Friday 30 October 2015

Democrats crawl before Hillary (Pakistan Observer)

WATCHING the way in which House of Representatives members of the Benghazi investigation committee conducted themselves during the questioning of Hillary Clinton, it was clear that South Asian sycophants could learn lessons in obsequiousness from their US counterparts. Aside from crawling on the floor in supplication to the former First Lady, the Democratic Party members of the House Benghazi enquiry committee displayed on live television their loyalty to her. 

A similar scene was witnessed in India in 2004,when Congress Party Members of Parliament were informed that Congress President Sonia Gandhi would not be sworn in as Prime Minister,but had decided to hand that job over to Manmohan Singh. From the point of view of Sonia Gandhi, it was a wise choice,as throughout his two 5-year terms in the job,Singh behaved with impeccable loyalty, the same way as the Democrat members of the Benghazi committee showed their personal allegiance to Hillary Clinton. 

The fact is that Hillary Clinton has a lot to answer for in her record as Secretary of State under President Obama. In the case of Libya, it was Mrs Clinton who prodded her boss into approving a US role in the air strikes and covert activities (including supply of lethal weapons to individuals vetted by the most rudimentary of processes) which led to the fall of Kaddafy in 2011 and the consequent chaos in that country. Later,she joined hands with the GCC rulers as well as the Cameron-Hollande combination in flooding “moderate opposition fighters” with cash and weapons. What such individuals were moderate in was not specified, for the fact is that soon after getting such assistance,most wandered off in the direction of Al Nusra and ISIS. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was done away with two years later by the very individuals whom he did so much to empower with cash and guns in 2011. Forget about a 3am phone call, given her record as Secretary of State,it is doubtful that Hillary Clinton would be able to reach decisions appropriate to the longer-term interests of her country even at 3pm after an afternoon nap. On issue after issue,she has allowed herself to be led by activists with private agendas. 

In each case, President Obama seems to have accepted her view almost against his own judgment, with consequences that are unpleasant and on occasion disastrous, as in the case of Libya. Fortunately for Hillary Clinton, her faithful retainers within the House of Representatives ensured that enough smoke and noise was created by them as to divert attention away from such truths as the former Secretary of State knowing from early on that the Benghazi attack was an act of terror,but claiming for days afterwards that it had been motivated by a video of a mentally unstable individual cursing the Muslim faith from his home in the US The manner in which Bernie Sanders, who was till then presumed to be a rival of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination as the Presidential candidatwe, genuflected before her. 

The display of doglike devotion exhibited towards her by Democratic Party members of the House of Representatives committee on Benghazi, it seems likely that Hillary Clinton may end up with the nomination, although this columnist still believes that flaws in her record will get manifested and commented upon in the initial months of 2016, thereby denying her the nomination. However, nothing can get predicted with certainty in US politics,so it is conceivable that Hillary Clinton get her party’s nomination and then go on to win the election towards the close of 2016. Given the fact that President William Jefferson Clinton enacted some of the most Wall Street-friendly measures seen in the US,such as the discarding of the Glass-Steagall act, it is clear that a President Clinton would continue with a policy of helping the wealthy in deed while talking about helping the poor. Almost every decision of the Clinton administration appears to have been tailored to suit a particular special interest, although the loxic effects of some of the measures introduced by President Clinton took years to manifest themselves. 

In a tribute to the way in which the wealthy were cosseted by Clinton, the incoming George W Bush administration retained most of them. Given such a record,it comes as a surprise that Senator Sanders appears to have surrendered himself to Hillary. Although the Washington Beltway is dismissive of Donald Trump, yet from his responses it would appear that the feisty candidate for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination has his concepts anchored to the ground. Trump has refused to go the way of Hillary Clinton and others in talking harshly of foreign countries not regarded as friendly to US interests, such as China and Russia. He has made it clear that he favours a cobnciliatory policy towards them, although on Iran he was hawkish before the nuclear deal was signed, but has been less voluble on the matter since. In Dr Ben Carson, the Reublican side has a contender of undoubted brilliance, even though most of his policy prescriptions are far from what the Washington Beltway is comfortable with. Will Carson do a Barack Obama on the Republican Party and become their nominee? 

The popularity of the Clintons within the black community owes less to substance than to show The Benghazi hearings revealed the manner in which Hillary Clinton relies on friends to frame policy. An example was the way a close friend named Blumenthal influenced policy on Libya that was not based on expert knowledge of the subject. However, Blumenthal’s views were identical to those of the GCC rulers,and only an investigation will reveal whether there are any financial reasons behind the one-sided advice given by him to the then Secretary of State. But instead of examining her record objectively, leading Democratic Party functionaries instead seem to have decided to accept the role of servitor to the Clintons.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

Sunday 25 October 2015

After Kashmir and Punjab, ISI plays the Hindu card (Sunday Guardian)

Small teams usually unaware of the actual sources of their funding are being used by ISI to ensure that India is seen globally as the hub of ‘Hindu terror’.
GHQ Rawalpindi and the ISI, which had in November 2001 opened a “Hindu front” in its efforts at using matters of faith to weaken and divide India, have accelerated the funding and operations of this project within India since September 2014, say experts tracking developments in Pakistan. The intensified focus began when GHQ became convinced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would substantially deviate from the forgiving and unilateralist Morarji Desai-I.K. Gujral line towards Pakistan that had been adopted with alacrity by Manmohan Singh. Consisting of small, self-sufficient teams usually unaware of the actual sources of their funding and motivation, such groups are now being extensively used in pursuance of the ISI’s objective of ensuring that India be seen globally as the hub of “Hindu terror”, the way Pakistan increasingly is of Wahhabi terror. As yet, security agencies in India appear to still be searching for the primary origin of several of the “hate” incidents that have tarnished the international reputation of India, with police agencies largely regarding them only as a “law and order” problem. It will not be forgotten that a similar official myopia was adopted by the Manmohan Singh regime towards the many deaths of scientists and engineers associated with the country’s nuclear and missile problem, deaths which — interestingly — ceased after they were first exposed in the media as suspicious. Credible individuals claim that the origin of the deaths in India are “similar to that of the killings of Iranian engineers and scientists”, although this has yet to be firmly established. 
According to information from individuals involved in key clandestine operations during the periods under review, it was in 1979 that intelligence specialists advised then President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan to use religion to weaken and ultimately break up India, or much the same strategy that was rolled out in Afghanistan against the USSR a year later. Interestingly, the Maulana Maudoodi-inspired newly religious and zealot 1970s generation in the Pakistan military are now very senior in the military and even the civilian hierarchy, and even after retirement, many such graduates of the Zia-ul-Haq school of Wahhabi thought have been appointed as advisors to diverse state agencies in Islamabad and elsewhere. They had, by the beginning of the 1990s, almost entirely replaced the western-oriented cohort favoured by President Ayub Khan, the first military dictator of Pakistan. According to a key individual involved in operations in Afghanistan and India in the 1980s, “The first ISI experiment of using religion to foment violence and separatist sentiment in the Republic of India (outside Kashmir) began in 1980, when multiple and coordinated linkages were established by GHQ and ISI with individuals and groups who believed that they deserved an independent Sikh state as both Muslims and Hindus had got their states in 1947 “but the Sikhs (in their telling) got nothing”. Interestingly, that was also the year after India, under Morarji Desai, rolled back its covert operations in Pakistan, thereby in the process exposing several of its agents to execution, and giving GHQ-ISI a window of opportunity to intensify its covert campaign against India manifold, a chance seized with alacrity by the men in khaki. 
The Khalistan experience showed the ISI the value of diaspora contacts. A source claimed that it was a simple matter to convince several affluent citizens, with roots in the Punjab, in California and Ontario that a separate Khalistan state was feasible, if only an armed struggle could get carried out. The result was that “much of the (Khalistan) agitation during 1981-87 was funded from North America and from the UK”, with the ISI dipping into its secret funds only afterwards, when pressure from the Government of India led to a crackdown on such funding by the US and the UK towards the close of the 1980s. The source claimed that the then government in Canada refused to heed Delhi’s requests to take action against pro-Khalistan financiers, hence “a lot of money from San Francisco and London was sent to Toronto and thereafter funnelled to Khalistan groups in India” until the close of the 1990s, when the insurgency collapsed and the ISI decided to halt this operation for the time being. Canada has a reputation of having replaced the UK as a safe haven for groups engaged in violence in their home countries but who behave in a different way in their adopted homeland, and this trend is likely to get enhanced by the election of a pacifist, Justin Trudeau, as the new Prime Minister.
According to a former official with knowledge of GHQ Rawalpindi, “It was in 1985 that operational success in creating the Khalistan movement in the Punjab led to an examination of the question of using Muslim sentiment to eliminate Indian influence in Kashmir”. From that year onwards, “without any sign that authorities in Delhi had noticed what was taking place”, audio and print tracts were brought out, while paid-for sermons were delivered from places of worship that sought to show that “it was forbidden for Muslims to live without resistance in a country where the majority were idol worshippers” i.e., Hindus. “Delhi was more concerned about high-level politics in Kashmir than about what took place on the ground. In fact, several of those recruited (by the ISI) in Kashmir towards the middle and close of the 1980s pretended to be supporters of the Central government against the state government, so as to ensure protection from police enquiry and action”, a source who had been active during that period claimed. From 1986 onwards, “a systematic effort was made to send agents of the ISI into the Kashmir valley from those parts of the state controlled by Pakistan in the guise of returnees; and as individuals supposedly coming back on their own free will, were welcomed by authorities in Srinagar and Delhi since the mid-1970s, it was easy to ensure that several hundred trained pro-Pakistan elements got back”. These subsequently became the backbone of the post-1989 intifada against the Government of India in Kashmir, and several are still active in the state.
Despite its (temporary) successes in the Kashmir valley, the ISI faced disappointment in the rest of India. “Army HQ had expected that the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts would generate anti-Muslim sentiment across India and lead to communal violence, but this did not take place”, a source revealed, adding that “from April 1993 onwards, efforts began to set up (minority) organisations in India which would promote separation between Muslims and Hindus throughout the country”. It was during that period that several radical Wahhabi organisations were formed and became operational across India. “At present, in Kashmir and in (other parts of) India there are sufficient local sympathizers and recruits to ensure complete deniability on the Pakistan side for any terror attack”, a former official said, adding that “even in the case of their financiers and mentors, care is taken to see that only NRIs, and not NRPs (Non-resident Pakistanis), be involved. In fact, Pakistanis are kept out as much as possible from most of the field-level operations involving India.” In particular, the ISI was dismayed that throughout the 1990s, apart from Kashmir, the Muslim community in (the rest of) India remained resolutely moderate and peace-loving despite engineered provocations, and considerable effort was expended on seeking ways in which such a state of affairs could be altered. It was a constant source of irritation in GHQ that Muslims and Hindus in India remained friendly and collaborative to each other, in a repudiation of the Two-Nation theory on which the formation of Pakistan was based.
Soon after the 9/11 attacks took place in New York and Washington, an urgency came into discussions on tarring India with the same terrorist brush as Pakistan, as “by September 2001, Pakistan was being increasingly talked of as a rogue state, although the Bush administration had indicated that it would continue its alliance with GHQ Rawalpindi”. The reason for this favourable (to Pakistan but not the US) outcome was “the assurance given to the White House by the Pentagon and in particular Centcom that it was capable of ensuring that Pakistan abandoned its Zia legacy and became a wholehearted partner of the US in the war on terror”, a senior former official in the know of the situation at that point in time revealed, adding that “General Musharraf ensured through his diplomacy that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar endorsed the view that Pakistan could be trusted as a US partner despite 9/11” and that “Vice-President Dick Cheney (who is very close to GCC leaders) convinced President Bush of the wisdom of this course” (of trusting Pakistan in a manner reminiscent of the 1980s Afghan war). 
According to one of the sources contacted, it was a Major-level officer in the ISI who suggested that “an effort be made to create a terror network recruited from Hindus, so that the attention of the world gets shifted to India and to the Hindu community rather than remain locked onto Pakistan and the Muslim community”. By July 2003, when the NDA was still in office, these officials claim that this effort got substantial extra attention and funding, and managed to initially locate half-a-dozen individuals willing to carry out acts of terror. Interestingly, these recruits were almost all of them unaware of the ISI link “as they received funding from a Hindu businessman in Kathmandu who had been recruited by the ISI in 1997”. Apart from this individual, “other Hindu businesspersons in Kolkata and Jaipur funded the nascent Hindu network, as did a Muslim financier in Kuala Lumpur, but who acted through a Hindu intermediary based in Bangkok”. According to a former official, “some members of religious orders, who were unaware of the ISI link, worked on convincing impressionable individuals with an Islamophobic mindset to join the network”, which by October 2003 had become operational. The first significant action of the ISI-funded groups took place in the Jalna-Parbani area of Maharashtra during 2004 and 2005, according to the sources contacted. Other acts of violence also took place in locations in central India and the Deccan plateau during 2006-09, thanks to modules which were linked to ISI-infiltrated financiers, most of them hawala operators. These were not aware as to the actual cross-border inspiration behind such activities and neither were the security agencies, as “the entire planning and funding came from Hindu sources who did not know that their (Hindu) Kathmandu and Bangkok contacts had long been working for the ISI”. Soon, the term “Hindu terror”, became common currency in the media and political discourse in India. 
“From 2009, the ISI stopped needing Pakistanis to carry out their operations in India as a sufficient number of local recruits became available. By 2011, enough Hindu recruits existed to enable groups composed entirely of Hindus to operate.” At the same time, “some of the ISI operations got blamed on Hindu groups, although, in fact, of the 16 terror operations blamed on ‘Hindu terror’ groups, only five were actually undertaken by groups funded indirectly by GHQ”, who has from the start monitored the “Hindu terror” project closely. Given the climate of tension in some parts of the county, it is not unlikely that some acts of a violent nature got carried out by groups outside the ISI’s net as well. 
Apart from the Jalna and Parbani episodes, these sources refused to give details of the other operations conducted by the ISI through recruits from the majority community. For example, did the Dadri terror brigade which carried out the Akhlaq lynching get incentivised into such a heinous act by cash ultimately sourced from Kathmandu or Bangkok? A senior (now retired) official confirmed that “among the tasks being entrusted to groups infiltrated and influenced by ISI modules since November 2014 is to strew pig and cow remnants near designated places of worship”. “In the past 45 days alone, there have been several dozen incidents of animal remnants getting strewn around temples and mosques in a wide arc from Ranchi to Udhampur to Guwahati”, and these have “almost all” been carried out by ISI-infiltrated modules, a retired official claimed. There have been, in past weeks, multiple incidents of lynching of both Hindus and Muslims suspected of transporting beef, and judging by the evasive response of the sources contacted, the possibility seems high that an ISI link exists in some of these incidents as well, that only a full examination of Kathmandu and Bangkok-based hawala networks active in India and their contacts with violence-prone networks would establish.
These sources are less than laudatory of the ability of the Indian side so far as social media is concerned, with a former senior official pointing out that “the Hindus (i.e. the Indians) do nothing but monitor content already up on websites while (the Pakistan side) focuses on creating and putting up content designed to inflame sentiment to create incidents that show up India as a dangerous destination for travel or investment”. According to a source, social media networks have ensured that “India is now regarded as the epicentre of rape in the world, so that each rape in India gets reported internationally”. He added that “networks cultivated by the ISI have had a hand in one of the most recent instances of child molestation” and that “the actual perpetrators have escaped as per plan”. 
However, because at least two layers of contact of individuals carrying out such operations are exclusively with members of the majority (Hindu) community and who are citizens of India, “the ISI is confident that the Pakistan hand cannot be exposed”. Clearly, hawala operators active in Nepal, Thailand and their networks within India are the key facilitators of such operations, but thus far, the authorities seem to have been unable to check the mushrooming of hawala operations within the country. Until those funding ISI operations get identified and dealt with, incidents which generate page after page of negative reporting about India in top international media outlets are likely to continue. Given the robust covert response by the military establishment in Pakistan to the ascension to the Prime Ministership by Narendra Damodardas Modi and their worry over the abilities of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, security agencies at home may need to improve their game so as to reverse the multiplying setbacks to national interest that ISI-influenced networks comprising all major communities in India appear to be constantly inflicting.

Remove India’s Central Services caste system (Sunday Guardian)

Rather than a plethora of services, there ought to be a single service, a National Public Service.
Caste by birth was an innovation that had no place in the traditional concept of different types of duties, which was based entirely on aptitude and work rather than on bloodline and family. Although much has been done to free society of this evil, as yet remnants remain, and few stronger than what is prevalent in the Central government’s administrative machinery. 15 August 1947 ought to have resulted in a comprehensive change in the mode of government followed in India, but this detail seems to have escaped those who assumed charge of governance once the Union Jack was lowered from what till then had been the Viceregal Palace. Despite his international fame as a tribune of democracy, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not merely comfortable occupying the less than Gandhian quarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the (British) Indian Army, but also in ensuring the continuation of the legal and administrative structure left behind by the British. Structures that were preserved and added on to, rather than cast away. The Indian Civil Service (ICS), an inheritance from the imperial times, was renamed the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), and both the method of selection as well as the training given to those selected for this particular service resemble what had been the practice during the colonial period.

From the time that those getting through the papers and interviews get placed in different streams — the IFS, the IAS, the IPS, the IRS and dozens of others — a caste system gets formed, in which those of the first three services, especially the IAS, become the highest caste of the administrative structure, with the others forming the lower tiers, and the so-named State Administrative Services forming the top of what may be termed the “backward classes” within the system. Why this distinction between “Indian” and “State”? A member of the Karnataka Administrative System is “Indian” enough, except for those still steeped in colonial attitudes.
Rather than a plethora of services, there ought to be a single service, a National Public Service (thereby ensuring emphasis on the “sevak” factor so correctly pointed out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi). This would end the effective caste system prevalent in the services since the period of British rule, except that in place of those mostly with white complexions, individuals usually dressed in white khaki took control of the machinery preserved with such care by the post-1947 leadership. Those who got through the National Public Service could get placed in different streams, such as Defence, Home, Finance, External Affairs, Accounts or Railways, with the Forest branch being expanded to cover Environment as well. Rigorous training could be given in such streams, so that those in positions within the administrative system would have adequate knowledge of the fields on which they were expected to make decisions. It is ridiculous in the extreme to still have generalist officers looking after departments such as Defence or Home, although this fact may perhaps explain the shoddy performance of these ministries in a country where the excuse of “security” gets reflexively trotted out to abandon opportunities, and which after seven decades of freedom is dependent on foreign countries for more than 80% of core defence needs.
Part of the colonial administrative caste system involves the recruitment of personal assistants (PAs) to key officials and their ministerial overlords. Such individuals have next to zero chance of rising up the administrate ladder, whereas it is a principle of administration that the individual at the lowest level of the ladder ought to be given a reasonable chance of making it to the top, the way V.P. Menon did during the days of the British raj, which, incidentally, seem to have been far less fossilised than is the case these days. Why not vastly expand annual recruitment to the National Public Service and post young NPS officers as PAs? The quality of work and the motivation would subsequently be much higher. Another anachronism is the restriction on age. Why should there be such a limit? If such a measure is needed, it would be better to fix it at 40 for all individuals, with specified extra marks provided for those who presently enter through quotas. The spectacle of a 22-year-old officer sharing a location with a 36-year-old selected in the same examination creates a differentiation that hurts both morale as the well as the need for looking at each recruit through the same lens irrespective of family background.
Finally, there ought to be lateral entry from civil society to each level of the NPC of 25% of total posts, so that experience and talent from outside the administrative system get made available to government within its own network.
Anomalies such as the “cadre” system result in individuals being unhappy from Day One in the cadre they get assigned to, and desperate to escape from. As for State and Central Academies, the standards should be the same for both, as serving in a state is as important for the nation as serving at the centre.
Finally, Prime Minister Modi’s admonition to regard public service as seva needs to be operationalised, so that in at least now, the country escapes from the coils of the colonial administrative system and its attendant caste system.

TSG-Roundtable: Nuclear Energy India's future?

Friday 23 October 2015

Xi should keep Taiwan Straits peaceful (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical notes from India
Friday, October 23, 2015 - The ‘1992 Consensus’ is a term thought up by Su Chian expert in the relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan straits, and holds that there is one China, but both sides differ in their interpretation of what this means. The word ‘consensus’ implies agreement on both sides, so it is curious that thus far, all the attention has been on the extent to which political parties in Taiwan believe in the formulation. Were Beijing to give the Republic of China the respect implied in the “1992 Consensus”, it would not stand in the way of Taipei becoming a part of several international organisations by whatever name, the usual formulation being ‘Chinese Taipei’. 

Hopefully, President Xi Jinping will respond to the likely DPP victory in the 2016 polls not by an increase in belligerence but by a surprise gesture of magnanimity that respects the fact that Beijing needs to ensure linkages with not just the KMT but also the DPP in its interaction with Taiwan. In the island, faced with a steep decline in its popularity and the prospect of losing not only the Presidency but the Legislature to the DPP, the aim of the KMT candidate, the personable Eric Chu, is to scare voters in Taiwan by implying that a DPP government headed by Tsai Ing-wen would lead to heightened tensions with Beijing, and possibly even armed conflict. Such tactics are not new. The Republican Party warned US voters that a victory for the Democratic Party led by Barack Obama would lead to a rash of terrorist incidents which would make 9/11 look small. Certainly several hundreds of thousands, if not millions, would have voted for the Republican Party rather than the Democrats out of fear of the prospect of a rise in terror attacks following victory of latter. As it turns out, Macho Men Dick Cheney and George W Bush were helpless against revival of the Taliban, while it took Barack Obama to locate and kill Osama bin Laden.

This columnist attended a conference organised by the Investigation Bureau of the Justice Ministry in the Republic of China (Taiwan) on ‘Regional Security and Transnational Crime’, attended mostly by police officers from several countries. Over October 19 and 20, several papers were presented on the threats to security in the region, although it must be added that in a globalised world, segmentation into regions such as East Asia or West Asia have less meaning than in the past. What happens across the oceans affects people in a particular country, while in the case of East Asia (Japan, China, North and South Korea and Taiwan), the region’s global trade has made it vulnerable to threats originating from as far away as Colombia or Nigeria. 

Thus far, terrorism has been absent in Taiwan, but during the past months, there have been threats of terror incidents, and it is likely that this side of the straits will witness the same danger as is taking place on the other side, with terror incidents multiplying in China, especially in Xinjiang. Global terror has become as much a part of the age as climate change and global platforms need to get created in order to ensure that terrorism remain a low-grade infection rather than a life-threatening disease. Given the fact that the internet has become an effective means of recruitment of the impressionable into terror groups, and also in their training, the software and hardware skills of the Republic of China would be of immense help in ensuring that security agencies remain ahead of terror groups across the globe.

As an admirer of traditional Chinese culture and a well-wisher of the Chinese people, this columnist has long supported the Deng Xiaoping- Hu Jintao formulation of Peaceful Rise of China. Had Rajiv Gandhi won a second term in 1989, it is very likely that he would have signed a border agreement with the Peoples Republic of China on the lines of the offer made by Zhou Enlai in the 1950s, offers repeatedly dismissed by Jawaharlal Nehru,who had a somewhat dismissive view of Chinese military capabilities and immense confidence in his own wisdom. Hopefully, such a border agreement will get signed during the term in office of President Xi Jinping, who has understood the importance of India in the strategic calculus of China,and has developed a close relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has reciprocated by giving the e-visa facility to PR tourists and by opening gates which had long been shut to investment from China. 

Prime Minister Modi is aware that it is only if he creates tens of millions more jobs in India that his party (BJP) will get re-elected in 2019,and is also aware that China is a promising source of investment, given the cash-rich nature of that country’s coffers. Although the Chinese political system is different from that in India,President Xi Jinping also needs a huge increase in jobs in order to ensure a high degree of public support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The problem is that this objective needs a peaceful atmosphere to get realised, and hence there is a need to tone down the rhetoric and the activities of those who seek military outcomes to political differences. Already, not only has fresh Japanese investment into China become a trickle from the earlier flood, but even existing investment is quietly moving away to Vietnam, Thailand and even Sri Lanka because of the anti-Japan sentiments heard across the PRC. The Japanese and the Taiwanese are the biggest investors in China, and in the case of the latter, businesspersons are anxious that they will be made to pay the price of the defeat of the KMT in 2016.

In 1995, Jiang Zemin used the military card to set off missile launches near Taiwan, creating a reaction that brought the DPP to power on a wave of anger in Taiwan at such intimidation. It is unlikely that Xi Jinping will make the same mistake.The fact is that because of the “sunshine” policy of Hu Jintao, the former President of China,links between the Republic of China (ROC) and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) have expanded hugely. Should Xi surprise the world by adopting a friendly and conciliatory approach towards a new regime in Taipei headed by the able and moderate Tsai Ing-wen, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan straits will further bloom rather than wither. The ‘1992 Consensus’ implies mutual respect for both sides of the strait and it will be up to Beijing to show that it respects the consensus by ensuring the entry of the ROC (Taiwan) into international agencies, and by adopting an accommodative and cooperative approach towards the future President Tsai Ing-wen. 

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India. 

Sunday 18 October 2015

PM Modi and CJI Dattu, ensure transparency (Sunday Guardian)

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will accept the importance of fuller transparency, by ensuring the live streaming of court proceedings on the internet.
The Supreme Court of India has struck down the 99th Constitutional Amendment as well as its corollary on the setting up of a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), despite the same being passed by Parliament and a sufficient number of state Assemblies. Clearly, despite their undoubted eminence and proficiency, the law officers appointed by the NDA could not convince the SC of the soundness of their case for retaining the 99th Constitutional Amendment and the setting up of the NJAC. Interestingly, during the arguments before the SC bench hearing the NJAC matter, the NDA law officers were unusually combative, one of them even going to the extent of declaring that the system of appointment of judges begun by Chief Justice J.S. Verma in 1993 had been “consigned to the graveyard” by the NDA government sworn in on 26 May 2014. Something that is in its grave obviously cannot be brought back to life, so the implication of the learned law officer was that the demise of the collegium was a fact of life that the verdict that was to be made by the highest court in the country could not affect. Among the details about judicial functioning mentioned in the open court by the law officers, in what seemed to the layman to be a very combative manner, was the revelation that a particular SC judge participated in 172 judgements but himself wrote only two of those. Not writing a judgement does not mean non-participation in the process of forming a judgement, hence the insinuation made by the law officers seems a bit misdirected.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court will itself accept the importance of ensuring fuller transparency in its functioning in this fifteenth year of 2015, for example, by ensuring that court proceedings across the country get live streamed on the internet. The names under consideration for elevation to the court by the SC collegium should be made public on a designated website in order to invite comments from a public often at its wits end at the law’s delays. 
The time has come for the whip to be cracked on the delusional few who believe that the people of India will accept repeated infringements on their personal freedom.
Should the NDA decide to once again go through the legislative process and once again seek to get passed an amendment of the Constitution on the lines of that struck down, it is not unlikely that the apex court may once again pass the same verdict. Clearly, the Supreme Court is of the view that the basic structure of the Constitution mandates the inclusion of the independence of the judiciary from the executive, and that the way to ensure such autonomy is to seal off the executive and legislative branches from involvement in the selection of judges. That being the case, a better option before the government would be to itself set an example in transparency and in accountability. If the complaint is that judges are deciding on cases involving their own brethren, what about the numerous Information Commissions set up under the Right to Information Act? All such requests involve the doings of officials, and yet thus far neither the UPA nor the NDA has understood the incongruity of almost always appointing retired or serving officials to man the Information Commissions, thereby ensuring that officials judge whether other officials should be made to stand under the spotlight or not. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon enter the third year of his term, it is desirable that he ensure that civil society predominates in such bodies rather than follow the Manmohan pattern of giving the dominant position to the civil service. 
The RTI had been steadily weakened by the UPA from around 2011, and this trend needs to be reversed by ensuring that the colonial-era habit of officialdom of concealing information gets eliminated in the public interest. Also, PM Modi needs to seed non-officials in every department, including within the Central services, so that a much bigger pool for selection from this vibrant nation be utilised for filling posts crucial to the Prime Minister’s success in his mission to raise the annual rate of growth to double digits. 
When the Chief Minister of Haryana warns that those eating beef do not deserve to live in India, is he by extension saying that the Japanese, South Korean and other beef-eating investors in his state should go back? When the Maharashtra Chief Minister warns that he will disobey the courts and continue the R.R. Patil legacy of banning dancing in bars and restaurants, is he giving a message to those intending investors who are not as hostile to watching a dance performance as he himself is that they should place their money elsewhere? Whether it be the beef ban or other efforts at using the laws and the police to convert the people of India into saints, or whether it be the recent efforts at cleansing the internet of adult content, such supporters of Prime Minister Modi are doing him and his mission immense harm. The time has come for the whip to be cracked, not on the people of India as is the usual reflex of our colonial system, but on the few who suffer from the delusion that the people of this country will accept infringements on their personal freedoms in a manner not seen in mature democracies, or that we are living in the 19th and not the 21st century.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Hopefully, Korea will go Germany’s way (Sunday Guardian)

By Madhav Nalapat | 10 October, 2015
A war between the North and South will not only devastate both sides, but create a wound within a society that prizes harmony and peace.
SEOUL: In 1947, the year India supposedly embarked on an “independent” policy, Korea was a divided and impoverished nation. Seven decades later, it is still divided, but the southern half has evolved into an economic powerhouse, with per capita income comfortably within the “developed country” range, and a public health and welfare system that is better than that of the United States, a country that has been its patron since the 1950s. Although blessed with an abundance of intellectual gifts, the Koreans have lacked that essential ingredient of success, Lady Luck, for long stretches of their history, and have consequently come under the sway of foreign powers, the most recent being Japan for a couple of centuries till Tokyo’s military defeat in 1945. While the people of North Korea still suffer the bad fortune of being dominated by a single family, a scion of the third generation of which is presently running the northern part of the peninsula, the South has leaped forward since the 1960s, although to the present, economic power has been concentrated in a half-dozen mega enterprises (or chaebols). Given the way in which the internet can empower individuals with knowledge and opportunity, it is clear that South Korea needs to free itself from the chaebol grip, so that its talented entrepreneurial class gets a level playing field in order to grow their enterprises. In a way, this is a situation similar to China or to India, where the state-owned enterprises and crony capitalists, respectively, use their control of the political class to promote themselves at the expense of those without similar patronage.
In 1990, West and East Germany got unified, not because of any exertion by the people of the two zones, but because the USSR collapsed, and with it, the only power that was separating the two sides of a single country. Once Mikhail Gorbachev made it explicit that military power would not be used to keep East Germany going, that country was doomed. The USSR, since the passing away of Josef Stalin, is a textbook case of a global power whose ruling establishment was too pusillanimous to use the immense military assets that were in their control. Afghanistan is where the US ensured the defeat of the USSR through the assistance of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (thereby unintentionally creating the spectre of Wahhabi radicalism, which has today assumed the toxic form of ISIS). However, had Moscow the strategic boldness to use its assets against Pakistan, thereby blocking that country from helping the Mujahideen, it would not have had to concede defeat. By allowing Pakistan to do its worst unobstructed, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union showed to the world that it was hesitant to use its military power even in situations where such an exercise of capability would mean the difference between defeat and victory. In many respects, NATO headquarters is similar to the post-Stalin leadership of the CPSU, in the phenomenon of immense military power used only against much weaker opponents, and without much success even in such instances.
That North and South Korea will someday unify is a given. The Koreans are a people justifiably proud of their culture. Indeed, the folklore of the country has it that 5,000 years ago, the people of the peninsula were enjoined by their gurus to work not for their own benefit, but for that of humanity as a whole, a philosophy identical to that of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. Will the present ruler of North Korea make history by decreeing the unification of the divided country, or will the rule of his family get dissolved in chaos, thereby creating an opportunity for the millions on both sides who seek to come together? Such issues were not discussed at the conference on Korea’s Peaceful Unification and Economic Development organised by the Global Peace Economic Forum on 8 October (coincidentally the day the two Germanys merged a quarter-century ago). The purpose of the meeting was to prepare an economic roadmap, so that unification would result in a sharing by both sides not of the poverty of the North, but the prosperity of the South. Ideally, Supreme Leader Kim in Pyongyang should create history for his people by opting for unity with the South, but for that to happen, Seoul will need a diplomacy much more creative than what has been on display over the past five years. The greater the people-to-people contacts and the commercial investment by the South in the North, the closer will unification be. What is clear is that war is not an option. Not only would it devastate both sides, but it would create a wound within a society that prizes harmony and peaceful outcomes. It needs to be remembered that although Korea itself has been colonised in the past, this is a nation that has never itself enslaved another people. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Park talked trade and investment together a year ago, South Korean delegations have been visiting India in large numbers, although as yet Delhi still needs to work to ensure a dissolving of the bureaucratic maze, which has made investing in India a nightmare, especially for domestic industry, but also for those from outside. Even a matter as easy to solve as permitting more flights between South Korea and India has been held up for a decade, so that those wishing to travel to either country have to transit via Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok. Fortunately, the embassy of India in Seoul is business savvy, and has been working hard to ensure that Modi’s “Make in India” goal acquires a significant Korean component. South Korea is a country that cannot be ignored, even in a global rather than a purely East Asian matrix. 

Friday 9 October 2015

‘Minimum govt’ crucial for Modi’s success (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical notes from India

M D Nalapat

Friday, October 09, 2015 - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cannot be accused of not being frank. He went public that China’s economic woes are India’s opportunity. And indeed, there is truth in the assertion, though whether it was diplomatically rewarding to mention it openly remains a matter for debate. After all, India is looking at massive investment from China for the “Make in India” programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with some estimates of possible investment over the next six years rising as high as $ 150 billion. 

The Indian market is of major significance for the healthy growth of Chinese companies in infrastructure, telecom and energy. Besides, its financial entities would find channels within private industry in India who would be willing to collectively borrow another $ 150 billion, for not only are Chinese interest rates more competitive than for Indian banks, so is the repayment period, which is usually much longer for Chinese institutions. And while banks based in the US or the EU also have lower lending rates than their counterparts in India, they are also less forgiving of bad times, and much more willing to close down a company by refusing accommodation during crises than Indian or Chinese banks. 

However, despite the potential for Chinese investment and lending, not only Finance Minister Arun Jaitley but another key member of Team Modi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is as open and straightforward in his views as Jaitley, has made no secret of his assessment that China and not any other country poses the biggest threat to India. 

Those eager to ensure high growth are however hopeful that such blunt remarks by leading policymakers in Delhi’s high profile Lutyens Zone will not substantially affect the flow of investment from Beijing to Delhi, especially because Prime Minister Modi himself does not appear to have such an apocalyptic view of relations between India and China, and indeed is known to consider President Xi Jinping as a close friend. South Korea is another country from where Modi is looking to entice investment on a substantial scale. 

After his visit to the country and discussions with the businesslike and petite President Park Geun-hye, every week some delegation or the other from Seoul has been visiting India, concentrating mainly in the south of the country, which has been growing at a steady rate since the 1980s, fuelled by its excellent human resources as well as a societal climate that attracts the best brains from states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where local politicians have made life difficult for those looking to do an honest and productive day’s work. As a consequence, talented residents of such states have to migrate to other states, where many do exceptionally well. 

Over the past year, more than twenty South Korean manufacturing units have been planned in India, and there are plans to develop more South Korean industry parks on the lines of the small facility set up near Neemrana in Rajasthan. Over most of East Asia (Korea, Japan, the PRC and Taiwan), companies prefer to invest in clusters and create enclaves where expatriates will feel more at home. South Korean companies have of course been hyperactive in India since the 1990s and as a consequence, several large cities in India have Korean restaurants that are heavy on seafood and meat, as indeed are Chinese and Japanese - not to mention European and North American - eateries. Given the expected scale of investment from China, Japan and South Korea over the remaining period of the NDA goverment’s 5-year term,more can be expected to follow.

The economy in India has the potential to soak up $ 1 trillion before 2024. However, for “manufacturing” money to set up industries in India (as distinct from “hot” money flowing into equity markets and in banks paying extortionate interest rates to attract dollar deposits) on such a scale, much more needs to be done to create a policy matrix designed to encourage inward investment. Since Sonia Gandhi took over the de facto leadership of the Government of India in 2004, policies have been formulated that resemble those in the 1970s,when high tax rates and crippling regulatory constraints ensured that India moved at a crawl the same time as ASEAN and much of East Asia accelerated. 

This columnist has been consistent in his view that it will take two years for Prime Minister Modi to design and implement an all-India Modi model of development, the way he fashioned a model for Gujarat during 2001-2014. Others have argued that it would take only a year for the Prime Minister to adjust to the vastly different conditions in Delhi from what they are in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. A Chief Minister, if he personally commands the support of a majority in the state assembly, controls about 45% of the total administrative and policy power in his or her state, the rest being distributed amongst other players, such as industrialists, farmers and societal organisations. 

As yet, the NDA government sworn in on May 26,2014 does not seem to have made this adjustment.Indeed, it functions as though it controlled 89% of administrative and policy power,seeking to lay down rules on matters big and small the way Sonia Gandhi did. India is a country of the young, and what the 70% of the country below the age of 30 seek is empowerment and opportunity. They will not accept restraints prescribed by the state, such as the recent effort to stop the consumption of buffalo meat in a country where the meat of cows has been taboo since long, or the effort to continue the North Korea model of internet governance legislated into law by the Congress Party with the support of the BJP (then in opposition) in 2005. 

Prime Minister Modi and his ministers will find severe blowback unless the poll promise of “Minimum Government” is taken seriously by them. The world will be watching to see if Narendra Modi can get passed the Goods & Services Tax Bill in the winter session of Parliament after having been unable to do so for the last three sessions. If the GST does get passed, and is followed by lower regulation, interest rates and taxes, India under Modi will enter the same trajectory of growth that Deng Xiaoping guided China’s economy into during the 1980s. If none of this happens, the present 7% growth rate will begin to fall to the 3% growth rate witnessed during the Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi period.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

Sunday 4 October 2015

India’s 5,000-year legacy leaves lifestyles alone (Sunday Guardian)

Lifestyles — barring the very toxic — need to be kept outside the purview of formal law, and become the focus only of social reform groups.
The ban on beef and another for a few days on meat in general imposed last month by a few state authorities was not novel. If memory is correct, as early as 1955 there was a ban on beef in the then United Provinces, while reports have it that the Maharashtra ban, which has created so much controversy in media across the globe, has been a staple of public policy in that state for over a decade, the difference being that the state government till a year ago was run by the “secular” UPA rather than the “communal” NDA. And now, days ago, the murder of a 50-year-old Muslim man in Dadri reportedly for stocking beef in his larder caused outrage across India and bemusement in other parts of the globe. In South Korea, Argentina or in parts of the US, it would be unthinkable to have a meal without beef on the menu. Locals there cannot be blamed for getting a trifle anxious about any family member working in India, a country where some would like to make the eating of beef a capital offence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been tireless in his circumlocution of the globe as he seeks to generate external investment into India. The Dadri episode will not improve his chances, nor will such lifestyle-affecting official steps as the decreeing of vegetarianism, healthy though such an option may be.
It is extraordinary how similar the views of Wahhabis are when placed alongside those espoused by individuals claiming to represent an alternative theology, whether these be the celebration by the young of Valentine’s Day, or the wearing of dress that involves less than a few yards of cloth, besides of course rules on what can and what must not be eaten. In deference to Mahatma Gandhi and in opposition to the wishes of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the meat of cows has for long been banished from the kitchens of India. Now it would appear that buffalo meat too may get proscribed, followed perhaps by that of goats, pigs and chickens. A lifelong vegetarian, this columnist would be delighted to live in a world where meat, fish and poultry not be eaten by human beings, but such a situation needs to come about through the individual will of the people of this country, rather than through administrative diktat or the threats of neighbours. Certainly the media in India — and more so abroad — is selective in its outrage, for there was barely a whimper when a young Hindu boy was beaten to death in UP some months ago for the “crime” of marrying a Muslim girl, just as the planned destruction of dozens of Hindu temples in Kashmir has been ignored in narratives of the situation in that state. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee did nothing as Prime Minister to ensure that Hindu temples be placed on the same footing as mosques, churches and gurudwaras where the state was concerned, and continued the British-era policy of government control over major temples. This has to change. 
This is a country with 5,000 years of clearly recorded legacy, yet is there any showcasing of the actual area where the Kurukshetra war took place? Has there been an effort to recreate the path taken by Lord Ram (who belongs to all citizens of India, irrespective of religion) so that the people of this country will understand that theirs is not a 70-year legacy (of independence), or a 300-year legacy (of British rule), but a legacy spanning 5,000 years? Why has there, for example, been no effort to recreate the location of Ashoka’s Kalinga war, or the locations from where the Vijaynagar kings and the Cholas held sway? Why have their palaces not been recreated in the way the Chinese Communist Party has remade several portions of the Great Wall? 
Why are ancient Indian epics not being used as staples of school education, and why do history books still follow the colonial practice of regarding the ancient civilisation of India as a myth? Rather than rectify such core issues, the ideological cousins of Wahhabism who claim fealty to “Hindu” values seek to banish the English language and to impose dress and diet codes on the people in a manner completely at variance with the Sanatani tradition. It is not by removing the international link language that our culture will be preserved, but by ensuring that the young be taught the classics of this country in every language, rather than continue memorising those of the country which succeeded in enslaving most of India.
The murder of an innocent Muslim at Dadri was an act of terror, and those responsible need to be prosecuted under the terror statutes in the same way as the killers of the Hindu lad who paid with his life at the hands of bigots for marrying outside his faith. Violence in the name of religion is terror and needs to be dealt with as such, if the country is to escape the trajectory of Pakistan. Lifestyles — barring the very toxic, such as those involving molestation of the young — need to be kept outside the purview of formal law, and become the focus only of social reform groups working in a non-confrontational way. Whatever be an individual’s view on the consumption of meat or on homosexuality or on soft drugs or on alcohol, it is clear that a genuine democracy — indeed, any civilised state — would abstain from using the bludgeon of law and the instrumentality of the police to enforce a particular behaviour code, Saudi style. By focusing on relative trivia, what is being neglected is the need to move beyond the persisting colonial view of our history and reclaim our pride in an Indian — repeat Indian — identity which has stood the test of five millennia by its resilience and its excellence.

Friday 2 October 2015

NATO’s ‘phony war’ on Daesh exposed (Pakistan Observer)

Geopolitical notes from India

M D Nalapat

Friday, October 02, 2015 - Although the major NATO powers have been in a “state of war” with Daesh (ISIS) over the past 15 months, after it became too obvious to ignore that the terror group was attracting dozens of their citizens each month, the response has thus far resembled the “Phony War” of the UK and France during 1939-40,when the two powers allowed Germany to gain an extra eight months between the declaration of war on September 3, 1939 and the latter’s attack on France through smaller west European countries. The refusal of Paris and London to agree to an alliance with Moscow resulted in Stalin signing a no-war agreement with Hitler days before the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 01,1939. 

Unlike Josef Stalin, who was in many respects a leader of very limited vision who failed to recognise the danger posed to his country by Adolf Hitler, Russian Head of State Vladimir Putin has been realistic in accepting that Daesh poses a severe threat to Russia, as indeed it does to the US,the UK, Israel and India, and to a lesser extent to China. Should the organisation motivate cells of suicide warriors (for they need not only use bombs to kill but also guns and other implements of mass murder) in the key cities of target countries, mayhem would result. There would be apparently random explosions and shootouts across each country,thereby scaling up substantially the security threat and affecting everyday life. Unlike the Taliban, which is transparent about its membership, and Al Qaeda, which is overwhelmingly so,in the case of Daesh, the leadership of that organisation has followed a policy of asking its members to remain recessed within the societies in which they reside.

Indeed, several of the “Active” cadre” of Daesg (as distinct from “Facilitators” and the lower-order “Followers”) bad-mouth the organisation in public so as to camouflage their participation in its activities. The Daesh ideology is at its root more about raw power over “The Other” than it is about theology, and hence the spread of this virus is potentially much more than was the case with the Al Qaeda variant, especially now that the non-charismatic Ayman al-Zawahiri is in formal charge of what is left of the group after the US has quietly rolled up the networks exposed through the data cache left behind by Osama bin Laden in his last place of stay.

Not only Turkey but Qatar as well seem to be less than enthusiastic about fighting Daesh, with the former actually assisting the group through degrading the capabilities of a leading anti-ISIS force, that led by the Kurds. This falls in the same category as Stalin’s error of judgment concerning Hitler, for both Ankara as well as Doha will be at risk from the terror group before long, should it continue to hold on to the territories within Iraq and Syria that it won through bribing Iraqi and Syrian commanders with the help of money from sources that would be known to the US,but which the Obama administration seems still to be protecting from disclosure, perhaps to avoid the exposure of policy errors made during the period Hillary Rodham Clinton was US Secretary of State. 

While Vladimir Putin may not be everyone’s favourite, the fact remains that he has adopted a course against ISIS that is in the best interests of not merely the Russian Federation but the global community. Hence the question why the US and the UK (both of which claim to be waging war on ISIS) is annoyed with Moscow for its air strikes on terror targets. A reason may be that both Washington and London are still holding on to the disastrous theory that there exists a “moderate opposition” on the battlef ield of Syria if not Iraq,that needs to be protected so that they may in time wage war on Daesh. This is a theory which makes as little sense as France and the UK standing by and waiting for the blow to fall during 1939-40 rather than patching up relations with the USSR and launching a coordinated action before Hitler could ready his forces and his plans for the campaign against France, a country he hated for its courageous resistance to Germany during 1914-19. 

Despite the theatrics and the multiple reports of “deadly” air strikes on Daesh targets, or the expansion of operations to include France and Australia, the reality is that NATO is waging a Phony War on Daesh, the way France and the UK waged a phony war on Hitler after the savage occupied Poland and began to seek to destroy its civlisation through genocide and repression. Ostensibly out of fear of civilian casualties but in reality clearly the belief that Daesh can be used as a lever to force Bashar Assad from office before taking serious action on the terror group,NATO air strikes have been pinpricks designed to sting but not to stun. In particular, Daesh has been allowed to retain control of Raqqa, when the fall of this city to any - repeat any - anti-Daesh force would severely reduce its morale and ability to hold on to the rest of the territory it controls. A week of systematic bombing could result in the collapse of Daesh resistance in Raqqa, but NATO knows that that the “moderate opposition” does not exist except in CNN,BBC and Al Jazeera broadcasts, and hence that the forces taking control would be those of Bashar Assad. It is because of this that this far, Daesh has in effect been given a free pass by NATO to rape,kill and torture countless Yazidis, Shia and Christians across huge swathes of territory.

Vladimir Putin has called NATO’s bluff. By entering the war, he has shown the deliberate impotence of NATO air strikes, and should the Russian military next target Raqqa and ensure the defeat of Daesh, it would show up NATO as being either complicit or incompetent in the war on Daesh. John Kerry and Philip Hammond placing the interests of Recip Erdogan and others who see Al Baghdadi as being more benign than Bashar Assad above the need to eliminate this scourge before the virus spreads in a manner which will result in a war needing nearly a decade to conclude. Hopefully, Russia will ignore such efforts at making Moscow too join London and Paris in a phony war on Daesh, and focus on Raqqa, the fall of which will marka Stalingrad for that evil organisation. Indeed, Daesh should be called AIS ( Anti-Islam State), for that is what it is.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.