23 November 2012

Mujahid Or Mercenary

Rather than religious fanaticism,poverty drives young men to become jihadi foot soldiers 

V G Patankar 

In response to a police officers questions 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab said on national TV,as he lay injured in a hospital bed,that he didnt know much about jihad but had joined the terrorists only to earn some good money that could help his poor family.How often i have heard a similar refrain from captured terrorists,during my deployment in the Kupwara sector of the Kashmir valley during the tumultuous years between 1997 and 1999! 

They were usually young men in their late teens or early twenties,mostly unemployed,some with rudimentary education and some illiterate, but almost always from underprivileged families.The typical young terrorist usually belonged to a large family with meagre means;one among several siblings,with no more than one or at best two bread earners.Money was never adequate for basic needs and then there was always the question of marrying off the girls in the family into good families,fixing the leaking roof before the next monsoon,and so on.

Our political class`s venality is undermining Indian democracy

Ramachandra Guha
Nov 23, 2012

Ramachandra Guha is one of India`s leading intellectuals and authors. Speaking with Srijana Mitra Das , Guha discussed India as analysed in his book Patriots and Partisans, why he thinks the Prime Minister is a tragic figure — and why, despite all its travails, India is a qualified success: 

What is the idea of India today? 

I think in many ways, the republic of India is a success. No-one expected it to survive 65 years. There's a sense of shared citizenship across many parts. But this idea is continuously threatened. We have to be vigilant, renew institutions and spread the benefits of growth. However, we are a qualified success. We remain a most interesting place to be. 

You write possibly the biggest threat to the idea of India is the Indian state — please elaborate? 

Well, the degradation of public institutions supposed to nurture a democracy, which include political parties, Parliament and the bureaucracy, is a most worrisome feature. The Indian state has contributed greatly to this by politicizing and undermining many public institutions, promoting corruption and nepotism, riding roughshod over laws restraining the arbitrary use of state powers. 

In that sense, ironically and in a qualified way, yes, although other threats — left-wing and right-wing extremism, secessionism and sectarian violence — remain, the malfunctioning of the state and the sheer venality of our political class is undermining Indian democracy. By and large, our political class is characterised by incompetence, corruption and criminality. Or dogmatism like the Left which is relatively honest and non-sectarian. But it has bizarre 19th century ideology, worships Lenin and Stalin and is authoritarian. 

Resist West’s pressure tactics

Anuradha Dutt

It is not in India’s interest tokow-tow to the diktats of international lending agencies.

In the wake of the Indian edition of the World Economic Forum meet, held at Gurgaon from November 6-8, comes the report of Gurgaon figuring in a list of 30 cities, chosen worldwide for IT giant IBM’s special grants programme. This is both a positive development and a negative trend. To consider the first point, the programme entails a tie-up between IBM and Gurgaon’s civic agencies so as to improve the quality of urban life. This erstwhile rustic town, part of the National Capital Region, whose elevation to an MNC hub and emerging nerve-centre of global finance has left it ill-prepared to address the burgeoning water and power needs, efficient transportation modalities, a good network of roads, waste disposal facilities and other features of sustainable urbanism, should benefit from the tie-up. Other selected cities are Cape Town in South Africa, Copenhagen in Denmark, Kyoto in Japan, Richmond in the United States and Belfast in Ireland.

A six-member team of top experts will work in tandem with civic functionaries and NGOs to work out a blueprint to resolve the problems plaguing Gurgaon. Ahmedabad and Pune have also been selected for similar grants this year. Such international exposure may serve to pull the city out of the morass of mismanagement that characterises its administration. Multiplicity of power centres, with developers hanging on to their fiefdoms even as civic agencies struggle to entrench their hold on residential colonies promoted by the former, has engendered anarchy. Since corporates cannot be expected to run their enclaves without availing of State help, given the magnitude of Government infrastructure and manpower, they need to cede control eventually. But economic reforms, launched in 1991, largely manifesting as uncurbed corporate empowerment, without accountability, developers, spurred by 100 per cent foreign direct investment, are unlikely to relax their grip. They are, instead, certain to wrest further privileges.

Going from Pillar to truce

Vijay Prashad 

AP A woman is rescued after her house collapsed during an Israeli strike in the Tufah neighbourhood, Gaza City. 

After bombing Gaza, Israel is more isolated, Hamas has emerged stronger and Egypt, which helped broker a ceasefire between the two, has returned as a major regional actor 

On the eighth day of the bombardment of Gaza, the Israeli government agreed to sit down with the Hamas leadership and the Egyptian government to come up with a ceasefire agreement. Hamas and Egypt had called for a ceasefire from early into the conflict, but the Israelis had refused. An early Israeli draft indicated that they wanted Hamas to accept a 15-year hudna or truce, which would be tantamount to asking the Palestinians to accept their occupation without any resistance. When the escalated bombing did not break the will of the population of Gaza, and of the Hamas leadership, Israel agreed to much narrower ceasefire terms. 

After the Cease-Fire in Gaza, Will the Cyberwar Continue?

By Vivienne WaltNov. 22, 2012


A leveled Hamas government office is seen through the window of a nearby building following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Nov. 21, 2012.

You didn’t need to be a Middle East specialist to understand that something was seriously off-kilter early Wednesday when Israel’s vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom displayed a “Free Palestine” photo on his Facebook page, and wrote on his Twitter feed, “FREE PALESTINE! END THE OCCUPATION!” No fan of Hamas, Shalom was the latest target in a hacking campaign that has raged through eight days of actual, lethal warfare in Gaza. Shortly after the postings on Shalom’s sites, the online tech magazine Gizmodo announced that Anonymous, the hackers’ activist group, had finally “swallowed a big fish,” having threatened days earlier to turn the Gaza conflict “into a cyberwar.” “Pretty embarrassing for a high ranking official!” Gizmodo writer Casey Chan snickered.

Is Israel's Gaza Campaign Laying the Groundwork for an Attack on Iran?

By Moran Stern 

From Operation Pillar of Cloud to the Islamic Republic's nuclear program

Amir Cohen/Reuters/The Atlantic 

A close observation of the recent developments in Gaza might reveal broader implications for the region: Israel's operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Cloud") in Gaza could be preparation for an Israeli strike on Iran.

The story begins late October when a mysterious blast destroyed the Sudanese military base Yarmouk on the outskirts of the capital, Khartoum. The Yarmouk was a base camp to receive arms shipments from Iran and stolen weapons from Libya that were smuggled continentally to Hamas and the Iranian terror proxy in Gaza, Islamic Jihad. The Sudanese authorities hurried to accuse Israel, which remained silent. Satellite images of the site indicate that the bombing of Yarmouk was executed from the air. As The Atlantic reported at the time, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is the only one in the region with the capabilities to execute such a strike. 

The dangerous success of Iron Dome

You can bet that even as Hamas and its sponsors are recovering from the shock of clanging into Israel’s new missile shield, they are contemplating fresh ways to kill us. Those drafting the Pillar of Defense ceasefire terms mustn’t make it easy for them 

By David Horovitz November 20, 2012

Amir Peretz, not so short-sighted after all (photo credit: YouTube screenshot) 

Remember Amir Peretz? He’s the abundantly moustached former trade union chief who led the Labor Party into the 2006 elections and found himself, by the peculiar machinations of Israel’s ridiculous electoral system, installed as defense minister despite a conspicuous absence of high-level defense expertise. He’s the man who misguidedly trusted then-chief of General Staff Dan Halutz’s assurances that Hezbollah could be destroyed from the air in the mismanaged 2006 Second Lebanon War. He’s the buffoon who was photographed gravely viewing IDF military maneuvers on the Golan Heights five years ago through binoculars from which he had neglected to remove the lens caps. 

Israel dominates the new Middle East

Published: November 22 

As missiles and rockets exploded in Israel and Gaza, television news was dominated by the tragic violence, and we were warned that the battle between Israel and the Palestinians might spread because we are in a new and much more dangerous Middle East. Islamists are in power, democracies will listen to their people. In fact, as the relatively quick cease-fire between the parties shows, there is a very low likelihood of a broader regional conflict. It’s true that we’re in a new Middle East, but it’s one in which Israel has become the region’s superpower.

In a thorough 2010 study, “The Arab-Israeli Military Balance,” Anthony Cordesman and Aram Nerguizian document how over the past decade Israel has outstripped its neighbors in every dimension of warfare. The authors attribute this to Israel’s “combination of national expenditures, massive external funding, national industrial capacity and effective strategy and force planning.” Israel’s military expenditures in 2009 were about $10 billion, which is three times Egypt’s military spending and larger than the combined defense expenditures of all its neighbors — Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. (This advantage is helped by the fact that Israel receives $3 billion in military assistance from Washington.)

Iron Dome shootdowns of Gaza rockets cost $25mln-$30mln - Israel

Thu Nov 22, 2012

* U.S. vows support for system Israel says fends off war 
* Hamas's long-range rocket stockpile destroyed - Barak

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Israel's Iron Dome interceptions of Palestinian rockets during eight days of Gaza fighting cost $25 million to $30 million, the government said on Thursday, arguing the U.S.-backed system was well worth the money.

"Were Iron Dome traded on the (Tel Aviv) stock exchange or Nasdaq, it would have multiplied its share value several times over," Civil Defence Minister Avi Dichter told Israel Radio in an interview where he outlined the system's outlay.

Using radar-guided interceptor missiles, Israel's five truck-towed Iron Dome batteries shot down 421 of some 1,500 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip between Nov. 14 and Wednesday's Egyptian-brokered truce, the military said.

N-dimensions of Pak politics What India should do now

by G. Parthasarathy

PAKISTAN remains the focus of international attention today, not because of any expectations of its contribution to peace, economic growth or regional cooperation, but owing to fears of its pernicious role in international terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Its propensity for international terrorism lay exposed when Osama bin Laden was found to be living comfortably with his three wives and several children and grandchildren in the heart of Abbotabad cantonment. Its readiness to even resort to nuclear terrorism was earlier exposed when nuclear scientists like Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, known to have close links with Osama bin Laden, were detained after the 9/11 terrorist strikes and charged with helping Al-Qaeda to acquire nuclear and biological weapons. Shortly thereafter, the redoubtable Dr A.Q. Khan’s role in transferring nuclear weapons designs and knowhow to Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia became public, though the Americans deliberately avoided implicating Khan’s bosses in the Pakistan Army.

While concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists remain, the focus of international attention is now on the fact that with an arsenal of already over 100 nuclear weapons, Pakistan today has the fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world. It is heading towards developing the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It is not however, any Pakistani General who has displayed the ability to explain why and how all this is happening. This responsibility has been left to Pakistan’s most savvy and hardnosed lady journalist-turned-diplomat Maleeha Lodi, well known for her close links with the Pakistan military establishment.

China’s Next Big Export: Creativity and Culture

Much has been made of the monolithic image presented by the recently named Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party: all men, hair dyed black, dark suits—a visual metaphor, it could be said, for the party’s commitment to the stifling of individualism and creativity. Indeed, critics of China contend that the country which gave the world paper, printing, gunpowder, and countless other innovations has lost its mojo under communist rule. China has no homegrown Apples or Microsofts, they say, because it is just a copycat nation. According to the naysayers, China under the Communist Party is doomed to backwater status because of an endemic culture of obedience and adherence to rules.

A Chinese national flag is reflected on a fashion poster at a shopping mall in Beijing, Nov. 13, 2012. (Vincent Yu / AP Photo)

China's aviation industry coming of age

By Carl O Schuster 

HONOLULU - China's public release of its J-31 Stealth fighter's early flights and those of its new WZ-10 attack helicopter has drawn significant commentary from defense analysts. Less well reported were China's efforts to market its first indigenous commercial jet, the C-919. 

Although the C919 drew little interest from foreign buyers, its development suggests Western airline manufacturers should
scale back their sales expectations from China's planned domestic airline expansion. It also marks an important first step in China's goal to become a major player in the global aviation market. 

Chinese competition in the long-haul market lies less about a decade away. The three newly publicized aircraft show a definite indigenous character, signaling that China no longer has to rely on reverse engineering and derivative technologies for its aviation designs. Lost in all the reporting is what this signifies; China's engineering and scientific communities have now recovered fully from the Cultural Revolution's devastation. With its growing economic and scientific resources, it may be in position to challenge Western domination of the aviation market by decade's end. 


2012-11-06 — THE Chinese Communist Party’s central committee named two generals as vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, firing the starting gun of two weeks of appointments as part of a once-a-decade leadership transition.

The committee promoted Xu Qiliang and Fan Changlong to the powerful commission that controls China’s armed forces, the official Xinhua News Agency reports. It also affirmed former politburo member Bo Xilai’s expulsion from the party.

Mr Xu and Mr Fan “are career professional soldiers”, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham in England. “Fan is an infantry man who had held important combat commands and a professional soldier. Mr Xu is a career air force officer and commander of the air force.”

China’s Communist Party, not the government, oversees the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Controlling the military — whose 670-billion yuan ($107.3bn) budget this year is exceeded only by that of the US — is seen as central to the party’s ability to maintain power. China has nuclear arms and boasts a 2.3-million-strong military.

Chairman Mao Zedong, the first leader of the People’s Republic of China, said “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. The policy is long dead but China’s emergence as a military power in the region and its increased belligerence over disputed, oil-and gas-rich islands have alarmed neighbouring states.


  The largest reshuffle of high-ranking general officers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in recent years was started before the convening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and was completed recently. A total of 21 senior general officers of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC, the four general headquarters/departments of the PLA, the seven major military area commands of the PLA as well as single service and arm, etc. will assume their new offices.

 Native Place
Former Post 
Vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC)
Fan Changlong 
 Dandong, Liaoning Province
 Commander of the Jinan Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Vice chairman of the CMC of the CPC 
Xu Qiliang 
Linqu, Shandong Province 
Commander of the Air Force of the PLA 
 Chief of general staff of the PLA
Fang Fenghui 
 Xianyang, Shaanxi Province
Commander of the Beijing MAC of the PLA 
Deputy chief of general staff of the PLA 
Wang Guanzhong 
Zhaodong, Heilongjiang Province 
Director of the General Office of the CMC 
Deputy chief of general staff of the PLA 
 Qi Jianguo
Wendeng, Shandong Province 
Assistant to chief of general staff of the PLA 
Director of the General Political Department (GPD) of the PLA 
Zhang Yang 
Wuqiang,Heibei Province
Political commissar of the Guangzhou MAC of the PLA 
Deputy director of the GPD of the PLA 
 Yin Fanglong
Yangzhong, Jiangsu Province 
Director of the Political Department of the Second Artillery Force of the PLA 
 Director of the General Logistics Department (GLD) of the PLA
Zhao Keshi 
 Gaoyang, Hebei Province
Commander of the Nanjing MAC of the PLA 
Director of the General Armaments Department (GAD) of the PLA 
Zhang Youxia 
Weinan, Shaanxi Province 
Commander of the Shenyang MAC of the PLA 
Commander of the Air Force of the PLA 
Ma Xiaotian 
Gongyi,Hennan Province
Deputy chief of general staff of the PLA 
Political commissar of the Air Force of the PLA 
Tian Xiusi 
Mengzhou, Henan Province 
Political commissar of the Chengdu MAC of the PLA 
Commander of the Second Artillery Force of the PLA 
 Wei Fenghe
Liaocheng, Shandong Province 
Deputy chief of general staff of the PLA 
Commander of the Beijing MAC of the PLA 
Zhang Shibo 
Zhuji,Zhejiang Province
Commander of the Hong Kong Garrison of the PLA 
 Commander of the Shenyang MAC of the PLA
 Wang Jiaocheng
Zhejiang Province 
Deputy commander of the Nanjing MAC of the PLA 
Commander of the Jinan MAC of the PLA 
 Zhao Zongqi
Bin County, Heilongjiang Province 
Chief of staff of the Jinan MAC of the PLA 
Commander of the Lanzhou MAC of the PLA 
 Liu Yuejun
Rongcheng, Shandong Province 
Chief of staff of the Lanzhou MAC of the PLA 
Commander of the Nanjing MAC of the PLA 
Cai Yingting 
Quanzhou, Fujian Province 
Deputy chief of general staff of the PLA 
Political commissar of the Nanjing MAC of the PLA 
 Zheng Weiping
Wanrong,Shanxi Province
Director of the Political Department of the Guangzhou MAC of the PLA 
 Political commissar of the Guangzhou MAC of the PLA
 Wei Liang
Gaochun, Jiangsu Province 
Assistant to director of the GPD of the PLA 
Political commissar of the Chengdu MAC of the PLA 
 Zhu Fuxi
Linhai,Zhejiang Province
Director of the Political Department of the Air Force of the PLA 
 Commander of the Hong Kong Garrison of the PLA
Wang Xiaojun 
Guantao,Heibei Province 
Deputy commander of the Shenyang MAC of the PLA 


Dated 22-Nov-2012

By Bhaskar Roy

The 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) mapped out the skeletal structure of China’s foreign policy. Outgoing CCP General secretary Hu Jintao in his political report (Nov.08) to the Congress expressed willingness to cooperate, but was also emphatic that not an inch will be given to outside pressures where China’s sovereignty, security and development interests were involved.

As the official China Daily (Nov. 09) put it, Hu signaled the foreign policy for next five years when Beijing’s influence on international affairs brings not only greater responsibility, but also frictions with neighbours and some developed economies due to their unease with China’s rise and competition.

Unlike India, which won its independence through peaceful civil movement, the People’s Republic of China came to being through armed revolution. In the initial two decades at least generals and Marshalls who fought the war held civilian posts. In the 1980s Deng Xiaoping tried to mould the people’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a professional army. But after Deng, the effort gradually slid back under Jiang Zemin and his successor Hu Jintao. Neither had any military experience, but required PLA support politically. That support had to be bought. It was under Hu Jintao’s leadership that the PLA gained most in power in contemporary China. There was rise in adventurism among PLA ideologues. Assertiveness grew from 2008 but in particular from 2010.

Congo army fights back, rebels hold Goma

By Jonny Hogg and Richard Lough 

SAKE/GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo | Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:24pm EST 

(Reuters) - Congolese troops fought back on Thursday against rebels who rejected calls from African leaders to quit the eastern city of Goma, captured earlier this week in a major upset that forced U.N. troops to withdraw. 

Thousands of people fled the area of clashes around the town of Sake, as M23 rebel fighters rushed from Goma to reinforce their positions against an army counter-offensive.

Both sides claimed control of Sake as night fell on the troubled eastern area. There was no independent verification of who was holding the town.

The M23 rebel movement, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, has vowed to "liberate" all of the vast, resource-rich country after taking Goma, a provincial capital on the Rwandan border, ramping up tensions in a fragile region.

With Congo struggling to regroup its fractured army, President Joseph Kabila suspended the head of ground forces following allegations leveled by a United Nations panel of experts that he sold weapons to other armed groups in the east.

US pivot bumps Asian economic reality

By Peter Lee 

President Barack Obama's first post - election mission is a trip to Southeast Asia - Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia - to affirm his signature diplomatic and strategic initiative, the pivot to Asia. 

Despite concerted hosannas in the Western press, President Obama's trip was overshadowed - perhaps intentionally - by Israel pitching Gaza back into the meat grinder and drawing attention back to the Middle East, a region that the Obama administration is nakedly and desperately eager to abandon. 

In Asia, Obama will find a different set of problems, ones that have a lot to do with the United States attempts to assert a leading role in the region by leveraging its military presence - despite the fact
that the region is remarkably peaceful, especially compared to that previous beneficiary of heightened US military attention, the Middle East - and arguing for the centrality of its role as regional economic hegemon - despite the fact the only contribution that the United States has made to the Asian economy in the last five years was a negative one, as it drove the global financial system off a cliff in 2007 - 2008. 

Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus, and the Mentoring Scam

by Michael Moynihan Nov 19, 2012

Reports often refer to Paula Broadwell as a mentee of David Petraeus. But why does an accomplished woman need a mentor? And what does mentoring mean these days anyway? 

Of the compounding mysteries of the Gen. David Petraeus affair (Why was the president informed of the investigation so late? How do people in Tampa become honorary consuls of the South Korean government?), the most confounding question also is perhaps the most overlooked. Pundits and reporters habitually declare that Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’s biographer and sometime paramour, was not only bedding her hero but being “mentored” by him. What is not often asked, though, is why a hugely accomplished woman—with a credulous husband and two kids—needed a mentor in the first place. 

Paula Broadwell holds a drink in the kitchen of her brother’s house in Washington on Tuesday. 

Those of us guiltily following the sordid twists and ribald turns of this story are aware of Broadwell’s mantel full of trophies. She was high-school homecoming queen, attended West Point, competes in triathlons, received a master’s degree from the University of Denver, and worked toward a second one from Harvard. Well, yes, she was asked to leave Harvard’s doctoral program (resuming her studies at King’s College in London), but how many people do you know clever enough to be kicked out of America’s most prestigious university? And according to a report in Politico, Broadwall even considered running for Senate in North Carolina, an idea that Petraeus apparently mentored her out of. 

A Phony Hero for a Phony War

FASTIDIOUSNESS is never a good sign in a general officer. Though strutting military peacocks go back to Alexander’s time, our first was MacArthur, who seemed at times to care more about how much gold braid decorated the brim of his cap than he did about how many bodies he left on beachheads across the Pacific. Next came Westmoreland, with his starched fatigues in Vietnam. In our time, Gen. David H. Petraeus has set the bar high. Never has so much beribboned finery decorated a general’s uniform since Al Haig passed through the sally ports of West Point on his way to the White House.

“What’s wrong with a general looking good?” you may wonder. I would propose that every moment a general spends on his uniform jacket is a moment he’s not doing his job, which is supposed to be leading soldiers in combat and winning wars — something we, and our generals, stopped doing about the time that MacArthur gold-braided his way around the stalemated Korean War.

And now comes “Dave” Petraeus, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. No matter how good he looked in his biographer-mistress’s book, it doesn’t make up for the fact that we failed to conquer the countries we invaded, and ended up occupying undefeated nations.



I was fortunate to attend a Center for New American Security event last night in Washington DC featuring a speech by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. I sat next to cyber law expert Randy Sabett. We were both interested to see what Mr. Panetta had to say about cyber security.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at CNAS

Having written extensively on Cyber War, both with the policy types from CNAS (see Separating the Threat from the Hype: What Washington Needs to Know About Cyber Security) and more recently in my own monthly column [In]security (see Proactive defense prudent alternative to cyberwarfare), I was looking for any discussion of cyber defense, especially the security engineering variety.

Alas, there are more important things going on in the world it seems. Mr.Panetta delivered a thoroughly engaging talk centered mostly on counter-terrorism. Cyber security came up three times (once in reference to a poorly-formed supply chain question from the audience). He put much more emphasis in his remarks on the importance of fiscal responsibility and the ridiculous political situation we find ourselves in with sequestration and the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Congress needs to get its act together immediately. Its inability to execute is causing national security problems. Tyranny of the majority anyone?


The Untold Story Of Group Captain Karori Lal Bhatia, VrC

Col N N Bhatia (Retd)

In this article, the author, Col Bhatia tells the family background and story of Gp Capt Karori Lal Bhatia, who led No.12 Squadron during the 1947-48 War.

Group Captain Karori Lal Bhatia, seen in this photograph taken just after 1947.

The Bhatia Clan and Karori's Younger days.

According to “The Annals and Antiquities of Rajputana” (1890- Volumes I & II) by Lt Col James Todd, the ancestors of the “Bhattiah” or “Bhatia” were one of the equestrian orders of the Bhatti or Bhati ruling Rajput clan from the erstwhile princely state of Jaisalmer in Rajputana, who to ward off atrocities of the Muslim warlords, migrated towards North, Western Indian Peninsula and Sindh, diversifying their profession to commerce that brought them immense wealth and prosperity.

Our family ancestors had migrated to Sargodha -Sialkot belt where due to their sheer hard work; they became progressive, prosperous land cultivators, professionals and businessmen. Bhatia’s by and large were enlightened and educated, having a progressive attitude, especially in giving equal opportunities to both male and female children in acquiring education. My maternal grandmother, Bharavan Wali were two sisters. The other sister was named Veeran Wali. Their names literally meant ‘one having many brothers’. Their parents in desperation to have a male child had named them as such, but alas they did not have a brother! Bharavan Wali at the age of 13 was married to educated English speaking young man called Kanshi Ram.

Indian twist to the military salute

Nov 15, 2012 

India’s political leaders must be stopped from making a mockery of the military salute. That thought occurred to me as I watched the solemn grandeur of Sunday’s Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. It brought home to me again how much of republican India’s ritual is inherited from the British and what a tremendous hash we often make of it.

Take the Cenotaph itself. It’s the architectural original of India Gate in Delhi and the war memorial in Kolkata’s Maidan. India Gate is fine with its eternal flame, but some ignorant PWD engineer’s imagination has been allowed to run riot in Kolkata. At one time, the authorities used to complain that the rifles were constantly being stolen from the two statues of soldiers standing guard. The metal was valuable and the thefts continued until cement rifles were installed.

But is that any reason for painting the Cenotaph a hideous yellow and outlining the brickwork in dark brown? The monument was built to a standard design throughout what was then the British Empire. It was plain and dignified for it was a memorial to idealism and human sacrifice. By imposing our own horrible aesthetics on it we might give the structure a desi look but that won’t change its origin and inspiration.

A taste of disgrace

Nov 21, 2012 

Before General V.K. Singh, no serving Army Chief ever went to court. In the past orders were accepted with a stiff upper lip.

Our three-centuries-old Army has a magnificent record of gallantry and discipline. In the two World Wars, its performance in battles fought on three continents earned much international acclaim. 

Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, in his farewell address on March 21, 1947, said, “I believe that the stability of the Indian Army may perhaps be the deciding factor in the future of India.” Events in the wake of Independence and after vindicated this.

There were three instances of major generals involved in corruption and unbecoming behaviour soon after 1947. One was involved in misuse and misappropriation of funds, the second was accused of drunken behaviour in public and the third of immoral conduct. General Cariappa sent for them and asked them to resign or face a court martial. All three resigned. These cases were sorted in-house, without publicity. However, unlike today, such cases were very few.

Beware! A nuclear storm is brewing

Nov 22, 2012 

The Indian government rarely heeds warnings, does not prepare for the worst and when the storm hits, flaps about helplessly and reaches for straws to save itself. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Bill Clinton administration came to power in the US with nuclear non-proliferation on its mind and a one-point agenda of arm-twisting India to sign the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Prime Minister Narasimha Rao parried Washington’s non-proliferation thrusts the best he could and even ordered preparations for nuclear testing. He displayed a better grasp of the evolving strategic situation than the leading members of the strategic community, led by the late K. Subrahmanyam and his acolytes from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Subrahmanyam and the IDSA group belonging to school of minimum to non-existent deterrence instead of supporting the government’s inclination to resist, advised signing the CTBT. Recall that episode? We may be heading into an even bigger non-proliferation storm that is brewing in Washington and the government, once again, seems blissfully unaware of it.

A re-elected US President Barack Obama will now push his disarmament initiative unveiled at the 2010 Prague summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which upended the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan doggedly promoted by the Congress Party. The progress on this front is likely to be measured in terms of whether India can be lassoed into the discredited 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) stable. Pressure could begin to build up on New Delhi innocuously enough with talks as follow-up to the nuclear summits that followed the Prague summit in Washington (2010) and Seoul (2012), which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended.

US-China-India: A critical strategic triangle

Posted:Nov 11, 2012 

By C Uday Bhaskar

Two major national elections – that in the USA and China - have been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks and their outcome have a very abiding relevance for India and the region.

For India, both the US and China remain critical interlocutors and as per macro economic projections, these three countries will form a distinctive strategic triangle of the largest single state economies by about 2030– which is the equivalent of the near future. Currently the GDP of these three nations is as follows; US –under US $17 trillion; China – below $7 trn; and India below $2 trn. A Goldman Sachs estimate projects that by 2030, the line-up would be as follows: China – $25.6 trn; USA – $22.8 trn; and India – $6.68 trn.

However in end 2012, the domestic mood in these three countries is one of considerable apprehension about the future. Grave economic, fiscal and governance challenges confront the leadership in Washington DC, Beijing and Delhi with the attendant socio-political discontent that augurs ill for the next election.

Equitable and inclusive socio-economic growth has eluded all these three societies and this has been aggravated by the global economic slowdown which is still taking it toll in the relatively insulated European Union. For the USA, the immediate priority is to deal with a looming ‘fiscal-cliff’ which will come into effect on January 1, 2013. Unless some radical legislative consensus is arrived at, current US law mandates that hefty tax increases and certain spending cuts will become mandatory to progressively reduce the huge budget deficit.

Consigned to the dustbin of history

Author: Claude Arpi

The ‘unacknowledged' brave men of the Tibetan Army’s Special Frontier Forces fought well in wars which were not theirs. They remain ready to defend India. The least one can do is remember them next November 14

For most Indians, November 14 means the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru. It is not my purpose to comment here on the first Prime Minister of India, I just would like to mention another anniversary, an ‘uncelebrated’ one, occurring on the same day.

The second one has for long been kept secret: I am speaking of the creation of the Special Frontier Forces, the Tibetan Army (also known as the two-twos) which was founded a week before China’s unilateral cease-fire in the 1962 conflict. There is little doubt that the two events (Nehru’s birthday and the SSF’s creation) are linked, as sycophancy prevailed in India during those days.

Why was the formation of the Tibetan Army initiated on October 14? BN Mullik, the then Director of the Intelligence Bureau (and one of the main culprits of the 1962 fiasco) probably wanted to please Nehru on his birthday by telling him that he ‘had found a solution’ to China’s military superiority. The Tibetans would themselves ‘liberate’ Tibet!

The Threat of Jihadi Terrorism Continues

Paper No. 5304 Dated 22-Nov-2012 

By B. Raman 

(Written at the request of the Editor, Economic Times) 

1. Public satisfaction over the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), in a Pune jail on the morning of November 21,2012, should not make us forget that no action has been taken so far by the State of Pakistan against the master-minds of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. 

2. Seven of them have supposedly been arrested and are being tried before a special court in Rawalpindi, but their trial is being frequently adjourned. No action has been taken by the Pakistani State against the LET, the terrorist organisation associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, which planned and carried out the terrorist strikes. 

3. Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET and its political wing called the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who was the principal conspirator of the terrorist strikes in Mumbai, is still a free man and his anti-India terrorist infrastructure remains unimpaired. The officers of the ISI, who played a role in helping the LET in the planning and execution of the terrorist strikes, have escaped any consequences of their involvement. 

A Potential Cease-Fire and the New Regional Dynamic

November 20, 2012


The proliferation of players in the current Israeli-Hamas cease-fire negotiations highlight the major shift in the regional strategic environment since the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calling into question the sustainability of any potential truce. 


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Israel overnight Nov. 20 and rumors are rapidly spreading of an imminent cease-fire agreement. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has also confidently claimed Nov. 20 that "the war will end today," but statements out of Israel have been far more reserved. The Times of Israel, citing Egyptian intelligence officials, reported that Israel has rejected the cease-fire draft and that there will no news conference announcing a cease-fire tonight. 

The core dilemma remains: If Hamas or any other Palestinian entity can threaten Israel's major population centers with long-range Fajr-5 rockets, what guarantees can Egypt or another third party make to neutralize that supply and prevent further shipments? The fact that another Fajr-5 rocket was fired at Jerusalem on Nov. 20 while thousands of Israeli troops remain forward-deployed in preparation for a ground invasion adds urgency to this question. 

How Israeli Drone Pilots Made Their Life-and-Death Choices Over Gaza


A Heron drone at the Palmahim air base in Israel in December of 2011. Photo: AP/Dan Balilty 

The latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas has settled into an uneasy ceasefire. But that won’t stop Israel’s drones from filling the skies over Gaza. In this 2009 story, written during the final days of the last Israel-Hamas conflict, we took a look at how one drone pilot grappled with the moral choices that came with remotely spying, and ordering death, from above. 

JERUSALEM — The man was a few seconds from an all-but-certain death, when Gil told everyone to call off the airstrike. 

Trouble on the Home Front

The Petraeuses aren’t the military family we should be worried about. 


Are my fellow military wives and I shocked and outraged by General Petraeus' adultery? Frankly, after 11 years of war, military families around bases and posts throughout the world are too tired for shock, too experienced for outrage over this unhappy episode. I've heard a range of reactions, from sad recognition, to compassion, to the knowing response that no one can look inside another person's marriage. This story does, almost universally, make us reflect on the strains our families have been through over the past 11 years, and the fact that in many ways, the strains are about to get worse.