Monday 28 August 2017

Who wins after diplomatic breakthrough in Donglang? (CGTN)

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Monday the withdrawal of Indian troops from Donglang area after a two-month-long standoff between Chinese and Indian troops. Is this the end of the game or just the end of a beginning, as a nationalistic BJP under Prime Minister Modi hardly conceals its anger with China's Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing's refusal to support India's bid to join the Nuclear Supply Group? Will the two biggest emerging markets lead the world economy and help stabilize Asia, the world's fastest growing region? Can the two countries settle their disputes through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and bring an end to the tough geopolitical competition since 1962? To discuss these issues and more, CGTN’s Dialogue invited Professor M.D. Nalapat of Manipal University and Rong Ying, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, to find out.

Spotlight: India, China end tension on Doklam border (NewsX)

After two and a half months of tension on the Doklam border, India and China end their border standoff on Monday. As both sides mutually decide to disengage, the development is a clear vindication of Prime Minister Modi’s diplomacy. And a huge diplomatic win for the Modi government as it ignored repeated baiting and aggressive Chinese rhetoric to resolve the impasse through diplomatic channels. The reduced tensions also paves the way for PM Modi to attend the ninth BRICS summit on 3rd September which is also expected to see presence of several non BRICS neighbouring nations. However, there are still some concerns that we are raising on Spotlight. While truce was reached by diplomatic talks, the Chinese foreign media say it is only Indian troops that have withdrawn. Also there is no clarity on the status of the road construction by the Chinese on Bhutanese territory that started the entire skirmish on June 16.

Saturday 26 August 2017

A new ‘Panchsheel’ needed for BRICS (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat
A consensus needs to get built that the five member-states of BRICS will renounce the use of force against each other. 
That Europe as a continent gained mastery over the rest of the globe for close to six centuries is because of the confidence within its population that little was impossible. They obeyed the ancient Indian dictum to “aim for the stars even if you miss”, rather than setting their sights low and then being satisfied with coming close to what at best would be a miserable result, the mindset of several elites in Asia. But times have changed, although India’s colonial-style bureaucracy has survived the British Raj in order to enmesh the population in Red Tape Raj. Despite the diversity of the country, the effort of those entrusted with governance has been a constant effort at funnelling the different needs and systems in India through a single spout, on the way rubbing off individuality and excellence and creating an undifferentiated outcome distinguished only for its mediocrity. This has especially been the case in education, whether it be medical, the humanities or science. All-India examinations, all-India syllabi, all of these and more work towards creating mass-produced brainpower far from the cutting edge. Any sparks of excellence get driven out through neglect, if not outright condemnation for such effrontery. Whenever the colonial collection of policy straitjackets got loosened even by a smidgen, such as what took place in the Industries Ministry when it was handled by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in the early1990s, the performance of domestic players improved disproportionately. Early on, vested interests that thrive on the stifling controls over individual initiative that are a dominant facet of the colonial construct (another being the squeezing out of revenue no matter what the health of the contributing sector) rallied against Narasimha Rao. They midwifed the efforts of 1994, which resulted soon after in splitting the Congress Party, leading to the emergence as a national alternative of the BJP. After what happened to Rao, succeeding Prime Ministers have been hesitant in enacting fundamental reform of economic policy, out of fear that only a Robin Hood stance (of taking from the rich and giving to the poor) would ensure victory during the elections. The problem is that it is the (relatively) rich that give employment to the poor, and while it is essential to stamp out abuse and illegality, the conduct of business and the accumulation of wealth should not be slowed down by 1950s-1970s-style measures that are confiscatory and obstructionist. Even such solemn covenants as that signed between the Princely States and the Union of India were torn up without a tremor, on the principle that wealth is evil in itself. While Deng Xiaoping sought to make every Chinese (or as many as possible) rich, in India, the effort of Nehruvian (colonial-era) policy was to make poor as many honest but prosperous individuals as possible. Small wonder that the average income of India remains among the lowest in the world, far below that of the other billion-plus country, China. 
Just as millions voted for Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 on the promise of change, voters in 2014 chose the BJP led by Narendra Modi in the belief that he would ensure the substantive and systemic changes in governance and policy that had been elusive for too long. Confidence in Modi is still high, visible in the belief that he will soon begin to accelerate the process of change, now that he has settled in and mastered the processes of governance at the Central level. The expectation is that needed reforms, such as horizontal entry into the Central and state services at all levels from outside the government, will come about. That Modi is a visionary has been proved by the 8 November 2016 demonetisation of 86% of the country’s paper currency, in order inter alia to force through a shift to digital modes of payment, such as what has taken place in China during the period since Xi Jinping was put in charge five years ago. That shift in behaviour came about as a result of expansion of indigenous digital platforms and improvement in bandwidth, not by rendering worthless China’s paper currency. The Reserve Bank of India and NITI Aayog were wrong in assuming that a sharp fall in liquidity would change habits without seriously impacting employment and output, especially in the so-called “unorganised” sector. There is nothing unorganised about this sector. It even pays “taxes”, in the form of bribes to officials and politicians, and much of it would be rendered uneconomic were regular taxes to be imposed over and above such “unofficial” imposts. Hence the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s strenuous efforts at ensuring corruption-free procedures. Now, after so much has happened to the economy as a consequence of the DeMon measure the institution championed, the RBI seems to have accepted the need for liquidity and is no longer starving the economy of currency. A changeover to digital systems in place of cash needs a tax structure that has much lower rates than at present, as well as ways of ensuring compliance that are not reliant on regulations that empower (and subsequently enrich) officials beyond the limits that are normal in democracies. Overall, Modi can be expected to ensure by 2019 that present GST rates fall and compliance be made easier, given his genius for practicality. 
In days, Prime Minister Modi is expected to head for Xiamen, for the 9th BRICS Summit. There, a consensus needs to get built that the five member-states will (a) renounce the use of force against each other; (b) abstain from any action that threatens the security of any other; (c) ensure visa-free entry within the BRICS bloc; (d) have Russia and China take up the case of India, Brazil and South Africa as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council; and (e) set up a BRICS headquarters that would serve as the coordinating agency for cooperation between the five, perhaps in Durban, South Africa. The time for a 21st century Panchsheel among the BRICS Five has arrived, and hopefully this will become a reality at Xiamen. The five leaders need to aim at the stars during the 3-5 September meeting and not again keep their sights low.

Friday 25 August 2017

Clinton News Network in full flow (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

A media outlet has the right to have its own editorial policy. CNN is truly global, with more reach outside the US than other channels based in the world’s most powerful country. However, it is perhaps time for it to show a notice every few days underlining the reality of its being a champion of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. The guests it has on its shows are almost all visceral against President Donald John Trump, and usually use the same arguments as were tried out by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. Repeatedly,” expert” voices are featured that have zero hesitation in calling the Chief Executive of the US a psychological wreck.
James Clapper led the intelligence community during the Obama years as another of the Clintonites chosen for high positions by the 44rth US President. He has repeatedly warned on CNN that Donald Trump is insane, and even that he spends sleepless nights worrying about whether the candidate who defeated Clapper’s favourite, Hillary Clinton, may start a nuclear war. He has been compared to Barry Goldwater, who lost to Lyndon Johnson because he was portrayed as a warmonger. Ironically, it was Johnson who greatly expanded the US role in Vietnam, and began a full-scale war that eventually ended in defeat at the hands of Ho Chi Minh, of course when Richard Nixon was President. In an attempt at humour, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, perhaps for his success in population control in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam through the sure-fire technique of carpet bombing, including with chemical agents.
Time after time, the Nobel Committee has shown that it operates fully within the ethos of the European Union, which at its core is a project that celebrates and protects ethnicity with about as much subtlety as the South African government before the freeing of Nelson Mandela. In such a construct, the member of a mafia in Bulgaria gets preference in practice over a doctor from Chennai in India where settling in a European country is concerned.
Even in the United Kingdom, a country where there still exists a fair amount of commonsense, Prime Minister Teresa May has in her present and past ministerial avatars introduced regulations that have made it almost impossible for even the brightest students from India in UK universities to find jobs in a country that Prime Minister May worked hard to keep within the EU. Not to mention a steep increase in taxes for nationals of citizens from India who live and work in the UK. Despite his being partially house-trained by Whitehall, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would have been a much better choice for the top political job in the country than an individual who has “Little England” invisibly stamped all across her mind The latest attacks on Trump by the Beltway crowd which is distraught that Hillary is not the present occupant of the White House is that he is “soft on Kim Jong Un’. In fact, Trump’s policy is precisely what is needed to ensure that the needle of a peaceful resolution of the Korean nuclear crisis gets threaded by a solution other than the use of military force. Kim Jong Un needs to get reassured that he will not end up the way Saddam Hussein and Muammar Kaddafy did, and what has been planned for Bashar Assad by the Atlanticists.
Should he avoid provocative actions and open the door to the greater contacts with North Korea that South Korean President Moon is seeking, a summit between President Trump and Supreme Leader Kim would give the latter enough “face” among his army commanders to scale back progress in developing a nuclear and missile deterrent that is of intercontinental scale. Instead of being applauded for his breaking away from the failed diplomatic nostrums of the Clinton,Bush and “Clinbama” years, which is a better way of describing the Clinton-heavy Obama period, President Trump is being savaged. The reason is the worry that his approach may actually work, thereby exposing the shallow thinking of the many “experts” who collectively crafted US policy to North Korea since the 1990s.
In every case where Trump has an approach different from that of his predecessors, there has been a cacophony of protest from the “experts” who fashioned the policies that failed but which still continue on life support. For any admission of failure of such policies would throw a disconcerting light on the erroneous policies that Atlanticists on both sides of that ocean have championed for so long, and still do so, long after they have been shown to be disastrous. In the case of Syria,this columnist warned in several essays, including in this publication, that adding the fuel of ammunition and funding to the mix of armed fighters in that country would ensure such chaos as would create a flood of refugees into Europe. This was exactly the warning given about Libya.
Of course, these experts and the think-tanks and government departments in which they are based are adept at finding scapegoats. For example, they blame Bashar Assad for the exodus from Syria into Europe and not themselves, neglecting to point out that migration was almost non-existent when Assad has full control of a country that has now been divided into at least three entities The generals chosen by Trump are honest individuals, and this gives hope that they will accept the reality of the mistakes made in the past, and refuse to continue in the same rut as has cost the US trillions of dollars and hundreds of US military lives. Across the world, there is need for an approach that fits the parameters of Ground Reality in a way that Atlanticist policy, rooted in ethno-centric fantasies, has long forsaken.
The fear of the baying lynch mob that is hounding Trump (to applause from CNN and other media outlets that have made it their mission to run the US President out of town is not that Trump’s new policies will fail. Their fear is that they will succeed, thereby accelerating a move away from the stagnant pools of past policies sought to be continued into the present, including in the Trump presidency. Such successes will show them up, expose them for the blunderers they are. Small wonder that they are using the media outlets that have long showcased them and their views to seek to increase the heat on Trump so that either the US President quits or gets thrown out by the US Congress. Should they succeed, CNN would deserve a goodly share of the credit.

Saturday 19 August 2017

The unfinished promise of Rajiv Gandhi (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat 

He learnt to function in the groove dug out for him by the bureaucracy.

Rajiv Gandhi was a charismatic personality. However, what was equally undeniable was the under-performance during his 1984-89 stint as Prime Minister. There were indeed some green 21st century shoots emerging from the muddy field of policy, such as in telecommunications or panchayati raj. Credit for the first goes to Satyen Pitroda, who anticipated the telecom revolution which followed two decades later. Rajiv made some use of Pitroda, but not enough to make an overall difference, such as by inducting him into the Union Cabinet or ensuring that the bureaucracy was kept away from the telecom sector. That last has yet to happen. Indeed, the babus are firmly in the driver’s seat. The electorate had overwhelmingly supported Rajiv Gandhi in 1984, less out of sympathy than hope that this youthful leader would ensure change. However, soon after he took charge, officials steeped in the past closed in around Rajiv, blocking him off from the outside world so far as policy formulation was concerned. Satyen Pitroda was an exception. Mani Shankar Aiyar was another exception, and had he been given executive powers to devolve authority to the lower administrative units, the country may have been transformed.
Rajiv Gandhi soon learnt to be comfortable with the bureaucracy, and largely functioned in the groove dug out for him by them. As for his ministerial team, most were chosen for their caste or closeness to those interests seen as vital to the kind of politics that has long been the norm in India. Rajiv’s spinmeisters created a hostage to the future by painting Rajiv as “Mr Clean”, in a context where the monetary expenses of doing politics were rising exponentially. It was during the time that middle-rung party functionaries regarded stay in 4-star hotels, travel by air and the ownership of flashy cars as being the essentials of democracy. In 1989, the Congress Party lost despite its resources, not simply because the economy was still too shackled to the constraints of the 1970s, but because Rajiv Gandhi too often bowed to 19th century minds, as over Shah Bano. Rajiv continued the policy of appeasement of fundamentalists by giving weightage only to the views of fringe elements in the Muslim community, and ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in India are as moderate and progressive as any other community.
Rajiv Gandhi, early in his political debut, understood the need to ensure the crafting of a governance matrix that reflected the needs and aspirations of the present, rather than the colonial past. A visitor to his 1 Akbar Road office during 1981 and the most part of 1982 would see scientists, writers and thinkers being escorted to an honoured place in the living room, while politicians even of ministerial rank milled around in a back portico, drenched in sweat. However, by the close of 1982, Arun Nehru became the key adviser to the AICC general secretary. Nehru focused on the immediate future, sometimes ensuring quick results, but in ways that created longer-term problems. Slowly, independent voices lost their access to Rajiv Gandhi. Much of the time of the Heir Apparent was spent with those who had, for decades, been prominent in the party, and who were averse to the changes that Rajiv had earlier vowed to bring about. More and more, he began to follow the line urged on him by the party satraps, adopting boilerplate solutions to new problems rather than fresh approaches.
Later, the same post-1982 tendency of going by conventional un-wisdom continued during his stint as Prime Minister. Not that flashes of the pre-1983 Rajiv were entirely absent. For example, as PM he went ahead with what could have been path-breaking peace initiatives in Punjab and the Northeast, but which fizzled out at the last mile because of over-reliance in implementation on the same bureaucratic machinery that had allowed such problems to fester for so long. The result was that the core of the problems remained, breaking out again and overcoming the beneficial effects to the periphery of the concerned issue that had been tackled by the move. A policy is only as good as its “last mile”, or at its point of delivery, and it is here that Rajiv’s complacent dependence on an unreformed bureaucracy worked against the changes he sought. Comfortable in the official cocoon wrapped around his every move, he refused to accept that no surgeon can conduct a successful operation with obsolescent instruments.
Had Rajiv Gandhi used the considerable goodwill that was his for the asking till mid-1986 in going through with administrative reforms on the same scale as, for example, seen in the UK during the 1980s, even the Bofors scandal would not have felled him. Voters expect politicians to collect money. They know that few elections are won by saints. What they seek from their leaders is a visibly better life with hope for still more improvement in the future. By the close of 1986, the hope that Rajiv would be a transformational leader was almost extinguished. This lowered his political resistance sufficiently to enable the first major scandal, that of the Swedish gun, to deny him success in 1989.
In 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel and other Congress leaders adopted the democratic (i.e. Homeland British) model of politics, throwing away the colonial construct that had so diminished India the previous century. Why they retained the colonial construct of administration rather than adopt the democratic version of governance implemented within the UK itself was as incomprehensible as it was tragic. Hence the contradiction between a democratic Constitution of India and a hyper-colonial Indian Penal Code. Why the founders of the republic failed to factor in the contradiction between a democratic model of the polity and a colonial model of administration is a question that historians committed to acting as public relations agents for Nehru have not bothered to examine. The country’s politicians, who almost entirely focused narrowly on immediate political needs rather than empower citizens in the race towards a Middle Income India, acted in tandem with the official practitioners of colonial governance to ensure that the promise offered by Rajiv Gandhi to the electorate in 1984 remained that. A promise unfinished, a vow unfulfilled.

Friday 18 August 2017

A young lady fights her tormentor (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India
THE more backward a particular society, the worse it treats its women. It is no accident that those parts of India where women are treated particularly badly are places that are economically and socially backward. The southern state of Kerala has a 100% literacy rate and an average expectancy of life that matches European standards, despite its relatively low levels of per capita income. Healthcare and housing for the underprivileged are far better in Kerala than is the case in most of the rest of India. THE more backward a particular society, the worse it treats its women. It is no accident that those parts of India where women are treated particularly badly are places that are economically and socially backward. The southern state of Kerala has a 100% literacy rate and an average expectancy of life that matches European standards, despite its relatively low levels of per capita income. Healthcare and housing for the underprivileged are far better in Kerala than is the case in most of the rest of India.  A substantial part of the reason for such progress vests in the fact that women in Kerala overall match men closely in education and employment. As has been pointed out by Malala Yousefzai, an illiterate mother is less able to provide care to her children than those who are better educated and understand the needs of a child and how to meet them. Although both men and women are equal in intellect and potential, yet there are hundreds of thousands of fathers who refuse to fully educate their daughters, condemn them to a life of servitude in the kitchen rather than enjoy the freedom which comes from having a career.  Each parent who refuses to give the same education to a daughter as to a son should be named and shamed by being exposed in online lists of those who are so socially backward that they refuse to recognise that a daughter has the same potential as a son. Indeed, in several families, it is the daughter who cares for aged parents far more effectively than the sons do, despite often being sent off to another family without getting the same share of family wealth as her brothers. In India, even in the much more societally advanced state of Kerala, anomalies persisted, such as the fact that in some Christian sects, girls were not given a share of family property, that right going only to the male.  A courageous woman, Mary Roy, went to the courts against such a practice . Her quest for gender justice was ignored by almost all the media in Kerala when it came to the attention of this columnist, who at the time was the editor of a large daily newspaper in the state. A decision was taken to give a high degree of coverage to the Mary Roy case in the “Mathrubhumi” newspaper (edited by this columnist). This resulted in several angry letters and statements, mainly from males in Mary Roy’s community who were not willing to share their family’s inherited wealth with their sisters. Accusations of bias and worse were made, but the coverage of the case continued until Mary Roy won her point and the courts ruled that women should also have the right to inherit property in the section of the Christian community to which Mary Roy belonged.  Incidentally, Mary Roy’s daughter is a talented writer, Arundhati Roy. Men who suffer from the delusion that they are superior to women would like the latter to accept a secondary position and not seek equality. Hence the vituperation directed against women such as Mary Roy who refuse to accept such the nonsensical view that women are somehow inferior to men. The good news is that more and more women are finding the courage to speak out and to act against discrimination. These days, television channels in India have been filled with images of Varnika Kundu, a young woman of exceptional courage. While driving a car in Chandigarh at a little after midnight, youths in other vehicles sought to block her car. When she was forced to stop, they tried to enter the vehicle to abduct her. Fortunately, Ms Kundu had had the good sense to call the police as soon as she realised that she was being stalked, and they reached the spot almost as soon as the youths surrounded her stationary vehicle, thereby saving her from a terrible fate.  Most women would have quietly gone home and may not even have mentioned this attempted abduction to their family members. Varnika Kundu refused to follow such a cowed example. Instead, she made public what had happened. Because of the fact that among the stalkers was the son of the BJP State President of Haryana, the police sought to dilute the case by refusing to file charges of attempted kidnapping. Instead, they simply mentioned an attempt at stalking, ignoring the way in which Ms Kundu’s life had been placed at risk because of the crazed impulses of youths who had been brought up in the worst possible way, presumably by their parents giving them money and refusing to hold them to account. She boldly faced the television cameras and said that she was not ashamed to do so, as she was after all the victim. Expectedly, some politicians disgraced themselves by casting doubts on her character because she had been out of her home even past midnight. Varnika correctly pointed out that the same people who sought to condemn her had nothing to say about men who were out late. She pointed out that women had the same right as men to go out late. The father of Varnika Kundu gave his daughter support, standing by her and refusing to be intimidated by the fact that those who sought to do her harm were VIP children used to getting their own way. There was also support from society at large, with the few voices who were critical of her having to give way to the many who backed her determination to bring to justice those who acted in a fashion that was despicable.  More and more women in India are finding the courage to demand equality of treatment with men. They are no longer afraid to come out into the open against those who have done them harm or who intended to. As Mao Zedong said, “Women hold up half the sky”. In an increasing number of families, women are being given the same access to education as men, and are proving themselves in profession after profession. Certainly the road ahead is still hard, as there are pockets of paternalism all over. However, the example is multiplying of not just Varnika Kundu but so many other women in India who have fought against patriarchy. A woman belongs to herself and has full rights over herself. The more this is understood and acted upon in practice, the faster will a country grow towards maturity. Equality of the sexes is at the core of justice and democracy, and fighters for that right such as Varnika Kundu merit our support.

Thursday 17 August 2017

President Trump should listen more to daughter Ivanka (UPI)

By M D Nalapat 

Donald Trump needs to walk back from any liaison with the racists if he is to survive in office.

Ivanka Trump Kushner has been clubbed together with her husband, Jared. Many commentators believe that she plays a secondary role in the partnership, and that her husband's word is law. Such a view underestimates Ivanka, who is known by other habitues of Palm Beach to have a very independent mind, very like her mother Ivana, who separated and later divorced Donald Trump.
Unlike first lady Melania Trump, who is known to have a sunny and accommodating nature, Ivana was famed for her fiery temper, a trait that was clearly not kept a secret from her billionaire husband.
After the marital union between Donald and Ivana went sour, it must have been painful for the youthful Ivanka to negotiate her way between two very strong-minded parents in such a manner that she retained the trust and affection of both. However, she succeeded in this delicate task, and along the way emerged as a strong-willed personality herself, albeit concealed within the velvet cloak of perfect manners.
Even without being officially designated counselor to the president, Ivanka would be among the most consequential figures in Washington.
However, being given the formal responsibility of advising President Trump enables Ivanka to be present at important meetings without raising eyebrows, and to get access to top secret information that otherwise would be a crime to share with her. Without such information,much of the advice proferred to her father may be incompletely thought through.
There is a growing number of individuals in the United States dedicated to ending the Trump presidency at the earliest, preferably though the impeachment, prosecution and jailing of the 45th president, and this group has been vocal in condemning the official position given to Ivanka as "nepotism".
They forget that John Fitzgerald Kennedy appointed his brother Robert as Attorney General of the United States, partly in order to ensure that hyper-sensitive secrets generated within the White House remained within the family. His father, Joseph Kennedy, had a similarly secretive group of confidantes and problem solvers close at hand who served him well in several tasks that may not have met with the approval of church elders or even the police.
The secrecy and loyalty that the personality of John F. Kennedy ensured in almost the whole of his inner group of advisers resulted in hardly any negative stories emerging about a president whose life was cut short in Dallas with a year to go before he completed his first term.
Only much later did reports surface of some of the less attractive attributes and actions of Kennedy, but none of these could dim the roseate glow that has covered his administration. Such a hue was not entirely deserved. Barring a few mainly symbolic acts, Kennedy did little to advance the cause of justice for the African-American community, leaving that task to his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
As for Vietnam, it was not during the eight Eisenhower years but the three Kennedy years that the U.S. military presence in that tortured country went up exponentially. His admirers say that a second Kennedy term would have seen a drawdown and withdrawal from Vietnam, but such a proposition, together with many others posthumously favorable to him, remain mere hypotheses untested by reality.
It was therefore not a lapse in ethics for Donald Trump to recruit Ivanka into his official family, nor was it wrong for her to have accepted the job.
However, what should perhaps have been avoided was the simultaneous entry of son-in-law Kushner into the official family from his privileged perch in the personal. And thereafter, it would have been better to avoid immediately entrusting him with tasks as indescribably difficult as securing peace in the Middle East between Israel and its traducers.
Both the Trump and Kushner families need to pray that their net worth will be lower when Trump steps down from his current job (hopefully after serving two terms, as his three immediate predecessors did) than it was on Jan. 20. Should their businesses do well (or worse, do spectacularly well), hundreds of lawyers, accountants and muckrakers would be actively searching for grounds to allege a link between such success and the presidency.
By agreeing to be appointed to a senior White House post, Kushner has ensured that any business transaction which favors the enterprises his family controls will be looked at askance and challenged, not simply in the media but in the courts. Companies that deal with a Kushner enterprise will find themselves in the spotlight, locked within a beam of transparency that has been heavily tilted against Trump and his family members from the start of his term in the world's most prestigious office.
Accepting his current job has given the traducers of his father-in-law a tempting target, and already reports are swirling about the extent of the losses that some of his real estate ventures are making, and about how Saudi Arabian and Chinese interests have been in touch with him on the matter. Given that neither country is the flavor of the season in Washington, interests linked to them are certain to generate a torrent of criticism that may result in driving them away from his businesses.
Kushner would spare his own and his wife's family much grief were he to quietly resign his White House job and return to private (and business) life.
Those in India who know Donald Trump affirm that he is no "white supremacist" but an outgoing, liberal personality. Whoever advised him to equivocate in condemning the neo-Nazis and neo-KKK bigots who gathered to protest the taking down of a statue in Virginia to a Confederate general has harmed the president severely. The president of the United States has a global constituency, and if those with yellow, brown or black complexions regard him as a racist, a United States under President Trump will shrivel in global importance.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of those who are white would similarly detest any hint of racial superiority of the kind popularized in Germany by Adolf Hitler. Let it not be forgotten that in locations across the world, including in the United States, some of the most effective blows against racial privilege have been administered by those who are, to use a quaint term, "white."
The World War I corporal attracted tens of millions of losers to his banner in the 1930s by giving them a chance to publicly lash out at the winners they detested for being better than themselves. Ultimately, Germany under Hitler became the worst loser of all. Those who abhor folks of a different hue or faith are in need of medical attention, which hopefully most will get before their actions threaten human societies.
What they do not need is the oxygen for an exclusivist cause that comes their way when the U.S. president declines to call them out. Donald Trump needs to walk back from any liaison with the racists if he is to survive in office. Should he fail to do so, the enemies of the United States will seize upon this to box the world's most powerful country into the global isolation ward. An untouchable president will soon result in an untouchable country. It is time for the president to listen to his gentle and wise counselor Ivanka and not to the misdirected who confuse merit with skin pigmentation.
It is time for the Real Donald Trump to dismiss those handlers who are firing bullets of hate and prejudice from his shoulders.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 13 August 2017

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

By M D Nalapat

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

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

By M D Nalapat

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

Need for A Nuanced Policy (Organiser)

By M D Nalapat

On that October day in 1949 when he announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao Zedong also announced that “China has stood up” after having been bent and bowed (though not broken) for more than a century of foreign domination. When Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and PRC President Xi Jinping addressed delegates of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party for 68 years later, the message was clear. It was that the entire Chinese people, and not simply a country, had “stood up”. And it is true that across the globe, individuals of Chinese origin are experiencing a sense of pride in the reality of the PRC becoming the second most consequential country in the world after the United States.
Add to that the fact that China is on track to be the first, at least so far as the economy is concerned. Those in India who talk about ensuring “Bharatiya Pride” within the population of our country need to remember that such a feeling needs to be reinforced through economic and technological achievement in order to have depth and longevity. India is at present far behind China in both. Hence the focus of the government needs to be on implementing measures designed to ensure faster growth, rather than getting carried away by the agenda set by social media platforms.
Xi has tapped into the fact that patriotism has increased substantially within China, and is being nourished by the increased visibility and relevance of the country within the international community. A similar upwelling of fervour has occurred in Russia, this time because of military rather than economic prowess. That country has made a re-entry into Great Power status as a consequence of its deployment of just two squadrons of military aircraft as well as around 4,000 elite troops in Syria in order to destroy ISIS strongholds. This was the precise step recommended for India by this columnist in 2014, only to have it ignored by a hyper-cautious official machinery that under the Modi Government has become more powerful than at any other time since Indira Gandhi’s heyday of authority. Global leadership evolves through action rather than words, and through an acceptance of risks rather than remaining in the slow lane as a consequence of bureaucratic caution. Both Xi Jinping as well as his ally Vladimir Putin have not hesitated to take risks in the pursuance of their interests, and this has led to both becoming indispensable players in
critical global situations.
Mao saw himself as the “People’s Republic of China Chairman”. Xi Jinping regards himself (more expansively) as the “Chairman of the Chinese People”. He has reached out to the global Chinese community, specifically the Han people, and has developed programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to bind them together into a global collective. It needs to be emphasised that the term “Han” does not refer to a racial category as much as it does to a cultural construct. "Han" identity has been fashioned through culture, such that multiple ethnic groups have coalesced together into a classification that now accounts for 95 per cent of the population of China, and close to 100 per cent of the Chinese Diaspora.
In this context, it is relevant to examine how the composite culture of India, a matrix that goes back more than five millennia, is still largely unharnessed in the service of nationhood. As yet, school and university curricula here give far more weightage to a period covering less than 15 per cent of India's history, ignoring much of the remaining 85 per cent. Indeed, most post-1947 historians categorise ancient India and its heroes as myths, thereby seeking to block off pride in  85 per cent of our past through a focus only on the 15 per cent past that represented a picture of turmoil and servitude. It hardly matters to feel proud about.
During the period when Mao was dominant, there was a downplaying of classical China similar to the British (and Nehruvian) neglect of Classical India. Deng Xiaoping left matters of culture for later, concentrating on development, while Jiang Zemin sought to create a mix of Chinese with western culture. Since Hu Jintao took over the state, and now more so under President Xi Jinping, ancient Chinese history has been given prominence, along with respect being paid even to what Chairman Mao saw as the “feudal” past. Both Nehru as well as Indira Gandhi carried out a Cultural Revolution in India that was even more comprehensive than that was carried out by Mao in China in the 1960s. However, while the dispersed and shattered historical fragments of Classical China are being put together by Xi Jinping in order to generate the confidence that creates achievement within a people, a similar transformation is witnessing heavy opposition in India.
However, the re-discovery of whole of India’s history is essential if genuine patriotism is to become as universal in India as it is in Japan or China. Through an emphasis on the “China Dream” (which is shorthand for the revival of the period in history when China was the pre-eminent power in the world), Xi Jinping is seeking to ensure that the Han people everywhere connect with the dream and accept that his leadership is essential to achieve it. Within such a frame, what would be the position of India? Interestingly, Chinese have two contradictory but simultaneous views about India. The first is respect for something that Indians themselves seldom learn about, which is the land of philosophy and culture. The other is contempt for the way in which our country's political leadership together with its bureaucracy have diluted the potential of the people of India to such a level that only by going out of the country can they excel.
 India needs to adopt a nuanced policy towards Xi’s China, avoiding the policy cage of reflexive hostility that is being urged upon policymakers in Delhi by those countries that would benefit through a climate of hostility between Beijing and Delhi. At the same time, such matters as calling even the segment passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC) should be objected to and sought to be changed. The portion of the CPEC passing through Kashmir must be termed the “China-Kashmir Economic Corridor”. Once such a change in nomenclature takes place, it would be beneficial to ensure that Indian entities and interests take advantage of the vast Belt and Road Initiative. Those dealing with foreign policy look back with 20/20 vision at such past errors of judgment as (a) refusing to actualise the suggestion by both the US as well as the USSR that India should take the seat then occupied by the Republic of China in the UN Security Council (b) joining ASEAN or (c) testing a nuclear weapon much earlier than 1974. An unconditional refusal to join is as problematic as an unconditional entry into the BRI. Participation should be made conditional on (1) that part of the CPEC passing through PoK being renamed the CKEC and (2) Pakistan giving access through its territory to not just the CPEC but also to Afghanistan, in the interests of the closer ties that enhanced commerce would bring about. China under Xi is both Threat as well as Opportunity. Our policy should be to reduce the threat to a minimum and the opportunity to the maximum. India needs the same three decades of high growth that China experienced since 1981, and in such a process, deft policy can ensure that China be of assistance rather than hindrance.

Saturday 12 August 2017

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

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

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

Saturday 5 August 2017

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

By M D Nalapat 

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

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

Friday 4 August 2017

Hillary Clinton: Too networked to nail (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat | Geopolitical Notes From India

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