29 May 2013

The Growing Importance of the Arctic Council

MAY 17, 2013 

A research vessel tours the Arctic Circle.


The Arctic is expected to become more important in the coming decades as climate change makes natural resources and transport routes more accessible. Reflecting the growing interest in the region, the Arctic Council granted six new countries (China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore) observer status during a May 15 ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. By admitting more observers, the Arctic Council -- an organization that promotes cooperation among countries with interests in the Arctic -- will likely become more important as a forum for discussions on Arctic issues. However, this does not necessarily mean it will be able to establish itself as a central decision-making body regarding Arctic matters. 


The Arctic Council was established in 1996 by the eight countries that have territory above the Arctic Circle -- the United States, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Its main purpose was to be an intergovernmental forum (also involving Arctic indigenous groups) that promoted cooperation primarily regarding environmental matters and research. The Arctic Council's central focus has remained on environmental issues in the Arctic, and the body has had no meaningful decision-making power. 

However, during this year's meeting, the council's members signed a legally binding agreement coordinating response efforts to marine pollution incidents. The council signed a similar agreement on search and rescue collaboration in 2011. These agreements, as well as the interest from countries around the world in gaining observer status, highlight the growing relevance of the Arctic Council and the Arctic region. 
The Arctic's Economic Value

Satellite data collected since 1979 shows that both the thickness of the ice in the Arctic and range of sea ice have decreased substantially, especially during the summer months. According to the United States' National Snow and Ice Data Center, the amount of Arctic ice (usually at a minimum during September) was 3.61 million square kilometers (1.39 million square miles) in September 2012 -- close to 49 percent lower than the average amount of ice seen between 1979 and 2000. The melting of the ice facilitates natural resource exploration in the high north. U.S. Geological Survey estimates from 2008 suggest that 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas reserves are located in the Arctic Circle.

Specialised Force for Internal Unrests

28 May , 2013 


Soldiers of Indian Army in Insurgency Areas . 

Policy and methodology to counter the Naxalite threat have been subjects of intense debate recently. Army’s reluctance to get embroiled has been questioned in some government quarters. Sadly, opinions are being expressed, both by military and non-military experts, more as short term fire-fighting solutions rather than well analysed long term strategy. 

It requires no crystal gazing to foresee increasing unrest amongst various sections of Indian society 

It requires no crystal gazing to foresee increasing unrest amongst various sections of Indian society. Awareness has fired the urge of the people for a higher standard of living and enhanced opportunities for advancement. As the country fails to ensure that fruits of development get equitably and evenly distributed across the complete spectrum of society, disadvantaged segments lose confidence in the fairness of governance. They resort to violent means to wrest their perceived share of resources from an apathetic government. Naxalite unrest is a manifestation of the same challenge to the lawful authority of the state. Needless to say, in addition to effective use of force, convincing measures have to be initiated at political, economical, social and cultural levels to restore credibility of governance amongst the aggrieved people. 

This article restricts itself to the nature and type of force that should be employed to counter Naxalites. As the alienated populace is highly motivated and possesses intimate knowledge of the local terrain, a well equipped and suitably trained force becomes an absolute necessity. India has three broad options open to it – employment of an existing central police force (CPO) with additional training and equipment; deployment of the Army to crush armed resistance; and raising of a special force for the assignment. Each of these have been analysed below to identify the most suitable option. 

Use of CPO

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is currently countering the Naxalites. CRPF came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police on 27th July 1939. It became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28th December 1949. Over the last sixty years, it has grown into sizeable entity with 207 battalions. It is a federal law enforcement agency and a police force. It has been organised, equipped, structured and trained to supplement efforts of state police forces in the maintenance of law and order. 

“ it is an unwritten convention in the Indian Army that an officer always leads from the front ““ he is the first one to step into a danger zone. No officer thinks twice about it.

Presently, a crisis of identity is overwhelming CRPF. A part of the blame for the prevailing confusion about its exact character can be apportioned to CRPF itself. Symptomatic of the same is the message of its Director General on its website. To start with, he refers to CRPF as one of the ‘Para Military Police Force’ of the Nation and subsequently calls it as the most experienced ‘Armed Police Force’ of the country. Apparently, the organisation does not know where to position itself. There can never be a ‘paramilitary police force’ – a force is either a paramilitary force or a police force. The term paramilitary police force is self-contradictory, dichotomist in substance, paradoxical in nature and ambivalent in identity. 

It must be understood that a true paramilitary force is an auxiliary force whose function and structure are similar to those of a regular military force. In other words, it should be capable of acting as an adjunct to regular military. CRPF, by no stretch of imagination, can be called a paramilitary force. With a view to garner enhanced status and to demand equivalence with the armed forces, it has been masquerading as a paramilitary force. Resultantly, it has got trapped in the self created delusion that it can perform like a paramilitary force. 

CRPF not only lacks basic orientation to be able to face Naxalites but also the necessary wherewithal. Resultantly, CRPF has been suffering heavy casualties. 

Facing bullets fired by highly motivated Naxalites in Chhattisgarh requires totally different capabilities as compared to those required to face stones thrown by hired hooligans in Kashmir. It is a tall order for any organisation to accomplish both the tasks with equal adroitness and dexterity. CRPF not only lacks basic orientation to be able to face Naxalites but also the necessary wherewithal. Resultantly, CRPF has been suffering heavy casualties. 

Further, it is a misplaced expectation that CRPF can perform like a paramilitary force with short orientation training at counter-insurgency schools. Fighting potential of any lawfully constituted armed entity is dependent on a number of tangible and non-tangible factors. Whereas tangible factors like training and equipment can be augmented over a period of time, non-tangible factors which are far more critical take decades to mature. Traditions, precedents, norms and conventions are the non-tangible factors that provide regimental environment for the development of organisational character, ethos and disposition. Equally importantly, they mould attitude of individuals, both by implicit and explicit influences. 

For example, it is an unwritten convention in the Indian Army that an officer always leads from the front – he is the first one to step into a danger zone. No officer thinks twice about it. It is ingrained in his character and disposition. On the other hand, these things are alien to the police forces. We had the obnoxious sight of a police officer crossing a water logged street on the shoulders of a constable – a profanity of the worst kind. Can an officer who is reluctant to wet his trousers and is accustomed to using his subordinate as a beast of burden be expected to lead his unit against Naxalites and risk death or injury? This difference in organisational ethos is the fundamental reason that a police force can never become a paramilitary force, fallacious pretentiousness notwithstanding. 

India's Maoists

A new terror 

by A.R.
27th May 2013


Their target-in-chief

LATE in the afternoon, a long convoy of vehicles, lightly guarded, trailed along a narrow road in the bush. Crammed with Congress politicians—currently the opposition in Chhattisgarh state, though part of the ruling party nationally—the cars contained most of the party's state leadership returning from a campaign rally. Whether from complacency, or ineptitude, the convoy was poorly secured as it passed through an area known for activity by India's violent Maoist, or Naxalite, movement. A few weeks earlier the extreme leftists, who claim to fight on behalf of tribal people and for a forthcoming Communist revolution, had spread leaflets in the area, opposing the Congress campaign. The cars were packed together, making a single, juicy target. Few police or other security men were present. One of the first cars reportedly hit a landmine, before a group of attackers—numbered variously at between 150 and over 1,000—opened fire from a hillside, with small arms. The few close-protection police in the convoy reported that their own weapons jammed, or else they quickly ran out of ammunition. Some politicians and their advisers attempted to flee, or play dead. Some begged, successfully, for their lives. But the Maoists, reportedly guided by a local woman, rounded up targets chosen for execution, leading them into nearby trees to be shot.

At least 29 people were killed in the massacre on May 25th. That the victims were politicians out campaigning, and that so many civilians were killed in one go, marks a change from previous, even bloodier, battles with paramilitary and police forces. The main target, Mahendra Karma (pictured above), may have represented—in the eyes of Maoists at least—a semi-legitimate figure for attack. A notorious political figure in mineral-rich Chhattisgarh, he had been a Communist in his youth, but switched to be a Congress parliamentarian and was accused of complicity with corrupt firms that plundered the state’s tribal areas for their forests and mineral wealth. Most important, he was the man most responsible for starting a vigilante force in 2005, arming tribal villagers to attack Maoists. That force, Salwa Judum, led to tens of thousands of tribal people being displaced and hundreds of villages evacuated. It led to the violent division of the Bastar region, with civilians abused by both the Maoists and the government’s security forces; they were suspected by both sides. Mr Karma was despised by many, and eventually his vigilante group was found to be responsible for widespread abuse, including rapes, murder and arson in the villages and inside the fortified resettlement camps that been established for the villagers, as in a war zone. Salwa Judum was ordered to disarm by the Supreme Court in 2011, but by then it had already come to be seen as a hated failure, an example of how not to conduct counter-insurgency. It almost certainly encouraged more people to join the Maoists.

Mr Karma’s death might have been understood at a popular level. But the murders at the same time of the state’s Congress leader, and his son, both of whom were led into the brush and shot dead, spread revulsion. Other victims were found to have been beaten, stabbed and otherwise tortured before being shot. An octogenarian Congress leader, a former cabinet minister of India, Vidya Charan Shukla, was shot three times, but somehow survived and was taken to hospital alive.

For the Maoists this marks a new, unwelcome shift in method. "This was not class war, it was murder," said a former bureaucrat in Chhattisgarh. Presenting themselves as an army, the Maoists had previously been relatively judicious in sparing civilians during battles (though individuals are also picked out for punishment or exemplary killings—for example, if they are suspected of being informants). Such a deliberate massacre, of over two-dozen unarmed civilian men looks to be a kind of first for the movement, and an attack that has united many in horror and anger. Previous attacks which killed even greater numbers, notably the bombing of an express train in 2010, were marked by their indiscriminate style. 

Chhattisgarh attack: Why India is losing its war against Naxals

May 28, 2013 

Five decades ago, the special forces officer Roger Trinquier set about understanding why his nation losing to enemies it outgunned and outmanned. France, he wrote, was “in studying a type of warfare that no longer exists and that we shall never fight again, while we pay only passing attention to the war we lost in Indochina and the one we are about to lose in Algeria. The result of this shortcoming is that the army is not prepared to confront an adversary employing arms and methods the army itself ignores. It has, therefore, no chance of winning”. 
Trinquier concluded: “our military machine reminds one of a pile-driver attempting to crush a fly”.

Like the French army Trinquier wrote of, India counter-Maoist campaign will not and cannot succeed. The Indian state doesn’t have enough boots on the ground. The lessons its fighting women and men receive are inadequate. The tools they’re being are issued are the wrong ones. 

India’s way of counter-insurgency isn’t that different from Mughal emperors, who despatched great imperial columns to put down rebellious governors and or bandits preying on their trade routes. In 2003, a group of ministers which review internal security after the Kargil war, assigned the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) frontline responsibility for counter-insurgency operations—backing up police forces across the country. The force, at the time of the war, had 167,367 personnel. It is now up to 222 battalions—over 222,000 armed personnel, and 300,000 including administrators and support staff. 

Yet, the results haven’t been luminous. Even as the CRPF’s numbers have ballooned, the government’s own data shows the number of Maoist insurgents eliminated has declined year-on-year since 2009, from 317 to 114. The number of insurgents and unarmed supporters has stayed steady, at 25,000 plus. 

In 2010, an entire company of the 62 Battalion was annihilated in an ambush at Tarmetla. In the years since, the CRPF has become increasingly defensive — wary both of taking casualties, or killing civilians in crossfire. 
There’s a simple reasons for this. In 2003, the CRPF had seven recruit-training centres, each processing 600-700 women and men through nine-month courses. That number has increased, but using ad-hoc facilities. There’s no dedicated theatre-specific warfare schools and an intelligence service that exists only in name. The force doesn’t fly its own helicopters, necessary in Maoist-hit areas where it can’t use heavily-mined roads, or its own photo-reconnaissance capabilities. 

If the CRPF was doing what it was supposed to do—just backing up police forces, who would generate intelligence and carry out cutting-edge operations—this wouldn’t matter quite as much. The thing is, those police forces themselves are in a mess. 
Figures for 2011, the last year for which government data is available, show just how acute personnel deficits are in state hit by the Maoist insurgency. Bihar had just 54,196 police personnel for a population of 82,998,509—65 for every 100,000 population, against a United Nations norm of 250:100,000 or better. West Bengal has 60,450 police for a population for its 91.34 million residents, 66:100,000.In Odisha, there are 29,481 for a population of 49.95 million, a ration of 70:100,000. The state of Jharkhand—among the better-administered new states—does a little better, with 40,579 officers for 32.9 mn residents, but even that’s just 123:100,000. 

Delhi, with 16.75 mn residents, had 66,686 on its rolls at end-2011—far more than Chhattisgarh, which had 27,597.

Having more police officers, of course, won’t solve the problem on its own. The sad truth, though, is more cops doesn’t mean more peace. Nagaland, which now has a staggering 1,677 police for every 100,000 population, and Manipur with 669.6, and have some of the highest population to force ratios in India—but haven’t helped put down insurgencies. Mizoram, which has no insurgency, has 1268.6, suggesting police hiring is in fact serving an employment-generation imperative. 

Maoist Mayhem

More Than Just Another Wakeup Call 
This is not the time for political mudslinging. It is time for holistic reflection and action. 

The Maoist ambush of the convoy of Congressmen in Chhattisgarh on May 25 is being described as a wakeup call in view of the forthcoming elections, with the term of the present state government coming to an end in January 2014. The logic portrayed is that the Maoists are re-asserting themselves because of their dwindling numbers. There are some calls to also bring them onto to the discussion table. There is a furore because this time it is the politicians who have been targeted instead of the usual security forces who, ironically, had many more killed in individual encounters without similar commotion, one example being the Dantewada massacre of April 2010 in which 76 CRPF personnel were killed. Those in the game of drawing political mileage at any opportunity are calling for imposition of President’s rule, as if that is the panacea for dealing with the Maoists insurgency. 

Whether targeted killing of politicians will indeed goad the government to get its act together is a matter of conjecture, though many cynics in the civvy street feel that had the terrorists actually got inside the Parliament during the 2001 Parliament attack and targeted some politicians perhaps the government would have geared up better for counter-terrorism including enacting appropriate anti-terror laws and ensured speedy justice. 

Despite the Prime Minister repeating over the past six years that the Maoist insurgency is the biggest threat to internal security, we really do not have a cohesive counter policy in place. When Alex Paul Menon, Sukma District Collector was kidnapped and held hostage in April 2012, we were groping around for a hostage rescue policy, which axiomatically has not yet been announced. The systemic constitutional flaw of dealing with the Maoist insurgency under ‘Law and Order’, and that being a ‘state subject’, has not been rectified despite the spread of this menace over 16 states. Why a simple constitutional amendment for bringing insurgencies and terrorism under the centre cannot be enacted remains a mystery. As a result, the response has been shoddy in simply raising more and more CAPF (Central Armed Police Force) battalions and dishing them out to states. Even in the instant case, the Prime Minister has said he is prepared to give more such security forces. 

A major flaw remains in that the politico-socio-economic aspects of the problem remain un-addressed and any amount of ‘Operation Green Hunts’ by themselves amount to a peripheral response. Despite much publicity, issues like that of land and forest rights (including share of produce and minerals) have not been resolved. The government’s poverty alleviation schemes reach the intended beneficiaries in miniscule form or not at all because of rampant corruption. Same is the case of development, where despite publicizing large financial allocations, even basic amenities like drinking water, roads, electricity, healthcare, nutrition and education are not being provided albeit much of it is in place on paper. Little wonder that inside the Dandkaranya Forest, the Maoists are only permitting schools to be run by the Ramakrishna Mission. The government’s ‘Food Security Bill’ is considered another avenue for massive scams considering funds to help farmers facing famines are diverted elsewhere and the hapless farmers continue to resort to suicides. 

Tall promises and the façade of ameliorating problems of the poor close to elections is unlikely to work in the current age, as transparency of governance, or lack of it, will continue to be on the rise through information technology, media -- or even by word of mouth, from those who have access to these to those deprived. The game of suggesting that Maoists should be brought to the discussion table only because of elections in near future after years of neglect can be seen through, and unlikely to work. Mohan Murti, former Europe Director CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) had this to say post attending a seminar in Europe: “Europeans believe that Indian leaders in politics and business are so blissfully blinded by the new, sometimes ill-gotten, wealth and deceit that they are living in defiance, insolence and denial to comprehend that the day will come, sooner than later, when the have-nots would hit the streets. In a way, it seems to have already started with the monstrous and grotesque acts of the Maoists. And, when that rot occurs, not one political turncoat will escape being lynched.” The government would do well to take this seriously. The Maoists have already stated last year that they intend to infiltrate into the personal security of political leaders at the state and centre level and they along with organizations like the PFI (Popular Front of India) have already made their presence felt in urban areas including Delhi and NCR. 

The Maoists are looking to overthrow the Indian State by 2050

May 28, 2013 

The power of the left-wing extremist groups is immense and they can, in one sense, if they want to, bring many sectors of the Indian economy to its knees, warns former home secretary GK Pillai. Reproduced from the Journal of Defence Studies, of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

It has become almost a cliche to say that the left wing extremism situation is the most serious internal threat facing the country. Naxalism has been operating in several parts of the country. It has been there from the late '60s and '70s and different parts of the country have been affected with different levels of Naxal violence. It has been tackled in different ways in West Bengal, in Kerala, in Andhra and so on and so forth, the Telangana situation was there earlier. A significant change came about with the merger of the Peoples War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre to form the Communist Party of India-Maoist in 2004. Thus, there had been a fusion of the ideology with the armed groups, both coming together for the first time.

I particularly want to spend some time on what I call as 'what are the objectives of CPI-Maoist)?' There has been a lot of debate and discussion among intellectuals and NGOs on this. Everybody has been talking about the Naxal problem and the Maoist problem, and sometimes get confused between the two. The objective of the CPI-Maoist is the armed overthrow of the Indian State. The people must realise before anybody says that I am a Maoist or I am for what the CPI-Maoists is, that he is in favour of the armed overthrow of the Indian State. They do not have any belief in parliamentary democracy. In fact they call Parliament a pig sty. It is part of their official documents and statements, which have been made.

Documents which we have captured reveal some of the strategy and tactics of the Indian revolution by the CPI-Maoist. It is basically a textbook, which they teach and I feel it would be very useful to see some of what they are talking about. They are talking about building up of armies. They want finally to draw out and inflict decisive defeat on the armed forces of 'the enemy'. They talk of the Indian State as the enemy. Therefore, the first priority should be given to the work in the principal strategic areas in accordance with the line of protracted people's war with the concrete conditions of India. Building people's army, establishing base areas, etc, to liberate the entire country with the people's army. Without mobilising masses into innumerable struggles and raising their political consciousness, over throw of the State is not possible.

Of course, they quote a lot from Mao's words, Lenin's words and so on and so forth. They talk about how they have to infiltrate. They want to influence the workers in the trade unions, which can be done through legal trade union organisations, workers' magazines, pamphleteering etc, and by sending comrades to secretly develop factional work from within the industry and the existing trade unions, within existing organisations. They are all part of the grand strategy of the CPI-Maoist. They talk about city movements.

In other words, the objective is to gradually gain the military strength to overwhelm 'the enemy' as 'the revolutionary war' draws out and finally inflict decisive defeat on 'the armed forces of the enemy'. The Indian State, in one sense, for the first time, is facing an enemy which is looking at the armed overthrow of the Indian State.

State's ambiguity has restricted its anti-Maoist progress

May 28, 2013 

The State’s ambiguity has resulted in a stalemate in the crucial fight against the creeping progress of the Naxalite movement in the country, notes Nitin A Gokhale. 

Our aim is to overthrow this ‘democracy’ and ‘parliamentary rule’, which are nothing but means for the dictatorship of the feudals and comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie, which stand in complete opposition to 95 per cent of the population’s interests, using armed force, to establish a new people’s power. We feel it is a wonder of wonders to say that these elections and Parliament are sacred and that the present rule is the highest form of democratic rule (sic)'. 

'CPI-Maoist philosophy of armed struggle to overthrow the Indian State is not acceptable in our parliamentary democracy and will have to be curbed at any cost' (ministry of home affairs, 2011). 

These two statements sum up the extent of the Maoist problem that India [ Images ] faces today. 

Despite India’s remarkable growth story over the past two decades, it faces serious challenges: A big question mark looms over its ability to sustain eight to nine per cent growth and development in the future years. 

The greatest possible threat to its progress is posed by Naxalism -- a violent Maoist movement -- spread across the eastern and central areas of the country. The Maoist rebels of course earn the name ‘Naxals’ or ‘Naxalites [ Images ]’ from the Naxalbari movement of the late 1960s. 

Over the past decade, Maoist activity has grown in its scope, breadth, and intensity. Of the 28 states and seven Union territories that constitute the Republic of India, Maoist rebels now control and run a parallel government in as many as 10 states. Over the last few years, beginning 2007, more people have died as a result of Maoist insurgency than due to any other kind of militant movement in India. 

And the movement’s front organisations -- those that covertly or overtly support it -- are present in all states. India’s effort to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty is, and will be, determined by how well it is able to handle the Maoist insurgency. The current Maoist movement, though different in its nature and level of maturity, is on a continuum generated by its previous avatars. 

If the era between the 1950s and the mid-1970s can be termed as the first phase of the Maoist movement in India, the years beginning from 1975 till about 1990 form the second phase of the movement. The second phase was dominated by splits and counter-splits, reflecting divisions of ideology. Nonetheless, it wasn’t without gains for the Maoist movement. It moved from believing that people would spontaneously join a revolution without the party having to exert itself to a thought process that says people will have to be organised to revolt against the State. 

'Where land reforms have taken place, there are no Maoists'

May 27, 2013 

A former Maoist speaks to Shobha Warrier 

It is interesting to note that all the famous Naxalites and Maoists of the sixties and the seventies from Kerala lead totally different lives now. If Philip M Prasad is a follower of Sai Baba today, K Venu, the Maoist ideologue of yesteryears manages a construction company in Thrissur. 

Venu, author of many books, is still an ideologue, a theoretician, very actively writing on political issues in all the leading dailies and weeklies in Kerala. From a hardcore ultra-leftist Communist, he has become an advocate of free market economy. 

In this free wheeling interview with rediff.com’sShobha Warrier, he talks about Maoism, Communism and the free market economy. 

When you were young, what attracted you to the ideology of Maoism?

When I was a student, I was not politically active though I was inclined to the Left ideology all the time. That was because my family had always been with the Left. After I completed my post graduation in zoology in 1968, I started writing regularly in periodicals on social, political and philosophical issues. I also started talking at the youth federation meetings of the Communist Party of India-Marxist. 

I was then asked by the late P Govinda Pillai to join Desabhimani's book publishing house. By then the Naxalite movement had already started but I did not join it though I came into contact with their literature. Slowly, I started getting attracted to their revolutionary ideas. I then started studying the ideologies of CPI, CPI-M and CPI-Marxist-Leninist from a scientific point of view. 

Afterwards I started a publication called Maoist identifying with the Naxalite upsurge in India and many pro-Naxalite groups started contacting me. 

Was it during that period that you met Charu Majumdar (a prominent Communist revolutionary. The militant peasant uprising in 1967 in Naxalbari was led by his group)? 

When I was vacillating between science and revolution, an incident took place in February, 1970; that was the killing of Arikkad Verghese (known in Kerala as Naxal Varghese who fought for the Adivasis in Wayanad) by the police. That made many like me turn towards Maoism and revolution. 

I started this publication called Inquilab and also working as a part-time sub-editor with a Malayalam encyclopedia. I was also doing my PhD in science then. That was when somebody asked me whether my address could be used by the local party to contact the official CPI-ML in Kolkata. Till then I had no direct contact with any of the Maoists. 

After the contact man, Ambadi Sankaran Kutty, surrendered to the police, I became their contact man for a few months. Later, the members in Kannur asked me to go to Kolkata and meet Charu Majumdar. At that time also, I was not sure whether I would plunge into politics. 

What do you remember about your meeting with Majumdar?

When I reached the Howrah railway station, I met the contact person. He took me to one point and from there, another man took over. I think I met four such people before I met the real man.

Charu Majumdar was sitting in a room but was very ill and there was a doctor with him all the time. He was given oxygen and injections periodically. Even though he was very ill and weak, he was a strong personality. I still remember his magnetic eyes. 

I was with him for an hour, I explained to him that there were 2-3 groups in Kerala. He then gave me directions what was to be done.

Did you then agree with Majumdar's idea of attacking landlords?

Yes, I did. Communist ideologues had come to this decision after analysing the principal contradictions in the society at that time. The CPI-ML position was feudalism versus the masses. We believed that feudal lords were the very basis of imperialist penetration and wanted to smash the basis. Except in Kerala where land reforms had already started, landlordism was the problem that the entire country faced. 

Majumdar's slogan was, 1970s is the decade of Indian revolution, and we were all charged up about that.

Grilled Salman, Peking Style

Salman Khurshid says he’d love to live there. Here’s why not. 


Union external affairs minister Salman Khurshid was so impressed with Beijing that, after his recent visit, he gushed to reporters, “I’d love to live in Beijing.” Beijing is a world-class city, and maybe he was only complimenting his hosts. But what would happen if he really had to live in Beijing? Assume that Khurshid, who is 60, manages to land a job. His Indian and Oxford qualifactions would be useless, and as he doesn’t know Mandarin, he may only get unskilled work. The statu­tory minimum wage in Beijing is 1,400 renminbis. If his wife also worked, they’d earn 2,800 renminbis. What could they do? 

They wouldn’t be able to live in the city centre, paying 4,455 renminbis (the average figure) in monthly rent. Living in the outskirts, paying 2,650 renminbis in rent, they’d be left with 150 renminbis for everything else. This won’t pay even their utility bills, at some 400 renminbis per month for an 85 square metre flat. 

For eating out, they’ll have to explore the cheap restaurants flanking Beijing Central railway station. Even that would leave them poorer by 30 renminbis each. A three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant would be 150 renminbis per person and, therefore, out of bounds. A combo meal at McDonald’s, however, would be 25 renminbis. Domestic beer at 10 renminbis a pint or a cappuccino at 25 renminbis would be best avoided. 

Should they cook at home, they’d have to pay 13 renminbis for a loaf of bread, seven renminbis for a kilo of rice, 10 renminbis for a dozen eggs, 30 renminbis for a kilo of chicken breast, 5 renminbis for a head of lettuce, nine renminbis per kilo for tomatoes and eight for potatoes. They’d find it difficult to buy fruit—apples are 12 renminbis a kilo, oranges 14. They can forget about wine—a bottle of mid-range local wine is 100 renminbis. Alas, a car—a Volkswagen Golf or equivalent—would be outside their reach at 1,52,500 renminbis. They couldn’t take taxis—the meter starts at 11 renminbis and then it is two per kilometre. 

The Khurshids would end up earning the minimum wage there. Why be the crumb of Beijing when you can be the toast of India? 

A bus or the metro to work would be two renminbis per trip. A monthly pass costs 120 renminbis. They wouldn’t be able to join a health club (500 renminbis per month) or play tennis (120 renminbis for an hour on weekends). They wouldn’t be able to watch any international films released in Beijing at 80 renminbis per seat.

The Khurshids would have a very basic wardrobe with a pair of jeans (Levi’s 501 or something similar) at 800 renminbis and a woman’s summer dress at a chain store like Zara and H&M at about 485 renminbis. A pair of leather shoes for Salman would be 750 renminbis, sports shoes at 800. His pocket would prevent him from even haggling for fake branded clothes with the Silk Street sharpsters. 

They wouldn’t be able to subscribe to internet services at 120 renminbis per month. They could bar­ely afford a pre-paid mobile at 0.3 renminbis per minute for local calls. If they mana­ged net access somehow, they’d find social media sites blocked and would have to use heavily monitored Chinese equivalents Weibo, Renren or YouKu—if they manage to teach themselves some Mandarin. 

If the Khurshids wanted to be promoted at work, party membership would help—although it is a bit late in the day for them to join the Communist Party. Unhappy with their lives, they wouldn’t be able to protest publicly—the last time the Chinese protested was in Tiananmen Square and they were massacred. 

On the other hand, in India, Khurshid’s family has been part of the ruling classes for three generations now. As a cabinet minister, he earns Rs 50,000 per month as basic salary, a daily allowance of Rs 2,000; a constituency allowance of Rs 45,000 per month and a sumptuary allowance of Rs 1,000 per month—along with a free spacious bungalow with free electricity, water and telephones (but metered gas); a fully furnished residential office on which he can spend Rs 3 lakh for furnishing; unlimited official travel by air and train; 48 personal air tickets a year and free security. When he is out of power, his income shoots up as a practising lawyer. While Chinese television won’t even bother with him, in India, he’s always on TV. If all else fails, there’s Farrukhabad. Why then, to borrow a phrase, choose to be the bread crumb of Beijing when you can be the toast of India? 

(The writer was recently in Beijing. He enjoyed being in the city, but certainly does not want to live there.)

People will realise that armed violence will not bring them any development

May 28, 2013

If you look at the government with the type of the situation and the constraints that we have, we are really looking at the six most affected states -- Bihar, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra -- for focused action because it is not possible for us in one sense to focus everywhere. Even here we are focusing on key districts. The entire strategy is primarily basically to put in the local forces and additional para-military forces which are coming in. Take back what we call as areas where there is no civil administration, and then once you have provided the basic security by establishing a police station, by establishing a security grid across the area, then the civil administration literally moves into providing basic facilities like NREGA scheme, roads, health facilities, doctors.

The work is to be done on a very concentrated manner in these areas. The deficiency in one sense is so immense. We had a meeting with some of the district magistrates recently. In one of the districts the total number of MBBS doctors is only three in the district. If you have three doctors in a district what kind of health services can you provide? In West Midnapore district there are 4000 vacancies for teachers -- 4000 in one district! So, these are critical areas which unless we start focusing on what we call as effective governance, making sure that these people are there. A lot of relaxation is being given in recruitment and we are saying that you can appoint doctors on contract basis, pay them extra money, provide them incentives.

In Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district, that district alone as a result of the incidents that have taken place in the last two years, has now got 2000 policemen whereas many districts have got a total strength of barely 100 policemen in some of the insurgency affected areas. So, here you have 2000 and they are going to raise that to 3000. So, when you have 3000 policemen in a district and half the policemen recruited from the local tribes and local people etc, you are able to then maintain law and order. In Gadchiroli district, you will be surprised that the DM mentioned that three-fourth of the district had no mobile phone connectivity. Therefore, he stated the need for satellite phones. Therefore, apart from trying to fill the large vacancies in the State forces, we are looking at special incentives.

All these people posted in these remote areas get 15 to 30 pc extra allowances to work in these areas. Protection of the police building is vital because if the police cannot protect itself, it cannot protect the people. Specialised training, intelligence-based operations, and I must say that the intelligence-based operatives are slowly getting us results. We have arrested two politburo members in the last six months. We have arrested four central committee members, we have arrested another state committee member Deepak Talgu in West Bengal and we are slowly starting to get that intelligence. People are going to come and give information only where they feel that the government is going to stay there.

In each of these areas, the central paramilitary forces and the state police forces are going to stay there for at least three years till such time as basic administrative infrastructure like roads, PDE, Schools, hospitals, everything is set up. Then only they will move to the next area and so on and so forth. Therefore, our basic aim in one sense in conclusion is basically to build up capacities in the state police which is absolutely essential and for which I think the 13th Finance Commission has provided funds. I think next year about Rs 500 crore will come for police training itself. In the last 20 years they would not have got for police training that amount of money. In the next year alone they will get about Rs 500 crore. In the meantime, with deployment, sharing of intelligence, inter-state coordination and providing basic services there is a slow progress.

There are many more problems which I have not touched on. The causes are many starting from the origins of the Forest Conservation Act. We had the Forest Conservation Act, which created problems because even the minor forest produce was the property of the government. With the recent Forest Act, we have said that it is the property of the tribals. You had lakhs of cases by the forest guard against the tribals for collecting even minor forest produce. Some of them have been withdrawn and directions have been given to withdraw the remaining cases. Tribal land rights are another issue which needs to be focused upon.

We have looked at what I call the wildlife sanctuaries which came in and we had all these wildlife sanctuaries whether it is a tiger reserve or lion reserve and so on and so forth. The first priority (I am not blaming anybody), became the animal rather than the people who stayed in the forest. Therefore those who stayed in the forest were prime targets for the Maoists etc, to say look, the government is more concerned about the animals than you and therefore you come on our side, the government is against you. There are so many issues which are interlinked in this entire thing and these are all issues which have to be tackled from land acquisition to power plants which have come up in many of these areas.

Police don't bother Maoists, Maoists don't bother them

May 28, 2013 

In West Midnapore alone they have killed 159 party workers from the area committee member to the grass-root party workers from June to December 2009. You really cannot have any discussion with the Maoists because they don't believe in discussion as a matter of any principle. They only believe in armed struggle to overthrow the Indian State and therefore even a discussion is only a ploy to regroup or buy time because they don't believe in parliamentary democracy. It is only a strategy and I am sure if a few of their top leaders get arrested and so on, they will be far more willing to say they will come for talks just to get them released or regroup but they will not come until the pressure is there.

My own assessment is that the Maoists are not under much pressure at the moment. Therefore, all these talks of discussion and cessation of hostilities and so on and so forth are more to confuse the situation rather than anything else. My assessment is that they will start feeling the pressure maybe about a year or so from now when we get our acts together fully.

You might ask why we are taking so much time to get our act together. Part of the reason is that the police force, I don't have to say it, is in one sense possibly one of the most neglected, exploited, abused forces in India. We have over three lakh vacancies in the police force. As against a normal strength of 220 policemen to a lakh population, we have only an average of 138 in the country today. For example, in Bihar, the police to a lakh population ratio is only 56. It is one-fourth of what should be normal and I am comparing it with Delhi which has 480 or western countries which have in this range 400-500. West Bengal is something like 82 policemen per lakh population.

So, when you have such low strength and I have seen many of the police stations in some of these states. They have a police station where the sanctioned strength is about 12 and the actual strength because of casual leave, etc, is about six or seven people and they are to police a Naxalite-infested area. So, you can just imagine what they can do. They just lock the door and play cards inside and the Naxals are allowed to do what they want to do outside. They don't bother the Maoists, the Maoists don't bother them either. So, if you don't have 50, 60, 80 people in a police station well armed, well-guarded police station etc, you will find this situation of lawlessness and anarchy.

In fact the 13th Finance Commission report which has come out the first time and Rs.2200 crores have been allotted for police training to the states. The 13th Finance Commission has possibly done a yeoman's service for the police force in the country and for the first time it has been realised that police training is so important. If you don't have well trained policemen, you cannot effectively maintain law and order. If you see states like Bihar and Jharkhand, they were separated 10 years ago, but Bihar has still not got a basic police training institute. Many policemen who are just recruited barely do a basic elementary training. There are states where the sanctioned strength of some police training institute is zero and where the people have been posted in an ad-hoc manner without any training.

I went to Manipur the other day to their police training institute. The capacity is 1100 and they have got 4800 people to train. All training classes and everything else have been converted into barracks and the classes are held in the open. They are all being trained under the trees. So you have gone back to the old days of gurukul training for constables. You are teaching them law and legal forensics etc, under the trees. It is a tremendous neglect which has happened over the years and that is why taking steps to increase the effectiveness of the police force is going to take a few years.

These three lakh vacancies will take about three years to fill up. Then a year of training. So, in about four years you will fill up these three lakh vacancies. That is only to bring it to 140 per lakh population, not even 220. Otherwise, there is a need of another five lakh people, so you need about eight lakh additional policemen. I always wonder why when giving jobs is such an important thing, why chief ministers have not filled up these vacancies all these years.

To survive in Maoist-infected areas you have to be unflinchingly loyal only to them

May 28, 2013

That is what has happened through violent attacks on the police, the field level functionaries etc. They say they are ineffective which is why when they attack a police station, the message they are trying to tell is, look, if the police can't protect themselves, where are they going to protect you? They go after police informers. In last year's little over 500 killings, about 300 of them are allegedly police informers because they don't want anybody to be giving information to the State authorities. They deliver rough and ready justice. 

A climate of fear is created whereby if you want to survive in these areas, you have to be unflinchingly loyal only to the Maoists. Many a time, they come back and say we made a mistake and so on and so forth but by that time, the life is lost. It is kangaroo justice and they project tribals as victims and not the beneficiaries of development.

Then, as I have mentioned earlier, as a result of this book on Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution, they have built up a variety of front organisations, and I do not wish to criticise any of these organisations for they are unwitting pawns of the Maoists. I still remember an article by director, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relation, Rajiv Kumar. He wrote that he joined the Naxal movement in 1969, went to the jungles thinking it is a great idea. Everybody is a revolutionary or a communist when they are young and then he said they asked me to go and kill somebody. 

It was then he realised that this was not what he expected to be doing as part of the revolution or change. He ran away from there and came back. This is where the various front organisations get trapped in for very genuine causes but the very genuine causes, also to an extent, support the Maoists, in their long-term strategy to overthrow the Indian State.

The overthrow of the Indian State is not something which they are willing to do tomorrow or day after. Their strategy according to these books is that they are looking to overthrow the State around 2050. There are some documents talking of 2060. They are not looking at the overthrow of the Indian State in 2012 or 2013. It is a long steady progress. I am always reminded of that example of the frog in the hot water. When you put a frog in a flask and you heat it up slowly the frog will never jump out, because it is slowly being cooked to perfection. But if you put a frog in hot water, it jumps out and escapes. This is exactly what has happened to the Indian State over the last 10 years, when Maoists have slowly built up their movement. It is extremely slow.

The power of the left-wing extremist groups is immense and they can in one sense if they want to, bring many sectors of the Indian economy to its knees even today but they don't want to do that. They won't do it today because they know that the State will come down very hard and they are not fully prepared to face the full onslaught of the State machinery and therefore they will move very slowly. This is how that we have lost areas and control over the last so many years.

Every officer a technical graduate: The navy creates a warrior-engineer force

The navy wants a 13,700 officer force, all of them technical graduates 

By Ajai Shukla 
26th May 13 

On Saturday, amongst 302 cadets who passed out from the Indian Naval Academy (INA) in Ezhimala, Kerala, were 60 from the navy’s first batch of regular officers who are also fully qualified engineers. An increasingly high-tech, equipment-oriented navy is aiming to have every single officer holding a B.Tech or M.Sc degree. 

“A warship on the high seas, whether in war or peace, is entirely on its own. The crew must be able to fix any technical problem that arises in that complex vessel. That requires every officer, from the captain downwards, to be technologically qualified, while also being a battlefield leader,” says Rear Admiral SN Ghormade, the navy’s HRD chief. 

This is a major shift, given that until the 1970s, cadets could become officers having passed nothing more than the 10th standard matriculation exam. That became 11th, then 12th, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla (NDA) structured its academic curriculum so that the Jawaharlal Nehru University gave its cadets a bachelor’s degree after three years of training. But now the navy wants nothing less than qualified engineers --- not just in its technical branches, but also in its “executive branch”, which includes the captains and admirals who command battleships and fleets. 

Training so many engineers is no easy task, given the navy’s rapid expansion. Authorized 10,600 officers today (there are actually just 8,700), the navy plans to expand to 13,700 officers --- all engineers --- by 2027. The defence ministry (MoD) has told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence that the navy’s fleet --- about 140 vessels today --- would rise to 162 vessels by 2022. 

That makes the navy the fastest growing of all three services. Allocated just 12 per cent of the country’s defence budget a decade ago, today the navy is handed some 18 per cent. Navy planners believe that --- given India’s growing focus on Indian Ocean trade route security and maritime linkages with the countries of the Indo-Pacific --- that share could rise to 25 per cent. 

How to soothe the friction with China

May 28 2013, 


India can look to the Cold War for examples of creative diplomacy 

Li Keqiang, China's shiny new premier, has come and gone, and the commentariat is already looking toward Manmohan Singh's visit to Beijing later this year. Yet, troubling questions about China's intrusion into Ladakh last month linger. 

India was understandably aggrieved by China's surprise incursion. The move embarrassed the Singh government and was an affront to India's dignity. Indeed, given the almost non-existent strategic value of the territory temporarily occupied, some speculate this was its principal purpose. 

Reopening issues of risk management and reduction ought to be high on New Delhi's agenda for Manmohan Singh's trip to China later this year. 

New Delhi's response — it could have done no less — was to dispatch troops of its own, resulting in a potentially dangerous standoff that, through poor communication, faulty decision-making, or plain bad luck, could have escalated into a genuinely dangerous confrontation. Fortunately, prudence and common sense prevailed and both sides withdrew their forces, reverting to the status quo ante and clearing the way first for External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's previously planned trip to Beijing, and last week, Li's visit to India. 

Singh's detractors criticise the prime minister for a timid response to Beijing's Ladakh intrusion. His supporters insist the resolution of the mini-crisis vindicates the low-key manner in which New Delhi handled the affair. Standing alongside Li, Singh noted that "existing mechanisms proved their worth" in connection with "the recent incident in the western sector." Perhaps, perhaps not — but they certainly didn't prevent the infiltration and its attendant risks in the first place. 

What the Chinese were up to in Ladakh remains unclear. To what extent the infiltration was sanctioned at the highest levels in Beijing and whether it presages further moves of a similar nature is also unclear. Until New Delhi receives satisfactory answers to these questions — and don't bet on that — Indian defence officials will remain on-edge. 

The matter of porous, disputed or ill-defined borders represents an ongoing challenge not only for India, but for many of its neighbours as well. That China is at the centre of many of these disputes has helped awaken anxieties across the region. In several instances, impartial observers have been astounded by the sweeping audacity of Beijing's claims, most notably in its South China Sea disputes with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and others. 

Explanations for this Chinese assertiveness are varied. Some describe the disputes as routine geopolitical jockeying for regional pre-eminence. Others point to confirmed or anticipated oil and gas discoveries within the contested territories. Domestic politics and bureaucratic and budgetary competition within the opaque Chinese decision-making process are almost certainly part of the equation. Some analysts speak more darkly of an aggressive Chinese design to become the regional hegemon. The Chinese, of course, insist they are doing no more than reasserting traditional and legally valid claims over territories unjustly seized when China was too weak to defend its borders. 

Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, directly challenged China on its territorial ambitions during a meeting of regional leaders in Hanoi several years ago in a manner that shocked Beijing. China has done little to moderate its behaviour in any appreciable manner since then, but a number of the smaller Southeast Asian disputants were fortified by Clinton's strong words and encouraged to believe they had options other than simply backing down before Beijing's bullying. 

Are there steps that might be taken to lessen the likelihood of such border disputes and to minimise the risks when they do occur? Given the costs to all parties should a localised incident escalate into a wider conflagration, identifying and implementing such measures should be a priority in New Delhi, Beijing, and throughout the region. 


India-China relations are complex enough not to be seen in black and white terms. Amidst all the good reasons for India to mistrust China and deal with it as an adversary, it makes sense to work with it in areas where both can benefit. The challenge is how to craft a policy that counters the threats from China even as it allows space to build on common interests. 

China’s growing international weight, especially economic, is increasingly impacting our interests. Being our geographic neighbour, we get pressure from it directly and through our neighbours as well. While resisting such pressure, we have to engage China too, just as the United States, which, despite being far more powerful than us, is obliged to engage with China which is challenging it strategically in Asia and beyond. 

It is in this space between the need to counter China as well as engage it that the recent visit of Chinese premier Li Keqiang should be seen. Our problem is our inability to strike the optimal balance between rejecting China and reaching out to it. Our policy makers understand the nature of China’s threat and the strategic ill-will it bears us. A serious and self-defeating gap exists, however, in our comprehension of the challenge we face from China and the way we approach it. 

Ladakh face-off 

The Ladakh face-off preceding Li Keqiang’s visit demonstrated this gap. We downplayed it, explained it as a local upshot of differing perceptions of the LAC and stressed that it must not upset the calendar of high level visits and the edifice of the relationship built with considerable effort. We read from what might have been China’s script. 

The core of China’s threat to us relates to our unsettled border. We realize that China prefers to leave the line of actual control (LAC) vague to keep us on the defensive and restrain us from building better defences in sensitive areas. Our belated steps, in the face of China’s persistent territorial claims, to raise new mountain divisions, improve our military infrastructure and air defences on the border are hardly compatible with the mantra of “peace and tranquility”. We need to press for clarifying the LAC but we do not. 

The Chinese have taught us a lesson in Ladakh, which we are unwilling to acknowledge as it would expose the political fragility of our China policy. Removing a temporary structure in the Chumar area to end the Chinese intrusion implies that we are accepting China-imposed constraints on calibrating our presence and the level of our defences in areas we claim control over. This has implications for the future. China has cowed us down with the unpredictability of its behaviour. 

Despite Chinese awareness of the blow administered to bilateral ties by the Ladakh face-off, Li Keqiang brought nothing with him that could give a real impetus to a resolution of border differences. 

By merely encouraging the Special Representatives to push forward the process of negotiations and seek a framework for an agreement, pending which the two sides will maintain peace and tranquility, the joint statement repeats stock-phrases. Li Keqiang would have taken in his stride our Prime Minister’s cautionary words that “the basis for continued growth and expansion of our ties is peace and tranquility on our borders” because he knows India disregarded this admonition in reacting to the Ladakh incident to the point of doing all it could to insulate Li Keqiang’s from its fall-out. 

Joint statement 

Our inadequate political strategy towards China is reflected in the way the joint statement parades convergence on a host of issues, distorting reality and conveying confusing signals to our other partners. We have been plied into projecting China which is muscling tensions on its eastern frontiers as a cooperative power that seeks positive ties with neighbours. The statement speaks loosely of India and China evolving “an effective model of friendly coexistence and common development, which can be an example for relations between big, neighboring countries”. It talks of the world needing the “common development” of both countries and the two seeing “each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors”. Despite happenings in Tibet, we have implicitly recognized that China respects fundamental rights and the rule of law.