15 July 2013

India’s date with the Arctic ***

July 15, 2013
Shyam Saran

AP Taking into account the ‘global commons’ character of the Arctic, such an international regime must be able to put in place an effective compliance mechanism. Photo: AP

Instead of joining the race to commercially exploit this pristine region, New Delhi must use its position in the regional council to push for a global mechanism to prevent an unseemly gold rush

On May 15, 2013, India became an Observer at the Arctic Council, which coordinates policy on the Arctic. (The Arctic Council has eight states as members, the five coastal states, Canada, Russia, the U.S., Norway and Denmark (through Greenland), and Sweden, Iceland and Finland.) Other countries that joined India as Observers were China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Italy. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands are already Observers.


In becoming an Observer, India had to agree to the following criteria set by the Council:

(i) recognise the sovereign rights of Arctic states;

(ii) recognise that the Law of the Sea and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, constitute the legal basis and the legal framework within which the Arctic will be managed;

(iii) respect indigenous peoples, local cultures and traditions; and

(iv) be able to contribute to the work of the Arctic Council.
Template transfer?

In accepting to abide by these criteria, India has recognised the territorial jurisdiction and sovereign rights of the Arctic littoral states and hence their pre-eminent and even pre-emptive role over the Arctic zone. The acceptance of the Law of the Sea as the governing instrument for the Arctic also implies that the extension of jurisdiction over the continental shelf as well as over maritime passage and the resources of the ocean space will lie with the littoral states. The Arctic has virtually become the inland water space of the five coastal states — Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States. India has, therefore, no more room to argue that the region be treated in the same manner as the Antarctica. In the Antarctica Treaty of 1959, territorial claims have been kept in abeyance in favour of a global commons approach, respecting the pristine nature of the ice covered continent. The trends we see in the Arctic region may well come to pass in the Antarctic as well. The claimant states could reasonably argue that just as the Arctic space is being managed by the sovereign members of the Arctic Council, with well-defined norms and through cooperation among both the littoral and user states, why could this not serve as a template for Antarctica? Like the Arctic, the Antarctic, too, is a treasure house of resources. These are also being unlocked by the steady melting of the continent’s ice cover. It may only be a question of time before the northern Gold Rush is followed by its rampant Southern version.

India has succumbed to the temptation of sharing in the emerging opportunities for resource extraction as the Arctic continues to melt because of global warming, Yes, as the government argues, becoming an Observer would enable India to take part in scientific research into the changing Arctic environment, including its serious climate change effects. These effects will be global, whether in sea level rise, the acidification of the worlds’ oceans and change in ocean currents and weather patterns. India’s association with the Arctic Council puts it in a better position to understand these changes and be a part of efforts to minimise the adverse consequences of the Arctic being opened up to intensified human activity. However, both the members of the Arctic Council and the Observers, including India, have avoided confronting the obvious: the opportunities that they seek to exploit and profit from are the very activities which will exacerbate the climate change impact of a warming Arctic. The “on the one hand” and “on the other hand” approach that all these stakeholders are guilty of merely disguises the fact that the lure of profit has already triumphed over the fear of ecological disaster. China has lost no time in positioning itself through a number of asset acquisitions in several Arctic states, in particular, Russia and Canada.


What could be done to restrain this headlong rush into a potential ecological catastrophe of global dimensions?

Oceanographer and Arctic expert Rick Steiner has made a practical and reasonable suggestion. This is for the U.N. to set up its own Arctic body. It may be on the lines of the Indian Ocean Commission, which may provide the international community the capacity to monitor what is happening in the region, draw up strict norms for activities, taking into account the “global commons” character of the Arctic, and put in place a credible and effective compliance mechanism. India could certainly push for such a global regime without violating its role of Observer at the Arctic Council.

It may also be worthwhile for India and other developing states to put the Arctic on the agenda of the ongoing multilateral negotiations on Climate Change under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. A separate resolution or decision of the Conference of Parties to the Convention could draw attention to the Arctic as a global commons, its impact on global climate and the need to ensure that the activities undertaken there do not harm the well-being of the vast majority of people around the world.

Why Henderson Brooks Report Cannot be De-classified

IssueNet Edition| Date : 14 Jul , 2013

Mules carrying ammunition over a mountain pass during 1962 War

Claude Arpi’s demand to release the Henderson Brooks report is akin to Julian Assange and Edward Snowden seeking asylum in India. Understandably, Wikileaks disclosures of black money stashed abroad by Indians had sent many personalities scurrying for cover. There was flurry of movement to foreign lands, personal jets, and chartered planes, jets lent by birds of same flock, unexplained mysterious absences and what have you. Now that there is some measure of relief, Julian Assange wants asylum here. Where is the guarantee that he will not release another list disclosing how the black money has been siphoned out, to which new destinations, how much has been surreptitiously routed back to India, by whom, and into which developmental, private construction or other projects. Edward Snowden is even bigger threat. That he is already in league with Julian is an established fact, implying Julian can always leak information through Edward. But the bigger threat is what information Edward has swiped from the US NSA’s Prism. Although our Foreign Minister has certified “no data has been stolen” from the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, his own subordinates are not convinced of his credentials as cyber expert. So getting back to Edward Snowden, God knows what secrets this guy may leak out given that even Obama appears so shaken up.

When did the Government of India start seeking military advice on strategic security issues? As to Claude pointing out that the report only generally points out to lack of political direction, which report in India ever has indicted individuals in power?

Claude has quoted Neville Maxwell in questioning that even if Jawaharlal Nehru emerges in in bad light in the Henderson Brooks Report, why should it be kept in wraps in a modern democracy like India. He also writes that in 2008, Defense Minister, Mr AK Antony told the Indian Parliament that the Henderson Brooks could not be declassified. Mr Antony claimed that the report could not be made public because an internal study by the Indian Army had established that its contents “are not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value.” When did the Government of India start seeking military advice on strategic security issues? As to Claude pointing out that the report only generally points out to lack of political direction, which report in India ever has indicted individuals in power?

Claude Arpi has quoted the Henderson Brooks Report in saying, “No major security threat other than from Pakistan was perceived. And the armed forces were regarded adequate to meet Pakistan’s threat. Hence very little effort and resources were put in for immediate strengthening of the security of the borders.” What stands obfuscated was this was ‘whose appreciation’; political appreciation, military appreciation, individual appreciation? Perhaps there could have been no one better to warn Nehru of China’s intentions and in no better form than Sardar Patel’s strategic advice through his letter dated 7th November 1950, excerpts of which are as follows:

“…We have to consider what new situation now faces us as a result of the disappearance of Tibet, as we knew it, and the expansion of China almost up to our gates. Throughout history we have seldom been worried about our north-east frontier. The Himalayas have been regarded as an impenetrable barrier against any threat from the north. We had a friendly Tibet which gave us no trouble. …..Chinese irredentism and communist imperialism are different from the expansionism or imperialism of the western powers. The former has a cloak of ideology which makes it ten times more dangerous. In the guise of ideological expansion lie concealed racial, national or historical claims. The danger from the north and north-east, therefore, becomes both communist and imperialist…….for the first time, after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously….. we shall now have to reckon with communist China in the north and in the north-east, a communist China which has definite ambitions and aims and which does not, in any way, seem friendly disposed towards us…….”

IB's defence of Emergency: 'The country has been saved'

Druhitewari Posted online: Mon Jul 15 2013

Indira Gandhi addresses the nation during Emergency.

New Delhi : Two weeks after Emergency was imposed by the Indira Gandhi government on June 25, 1975, the Intelligence Bureau prepared an internal note with a detailed defence of the imposition, claiming it “saved” the country from from “chaos and anarchy”. The points it stressed matched those used by the Congress government to defend its stance in Parliament.

The 34-page note, dated July 11, 1975 and titled "The Threat of Grave Internal Disturbance, The Need for the Proclamation of an Emergency”, was part of home ministry documents pertaining to the Emergency period accessed by The Indian Express from the National Archives of India. It blamed the opposition parties for creating a situation that necessitated an emergency and claimed the government had, in fact, “saved the country from widespread internal disorder”.

“In the light of what had transpired in Gujarat and Bihar and the ‘mini-revolts’ staged by these political parties, their trade unions and student fronts in the last one-and-a-half years and particularly the anarchy and disorder that was sought to be unleashed during the last railway strike, one could imagine the chaos and anarchy [into] which the country would have been thrown if these plans had not been scotched effectively by the proclamation of the Emergency and the arrest and detention of these leaders,” the note says. “By this action, the country has been saved from widespread internal disorder and a situation in which the administration would have been put to the very greatest stress leading to serious setbacks in development and meeting the pressing needs of the people.”

The note begins by talking about the “anarchy” in Gujarat, followed by Bihar. “The public have no doubt seen the outlines of the ‘strategy for Total Revolution’ and the havoc wrought by its implementation in Gujarat and Bihar in the last 18 months. But because of the very nature of the clandestine and sinister plans of the opposition, the people are not aware of the enormity of the dimensions of the... anarchy and disorder planned by these forces,” the documents states, adding the non-CPI opposition parties were trying to “capture power”.

“...The BJP and its militant cadres in the RSS and ABVP prepared a ‘Blue Print’ for capturing power through extra-parliamentary mass agitations,” the document says, adding conditions of widespread “lawlessness and anarchy” had been created in Gujarat following which the assembly was dissolved on March 15, 1974. It adds the opposition had earlier not “hesitated to indulge in violence at Congress meetings” in poll-bound UP.

“The parties of the ‘grand alliance’ saw in the Gujarat developments a new hope... The possibility of repeating ‘Gujarat’ in Bihar loomed large in their political thinking,” the note says. It claims the opposition parties unleashed an “orgy of arson and violence” in the state on March 18, 1974.

On the May 1974 rail strike, it says, “Simultaneously with developing the links with all anti-Congress forces, the leaders of the Socialist Party were busy planning a ‘rail strike’ which was to disrupt communications on a wide scale and engulf the country in ‘economic chaos’...” but “failed to bring the government to their knees”.

It says the Socialist Party in March 1975 was advocating a “civil disobedience movement” and opposition leaders were “exhorting people to be in readiness for fighting the battle on the streets”. It particularly mentions opposition leaders Madhu Limaye, Atal Behari Vajpayee, George Fernandes, Morarji Desai and J P Narayan, besides others. It accuses the opposition of trying to “undermine the loyalty of the police and military”, calling the move “deeply sinister”.

Bodh Gaya blasts expose India’s weak flank again

Monday, 15 July 2013 

Lord Buddha is believed to have received his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The place is sacred not only to Hindus but also to Buddhists around the world. Yet this most holy place came under terrorist attack on July 7.

Earlier, the Intelligence Bureau had sent a warning to the Bihar Government about a possible terror attack at Bodh Gaya. The alert was sounded following confessions by Indian Mujahideen operatives caught by Delhi Police between August and October last year for their involvement in the 2012 Pune blasts. In an official release dated October 26, 2012, Delhi Police said: “...sustained interrogation of the accused arrested by us revealed that a person, Sayed Maqbool, was in close association with (the four previously arrested terrorists) and together they planned to commit fidayeen attacks on the Buddhist shrines in Bodh Gaya in Bihar as retaliation to the alleged atrocities being committed upon Muslims in Myanmar”.

Apart from Buddhist targets, the operatives had also revealed their plans to attack Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad and the Pune court house and prison. Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad had also said at the time that its own interrogation of the IM operatives had exposed the group’s plans to attack Dilsukhnagar and Bodh Gaya. However, nobody took the warning seriously. Consequently, Dilsukhnagar was bombed in February and Bodh Gaya, earlier this month.

The problem here is that after the warnings were received, nobody took stock of the situation. Were we adequately prepared with the right kind of arms and equipment? Did we have evidence enough to make a strong legal case? Instead of answering these questions, our Government has only issued condemnatory statements after the attacks. Since then, it has been business as usual for the Government and the terrorists alike.

In this context, it will be worthwhile to remember what the Supreme Court had observed in Kartar Singh versus State of Punjab [1994] 3 SCC 569. The apex court had said that the country was in the firm grip of terrorist violence and was caught between deadly pangs of disruptive activities. Apart from the many skirmishes in various parts of the country, there were countless incidents of blood-bath, firing and looting wherein even women and children were not spared. Parts of the country had been reduced to graveyards. Deplorably, youths had been lured by hardcore criminals and underground extremists who used the ideology of terrorism to brainwash and engage them in crimes against humanity. They deserved no mercy.

Yet, in this country few if any effective steps are taken to bring to book those who spread mayhem and anarchy. Now, compare this to the situation in the US where there has only been one major terrorist attack since Al Qaeda flew two planes into the World Trade Centre and changed the New York skyline forever more than a decade ago.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Washington, DC passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, popularly known by its acronym USA Patriot Act or simply as the Patriot Act. This piece of legislation has played a key part in a number of successful counter-terror operations that have helped protect innocent Americans. The Act gives federal officials greater authority to track and intercept communications, both for law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering purposes.

In India, on the other hand, the Union Government has actually diluted anti-terrorism laws. In fact, one of the first things that the Congress-led UPA regime did when it came to power in 2004 was to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 that had been legislated by the BJP-led NDA Government before it. Previously, in 1995, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act had also been allowed to lapse. 

Under the existing laws, the onus lies on the investigating agencies to prove the guilt of a suspected terrorist. In other words, we have tied our own hands and feet when it comes to combating terrorism. To make matters worse, we also do not have a Witness Protection Act. And we also expect the ill-equipped and ill-trained police to handle terrorism. Former Union Minister for Home Affairs P Chidambaram had sympathised with the ordinary police constable saying he is the “most abused” part of the force and the “most reviled public servant”. He had also spoken at length about India’s poorly trained police force, especially at the lower ranks. “Everyone believes that he (Constable) can be bullied, or cajoled or bribed... Self-esteem of average policeman is very low…And this average Police Constable is a frontline force for the internal security”, Mr Chidambaram had said.

The Government knows well about the problem and how it can be resolved. But why does it not rectify the deficiencies pointed by its own Minister, instead of passing the buck to the State Government? The trouble is that the Union Government is worried that if it takes strong action, it will lose the game of vote-bank politics.

Also, there are plenty of busybodies who will advise the Government that taking a tough and innovative stand in matters of law and order will lead to violation of human rights. Yet, how exactly going soft on terrorists can violate anybody’s human rights remains a mystery. Against this backdrop, it is also important to acknowledge the cold and harsh fact that most terrorist attacks in this country could not have been effectively carried out without ample local support.

No time is right for anything, but doing the right thing is what makes the time to be right. The Union Government should remember what Gandhiji once said: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Chairman of the Board


How Mao unintentionally created China’s capitalist revolution.

In his opening remarks at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, an annual meeting between high ranking U.S. and Chinese officials, Vice President Joseph Biden spoke about his first visit to China in 1976, the year that Chairman Mao Zedong died. "It was already clear then," he said on July 10, "that China stood on the cusp of remarkable change." That was 37 years ago, when China was still one of the poorest countries in the world -- even after a century of experimentation with one formula after another for making their nation wealthy and powerful again.

It was by no means clear back then whether the incipient changes Biden sensed would really take hold. Few imagined that by the early 21st century, China would be in a position to challenge the United States economically, militarily, and even in the contest for soft power. So, after spending so many generations mired in a cycle of failed reform and revolution, how did China finally manage to chin itself up into its present period of prolonged economic dynamism? 

One of the most interesting and paradoxical explanations originates with Mao, the very person who had such a destructive effect on China in the last decades of his life. By razing the edifice of old China as relentlessly as he did, Mao may have actually cleared the way for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's subsequent reforms, thereby playing a role in China's rebirth that the Chairman could never have imagined while alive.

No leader in 20th-century China was more totalistic and unrelenting in attacking traditional culture than Mao. Under his despotic rule, China's Confucian heritage and old social values system was subject to a series of relentless assaults unequaled in history. Since the early 20th century, reformers such as the public intellectual Liang Qichao and political leader Sun Yat-sen had recognized that China's modernization would require the destruction of the old to make way for the new. They sought to transform a docile populace into an energetic and patriotic citizenship and turn a xenophobic ruling class into a cosmopolitan and modernist elite. But none of Mao's predecessors had been able -- or willing -- to muster the same ideological boldness, much less the organizational fortitude and leadership ruthlessness, to challenge China's thousands of years of continuous culture aggressively enough to actually neutralize tradition's drag on modernization.

As a young man, Mao was a disciple of both Liang and Sun, but was made of far sterner stuff. He ultimately embraced a far more extreme form of revolution -- one that insisted on constant, violent upheaval. Where others succeeded only in muting the influence of China's ancient culture, Mao nearly extirpated its very roots, and thus its hold on several subsequent generations of Chinese. His successive political and ideological campaigns, culminating in the riotous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that ended only with his death, all but severed the bonds of tradition that had fixed father over son, husband over wife, master over student, family over individual, past over future, and continuity over change. The Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao in 1966, was a lost decade of violent criticism sessions against parents, teachers, and party cadres, of urban youths being sent down to rural backwaters, and of vicious power struggles among top leaders. Mao's mass campaigns such as "Criticize Confucius and Lin Biao" and "Destroy the Four Olds" made Chinese tradition itself into the enemy of the revolution.

The bonds of that tradition had tormented earlier reformers, many of whom confessed to being unable to escape it themselves. Lu Xun, a master of modern Chinese literature, admitted to "constantly rediscovering in myself ... odious thoughts that the ancients recorded in their works." A profound influence on Mao, Lu hoped at least the next generation could be spared: "Let the conscious man assume the heavy burden of tradition, let him arch his back under the gate of darkness to allow his children to escape into the free space and light where they may spend their days in happiness and lead a truly human life." It was that "gate of darkness" which Mao sought to demolish.

But, so powerful was the hold of the past that later in their lives the first generations of reformers were almost all ineluctably drawn back into the "gate of darkness" of traditional values and culture from which they had so energetically sought to escape. Liang, Lu, and even Communist Party founder Chen Duxiu all returned to Chinese classical scholarship late in life, finding a solace in the ancient texts as they faced their own mortality and a society so stubbornly resistant to change.

Seen through such a historical lens, the wrecking ball of Mao's revolution can appear in a different light, as an instrument that was savage but necessary to clear the way for whatever might follow. It is true that Mao's final two decades -- from the Anti-Rightist Campaign and Great Leap Forwardthrough the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution -- were to a horrifying degree "lost" years for China. Tens of millions of people endured persecution in the name of Mao's "permanent revolution;" tens of millions more died from the famine caused by Mao's reckless economic policies. As Chen Yun, Mao's comrade in arms since the 1930s, summed up his legacy: "Had Chairman Mao died in 1956, there would have been no doubt that he was a great leader of the Chinese people.... Had he died in 1966, his meritorious achievements would have been somewhat tarnished, but his overall record was still very good. Since he actually died in 1976, there is nothing we can do about it."

Looked at through the cold eye of history, however, it may have been precisely those periods of Mao's most uncompromising nihilism that demolished China's old society, freeing Chinese from their traditional moorings. Mao's brutal interim was perhaps the essential, but paradoxical, precursor to China's subsequent boom under Deng and his successors, catapulting the Chinese into their present single-minded and unrestrained pursuit of wealth and power.

Even Harvard's John Fairbank, the founder of modern Chinese studies in the United States (and by no means a Mao enthusiast), could appreciate the purgative virtue of the Chairman's permanent revolution. "In the old society teachers were venerated by students, women were submissive to their husbands, and age was deferred to by youth," wrote Fairbank in 1980. "Breaking down such a system took a long time because one had to change one's basic values and assumptions accepted in childhood. The times called for a leader of violent willpower, a man so determined to smash the old bureaucratic establishment that he would stop at nothing."

For better or worse, Mao was such a man -- modern China's "perennial gale of creative destruction," in economist Joseph Schumpeter's famous phrase; or, as Liang Qichao had yearned at the dawn of the 20th century, a leader willing to "carry out harsh rule, and with iron and fire forge and temper our countrymen for 20, 30, even 50 years."

Constitutional Reform Needed for Myanmar’s Ethnic Challenges

July 15, 2013
By Kala Mulqueeny

Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi have driven Myanmar’s reform process. They now need to tackle its ethnic challenges.

Myanmar has a myriad of challenges to democratic reform and economic development. At the top of the list must be its deep-seated and long-standing ethnic and religious conflicts.

Over a range of issues, experts agreed fairly consistently, in a virtual conversation I co-led on the Future of Myanmar for the World Economic Forum (WEF). Aung San Suu Kyi and others gave briefings recorded at the WEF’s 22ndEast Asia Forum, in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in early June.

With 135 different ethnic groups, Myanmar has no single ethnic issue. Almost 70 percent of the 60 million people are ethnically Bamar or Burmese. Another 9 percent are Shan, and 6 percent are Karen, with other main groups being Kachin, Chin, Shah, Rakhine, Mon, Kayah (Karenni). Viewed along religious lines, almost 90 percent of the population is Buddhist, with Christians and Muslims comprising 4 percent each.

The ethnic issues are long-standing. In 1947, at the historic Panglong Conference, Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San reached a historic agreement with ethnic leaders based on equal opportunity and autonomy for ethnic minorities, self-determination for member states, and later secession for the Shan and Karenni peoples. It established the foundation for an independent Union of Burma in the post-British era.

But other majority Bamar politicians took a dim view of the Agreement. Their vision was for a unitary Burma, with a single Burmese culture and Buddhist religion. Five months later, one of them assassinated Aung San. The Panglong Agreement was never implemented. In 1962, Gen. Ne Win took control in a military coup, and a Buddhist, Burmese-dominated military government has engaged in civil wars and allegedly presided over human rights abuses against ethnic minorities ever since.

Since the 1962 coup, the government and ethnic groups have signed (and violated), many ceasefire agreements. Most visibly, in June 2012, after the start of the reform process, a 17 year old ceasefire with the Kachin, in the North, broke down. (Although more recently, in May 2013, the government signed another cease-fire agreement with them).

The persistent challenge is that despite many cease-fire agreements, to date, they have not led to political dialogue. Talks need to happen on demilitarization and redeployment of troops in key areas, as well as institutional solutions that seek to afford ethnic minority rights.

Underlying all of these ethnic conflicts are two contested visions of Myanmar’s future: first, a Myanmar governed by a Burmese, Buddhist majority. Second, a Myanmar governed under “the spirit of Panglong:” a truly federal system that affords ethnic groups equality and rights of autonomy and gives member states of Burma rights of self-determination and political autonomy.

The current 2008 Constitution does pay lip service to the idea of federalism by notionally establishing regional assemblies. However, these assemblies have no real power because the central government appoints the chief minister, and state legislatures don’t function.

Moreover, while the Constitution purports to establish some citizens’ rights, these are tempered by qualifications (for example “nothing shall prevent appointment of men to the positions that are suitable for men only”). Such rights can also be suspended during a state of emergency, which the president seems to have unlimited discretion to declare.

Some minority groups have called for a “New Panglong Agreement.” In doing so, they have postponed discussions of secession and kept their demands to calling for human rights and equality, decentralization of government, political and fiscal autonomy and true federalism. To resolve this issue and ensure lasting reform, Myanmar needs to make a federal system workable. The solution needs to be political with institutionalized protection of ethnic minority rights. That system should also allow minorities to retain customary landholdings and share in the benefits of revenues derived from natural resources located in their states. Where ethnic minorities predominate in member states, they should be afforded political and financial autonomy. All of these rights need to be entrenched within a Constitution that has a non-derogable bill of rights.

As well as these reforms, resolving Burma’s ethnic challenges needs to squarely consider its current treatment of Rohingya Muslims – a group the United Nations has called one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. Myanmar has a population of about 800,000 Rohingya. They are not counted as one of the 135 ethnic minorities under the 1982 Citizenship Law, and are denied citizenship and other basic rights despite many being in Myanmar for generations.

Last year, violence and state riots in the Rakhine state broke out and has since spread, with hundreds killed, and tens of thousands displaced. Last week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called on Myanmar to give Rohingya rights of citizenship and put an end to the violence.


- Free trade is politics, and war, by other means

Hidden behind thickets of acronyms and gorse bushes of detail, a new great game is under way across the globe. Some call it geoeconomics, but it’s geopolitics too. The current power play consists in an extraordinary range of countries simultaneously sitting down to negotiate big free trade and investment agreements. One way of thinking about this is to see it as the Widest West Web, though a definition of the West that includes Japan, Peru, Brunei and Vietnam is wide indeed. Another way to describe it is EBC: Everyone But China.

The biggest of these negotiations got under way this week, as a European Commission delegation sat down with their American counterparts in the White House Conference Center in Washington, DC. The deal they’re trying to thrash out is currently called TTIP, for transatlantic trade and investment partnership. That’s a terrible acronym. (Want to be on the TTIP anyone?) The first thing those negotiators should do is change the name. TAP, for trans-Atlantic partnership, is a much better alternative.

TAP would then neatly complement TPP, for trans-Pacific partnership, the other biggest show on the Broadway of geoeconomics. Total transatlantic trade and investment is estimated to be worth around $4.7 trillion. The proposed TPP region, a diverse grouping currently slated to include the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan, as well as such towering market democracies as Vietnam and Brunei, accounts for about one third of world trade. There are also ongoing European-Union-Canada and EU-Japan negotiations, while both the US and the EU are trying to intensify their trade and investment relationships with countries such as India and Brazil.

With glorious can-do American optimism, the White House is describing its big push to get the US on the TTIP — soon, I trust, to be renamed TAP — as a job for ‘one tank of gas’. That apparently means the period up to the Congressional mid-term elections in 2014. Well, they have big petrol tanks over there, although it has also to be said that, like your all-American SUV, the US Congress does pitifully few miles to the gallon. On the European side, that period would take us to the end of the current European Commission and Parliament. Most of the other talks, including those on TPP, EU-Canada and EU-Japan, are also looking towards 2014.

Yes, it may never happen. The recent history of trade talks is a history of stalling or, to stay with the Obama administration’s metaphor, of running out of gas. The fact that most of the countries involved are democracies only makes it more difficult. The way contemporary democracies work, they excel in aggregating the special needs of interest groups, both monied interests (corporations, sectoral lobbies) and electorally important ones, such as farmers. And the EU is itself an aggregation of 28 such national aggregations. It is no accident that Brussels competes with Washington for the title of lobbyists’ nirvana.

But just imagine that, with politicians’ minds unusually focussed by years of global recession and the rise of China, it did all come together. This would be huge in two ways: a huge potential gain for the world economy and a huge challenge to China. To mark the 100th anniversary of 1914, we would be getting back to something like the free-trading world we had before 1914 — but on a larger scale, with less formal colonialism, and with more complex and deeper forms of interconnection.

How Austerity Has Failed

British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Brussels, May 2012

Austerity has failed. It turned a nascent recovery into stagnation. That imposes huge and unnecessary costs, not just in the short run, but also in the long term: the costs of investments unmade, of businesses not started, of skills atrophied, and of hopes destroyed.

What is being done here in the UK and also in much of the eurozone is worse than a crime, it is a blunder. If policymakers listened to the arguments put forward by our opponents, the picture, already dark, would become still darker.

How Austerity Aborted Recovery

Austerity came to Europe in the first half of 2010, with the Greek crisis, the coalition government in the UK, and above all, in June of that year, the Toronto summit of the group of twenty leading countries. This meeting prematurely reversed the successful stimulus launched at the previous summits and declared, roundly, that “advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013.”

This was clearly an attempt at austerity, which I define as a reduction in the structural, or cyclically adjusted, fiscal balance—i.e., the budget deficit or surplus that would exist after adjustments are made for the ups and downs of the business cycle. It was an attempt prematurely and unwisely made. The cuts in these structural deficits, a mix of tax increases and government spending cuts between 2010 and 2013, will be around 11.8 percent of potentialGDP in Greece, 6.1 percent in Portugal, 3.5 percent in Spain, and 3.4 percent in Italy. One might argue that these countries have had little choice. But the UK did, yet its cut in the structural deficit over these three years will be 4.3 percent of GDP.

What was the consequence? In a word, “dire.”

In 2010, as a result of heroic interventions by the monetary and fiscal authorities, many countries hit by the crisis enjoyed surprisingly good recoveries from the “great recession” of 2008–2009. This then stopped (see figure 1). The International Monetary Fund now thinks, perhaps optimistically, that the British economy will expand by 1.8 percent between 2010 and 2013. But it expanded by 1.8 percent between 2009 and 2010 alone. The economy has now stagnated for almost three years. Even if the IMF is right about a recovery this year, it will be 2015 before the economy reaches the size it was before the crisis began.

The picture in the eurozone is worse: its economy expanded by 2 percent between 2009 and 2010. It is now forecast to expand by a mere 0.4 percent between 2010 and 2013. Austerity has put the crisis-hit countries through a wringer, with huge and ongoing recessions. Rates of unemployment are more than a quarter of the labor force in Greece and Spain (see figure 2).

When the economies of many neighboring countries contract simultaneously, the impact is far worse since one country’s reduced spending on imports is another country’s reduced export demand. This is why the concerted decision to retrench was a huge mistake. It aborted the recovery, undermining confidence in our economy and causing long-term damage.
Why Fiscal Policy

Why is strong fiscal support needed after a financial crisis? The answer for the crisis of recent years is that, with the credit system damaged and asset prices falling, short-term interest rates quickly fell to the lower boundary—that is, they were cut to nearly zero. Today, the highest interest rate offered by any of the four most important central banks is half a percent. Used in conjunction with monetary policy, aggressive and well-designed fiscal stimulus is the most effective response to the huge decrease in spending by individuals as they try to save money in order to pay down debt. This desire for higher savings is the salient characteristic of the post–financial crisis economy, which now characterizes the US, Europe, and Japan. Together these three still make up more than 50 percent of the world economy.

The rising dollar Green and back

The dollar is enjoying a rare period of strength. How far can the rally go?
Jul 13th 2013 

VISITORS to America this summer will find their money does not stretch quite as far as on previous trips. The dollar has risen this year against a broad range of currencies, so holiday purchases will be a bit pricier than usual. A strengthening dollar is a rare thing. The upward bursts in the early 1980s and the late 1990s were deviations from a generally falling trend. Since it was freed from the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates four decades ago, the dollar has mostly fallen in value against other rich-world currencies. But a growing band of analysts reckon it is time for the greenback to regain a bit of lost ground.

The immediate spur for optimism about the dollar is the recent signalling from the Federal Reserve that its purchases of bonds with newly created money may start to tail off as soon as September. The prospect of an end to quantitative easing has already pushed up long-term interest rates. The yield on ten-year Treasuries has risen to 2.6% from a low of 1.6% in May. As yields rise, capital is attracted to America from riskier parts of the world. That in turn pushes up the dollar.

The deeper cause of the dollar rally is the relative health of America’s economy. Bad mortgage debts have been cleaned out of banks. The housing market is recovering. Jobs are growing steadily. Non-farm employers added 195,000 workers to their payrolls in June, in line with the average increase so far this year.

GDP growth has been modest even if it is likely to strengthen a bit. In an update to its projections, the IMF this week forecast that the American economy will grow by 2.7% next year. That is hardly a boom. But other big rich economies, such as Japan and Britain, cannot hope to do nearly as well. And the euro zone is still in recession.

As if to underline these divergent fortunes central banks in Europe indicated earlier this month that looser monetary policy may still be required on their patch. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), said on July 4th that the bank expects to keep its main interest rates “at present or lower levels for an extended period of time”. This was the first time the ECB had given explicit guidance about the future path of interest rates. It came shortly after a statement from the Bank of England’s monetary-policy committee, meeting for the first time under its new governor, Mark Carney, which said the British economy was still too weak to warrant the increases in the bank’s benchmark interest rate implied by recent rises in longer-term bond yields.

The Fed’s own forward guidance about the probable “tapering” of its bond purchases is what pushed up these yields in Europe. As the extent to which monetary policy in America and Europe are on different paths becomes clear, the transatlantic gap in market interest rates is likely to widen. The dollar ought to rise further.

Still shallow

But how much further? For now a fitful upwards grind of 5-7% against the other major currencies might well be the limit. America’s economy is doing well enough to give its currency a boost, but it is not yet so strong as to spur the sort of bull run the dollar enjoyed in the late 1990s. Even if the Fed dials back bond purchases soon, it might be years before it raises its benchmark interest rate from near zero. The Fed has said it will stay where it is until unemployment, now 7.6%, has fallen to 6.5%; on July 10th Ben Bernanke, its chairman, said the rate could stick at near zero long after that. And the Fed would itself react to a fast-rising dollar: no rich country is keen to have a strong currency when growth is scarce. That is why the dollar rally will be a shallow one, says Kit Juckes, an analyst at Société Générale.

There may also be a limit to how far the euro can fall. The euro zone’s sovereign-debt crisis has dragged on for more than three years. Yet in all that time the euro could rarely be described as cheap. And even after the monetary-policy steers from the Fed and the ECB, the euro is still a bit above the fair value of $1.26 suggested by the Big Mac index, our rough-and-ready guide to currencies (see article).

One reason for this resilience might be that euros are harder for foreigners to earn than dollars are: the euro zone has a large current-account surplus whereas America has a big deficit. Another is that China’s central bank may have used any temporary weakness in the euro as an opportunity to diversify its huge reserves away from the dollar. Can the euro get below, say, $1.20? “You’ll have to ask the Chinese,” says a US-based hedge-fund manager.

The dollar seems likely to make the biggest gains against emerging-market currencies. A handful of countries, including India and South Africa, which depend on foreign capital to finance their trade deficits have already seen their currencies fall by around 10% since the beginning of May, merely on the prospect that the Fed might take its foot off the monetary-policy pedal (see chart). As long as bond yields were low in America, rich-world investors were happy to buy emerging-market bonds. But such capital will be a lot harder to secure from America as quantitative easing comes to an end.

Some emerging markets have already reportedly sold a slug of dollars from their foreign-exchange reserves to slow the descent of their currencies. There may be some second-round effects from this as these central banks then replenish their dollar reserves by selling some of their euros. By next summer visitors to America may find the dollar that bit stronger and their wallets emptying that bit faster.

How to draw lines in space

Kamlesh Bajaj : Mon Jul 15 2013

But the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013, is short on detail

Cyberspace is a new global commons, albeit of a different kind. It is man-made, with infrastructure — the information and communications technology (ICT) — that is owned by different countries, but is part of the cyber commons. Cyber attacks against the infrastructure of any country can come from anywhere in the world, with tracks that can be successfully hidden. No wonder the global cyber commons requires international cooperation to identify cyber attackers. Nations need to protect their respective cyber boundaries, even though cyber space is borderless. This is done through appropriate instruments, including policies, legislation, security programmes, awareness and training. The launch of the National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP), 2013, is a welcome step.

The government has taken several steps to enhance cyber security in the country. The first major step was the setting up of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) in 2002-03, to create awareness on cyber threats, understand vulnerabilities and devise ways to mitigate them. The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) was given the responsibility of protecting the critical information infrastructure (CII), and of developing offensive capability. The latter has done precious little.

The Information Technology Act, as amended in 2008, has raised the level of awareness about cyber crimes. It has identified many kinds of cyber attacks, including unauthorised access, spreading virus and spam, identity theft, voyeurism, bodily privacy compromise and cyber terrorism. It helps prosecute cyber criminals. But a comprehensive national cyber security strategy that empowers different agencies with coordination at the highest level is essential to secure India's cyberspace. The NCSP articulates a broad policy structure.

A sound cyber security strategy should be based on a strong coordination mechanism that can lead the nation in awareness, education security standards and their effective implementation, confirmed through independent audits, as well as information sharing on threats and vulnerabilities, incident management, technology and practices development led by the private sector and clarity on the role of different government agencies. The NCSP takes a holistic view of the challenges and details strategies to address them. The policy presents a complete ecosystem for a secure computing environment, keeping in view the latest developments in other countries. The challenge, however, is implementing the policy and defining the specifics.

The NCSP encourages organisations to enhance cyber security through various measures, but it mandates implementation and auditing of such measures by the e-governance services and critical information infrastructure, even though it does not specify what constitutes such infrastructure. The policy provides for incentives to the private sector to invest in security beyond their business requirements, since complete reliance on the market-driven approach has proved inadequate for national security. But there are overtones of possible regulation too. The government has to keep in mind that intervention through regulations should not undermine business innovation or make it uncompetitive. Only when the market driven approach fails should the government think of lightweight legislation for the CII. But that should be developed in partnership with industry. The proposal for creating a new entity focused on CII protection, the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre, is laudable, but given that the NTRO has made almost no progress, it is not clear how this will help. An important focus area of the NCSP is indigenous development of cyber security products for the widespread deployment of security ICT products, and to address national security requirements. Giving preference to indigenous products for national security reasons may not be the right policy direction: domestically developed products may not reduce risks unless they are tested globally in a real life environment. To address these risks without affecting business competitiveness and the country's image as a promoter of global trade and market, India should build its capacity to mitigate ICT supply chain hazards.

Against the backdrop of the PRISM revelations, it is commendable that one of the NCSP's objectives is to enable safeguarding the privacy of citizens' data, even though no specific strategy has been mentioned in the policy. Moreover, the need to create five lakh security professionals is a huge challenge. It requires setting up massive informal training and certification infrastructure. It is important to understand the possible implications of the policy when drafting the action plan. Further, the policy implementation plan must take cognisance of initiatives undertaken or planned by different entities. It should then take a cohesive and collaborative approach to achieve the desired outcomes and avoid duplication of efforts.

The writer is CEO, Data Security Council of India.

He was the founder director, CERT-In.

Behind the Battle That Won the War

The Road to D-Day

Eurotrip: a British solider prepares for D-Day, May 1944 (Captain J. L. Evans / Getty)

A killing frost struck the United Kingdom in the middle of May 1944, stunting the plum trees and the berry crops. Stranger still was a persistent drought. Hotels posted admonitions above their bathtubs: “The Eighth Army crossed the desert on a pint a day. Three inches only, please.” British newspapers reported that even King George VI kept “quite clean with one bath a week in a tub filled only to a line which he had painted on it.” Gale winds from the north grounded most Allied bombers flying from East Anglia and the Midlands, although occasional fleets of Boeing Flying Fortresses could still be seen sweeping toward the continent, their contrails spreading like ostrich plumes.

Nearly five years of war had left British cities as “bedraggled, unkempt and neglected as rotten teeth,” according to one visitor from the United States, who found that “people referred to ‘before the war’ as if it were a place, not a time.” The country was steeped in heavy smells, of old smoke and cheap coal and fatigue. Wildflowers took root in bombed-out lots from Birmingham to Plymouth. Less bucolic were the millions of rats swarming through 3,000 miles of London sewers; exterminators scattered 60 tons of sausage poisoned with zinc phosphate and stale bread dipped in barium carbonate.

Privation lay on the land like another odor. The British government allowed men to buy a new shirt every 20 months. Housewives twisted pipe cleaners into hair clips. Iron railings and grillwork had long been scrapped for the war effort; even cemeteries stood unfenced. Few shoppers could find a fountain pen or a wedding ring, or bed sheets, vegetable peelers, or shoelaces. Posters discouraged profligacy with depictions of the Squander Bug, a cartoon rodent with swastika-shaped pockmarks. Classified advertisements included pleas in The Times of London for “unwanted artificial teeth” and for cash donations to help wounded Russian warhorses. An ad for Chez-Vous household services promised “bombed upholstery and carpets cleaned.”

Government placards advised, “Food is a munition. Don’t waste it.” Rationing had begun in June 1940 and would not end completely until 1954. The monthly cheese allowance stood at two ounces per citizen. Many children had never seen a lemon; vitamin C came from “turnip water.” The Ministry of Food promoted “austerity bread,” with a whisper of sawdust, and “victory coffee,” brewed from acorns. “Woolton pie,” a concoction of carrots, potatoes, onions, and flour, was said to sit “like cement upon the chest.” For those with strong palates, no ration limits applied to sheep’s heads, or to eels caught in local reservoirs, or to roast cormorant, a stringy substitute for poultry.

At dusk, London’s Hyde Park and Green Park became “a vast battlefield of sex.”

More than 50,000 British civilians had died in German air raids since 1940, including many in the resurgent “Baby Blitz,” begun in January 1944 and just now petering out. Luftwaffe spotter planes illuminated their targets with clusters of parachute flares, bathing buildings and low clouds in rusty light before the bombs fell. One diarist described “great steady swords of searchlights” probing for enemy aircraft as flak fragments spattered across rooftops like hailstones. Even the Wimbledon tennis club had been assaulted in a recent raid that had left center court pitted; a groundskeeper patched the shredded nets with string. Tens of thousands sheltered at night in the underground tunnels of the Tube. The cots standing in tiers along the platforms of 79 designated stations were so fetid that the sculptor Henry Moore likened wartime life in these underground rookeries to “the hold of a slave ship.” It was said that some young children born in London had never spent a night in their own beds.

Even during these short summer nights, the mandatory blackout, which in London in mid-May lasted from 10:30 PM to 5:22 AM, was so intense that one writer found the city “profoundly dark, like a mental condition.” Darkness also cloaked an end-of-days concupiscence, fueled by some 3.5 million soldiers now crammed into a country smaller than Oregon. At dusk, Hyde Park and Green Park were said by a Canadian soldier to resemble “a vast battlefield of sex.” A chaplain reported that American GIs and streetwalkers often copulated standing up after wrapping themselves in a trench coat, a position known as “Marble Arch style,” after the famous monument across the street from Hyde Park. “Piccadilly Circus is a madhouse after dark,” an American lieutenant wrote his mother, “and a man can’t walk without being attacked by dozens of women.” Prostitutes -- “Piccadilly Commandos” -- sidled up to men in the blackout and felt for their rank insignia on shoulders and sleeves before tendering a price: 10 shillings ($2) for enlisted men, a pound ($4) for officers.

By day, pubs and street corners showcased the exotic military plumage of Norwegians and Indians, Belgians and Czechs, Yorkshiremen and Welshmen, and more Yanks than lived in all of Nebraska. Savile Row tailors offered specialists for every article of a bespoke uniform, from tunic to trousers, and a well-heeled officer could still buy an English military raincoat at Burberry or a silver pocket flask at Dunhill. Even soldiers recently arrived from the Mediterranean theater added a poignant splash of color, thanks to the antimalarial pills that turned their skin a pumpkin hue.