26 March 2013

BRICS and mortar for India’s global role


APDEVELOPMENT PARTNERS: The grouping’s members can not only learn from each other’s development experiences and understand views on subjects like climate change but also define new rules for health care, education and Intellectual Property Rights.

New Delhi finally has a platform to assert its might and rewrite the rules of global, political and economic governance

India is at a unique geopolitical moment. On the one hand its neighbourhood and the larger Asian continent are being unpredictably redefined. The United States has declared, if somewhat ambiguously, its reorientation or “pivot” towards Asia, recognising the region’s economic force moving forward, or perhaps merely countering enhanced Chinese power. India and China are charting new geographies of contests, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. The “Arab Spring” has exposed the fundamental inadequacies in Middle Eastern and North African governing structures but has also given rise to an uncertain political future in an important energy-producing region. Last, but certainly not least, China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region has led to increased, if sometimes seemingly unnecessary, conflict with neighbours in Southeast Asia and Japan.

On the other hand, the world is seeing a once-in-a-century churn. The global board of directors that sit on the high table and define rules for conduct of political and economic governance are now unrecognisable from the lot just after World War II. India must seize the moment to shape these revisions of rules devised by the Atlantic countries and defend its growth and development interests in areas such as trade, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), space, climate, and energy policy, among others.

Regional order and global governance are both in flux and demanding India’s attention. This is not unique by itself. What is different this time around is that India has the capacity, increased capabilities and enhanced level of demonstrated intent to engage with this dual external relations challenge. In order to attain the global power status it desires, India must walk and chew gum at the same time. It must tend to its immediate and extended Asian neighbourhood while also engaging with the task of shaping a new rules-based political and economic order. BRICS represents a uniquely appropriate platform and flexible mechanism with which India can address this dual imperative.

India readies hi-tech naval base to keep eye on China

Rajat Pandit, TNN | Mar 26, 2013

India's first nuclear powered submarine INS Chakra emerges out of the Bay of Bengal in Visakhapatnam. After inducting INS Chakra submarine on a 10-year lease from Russia last year, India is now negotiating the lease of another such nuclear-powered Akula-II class submarine.

NEW DELHI: Slowly but steadily, India's new futuristic naval base is beginning to take concrete shape on the eastern seaboard. The strategic base, with an eye firmly on China, will eventually even have underground pens or bunkers to protect nuclear submarines both from spy satellites and enemy air attacks.

Sources said a flurry of discussions and meetings have been held in the PMO and defence ministry over the last couple of months to firm up "expansion plans'' for a base located near Rambilli called "Project Varsha" on the Andhra coast — just about 50 km from the Eastern Naval Command headquarters at Visakhapatnam — over the coming decade. 

Though it's still very early days for Project Varsha, some bill it as an answer to China's massive underground nuclear submarine base at Yalong on the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, which houses its new Shang-class SSNs(nuclear-powered attack submarines) and the Jin-class SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear missiles). 

Although land acquisitions and incremental development work on the base under the secretive project kicked off a few years ago, it is set to take off in a major way with the construction of tunnels, jetties, depots, workshops and accommodation. "Further land acquisitions for the sprawling base to be spread over 20 sq km are now underway, with long-term budget allocations also being planned,'' said a source. 

The endeavour dovetails into the overall policy to bolster force-levels on the eastern seaboard, with new warships, aircraft and spy drones as well as forward-operating (FOBs) and operational turnaround (OTR) bases, to counter China's expanding footprint in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

An Enveloping Blindness

India’s capacity for self-deception is extreme, and this constitutes the gravest threat to national security.

It is true that our enemies have weakened— some temporarily, some more permanently; but it would be wrong to believe that we have become significantly stronger.

For the first time since 1994, the year 2012 registered a total number of terrorism and insurgency linked fatalities across India in the three digits— at 804, as against 1,073 in 2011 and a peak of 5,839 in 2001. The trend of sustained decline in such fatalities has been near-unbroken since 2001 (with a marginal reversal in 2008), giving tremendous relief to theatres of persistent violence. The most prominent among these is Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which has been wracked by a Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist movement since 1988, with a resultant total of 43,439 fatalities (till March 10, 2013). J&K recorded 117 fatalities in 2012, down from 183 in 2011; and a peak of 4,507 in 2001.

Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist attacks outside J&K also registered a remarkable drop, with just one incident— a low intensity blast in Pune (Maharashtra) on August 1, with no fatalities— recorded through 2012. Forty two such fatalities had occurred in four incidents in 2011, and a recent peak of 364 killed in seven incidents in 2008.

No incident of suspected Hindutva terrorism has occurred since 2008, though two extremists were arrested in 2012 on charges of involvement in earlier incidents— the 2006 Malegaon bombing which left 40 dead.

The Maoist insurgency, which had surged after the unification of the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in September 2004, and had come to be regarded as the country’s ‘gravest internal security threat’, has also witnessed a dramatic decline in violence and fatalities. From a peak of 1,080 fatalities recorded in 2010, there was a near-halving, to 602 in 2011, and a further and substantial drop to 367 in 2012.

Bucking these trends, however, India’s troubled Northeast saw fatalities rising to 317 in 2012, from 246 in 2011. While this is natural cause for concern, it is useful to recall that the region recorded 1,051 fatalities in 2008, and has seen a continuous decline in insurgency-related killings since. The recent reversal in this trend is substantially the result of an escalation in fratricidal killings between various insurgent formations, particularly in Nagaland and Manipur . Of the 61 fatalities recorded in Nagaland, 55 were of insurgent cadres of various formations, all killed in internecine violence. The remaining six killed were civilians. No Security Force (SF) fatalities have been recorded in Nagaland since 2008. In Manipur, 74 of 111 fatalities in 2012 are of insurgent cadres, of which 25 were killed in fratricidal conflicts, and the remaining 49 by SFs. Twelve SF personnel and 25 civilians also lost their lives. Meghalaya also saw a surge in militant activities, with 48 killed in 2012— including 19 insurgents, 27 civilians and two SF personnel— up from 29 killed in 2011, including eight insurgents, 11 civilians and 10 SF personnel.

Nevertheless, the broadly declining trends in a preponderance of the theatres of chronic violence in India have brought succour to many, and encouraged others to believe that the worst is over, and that the state, finally, has got its act together. Clearly, if all the insurgencies in the country— including those that have long enjoyed external state support— are now crashing into (apparently) imminent oblivion, the Government must have done something right.

Five thoughts on China

Sanjaya Baru
Mon Mar 25 2013

Together, leaders of India and China can craft a Panchsheel for a new time

There is something about the number five in India-China relations. As free powers, the two Asian giants defined their relationship in terms of the famous Panchsheel — mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and, peaceful co-existence. China's new leaders have enunciated a Panchsheel for our times.

China's President Xi Jinping listed a "five point proposal" for guiding India-China relations. These are: maintain strategic communication and keep bilateral relations on the right track; harness each other's comparative strength and expand win-win cooperation in infrastructure, mutual investment and other areas; strengthen cultural ties and increase mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples; expand coordination and collaboration in multilateral affairs to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and tackle global challenges; accommodate each other's core concerns and properly handle problems and differences existing between the two countries.

India would be happy to be on board with each of these five points. The fifth point is the only tricky one. It leaves undefined what China's "core concerns" are. Traditionally, Tibet and Taiwan were China's "core interests", but more recently, Chinese spokespersons have referred to their claims on the South China Sea as a "core interest". This has already opened a Pandora's box for China, setting the cat among the South-east Asian pigeons and facilitating America's rediscovery of Asia. India, like many other countries that have economic interests in the Pacific, would like freedom of navigation through these seas.

India would, understandably, want to know what exactly China has in mind when it talks of core interests today. For its part, China too must be mindful of India's "core interests", especially because it has grievously hurt at least one Indian core interest by enabling the nuclear weaponisation of Pakistan.

Clearly, the last of the five points raised by Xi requires further elaboration and consideration. Indian anxieties on this score have been enhanced by China's investment in strategic assets like the Gwadar Port in Pakistan. While China cannot be blamed, perhaps not even implicated, in the rising trend of India's South Asian neighbours trying to play the so-called "China card", India cannot remain oblivious to this trend. It would, at some point, impact on India's core interests.

Having entered that caveat, India should welcome these five principles for they take cognisance of the new and growing economic relationship between the two and their cooperation at the global level. This in itself would be a good starting point for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's conversation with Xi this week in Durban, South Africa.

Over the past nine years, Prime Minister Singh has enunciated his own five principles about India-China relations, though he has never packaged them together into one general statement, as Xi has done. What are the PM's five principles in dealing with China?

The first principle he enunciated on India-China relations related to the border issue and was stated by him at his very first meeting with his counterpart, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in Vientiane in November 2004. Singh told Wen that India was willing to show accommodation on the border question, "but an accommodation that must take into account ground realities."

Solving Tajikistan’s Energy Crisis

MARCH 25, 2013


The Tajik president should rethink his commitment to building the controversial Rogun Dam and explore other ways to revamp the country’s energy sector.

In early November 2012, the government of Tajikistan announcedthat its national budget for 2013 would include 1.2 billion Tajik somoni (over $251 million) for the construction of the controversial Rogun Dam on the Vakhsh River. Construction of the dam and accompanying hydroelectric plant has been aggressively pursued for years by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon as a fix for the country’s persistent energy crisis.

But Rahmon faces a range of economic and political obstacles, including vociferous objections from Tajikistan’s downstream neighbor, Uzbekistan. Now, the World Bank has become involved in the dispute, agreeing to sponsor two impact assessments examining different aspects of the Rogun project. While the reports appear poised to at least partially endorse the dam’s viability, Rahmon should reevaluate his commitment to Rogun’s construction and remain open to compromises and alternative solutions for revamping Tajikistan’s energy sector.


Designs for Rogun date back to the 1960s, when Soviet planners proposed three massive hydroelectric projects on the Vakhsh River, a major tributary to the Amu Darya, in what is now Tajikistan. The three projects—Nurek, Sangtuda, and Rogun—were intended to help expand irrigable lands downstream along the Amu Darya in the Uzbek and Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republics while providing electricity for industrial development in the Tajik Republic itself. In warmer seasons, when ice melt increased river flows, hydroelectricity was fed into a shared electrical grid. In the winter, when reservoirs were allowed to refill, the downstream republics would provide the Tajik Republic with fossil-fuel-generated energy. Of the three projects, only Nurek was operational before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The technically exploitable potential for hydropower in Tajikistan today—assuming the exploitation of all natural water flows within the limits of modern technology—is estimated at 263.5 billion terawatt hours per year, the tenth highest in the world. The original design for Rogun, and the one that Rahmon is pursuing today, envisioned a dam 335 meters high (the world’s largest) with an installed hydroelectric capacity of 3,600 megawatts per year. Nurek, slightly downstream from Rogun, is currently the world’s tallest dam, with a height of 300 meters and an annual capacity of 2,700 megawatts. The first of Sangtuda’s two hydroelectric stations came online in 2008, and the second followed in September 2011, adding a combined capacity of 890 megawatts.

But these projects have not solved Tajikistan’s issues with energy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, both upstream and downstream states felt the consequences of Central Asia’s energy interdependencies. Tajikistan faced an energy crisis that quickly worsened with the 2009 collapse of the Central Asian electricity grid, when Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan withdrew from the system amid complaints of Tajikistan illegally overdrawing energy. The cost of Tajikistan’s gas imports from Uzbekistan has been steadily rising in recent years, and domestic electricity tariffs have not kept pace. The resulting import limitations have made winter shortages commonplace. The website Barknest.tj, which releases a daily summary of electricity supply for Tajikistan by region, reveals that rural Tajik consumers were receiving an average of five to seven hours of electricity a day as of late December 2012. Residents of Dushanbe and district capitals are exempt from these shutoffs, though in previous years even the Tajik capital has experienced temporary restrictions in electricity supply.

For Uzbekistan, the legacy of the Soviet system has caused concern over the continuation of water flow from its upstream neighbors. Uzbekistan’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and over 90 percent of its fresh water is currently consumed for irrigation purposes. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has repeatedly stressed that Rogun will strangle his country’s agricultural sector, claiming that the time needed to initially fill its reservoir alone would deprive Uzbekistan of water for eight years.

Economic Survey of China 2013

China’s economy expanded rapidly in recent years despite a dire international context, though it slowed in 2011-12. Rebalancing has made headway: externally, the current account surplus has fallen sharply, from over 10% of GDP in 2007 to under 3%; domestically, growth has lately been pulled more by consumption than by investment. With the slowdown, inflation has been brought under control. More recently, activity has regained momentum, helped by policy easing and a pick-up in infrastructure spending, but the global economic context remains fragile. If needed, there is room for further cautious monetary and fiscal stimulus. In a longer-run perspective, China has now overtaken the euro area and is on course to become the world’s largest economy around 2016, after allowing for price differences. Living standards will continue to improve fast provided reforms are implemented.

Financial sector reform. Gradually, market-based financial instruments and interest rates are playing a greater role, the renminbi is being used more across borders and the restrictions on capital inflows and outflows are being eased. Continued progress in this direction will support growth.

Competition and innovation. Competition is generally intensifying, boosting productivity, but state ownership needs to be reduced in some sectors, reform needs to be started in others, and the state should pull out of non-core sectors. Publicly-funded R&D should focus more on fundamental research. The intellectual property rights of innovators, domestic and foreign, should be strengthened further.

Inclusive urbanisation. Close to a quarter of the population now lives in cities where income per capita is as high as in some OECD countries. Migration from the countryside to cities, and out of agriculture into higher-productivity industry and services, will continue to fuel growth but also brings many challenges. In particular, sufficient land must be made available for the expansion of larger and more productive cities and to meet the demand for more living space. This will help avoid renewed overheating in the real estate sector and improve wellbeing. Farmers need to be given the same property rights as urban dwellers and allowed to develop, or sell for development, the land for which they have user rights. Internal migrants need to be given the same access to public services as registered urban residents. This is notably the case for education, all the way from primary school to university, and for health care.

Xi unmoved by Tibetan self-immolation

By Saransh Sehgal 

VIENNA - As Xi Jinping took official charge of China last week, the deadly toll from self-immolation as a protest against Beijing's hardline policies in Tibet reached 108. 

Desperation is mounting among followers in China of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, while Beijing's bullying attitude towards them is intensifying. Despite pressure from world governments, the new Chinese leadership appears to trail the old party lines of economic development in Tibet rather than concern itself with the gravity of the human rights issue in the Chinese-ruled region. 

The series of gruesome burnings began in February 2009, taking place mostly in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in protest against the government policies on controlling religious freedom and activities of Tibetans. A 28-year-old monk, Lobsang Thokmey, set himself on fire inside his room in Kirti monastery in Aba County (Eastern Tibet) on March 16, becoming the 108th person to die in self-immolation in the past three years. He was carrying a Tibetan Buddhist prayer flag as he ran toward the monastery entrance, where he collapsed before being rushed to hospital, where he died, the US-backed broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. 

Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a Geneva-based representative of the Dalai Lama for Central Europe said by phone: ''These self-immolations by Tibetans inside Tibet are their efforts to gain international attention over the issue of Tibet that would pressure the Chinese leadership to express their grief and the return of the His Holiness Dalai Lama. The Tibetan parliament and European Union both have expressed serious concerns over the issue and encouraged China to resolve the Tibet issue.'' 

''China is saying that everyone is happy inside Tibet, but on the other side shows no international behavior. We request fact findings mission to have access on the ground situation to which China denies,'' he added. 

The state-run Global Times newspaper reported last week that Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee received a three-meter-long letter from 108 Tibetan lamas. Xi responded by saying, ''Tibet should find an effective way to maintain long-term stability and realize fast growth so the region can become a society of moderate prosperity along with the rest of the country by 2020.'' 

The China-appointed Panchen Lama was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, China's top political advisory body. The Panchen Lama is controversial religious figure in as much as exiled Tibetans believe Beijing uses him as a puppet in its strategy to maintain its dominance over Tibet. 

The Chinese government says that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have greatly benefited from economic progress in the region. It has rubbished any report of turmoil inside Tibet, blaming the Dalai Lama for such acts that it says are pushing a separatist agenda. The exiled leader says he is seeking greater autonomy rather than Tibetan independence. Foreign media have also been under constant attack from Beijing for portraying a negative image of the Himalayan plateau. 

Beijing's reaction typically is to criticize statements by the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibet groups who support an independent Tibet. ''The Dalai clique cannot shrug off its responsibilities in those cases. Tens of people went onto the road of no return. Someone must bear the responsibility,'' said Qiangba Puncog, Deputy Party chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as reported in the Chinese state media. 

Authorities in Beijing have even claimed the arrests of a few Tibetan men in connection with the self-immolation, which they say are acts to incite trouble and are a response to the orders of overseas Tibetans groups. However, Beijing has failed to produce any solid evidence proving the Dalai Lama or exiled Tibet groups as the driving forces behind self-immolations. 

Kate Saunders, spokesperson for the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) told Asia Times Online that ''Xi Jinping power grab has come at the time of emergency in Tibet, the Beijing leadership's intransigence on Tibet is evident in the much more aggressive and formal approach to the self-immolations that has been adopted in recent weeks. These reprisals create a vicious circle which risks more self-immolations due to the unbearable nature of the oppression."" 


 March 25, 2013: 

A group of Chinese hackers recently tracked back to the same area where many Chinese Cyber War organizations are based, have apparently been ordered to improve their stealth skills. In the hacking community being able to get in, grab what you came for (or found and decided was worth taking) and leave undetected is the way it’s supposed to be done. Many hackers can get in, but because of sloppiness, haste or a lack of skill they are detected. Even if the intruders got what they came for, being detected, tracked and identified is potentially disastrous. Hackers who are not based in a country that refuses to extradite Internet criminals can be found, arrested and punished. Courts no longer consider hacking a minor offense and those caught are being sent away for longer and longer periods of imprisonment. China is particularly severe at what it considers illegal hacking (as in plundering Chinese companies) and those caught are sometimes executed.

The growing pile of evidence against China-based hackers is proving embarrassing for China, which tends to dismiss such accusations. That attitude has made the victims even angrier and there are more threats of retaliation. So the recently revealed Chinese hackers have gone dark, as in they have changed the now well-known IP addresses and servers they normally use. China believes that the way Cyber War currently works, as long as no one is getting killed (at least not openly) there is not much risk of conventional (bombs, blockades, or whatever) retaliation. Yet their growing number of victims in the West are becoming extremely agitated, so China has apparently ordered their hackers to maintain a lower profile, or else.

Identifying specific hackers, or teams of hackers, is not all that difficult if you can detect their presence. Just examine the type of attacks along with the tools and techniques used, the specific information being sought and much more. Internet security companies and government intelligence agencies collect information on these “hacker profiles” are able to quickly match patterns of behavior to identify groups, or even individuals.

China has been hacking away at U.S. targets for over a decade now and shows no signs of slowing down, despite growing U.S. efforts to erect better defenses. In addition to recent attacks on American media companies, China has also launched well organized and very deliberate attacks on American defense companies and specific Department of Defense computer networks. Even when caught in the act, the hackers often got away with a lot of valuable material.

When the U.S. Navy War College got hit seven years ago they had to shut down their computer network so that servers could be scrutinized to see what was taken, changed, or left behind. Why attack the Navy War College? Mainly because that's where the navy does a lot of its’ planning for future wars. The strategy for the Pacific war during World War II was worked out at the Navy War College, and that planning tradition continues. Plus, the Chinese may have also found the War College networks to be more vulnerable. Another well-organized and executed attack was made on the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) systems. BIS is a section of the Commerce Department that has been fighting Chinese efforts to illegally obtain U.S. military technology and American trade secrets in general. Some BIS computers were so thoroughly infiltrated that their hard drives had to be wiped clean and reloaded as if they were new machines. It’s not just the United States that is being hit.

The Chinese hackers have had similar spectacular success in Europe. Despite spending over a billion dollars a year defending their government networks, Britain complained openly of hackers getting into the communications network of the Foreign Office. The government also warned of increasing attacks on British companies. These attacks on government and corporate networks were all targeting specific people and data. While China was not mentioned in these official announcements, British officials have often discussed how investigations of recent hacking efforts tended to lead back to China. There is also a strong suspicion, backed up by hacker chatter, that some governments were offering large bounties for information stolen from other governments. Not information from China but from everyone else.

China manages to muster all this hacker talent by vigorously recruiting patriotic Chinese Internet experts to hack for the motherland. China is one of many nations taking advantage of the Internet to encourage, or even organize, patriotic Internet users to provide hacking services for the government. This enables these thousands of hackers be directed (unofficially) to attack targets (foreign or domestic). These government organizations arrange training and mentoring to improve the skills of group members. China has helped identify and train over a million potential ace hackers so far. Most turn out to be minor league at best, but the few hundred hotshots identified are put to work plundering foreign networks.

While many of these Cyber Warriors are rank amateurs, even the least skilled can be given simple tasks. And out of their ranks emerge more skilled hackers, who can do some real damage. These hacker militias have also led to the use of mercenary hacker groups, who will go looking for specific secrets, for a price. Chinese companies are apparently major users of such services, judging from the pattern of recent hacking activity, and the fact that Chinese firms don't have to fear prosecution for using such methods.

System of Systems Operational Capability: Operational Units and Elements

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 6
March 15, 2013
Editor’s Note: This article as well as a subsequent article on the impact of System of Systems of Operations on Chinese military modernization are based upon Mr. McCauley’s presentation at Jamestown’s Third Annual China Defense and Security Conference held on February 28, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The successful development and implementation of Integrated Joint Operations (IJO) and the supporting “System of Systems Operations” probably will have a significant impact on future People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warfighting capabilities. Ongoing education and training reforms, organizational restructuring and equipment modernization efforts are interrelated and will have an important role in the success or failure of PLA transformational efforts.

The PLA has developed a series of terms that are essential to following discussions and understanding the complex theoretical foundation for system of systems operational capability (tixi zuozhan nengli). This article examines two of the terms in greater depth: “operational unit” (zuozhan danyuan) and “operational elements” (zuozhan yaosu), to gain a deeper understanding of system of systems operations (“System of Systems Operational Capability: Key Supporting Concepts for Future Joint Operations,” China Brief October 5, 2012). Operational unit is important for understanding the concept of modular force groupings, while operational elements are the warfighting capabilities that are fused by system of systems operations in order to generate a greater combat effectiveness.

Until recently, some PLA academics and operational analysts disagreed on the definitions associated with system of systems operational capability. Last year, however, the Academy of Military Science (AMS) and National Defense University (NDU) appear to have settled on official definitions for the various terms through NDU’s publication of Information-Based System of Systems Operations Study andAMS’s Military Terms [1].

It must be emphasized that both system of systems operations and IJO still are mostly theoretical and being experimented with and tested in exercises. They represent the operational capabilities the PLA hopes to achieve at some point in the future. A broad and deep transformational effort is required, including continued theoretical development, cultivating quality personnel, restructuring organizations, changing institutional culture as well as equipment modernization.

Sino-Indian Defense Dialogue: A Panacea for the Sino-Indian Security Dilemma?

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 6
March 15, 2013 02:30 PM Age: 10 days

The PLA Navy Training Ship Visited Kochi Last Year

Defense diplomacy may not be an important tool in international relations but the Sino-Indian relations stand exception to it. Beginning with the landmark treaty on maintenance of peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 1993, defense diplomacy became the “central dynamics of the complex relationship between China and India” where both the countries have institutionalized a series of confidence building measures (CBMs) along the LAC in the last two decades [1]. The fifth round of bilateral defense dialogue, held in Beijing recently, was part of this process (Xinhua, January 15; Times of India, January 15). Given the tone and tenor of the dialogue process, it has an optimistic future. Is it a panacea to India’s security dilemma against China? Can it bring an end to enduring rivalry between the two Asian giants and induce a strategic partnership between them for seeking Asian security? The Beijing round could not provide an immediate answer.

Gains from the Beijing Round

Given the unresolved border between the two countries and very little progress on other aspects of bilateral relations, there are not many expectations from such dialogues. The LAC, however, is also known for relative peace and despite Chinese forces’ frequent incursions into the Indian side, the two militaries deserve credit for mature behavior towards each other. Further, 2012, the ”Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation” was an eventful year for bilateral defense cooperation. Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie visited India and a “Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India China Border Affairs” was established. In addition to the high level and academic defense exchanges, four Indian Navy ships made a port call at Shanghai and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy training ship Zhenghe stopped in the Indian port of Kochi (“India China bilateral defense cooperation in 2012.” www.indianembassy.org.cn). Beijing round in January, therefore, had excellent atmospherics to consolidate the gains. During the talks, the two countries decided to resume joint military exercises. This may not be a big outcome, but, as the leader of India’s opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sushma Swaraj put it, “if the armies of our two great countries forge an understanding, the future generations are assured of peace and stability. Much bad blood has flowed, its time to begin anew for the sake of future” (Khabar South Asia, January 25). Beyond these tangible gains, the dialogue provided the Indian delegation an opportunity to PLA perspectives—an important opportunity given that it wields considerable influence in Chinese foreign policy making, more so, when not much is known about the new members of the Central Military Commission. 

The Inadequacies in Sino-Indian Defense Diplomacy

In reaching out to China, Indian defense diplomacy faces a number of handicaps, both generally and in some cases specific to engaging China. First, despite a rich history of peacekeeping, India does not have comprehensive experience in defense diplomacy. New Delhi has yet to develop another partnership akin to the previous relationship with the former Soviet Union. The existing strategic partnerships with South Asian countries like Nepal and Bhutan are crumbling apart and countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives are opting for strategic defiance. On a comparative note, India is no match to China that is a lead player in defense diplomacy and has practically engaged most countries in Asia and Africa (“PLA Steps Up Military Diplomacy in Asia,”China Brief, May 6, 2011).

Second, as Professor C. Raja Mohan points out, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Defense (MoD) do not appear to be on the same page when it comes to defining the objectives of India’s defense diplomacy. While the leadership of the MEA has come to value the possibilities of defense diplomacy, the MoD remains deeply conservative [2].

Burma: A Fragile Peace

March 26, 2013
By Tom Fawthrop

The feting of Burmese President Thein Sein in Europe and elsewhere is premature. Much work remains for Burma to achieve a true peace.

The red-carpet invitation extended to President Thein Sein to visit European capitals at the beginning of March has transformed Burma from pariah state into a new Asian partner, with the international community lavishing praise on the government’s tentative steps towards reform and ending the civil war.

But ethnic leaders and civil society groups inside Burma have painted a less rosy picture. They claim the peace process is undermined by ceasefire violations, land-grabbing by powerful businessmen and the government’s reluctance to discuss a political settlement.

By the end of 2012, many Western governments were impressed that most of the ethnic rebel armies holding sway in areas bordering Thailand and China had signed ceasefire agreements with the reformist-leaning government of President Thein Sein.

The retired general and president’s 11-day European tour included Norway, Finland, Austria and other EU countries, followed later in the month by a visit to New Zealand and Australia. He no doubt delighted his Austrian hosts at a Vienna press conference, assuring them of the complete success of his peace efforts at home. 

"There’s no more hostilities, no more fighting over the country, we have been able to end this armed conflict,” Thein Sein said at a joint press conference with Austrian President Heimilitarnz Fischer in Vienna on March 4.

Even as he spoke, however, in northern Burma military clashes were continuing in the Shan and in Kachin states. The Kachin National Organization responded to Thein Sein with a statement claiming, “The Burmese government is committing war crimes and preparing another big scale conflict while claiming 'peace' in Kachinland.”

Only a few weeks before Thein Sein’s European trip, government forces had launched attacks in Kachinstate involving helicopters and artillery, with a ferocious assault on KIA rebel positions near the town of Laiza, inside a shrinking liberated zone adjacent to the Chinese border.

In repeated rounds of peace talks with Karen, Shan and Kachin groups, the government has refused calls for a demilitarization of the conflict zones. The shelling may be less frequent, but the guns have not fallen silent. Any celebration of peace is highly premature

The largest ethnic army, the Kachin Independence Army and its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization met with the government for peace talks in the Chinese city of Ruili on March 11, but declined to sign a ceasefire agreement.

Even as the two sides sought ways to reduce tensions in Kachin, sectarian violence between Muslims and Buddhists broke out anew in the Burmese city of Meikhtila. According to the Associated Press, dozens were killed and 10,000 individuals were displaced by the fighting in and around Meikhtila.

MYANMAR: Buddhist-Muslim Clashes in Meikhtila

Paper No. 5434 Dated 23-Mar-2013

By B. Raman

1.  Between 20 and 26 persons are reported to have been killed in three days of violent clashes between Buddhists and Burman Muslims (not Rohingyas) in the central Myanmar cantonment town of Meikhtila since March 20, 2013. Official figures have, however, given the death toll as five only till the evening of March 22.

2. The town has a population of about 100,000 of whom one-third are estimated to be Muslims. The violence reportedly broke out following a quarrel between the Muslim owner of a jewellery shop and some of his Buddhist customers.

3. Five mosques, including the main mosque of the town, are reported to have been burnt down by Buddhist mobs. Armed Buddhist monks prevented journalists from taking photographs of the damages caused to the mosques.

4. Finding the local police unable to bring the violence under control, the Government imposed a State of Emergency in Meikhtilla and neighbouring townships and villages on March 22 to enable the deployment of the Army.

5. A reporter of the privately-owned Irrawaddy Journal has reported as follows: “Photo evidence of widespread carnage is also emerging, with news media websites and social media sites such as Facebook posting pictures that show numerous charred bodies and whole neighborhoods on fire. Some local residents told The Irrawaddy that militant Buddhist monks and laymen went on a rampage through the city in Mandalay Division on Friday morning, destroying mosques and what they believed were Muslim-owned properties. “It’s as if they are destroying the town. The situation is now out of control,” said a Pauk Chaung quarter resident, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of his safety.”

6. He said Muslim residents were seeking shelter at sites in Meikhtila where police could offer them some form of protection. “They [police] are standing guard over 800 Muslim people taking refuge at a football ground. Now I’ve heard that the ministers for internal affairs and religious affairs and the chief minister for Mandalay Division are here,” the Buddhist man said. However, police had little control over events, according to the resident. “Now we have nearly 30 truckloads of riot police here, but they can’t control the mob,” he said. “Instead they are trying to put out the fires.”

7. The Irrawaddy Journal reporter added: “Thousands of Muslims, who are believed to make up as much as a third of the city’s population, have reportedly fled since Wednesday out of fear that they might be killed. On Friday evening, The Irrawaddy’s reporter in Meikhtila observed police evacuating about 1,500 residents, mostly women and children, out of the city’s Chan Aye quarter to a makeshift refugee camp on the town’s outskirts. More than 2,000 Muslim refugees were gathered at the site.”

The euro-zone crisis

Mar 23rd 2013
Just when you thought it was safe…
Bailing out Cyprus was always going to be tricky. But it didn’t have to be like this

EVEN by the standards of European policymaking, the past week has been a disaster. In the early hours of March 16th, nine months after Cyprus first requested a bail-out, euro-zone finance ministers, led by the Germans, offered a €10 billion ($13 billion) deal, well short of the €17 billion needed. Who ordered whom to do precisely what is not clear, but the Cypriots then said they would raise a further €5.8 billion by imposing a levy on depositors—of 9.9% on savings above the €100,000 insurance-guarantee limit, and 6.75% for deposits below it. Chaos ensued, not least among the many Russians (reputable or not) who have parked their money in the lightly regulated island. On March 19th, with crowds in the streets and all the banks firmly shut, the Cypriot parliament rejected the bail-out package (see article). AsThe Economist went to press, the scene had shifted to Moscow, where the Cypriots were trying to persuade Vladimir Putin and his cronies to contribute some money in exchange, perhaps, for future gas revenues.

Cyprus is a Mediterranean midget, with a GDP of only $23 billion. But this crisis could have poisonous long-term consequences. Eight months after the European Central Bank appeared to have restored stability by promising to do whatever it took to save the currency, the risk of a euro member being thrown out has returned. It has increased the chances of deposit runs (if Cyprus can grab your money, why not Italy or Spain?). And it has revealed the lack of progress towards a durable solution to the euro’s troubles. Ideally, all this will prompt the Europeans to push ahead with reforms, but with a German election in the autumn that seems unlikely.

Cyprus is broke. Its debt, if it took on its banks’ liabilities, would hit 145% of GDP. This newspaper suggested recapitalising Cypriot banks, on a case-by-case basis, directly through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), thus breaking the vicious circle where weak sovereigns bail out weak banks. We also argued for depositors and senior bondholders to be spared—not out of any particular love for rich Russians, but because of the fear of bank runs in larger weak euro economies. The Europeans instead decided to lend the money directly to the Cypriot government; and the Cypriots, perhaps bullied by some creditors, then decided to clobber all the banks’ depositors, even the insured ones.

This was ingeniously loopy. Cyprus is odd, because virtually all its banks’ liabilities are deposits (as opposed to longer-term bonds). Yet, of the 147 banking crises since 1970 tracked by the IMF, none inflicted losses on all depositors, irrespective of the amounts they held and the banks they were with. Now depositors in weak banks in weak countries have every reason to worry about sudden raids on their savings. Depositors in places like Italy have not panicked yet. But they will if the euro zone tries to “rescue” them too.

The Myths of Drone Power

Today's unmanned aerial vehicles, most famously Predator and Reaper drones, have been celebrated as the culmination of the longtime dreams of airpower enthusiasts, offering the possibility of victory through quick, clean, and selective destruction. Those drones, so the (very old) story goes, assure the U.S. military of command of the high ground, and so provide the royal road to a speedy and decisive triumph over helpless enemies below.

Fantasies about the certain success of air power in transforming, even ending, war as we know it arose with the plane itself. But when it comes to killing people from the skies, again and again air power has proven neither cheap nor surgical nor decisive nor in itself triumphant. Seductive and tenacious as the dreams of air supremacy continue to be, much as they automatically attach themselves to the latest machine to take to the skies, air power has not fundamentally softened the brutal face of war, nor has it made war less dirty or chaotic.

Indeed, by emboldening politicians to seek seemingly low-cost, Olympian solutions to complex human problems -- like Zeus hurling thunderbolts from the sky to skewer puny mortals -- it has fostered fantasies of illimitable power emboldened by contempt for human life. However, just like Zeus's obdurate and rebellious subjects, the mortals on the receiving end of death from on high have shown surprising strength in frustrating the designs of the air power gods, whether past or present. Yet the Olympian fantasy persists, a fact that requires explanation.

The Rise of Air Power

It did not take long after the Wright Brothers first put a machine in the air for a few exhilarating moments above the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December of 1903, for the militaries of industrialized countries to express interest in buying and testing airplanes. Previously balloons had been used for reconnaissance, as in the Napoleonic wars and the U.S. Civil War, and so initially fledgling air branches focused on surveillance and intelligence-gathering. As early as 1911, however, Italian aircraft began dropping small bombs from open-air cockpits on the enemy -- we might today call them "insurgents" -- in Libya.

World War I encouraged the development of specialized aircraft, most famously the dancing bi- and tri-winged fighter planes of the dashing "knights of the air," as well as the more ponderous, but for the future far more important, bombers. By the close of World War I in 1918, each side had developed multi-engine bombers like the German Gotha, which superseded the more vulnerable zeppelins. Their mission was to fly over the trenches where the opposing armies were stalemated and take the war to the enemy's homeland, striking fear in his heart and compelling him to surrender. Fortunately for civilians a century ago, those bombers were too few in number, and their payloads too limited, to inflict widespread destruction, although German air attacks on England in 1917 did spread confusion and, in a few cases, panic.

Pondering the hecatombs of dead from trench warfare, air power enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s not surprisingly argued strongly, and sometimes insubordinately, for the decisive importance of bombing campaigns launched by independent air forces. A leading enthusiast was Italy's Giulio Douhet. In his 1921 work Il dominio dell'aria (Command of the Air), he argued that in future wars strategic bombing attacks by heavily armed "battle-planes" (bombers) would produce rapid and decisive victories. Driven by a fascist-inspired logic of victory through preemptive attack, Douhet called for all-out air strikes to destroy the enemy's air force and its bases, followed by hammer blows against industry and civilians using high-explosive, incendiary, and poison-gas bombs. Such blows, he predicted, would produce psychological uproar and social chaos ("shock and awe," in modern parlance), fatally weakening the enemy's will to resist.

Euro Crisis Poses Grave Dangers to EU Unity

Lessons from Cyprus

Cyprus has been saved. But the euro zone may ultimately be the biggest loser. The tough negotiations clearly demonstrated that Europe's north and south no longer understand each other -- and the political differences could soon become more dangerous than the currency crisis.

It has been only four weeks since German Chancellor Angela Merkel had nothing but nice things to say about her "very esteemed" counterpart in Cyprus. In a telegram to newly elected President Nicos Anastasiades, she "warmly" congratulated him on his election victory and wrote that she looked forward to their "close and trusting cooperation."

That was then, as Merkel conceded last Friday in a speech to the parliamentary group of her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the Reichstag in Berlin. Although her intent was not to set an example, she said, Germany also would not "give in." She added that there would be "no special treatment" for Cyprus. And over the weekend, she lived up to her word.

The island republic in the eastern Mediterranean is about as economically significant as the German city-state of Bremen, and yet the attention of citizens and politicians alike was focused on the debt-ridden country on the continent's periphery last week and through the weekend. Since Cypriot parliament rejected the initial bailout plan, one crisis meeting followed the next in Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels as concepts were presented, revised, rejected and resubmitted. In the end, the European Central Bank (ECB) imposed an ultimatum on the country. The message from ECB President Mario Draghi was that either Cyprus agree to the bailout conditions or it could be the first member of the euro zone to declare a national bankruptcy.

In the end, Nicosia agreed. The country's oversized banking industry is to be radically downscaled, one of its biggest banks, Laiki, is going to be dissolved and those holding accounts there will see volumes over the €100,000 insured limit potentially vanish. A worsening economy will almost certainly be the result. The deal came just a day before the ECB ultimatum -- a cessation of emergency liquidity for the country's banks -- was set to become reality, a move that would have resulted in a messy crash of the country's financial system.

Smoldering and Flaring

Despite the deal, Cyprus was making preparations for the reopening of banks this week. Financial institutions there have reportedly hired extra security in preparation for an onslaught of furious customers. For the last several days, they experienced what it's like for a country to literally run out of money. Many service stations only accepted cash, and some kiosk owners closed up shop when they ran out of cash to make change. Bank machines over the weekend were only giving out €100 per day, per customer.

Smoldering and flaring for the last three years, the euro crisis has reached a new stage. For the first time, a parliament rebelled against the requirements of international creditors, and for the first time euro-zone taskmasters tried to take a slice of the savings of ordinary citizens, prompting people throughout the continent to wonder whether their money is still safe. The unprecedented showdown led many in Europe to speculate over the national character of the Cypriots, and wonder: Are they especially jaded, desperate or simply nuts?

Finding the right answer was the perplexing task for leaders in Brussels, Paris and Berlin. How far can one bend to demands from a teetering country like Cyprus without losing one's credibility? At what point does a debt-ridden country endanger the entire financial system, and how can allowing it to go bankrupt still be the right approach? Finally, how does one rescue a country that doesn't want to be rescued?

It was a matter of risk and confidence, of European solidarity and of Merkel's crisis management. In recent months, the chancellor seemed to have stopped the impending collapse of the common currency with her recipe of aid in return for reforms. Investors had calmed down, capital was flowing back into Southern European economies and in recent weeks German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) seemed as relaxed as the markets.

The dangerous drift towards world war in Asia

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Hiroshima, Japan

24 Mar 2013

At ground zero in Hiroshima the inscription for victims of the world's first Atomic bomb is a pledge. We will never again repeat the evil of war.

The six-storey "A-Dome", the old Industrial Promotion Hall, was directly below the blast, 600 meters above, and for that reason survived as a gaunt half-wrecked structure when almost everything else was flattened instantly for a radius of two kilometres. 

The Japanese original is vague on who "we" is, but the English translation tactfully refers to mankind as a whole.

Families come from all over Japan in a pilgrimage to visit the peace shrine. They look through the Cenotaph to the "A-Dome", the old Industrial Promotion Hall. This six-story building that was directly below the blast, 600 metres above, and for that reason survived as a gaunt half-wrecked structure when almost everything else was flattened instantly for a radius of two kilometres.

They walk through the museum in total silence learning the details of what happened on August 1945, and the gruesome aftermath. The learn about the 2000 degree heat shock that lasted three seconds and incinerated anybody in the epicentre instantly, but left those in the suburbs to die more slowly with burnt skin hanging from their bodies.

They read the day-by-day diaries of the survivors, and the second shock of radiation a week or so later as they came out in a rash of purple spots, and started to vomit their inner organs. Some 140,000 were dead within five months, mostly civilians, including Korean and Chinese forced labourers.

This is what the Japanese are brought up on, so different from the "Patriotic Education" campaign in China for the last twenty years. Beijing's policy has whipped up revanchist hatred against the Japanese for the sins of the 1930s and 1940s, no doubt to divert popular wrath away from a Communist Party tarnished by corruption.

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Japan's national ideology is pacifist, and this is written into Article 9 of its constitution, which states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

This peace complex adds a strange twist to events. It inhibits Japan as a muscular China presses its claim on the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands -- a cluster of uninhabited rocks near Taiwan -- and as Chinese warships push deep into Japanese waters.

Map of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands

Yet there is no doubt that Japan will fight.

"We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now, or in the future. No nation should underestimate the firmness of our resolve," said Shinzo Abe, the hawkish premier bent on national revival.

After talking to Japanese officials in Tokyo over the last few days, I have the strong impression not only that they are ready to fight, but also that they expect to win, and furthermore that conflict may come at any moment.

India Jettisons Strategic Partnership with Iran under United States Pressures-A Perceptional Analysis

 by Dr Subhash kapila in SAAG 25/3/13

“…the Singh Government’s shameful willingness to abandon the independence of Indian foreign policy for the sake of strengthening its strategic partnership with the United States”--- Excerpt from The Hindu, September 26, 2005 in a piece entitled ‘India’s Shameful Vote Against Iran.’

“India is under continuing pressure from Washington to back a Security Council referral of Iran’s nuclear transgressions with the Bush Administration signalling that any shirking on this issue will inhibit it from fulfilling its part of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.”----Times of India, September 25, 2005 from its Washington correspondent.

“The best illustration of this (capitulation to US pressures) is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA. I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced (by the US) “--------- Stephen Rademaker, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non Proliferation 2002-2006.

“ The India-Iran relationship has much more to do with India’s great power aspirations and New Delhi’s concomitant expansive agenda for Central Asia and beyond, within which energy is only one albeit important consideration.”------C. Christine Fair in The Washington Quarterly. Summer 2007

India in a perceptionaly unprincipled process for the last seven years in a series of sequential steps commencing with voting against Iran in the IAEA and continuing through with abandonment of the Iran-Pakistan India energy pipeline and cutting off oil supplies from Iran, has virtually jettisoned its much heralded strategic partnership with Iran.

In a manner inappropriate for an emerging power on the global stage, India despite its much trumpeted foreign policy declarations of primacy to “Strategic Autonomy” in its policy formulations, buckled down under United States pressures with hardly a whimper in downgrading the prominence and value of its strategic partnership enshrined in the Delhi Declaration of January 2005.

India’s strategic partnership with Iran was conceived and forged for substantial national security and energy determinants of strategic benefits to India.. It also arose from a number of strategic convergences that existed between India and Iran on global and regional issues, more specifically pertaining to Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran facilitating Indian access to Central Asia and Afghanistan, which Pakistan was denying India.

Iran consciously entered into a strategic partnership with India over-riding its Islamic affinity and Cold War era linkages with Pakistan. Putting ancient civilizational ties aside, even though it is an important linkage, in Iran’s strategic vision India figured high as a friendly emerging power in its neighbourhood with a strategically autonomous foreign policy unfettered by kow-towing to United States dictates till the middle of the last decade.

India inspired confidence in Iran to invest in a strategic partnership arising from the Tehran Declaration of 2001 followed by the Delhi Declaration of 2003 and frequent high level exchanges of political dignitaries. Iran opened its land routes for India to access Afghanistan and both cooperated to bolster the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Pakistan-installed Taliban regime in Kabul.

Strategically, it needs to be highlighted that an India-friendly Iran on Pakistan’s western frontiers with strategic congruence with India was an invaluable strategic asset for India’s national security.