiles as Robert Mueller, the 45th President of the US is slowly regaining his confidence. The reaching out to Kim Jong Un is evidence of this. The best chance for a short, low cost (in human lives) war was during the Clinton and early Bush administrations.
A decapitation strike now would result in millions of casualties in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and parts of US territory. Neither Clinton nor Bush nor Obama would have had the self-confidence to reach out to North Korea and seek to convert an enemy into a friend. If the military option is off the table, only a “bright sunshine” policy of comprehensive engagement with North Korea can ensure that the feisty upper half of the Korean peninsula act like a good global citizen. This is clear to RoK President Moon and clearly to President Trump. If a Nobel Prize gets awarded for eliminating the risk of another Korean war, it should be shared by Kim, Moon and Trump.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

'Kill PM' plot to break India; EPS played into maoist hands? (NewsX)


This is a story that will leave you shocked and it should, time and again, we read about maoist attacks in India targeting our security forces. But the information we bring to you today will leave you startled. Sources have told NewsX that the tuticorin violence that took 12 lives in Tamil Nadu had a maoist hand. Our sources tell us that maoist agitations are gaining steam from Raipur to Tamil Nadu. An urban maoist organization Makkal Adhikaram organized agitations but it doesn't end there. The maoist threat has spread from Andhra Pradesh to Delhi. These shocking revelations come just days after the maoist threat to the Prime Minister surfaced as well as a red link to the Bhima Koregaon violence.