17 September 2013

The end of global population growth may be almost here — and a lot sooner than the UN thinks ***

Make room! The current world population of roughly 7.2 billion will rise to 9.6 billion by 2050 and then to 10.9 billion in 2100, according to the most recent United Nations projections.

Wait, don’t make room. Demographer Sanjeev Sanyal of Deutsche Bank thinks the UN is way off. His calculations find the world’s overall fertility rate falling to the replacement rate in 2025, although global population will continue to expand thanks in part to rising longevity, for another few decades. Then comes the Big Shrink. Sanyal:

We forecast that world population will peak around 2055 at 8.7 billion and will then decline to 8.0 billion by 2100. In other words, our forecasts suggest that world population will peak at least half a century sooner than the UN expects and that by 2100, and that level will be 2.8 billion below the UN’s prediction. This is obviously a radically different view of the world.

The missing 3 billion. Below are two charts, the first with the UN’s projections, the second with Deutsche Bank’s:

Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A security challenge for India

Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013 | Date : 16 Sep , 2013

INS Baaz Runway '23'

India’s military build-up, particularly of its naval capabilities and naval installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, worried ASEAN policy makers, who saw India as a potential threat to regional security. India’s relations with ASEAN however, improved in the 1990s as the result of the end of the bipolar world system and the UN-brokered peace settlement in Cambodia. For its part, New Delhi sought to boost economic and trade ties with the region and to establish closer political and defence ties in order to counteract China’s growing influence in South East Asia. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have immense strategic value and it could be used as a centre point for India’s “Look East” policy.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands at the junction of Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, is a Union Territory of India. The Islands comprise two groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10° N parallel, with the Andamans to the North of this latitude and Nicobar to the South. Of the 572 islands, only 37 are inhabited.

Organised colonisation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the Europeans began in December 1755…

Pre-Colonial Era

Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042), one of the Tamil Chola dynasty kings, occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire, a Hindu-Malay empire based in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Islands also provided a temporary maritime base for Maratha ships in the 17th century. The legendary Admiral Kanhoji Angre who established naval supremacy with a base there, is credited with making the Islands a part of India.

Colonial Period

Organised colonisation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the Europeans began in December 1755 with the arrival of Danish settlers who declared them to be a Danish colony, first named New Denmark and later Frederick’s Islands. During the period 1754 to 1756, they were administrated from Tranquebar in continental Danish India. The colony was repeatedly abandoned due to the outbreak of malaria from 1759 onwards for varying periods of time and finally in 1848, for good. During these periods of abandonment between 1778 and 1784, Austria mistakenly assumed that Denmark had abandoned its claims to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and attempted to establish a colony there, renaming them as Theresia Islands. In 1789, the British set up a naval base and a penal colony on Chatham Island next to Great Andaman, where now exists the town of Port Blair. Two years later, the colony was moved to Port Cornwallis on Great Andaman, but was soon abandoned due to disease.

FOOD FOR THE WELL FED- A vaunted legislation may not always be the best

Writing on the Wall - Ashok V. Desai
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Parliament passed the National Food Security Act on August 26. Sonia Gandhi said that it fulfilled her party’s promise to wipe out hunger and malnutrition. Rahul Gandhi called it a historic legislation, and asked his party men to carry its message across the country. The prime minister called it another example of his government’s people-oriented inclusive style.

All these powerful people either did not know or ignored the criticism of the act by an unusual bureaucrat. Ashok Gulati is chairman of the commission on agricultural costs and prices; last December, he, together with some of his friends, wrote a telling critique of the NFS bill. While the government has created the impression that it has given its chosen poor an inalienable right to foodgrains, section 52 of the act explicitly says that if the government fails to give the grains because of an an act of god or a natural catastrophe, no one can sue it for the failure. In other words, it promises to try its best to supply the grains — and to forget it if it cannot. But it is precisely in the event of such catastrophes that people need food.

Agriculture and foodgrains have been a state subject since British times. While the British government began central procurement of grains during World War II, their rationing was left to provinces. As recently as in 1997-98, a decentralized procurement system was introduced to encourage states to devise their own systems. Some states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh started procuring rice with great success. But now, states would be forced to buy grains from the Food Corporation of India for the targeted food distribution system, even if it was cheaper to buy them locally. The FCI has a monopoly of procurement, and being part of the government, it believes in maximizing employment; so its costs are high. In March 2012 it employed 1,55,000 workers — some directly, some on contract, and some casual workers. Contract workers cost Rs 41, direct payments workers cost Rs 137, and departmental workers cost Rs 311 a ton. To maximize costs, the department of labour has banned the use of contract labour. So over time, contract and DPS workers will agitate and be absorbed into departmental labour, and labour costs will go up three to seven times.

Meanwhile, the Central government has concentrated its purchases in a handful of states. That has enabled some of them, like Punjab, to collect enormous sums in taxes, paid by consumers in other states. The government has kept the issue price of wheat and rice to poor families constant since 2001-02, but has gone on increasing the purchase price. As a result, it has made an ever-increasing loss per ton of grains procured. Below poverty line families get wheat at Rs 4 and rice at Rs 6 a kilogram; the loss on supplying them went up from Rs 6 to Rs 18 a kg of rice and from Rs 5 to Rs 14 a kg of wheat by 2001-09. The incomes of even the poor go up with inflation; there is no reason to inflation-proof the issue price. The government is recovering so little of the cost by now that it might as well give the grains free. The chicken industry will grow even faster if it does.

If this expensive centralized system were given up, foodgrains would travel across much shorter distances between states that have small surpluses and deficits, and would lead to the development of many markets in them.

The entitlements are entirely in terms of cereals. Recent consumption surveys show that people are eating less cereals and spending more on other foods and goods. The bill seeks to force cereals on them. They will either not take their entitlements, or they will sell the entitlements and use the money for something else. That can only be called mass corruption. This will be in addition to the elite corruption that the public distribution system engenders. Gulati and his friends estimate the level of corruption in the PDS from National Sample Survey figures. The poor bought 13.2 million tons of foodgrains from the PDS in 2004-05, while the PDS machinery claimed to have supplied 29.4 million tons; 16.2 million tons were siphoned off by politicians, bureaucrats and intermediaries and sold in the market. In 2009-10 they siphoned off 17.1 million tons while 25.3 million tons reached the poor. A quarter of the rice and 59 per cent of the wheat supposedly sent into the PDS was diverted and made corrupt people close to the government rich.

Gulati and his friends point out something that the debate of NFSB has entirely missed: that there is a labour shortage. The high growth rates in the past two decades created employment; as a result, the demand for unskilled, uneducated workers far exceeds the supply. Their wages have been going up fast; that hits most the industry that uses the most unskilled labour, namely agriculture. This, plus the fact that the government procures most grain from a small number of high-wage states, means that the procurement price has gone up rapidly, and will continue to do so.

India's Tech Roadmap Points to Small Sats, Space Weapons

Sep. 10, 2013

Indian Satcom: An Ariane-5 rocket launches from French Guiana Aug. 29 with India's first dedicated military satellite, the GSAT-7. 

NEW DELHI — India’s vision of future military space capabilities includes networks of small, less expensive satellites as well as systems to protect those spacecraft from attack and, if necessary, destroy enemy space systems.

The country’s military space systems are part of a wide-ranging, 15-year military technology outlook called the Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap. The plan for developing small satellites is being carried out jointly by the Indian Space Research Organi­sation (ISRO), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian defense forces, said an official with the Defence Ministry.

“The future of satellites will surely move towards miniaturization,” said Aditi Malhotra, a research associate with the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme and the Bangalore-based National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

“With this trend, India will surely rope in smaller satellites, which can be used for military applications,” he said. “This is particularly so because it remains easy and economically viable to not only place such satellites into the orbit, but also to replace them when desired.”

Small, networked satellites would expand the Indian military’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, according to the roadmap, but anti-satellite weapons are a growing concern.

“With miniaturization, the future trends should be towards smaller satellites. In fact, a network of satellites capable of working together should be capable of seeing a moving target on the ground or at sea anywhere in the world,” the roadmap says. “With the advent of anti-satellite weapons, a concept of ‘watchdog satellites’ to guard other satellites could also be explored.”

Indian researchers also are exploring the use of offensive space weapons. Officials would not comment on plans to use space for military purposes.

Sources in DRDO, however, said scientists are working on developing an anti-satellite system, the need for which arose after China tested one in 2007.

“Given the increasing military utilities of space, use of smaller satellites such as micro- and nano-satellites is likely to go up in the coming years,” said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank based here.

“Even though militarization of outer space is something that has already happened, weaponization of outer space is yet to happen,” he said. “The potential for weaponization, however, appears to be very high. With countries testing anti-satellite weapons [in] outer space, weaponization seems much closer than ever. China’s anti-satellite test in 2007 was a stark reminder to India of the kind of challenges that exist in India’s neighborhood.”

Listening From Space

As part of the technology roadmap, DRDO scientists are working on developing a satellite that can monitor electronic communications across the border.The signals intelligence system, called the Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite, is being developed by the Hyderabad-based Defence Electronics Research Laboratory and is likely to be launched next year or in 2015.

India can’t be heard in the Syrian din

Sep 17, 2013

India’s voice, feeble enough to begin with, has sunk to an emaciated whisper, because it was attending the G-20 Summit more as a supplicant for a bailout rather than as a fully empowered participant

As events in Syria are overshadowed by “breaking news” elsewhere, what lessons can and should India learn from Syria? Clock and calendar alike are moving on, re-emphasising the iron fundamentals of international geopolitics — when the chips are down, you’re on your own.

Also, as things have turned out so far, the United States remains the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, though it is not yet sure for how long.

US President Barack Obama’s calibrated orchestration of a threat scenario of unilateral airstrikes by the US to “punish” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people can be seen as the latest update of “Ultima Ratio Regis (The King’s Last Argument).” A doctrine of pre-emptive intervention, “Ultima Ratio Regis” originated with King Gustavus Adolphus in 17th century Sweden. It is now being revived by the US. Also, it seems to be working — both

Mr Assad and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accepted with hasty alacrity US secretary of state John Kerry’s almost toss-away remarks about placing Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision. As a result, the American airstrikes seem to be on hold for the time being. However, it can be quickly revived at a very short notice.

From its bitter experiences, the US has learnt that “boots on the ground” — placing American troops in the muddy swamps and jungles of faraway places — have always been the least desirable option for the forces of the developed world committed to expeditionary missions to Third World countries, with prospects of heavy casualties. Hence, in the case of Syria, the US has selected airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons sites as its preferred option. In any case, an American offensive heavy in air and missile firepower is likely to be unstoppable. But then again, the aftermath of unilateral intervention has always been unpredictable, as Vietnam and Afghanistan have demonstrated.

However, India must not forget that notwithstanding all his alleged shortcomings, Mr Assad, ironically, is also a rare personality in the Islamic world. He is a leader of Syria’s secular Ba’ath political party and has strong secular credentials similar to American hate figures, like Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Mohammed Najibullah of Afghanistan. Lynch mobs or kangaroo courts eliminated both, Najibullah and Saddam. In fact, Mr Assad could be an asset, which Indian opinion must support in international bodies.

Secularism has long been a traditional feature of the Arab Muslim world. It is quite distinct and contrary to the bitter Shia fundamentalism of Iran and the Hezbollah, or the equally fanatic Sunni fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, none of which except Saudi Arabia are really Arab in character. The traditionally secularist interpretation of Islam in the Arab Muslim world is fast withering in its own home, where, notwithstanding the initial liberal euphoria of the much heralded Arab Spring, the forces of fundamentalist jihad are gathering strength and regaining power.

Police that works like an army

Sameer Sharma

Police and paramilitary forces on patrol during curfew in Muzaffarnagar. Photo: PTI

The lesson from the Muzaffarnagar riots is that the law enforcers have to be more accountable to the people

The Muzaffarnagar riots represent a problem of over-centralisation, a lack of initiative at the local level and disconnect with the local people. The origins lie in the evolution of the police and policing in India. Two influences — the British army and the French Prefecture system — have shaped the structure and practices of the Indian police. During British rule, army captains were seconded to the police to work as police superintendents of districts. Even today, the army source code continues to guide police operating procedures, such as the prevalence of multiple ranks, a strong vertical hierarchy and little horizontal monitoring. Citizen engagement is limited to listening to people, as therapists do, in order to give them a good feeling because real empowerment will, in some way, impede effective and efficient police operations.

History and models

Second, the Indian police was modelled after the French Prefecture system in which the predominant role was given to prefects. While introducing the Police Act, the British had two models to choose from: the London metropolitan model and the French Prefecture system. Naturally, the British opted for the Prefecture system, with magistrates replacing prefects, because the London Metropolitan model would have meant acceding real power to the local people. On the other hand, the Prefecture system led to retention of power with government appointed and controlled magistrates to regulate, among other departments, the police, also. Independence led to new and unexpected challenges for the police. Post-1947, the hold of magistrates was naturally weakened, largely due to democratic politics and other legal changes, such as the complete withdrawal of judicial powers from the executive during the early 1970s. While this was a positive development, the accountability of the police to people did not increase concomitantly.

On ‘rules’

As a result, the space vacated by the magistracy was filled, by default, by a variety of individuals, groups of people and interest groups pursuing their own goals and using means that they thought were most likely to achieve their goals; consequently, public interest became the interest of the most “politically” influential. Importantly, the unique Indian culture gave great opportunities to game the police and influence policing. Politics is not unique to India. In the United States also, politics continues to significantly influence decision-making. However, Indians, unlike the Americans prefer social convention to rigid rules and the distinct culture, traditions and political economy lead to decision-making, largely, in the deregulated system. Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, in her studies of the less-developed nations, noticed the reliance of local communities on “rules in use” to decide, as opposed to “rules in form” handed down from the top. The facility to oscillate between rules in use and rules in form rendered open law to multiple interests and interpretations, thereby creating a distinct logic of resource allocation, accumulation and authority depending on the goals and means available to influential actors and organisations.

Pakistan: Who will be the next Army Chief?

16 September 2013
Rana Banerji
Distinguished Fellow, IPCS

With the Presidential succession smoothly out of the way, the stage seems set for the most eventful decision Nawaz Sharif may have to make during the rest of his tenure, that of selecting Pakistan’s next Army Chief.

Gen Kayani’s term ends on November 28, 2013. Even before that, the position of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, currently held by Gen Khalid Shamim Wyne falls vacant on October 08, 2013. Though ranking higher than the COAS, it is a largely ceremonial post. In January, 2013 Gen Kayani reshuffled his Lieutenants Generals giving some indication about his own preferences on who could be his successor. 

Lt.Gen Rashad Mahmood, till then GOC, IV Corps, Lahore was brought in as Chief of General Staff. An important staff position, it could be a stepping stone to the top slot. Not only is Rashad Mehmood from Kayani’s parent arm, the Baluch regiment, he served as his deputy in ISI. He is believed to have good relations with the Sharifs. In an earlier incarnation, he served as Military Secretary to President Rafique Tarar, good friend of Nawaz Sharif’s father, late Mian Mohd Sharif. However, seniors in Pakistan do not rate him very highly professionally.

Lt. Gen Haroon Aslam is the senior most in Rashad Mahmood’s batch. From the Azad Kasmir regiment, he has held some crack assignments earlier, including that of DG, Special Services Group (SSG), Cherat but in the January 2013 reshuffle, then GOC XXXI Corps, Bahawalpur he was moved out as Director General, Logistic Staff, considered a backwater job. Another drawback could be his role in the October, 1999 coup when he was one of Musharraf’s aides in the Military Operations directorate. 

Another senior General of the same batch, Raheel Sharif (of the Frontier Force regiment) is Director General, Inspectorate of Weapons Evaluation & Training (IWET). This too is a routine staff job. He was till recently Corps Commander, XXX Corps, Gujranwala. Pakistani military analysts feel there is nothing exciting about Raheel but rumours suggest Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baluch, one of Nawaz Sharif’s Ministers is backing him. Lt Gen Tariq Khan, currently I Corps Commander, Mangla is the best rated in this cohort but he is too junior. Below him is Lt Gen Zahirul Islam, current DG, ISI who also served as one of Kayani’s deputies there.

Though disliked in the past for his penchant to dabble in army postings, Nawaz may be reluctant to go by the advice of his aides or delve too deep in the Army list on his own. Once bitten twice shy, he may be more careful this time not to disregard the consensus within the Army. He could adhere to the seniority principle and appoint Haroon to the CJCSC slot, clearing the deck for Rashad Mehmood to become Chief.

The key challenge facing the country is internal, against the Tehrik e Taliban. The recent All Parties’ Conference has reflected a rare agreement between the civilians and the military on how to deal with them. Though holding out a vague threat of firmness against recalcitrant militants, no one wants to fight their own brethren, for fear perhaps of fuelling too widespread dissent within. The Army’s attitude towards India as Pakistan’s primary threat in the long term is unlikely to change whoever becomes the next Chief. 

The peace delusion

Published 2013-09-16 07:02:42

WHILE approaching our problem of terror and courting peace in earnest there is no room for false bravado. Why object to state functionaries sitting down with disaffected citizens if that can sort out misconceptions that have angered or deluded them into declaring war on the state?

Didn’t Clausewitz, the god of war wisdom, settle once and for all that ‘war is merely the continuation of policy by other means’? So if policy can be pursued by peace talks why yelp for internecine bloodletting?

The logical critique of the inane resolution produced by the all-party conference (APC) isn’t rooted in the desire for vengeance or a conceited notion of honor. An eye-for-an-eye doesn’t produce justice or peace, but revenge. When a state punishes criminals it is not for a singular object but for a whole range of considerations including retribution for wrongful actions, closure for victims, deterring crime to maintain peace in society and reforming the recalcitrant. The moral argument against peace talks is weak.

The loss of over 40,000 citizens and soldiers is an unspeakable tragedy. But wars always produce casualties. If the argument that all blood shed in war must be avenged were to hold, no war would ever end. The paramount obligation of the state is not to fathom the best way to mourn or honour the dead, but to protect the life and liberty of the living. And if as a nation we are unsure whether our Constitution, the sovereignty of our state and a tolerant society are worthy causes, isn’t the choice between war and peace a fake one?

In other words why go to war over pursuit of a policy when the policy is up for negotiation if unacceptable to our adversary. So if we are willing to remodel the vision and future of Pakistan, its laws, political system, foreign policy and social norms, as desired by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), why fight? The critics of the APC’s romantic notion of peace through talks are neither opposed to peace nor talks. Their argument is that there is no real likelihood of talks succeeding and their failure will produce dividends for the TTP.

And in case a miracle happens and talks succeed, the terms on which peace will be secured will either be unsustainable or will require altering the vision for the future of Pakistan in a manner that will be nothing less than complete surrender to the forces of regression and intolerance. The APC resolution thus reinforces the harrowing sense that our national leadership either utterly lacks comprehension of the problem facing us or those at the helm have adopted Madame de Pompadour’s approach to problem solving: ‘after us, the deluge’.

The seeds of militancy and terror were not sown in 2001 when Pakistan elected to side with the US ‘war on terror’. That choice only exposed a design flaw in our national security thinking. We sowed the seeds of militancy when, encouraged by the US in the 1980s, we decided to brainwash, train and employ jihadis in pursuit of our national security policy in Afghanistan. Unlike mercenaries motivated by money or a regular soldier under military discipline, the jihadi militant was manufactured without a ‘turn-off’ switch.

If jihad against infidel Russia was right in the 1980s how could jihad against infidel Yanks be wrong in 2001? It was not jihadists who rebelled against the state; it was the state that rebelled against a just religious cause by agreeing to sleep with the enemy, the jihadists argue. The point is that a state cannot share monopoly over violence with any private militia, whether motivated by religion or not, precisely because it cannot allow a private group to challenge its foreign or security policy backed by threat of use of force.

Killing of Major-General won’t go unpunished: Kayani

Meena Menon

Major-General Sanaullah, General Officer Commanding 17 Division, Swat, was on his way back after visiting troops deployed at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border when an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up his vehicle, Upper Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef Ahmad and Sepoy Irfan Sattar also died in the attack.

Being billed as a setback to talks with the Pakistan Taliban, the attack has provoked a strong response from Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday. He said in a statement that while it is understandable that they give peace a chance through a political process, “no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms. The army has the ability and the will to take the fight to the terrorists”. He reiterated the “Pakistan Army’s resolve and unflinching commitment in fighting the menace of terrorism, in accordance with the will of the nation and at any cost.”

Sunday was marked by other acts of terrorism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near Bannu and Miranshah, killing Frontier Corps personnel. These incidents come after the recent All Parties Meeting called by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif where a dialogue process with Pakistani Taliban was stressed. Reportedly, even the army was on the same page as the government on this.

However, sources familiar with the area said that though the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has taken responsibility, it does not have a presence in that region, mostly under the control of Mullah Fazlullah, who ran a parallel administration in Swat before the army was called in. Lieutenant General (retired) Talat Masood, chief coordinator of Pugwash, said it will not be so easy after the army chief’s statement for the government to initiate dialogue.

He felt that even if it was not the work of TTP, there were many groups which owe allegiance to it. While the government has strongly condemned the incident, there are those who feel the talks should go on. Lieutenant-Colonel Shafqat Saeed (retired), a defence analyst said that though TTP acted irresponsibly, the government should not pull back from talks. Instead, it should force the TTP to exercise restraint.Mr. Sharif is away on a three- day trip to Turkey and the while the incident has been condemned, little is being said of the future of talks. Rustom Shah Mohmand, former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan said the government, after deciding on talks, should have appointed a point person to take it forward.

Why Afghanistan Doesn't Trust Nawaz Sharif

Javid Ahmad  
September 13, 2013

Afghan and Pakistani leaders met for critical talks last month as President Hamid Karzai traveled to Islamabad to sit down with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was Karzai’s first visit to Pakistan since Sharif, a former two-time prime minister, took the helm of a new civilian government in June. aimed at patching Kabul’s frayed relations with Islamabad and seeking the release of senior Taliban prisoners to revive the stalled peace talks. But the lead up to the meeting did not augur well.

Despite considerable optimism in the West that Sharif’s return would enable the two countries to turn a new page, Afghans expect very little.

Questions remain, however, about which Nawaz Sharif should Afghanistan be dealing with.

The first is the one that has a history of supporting the Afghan Taliban, cozying up to militants in Punjab province, and trying to repair relations with Pakistan’s powerful army, which may involve making concessions on Afghan policy. The second Sharif is the one who sees his primary mandate as fixing Pakistan’s struggling economy, meaning ensuring regional stability and normalizing ties with Kabul. How can Sharif reconcile these contradictions?

At present, doubts linger among Afghans that Sharif’s policies will be any different from his predecessors, or that he has any ability to reverse Pakistan’s ongoing interference in Afghan affairs and support for militancy. Afghan wariness stems largely from the fact that Sharif backed Afghan factional leaders and mujahideen resistance groups against the Soviet-backed Afghan government in the 1980s. He was influential in forming an alliance of Afghan mujahideen in Peshawar, Pakistan, before sending it over the border to take power in Kabul, and was the only foreign leader to visit Kabul during mujahideen’s rule in 1992. And it was during Sharif’s second term as prime minister that Islamabad recognized the Taliban government in 1997. Afghan leaders also are convinced that Pakistan’s security apparatus hosts and supports the Taliban as a deliberate strategy to undermine Afghan statehood. With his pro-Taliban tendencies, he even attempted to implement a Taliban-style law and order of governing in Pakistan in 1998. However, the ground realities have radically changed since the 1990s, the security dynamics have shifted, and importantly, new players and factors have emerged, including some that are fervently anti-Pakistan.

Sharif has said very little about any change in his government’s approach to Afghanistan, except that he wants a stable Afghanistan. His government is likely to wait and see how events unfold in Afghanistan after 2014, when presidential elections and a drawdown of U.S. and international forces are scheduled to take place. Sharif has repeatedly stressed the significance of pursuing economic diplomacy and cooperation in terms of trade and foreign investment with neighboring countries to advance Pakistan's interests. However, Sharif’s government must realize that any efforts at addressing Pakistan’s economic woes will be meaningless unless the region, especially Afghanistan, is stable.

The Diplomat Interviews

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By Sanjay Kumar
September 13, 2013

The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar spoke with South Asian political and security expert Stephen P. Cohen about his latest book, Shooting for a Century: The India Pakistan Conundrum, Pakistan’s democratic transition, the issue of Kashmir, and the ongoing diplomatic and security challenges in Afghanistan.

Stephen P. Cohen is not so much an individual as he is an institution. With more than five decades of expertise on South Asia, the American political scientist is an authority on the region. His research and works have offered a new perspective to understanding one of the most volatile regions of the world. His seminal work, The Idea of Pakistan, gave new insight that helped policymakers frame strategy, and he remains hugely influential in the region.

Cohen’s latest book, Shooting for a Century: The India Pakistan Conundrum comes at a time when the perennial South Asian rivals are inching back to the dialogue table. In this work, Cohen considers the “historical, cultural and strategic differences that underpin the hostility,” and argues that the enmity will continue for some time yet. He also explains how the hostility between India and Pakistan keeps Afghanistan destabilized and why it is important for New Delhi and Islamabad to cooperate in stabilizing the Hindu Kush.

The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar spoke to Cohen, now a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, during the latter’s recent visit to New Delhi.

What did you mean by “Shooting for a Century?”

I wanted to emphasize the likelihood of the conflict between India and Pakistan reaching one hundred years. It’s already gone on for 67 years, so a century would be 2047, which is not that long now. I wanted to make the point that in terms of conflicts in the world this is one of the longest, if not the longest conflict in the world.

This is one of the two longest disputes in the world, the other being the Israel-Palestine dispute which came about in the same year when the conflict in the Indian subcontinent began in 1947.

So despite all the efforts being made to normalize relations, you’re not optimistic that there will be any kind of reconciliation between the neighbors?

Not in the short term. In 67 years they didn't do that and they will not do it even in another 35 years. After looking at the considerations and factors at work it is hard to be optimistic. The peace community exaggerates their power and the war community exaggerates the likelihood of another war between the two countries. I think its going to go on like this. It’s not the conclusion I like personally. A senior Indian official tells me that he hopes I am wrong and I also hope that I am wrong. But hope is not policy, and we need policy. There are policies which could be pursued by both countries and others which might bring normalization. Others call it peace; I prefer to call it normalization.

Until a few weeks ago it was looking as if India and Pakistan were moving towards normalization, but now it seems there are forces working overtime to jeopardize peace efforts. What do you make of that?

It’s not overtime; it’s fulltime. I think there are forces both in India and Pakistan that oppose normalization. We know who they are. My book discusses that. The critical issue is that in both countries many people would like to see a normal relationship, but both sides have conditions for that. But the condition is that the other side should do something.

India wants Pakistan to do something to control state terrorism before moving ahead with the normalization process. Pakistan wants India to do something in Kashmir. So it’s conditional on both sides. There are always good reasons why the conditions have not been met.

There are always a few groups in both countries who would like to see the other country destroyed or fractured. Some Pakistanis believe that this is going to happen to India. Some Indians believe that Pakistan is an unnatural state and will not survive. So between these groups the two countries missed many opportunities. I don’t see that changing at all.

In your book, you hold India responsible for the state of affairs on the subcontinent.

I hold India responsible partially. India’s policy in Kashmir provides legitimate world concern about the state of affairs there. It’s not simply Pakistan but the world’s concern. India has trouble in Kashmir. Indians write about that. From the Pakistani point of view the biggest condition is that they want India to treat it as a disputed territory. India cannot accept the condition of a plebiscite. Indians believe that Kashmir made the choice to be with India and by and large this is true. By and large the Kashmiris that I know will be happy to stay in India. But they are not happy with the conditions in Kashmir.

You have to distinguish between different Kashmiri groups: Ladakhi, Hindus and Valley Muslims. They have different views about staying with India. You have Ladakhis and Hindus who are quite comfortable in Kashmir. Pakistan, I think, exaggerates wildly the treatment of Indian Muslims and their misperception of Indian Muslims is very grave. That has always been the case, but there are enough instances that justify their apprehension. Ayodhya was one and the Bombay riots in 1993 were another, showing that Hindu-Muslim relations in India are far from perfect.

Pakistan Security Brief

September 13, 2013

Religious and tribal leaders have urged to TTP to cooperate with the government; Interior Minister concerned that third parties will derail TTP talks; Operation in Karachi to continue; Sindh Chief Minister favors banning forced strikes; Sindh police force reshuffled; MQM calls reshuffle politically motivated; Pakistan sticks to plan to protest drone strikes at UN; Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security meets Indian External Affairs Minister in Kyrgyzstan; President and Saudi Ambassador meet to discuss economic ties; NATO vehicles in Balochistan and Khyber Agency destroyed by militants; Government of Balochistan to negotiate with insurgents; Two terrorists captured in Lahore; Bomb defused in Kurram agency; IMF warns Pakistan that austerity measures could depress economic growth next year.

Talks with the TTP

While official talks between the government and the TTP have yet to commence, back channel communications have reportedly begun. According to one report, religious and tribal leaders, and some journalists close to the group, have allegedly urged the TTP to respond positively to the government’s overtures in order to improve their own image and create trust between the TTP and the government.[1]

On Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan defended the government’s decision to engage in talks with the TTP, and warned that certain elements within Pakistan would try to derail the talks in order to force a military solution. Khan did not single out any particular group as guiltily in this regard.[2]

Karachi Unrest

On Friday, the federal government and the Sindh provincial government reportedly agreed to continue the ongoing operation in Karachi for as long as it takes to restore calm to the city. The government of Sindh is reportedly considering granting more power to the paramilitary Rangers, including prosecution and investigation capabilities.[3]

At a meeting on Thursday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah indicated that he favors a law banning forcible strikes in the wake of the violence in Karachi this week. He claimed that he has public support, and that he has the votes in the Sindh Assembly necessary to pass the law.[4]

As promised, the Sindh government reshuffled its police force in response to the unrest in Karachi. Several high ranking officers were replaced, and a new Chief of Karachi Police, Shahid Hayat who had previously been the Deputy Inspector General Special Branch, was appointed.[5]

On Thursday, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leadership claimed in a statement that the reshuffle of the Sindh police force was politically motivated and part of a larger campaign, which includes the operation in Karachi, to cripple the party. The statement claimed that members of the MQM are being targeted in the operation, and that the reshuffle was a disguised attempt to put police personnel who sympathized with the government in charge.[6]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Foreign Office spokesperson Aizaz Chaudhry stated on Thursday that after the recommendation of the All-Parties Conference, the Foreign Office has issued orders to Pakistan’s United Nations missions in New York and Geneva to protest American drones operating in Pakistan’s airspace. Chaudhry also denied that the government has made a secret deal with the U.S. to allow drones in certain territories.[7]

China: Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” – A Critique

Paper No 5560 Dated 16-Sep-2013
By D.S.Rajan

China’s fifth generation leader Xi Jinping’s vision of a ‘Chinese Dream’ began to take shape soon after his take over as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief last year. Speaking at the National Museum “Road to Revival” exhibition at Beijing, Xi announced ( 29 November 2012) his vision for the achievement of ‘great renewal or rejuvenation of Chinese nation’ which would reflect a “national aspiration for a ‘Chinese Dream’ about making the country stronger through development”. Significant has been his choice of the occasion which was meant to recall the humiliations suffered by China in the past, for contrasting a China to emerge after ‘renewal’ with the ‘status of weakness prevailed in the country for 170 years since the Opium War, subjecting China to bullying’ (Global Times, 30 November 2012).

It was left to authoritative China scholars (like Professor Tang Chongnan, a researcher with the Institute of World History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Zhang Yiwu of Peking University and Professor and Senior Colonel Chen Xiangyang of the Political and Ideological Work Department of Nanjing Army Institute) to come out with further elaboration of the meanings of the terms ‘renewal’ and ‘Chinese dream’. They commonly perceive the terms as meaning a ‘revival of Chinese glories of the past’, such as 5000 years of civilisation and history, the flourishing age in the periods of Qin and Han dynasties and top economic position enjoyed from the Ming period till final years of the Qianlong period during the Qing dynasty (1736-1796). They blame the ‘decrepit feudal system and plundering Western powers’ for China’s disintegration and humiliation in the modern era and find in Xi’s ‘Chinese Dream’ concept a continuation of the dream of older revolutionaries’ in Chinese history like Sun Yatsen. They compliment Xi Jinping for proposing the ‘Chinese dream’ which , as they claim, illustrates the CCP’s understanding of recent Chinese history and declare that road of ‘socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ is necessary to realise the ‘Chinese dream’. They admit that everyone in the country and people from various sections of the society like workers, army etc can have their own dreams, but they all should have an obligation to the country and combine their dreams with the national dream (Xinhua, 29 April 2013).

There seems to be some justification in believing that in the immediate sense, the ideas of retired Senior Colonel and former Professor in the National Defence University, Beijing, Liu Mingfu could have influenced the making of “Chinese Dream” concept by Xi Jinping. There is indeed striking similarity between Xi’s postulates and Liu’s writings in his book called “the China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-America Era in 2010”. Liu said that “since the 19th Century, China has been lagging on the world stage. The “Chinese Dream” should be for a ‘strong nation with a strong military’. China should aim to surpass the U.S. as the world’s top military power”. Also being seen as influencing is an article entitled “ China Needs its Own Dream”, contributed by Thomas Friedman ( New York Times, October 2012) which wanted Xi to come up with a ‘ new Chinese Dream’ in order to meet expectations of the people on prosperity and sustainable economy. A Xinhua publication ‘Globe’ described Xi’s “ China Dream” concept as ‘best response to Friedman’; Professor Zhang Ming of Renmin University, Beijing , viewed the concept as one used by Xi to improve China’s ties with the US (The Economist, 4 May 2013).

Why China Misses the Unipolar Moment

Source Link
September 17, 2013

Since its establishment in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has lived comfortably in the shadow of powers that thought and acted as though they were the most powerful and important entities on earth. For its first four decades of existence, these were the U.S. and the USSR. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been the U.S. alone that has occupied the unipole position.

During the era of two superpowers, China was able to skillfully play the U.S. against the USSR through an elegant game of triangulation, shifting its allegiance from one to the other while they were largely preoccupied with trying to undermine each other and finding ways for China to assist them. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was as much a shock to China’s balancing act as it was to the sustainability of Communism. Yet China was subsequently able to continue harmoniously and humbly living in the shadow of the U.S., while remaining careful not to replace the USSR as America’s number one opponent.

Beijing would have been more than happy to continue on this path until its economy and internal issues were all largely sorted out and it was able to join the league of stable, sustainable and developed countries. At that point, it would be able to stick up for itself, and be so important that no one would dare cross its path. It would have achieved this without conflict or unrest.

This path has become harder to follow in recent years. The U.S. has taken on enormous debt, such that Washington can no longer easily back up its forceful diplomacy with the deployment of the world’s most formidable fighting machine. Whatever one thought about the political and moral issues surrounding the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions, there is little doubt that they were immensely costly. Such losses made domestic conditions inside the likes of the U.S. and U.K. (the main interventionist countries) hostile to any future involvement in foreign conflicts that look like they could go on indefinitely.

Syria is one such conflict that looks, sounds and feels like it will resist any easy solutions. Nothing about what is happening in this brutal civil war looks good, and, for the U.S., the lack of any easy alternative, even if the current government goes, makes the risks of intervention there even higher.

However, the possible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime has meant that the costs of outsiders doing nothing have grown steeper. China, Russia and other major international players have all signed agreements outlawing the use of chemical weapons. If they stand by now and allow this to happen the message to other dictators is unmistakable: if you are in a bind, then the world will sit by while you gas your own people. This is an outcome that even China, deeply wedded to non-intervention though it is, is reluctant to accept.

The recent impotence of the U.S. and its allies, therefore, is an oddly ambiguous moment for China. On the one hand, it means that everyone is going back to the diplomatic routes which China has been pushing all along. But they are doing so in a much more urgent context. Suddenly, the lack of ideas elsewhere has pushed Russia and China into a position where everyone is listening to what they propose to do about the current crisis. They cannot easily sit by such a visible and tragic conflict and say that everyone should do nothing. But they have turned their back on military options for the moment. Now, for the first time, and very genuinely, an anxious U.K., U.S. and others are waiting for answers from Beijing and Moscow.

In Beijing at least, there must be a few who look back with nostalgia to the days when an America heedless to the opinions of others could go ahead and act as it liked, and allow China to easily condemn and express disagreement with it. Now the onus is on China to come up with a solution and start to get a taste for what it feels like to be a global superpower. 



One afternoon in the summer of 1992, I was talking to my landlord and found myself asking him what lay beyond the snow-capped mountains I could see from my veranda. “Tibbat,” Mr Sharma said, pronouncing Tibet the north Indian way. I was startled. Was it really that close? I had only recently moved to this small village in Himachal Pradesh to see if I could be a writer; the physical isolation seemed to constantly fuel my sense of inadequacy. Now, in my imagination, that vast territory stretching from Lhasa to Hokkaido and Surabaya, an Asia even then being imprinted by the politics and economy of China, suddenly reared up as an oppressive blank—another reminder of my ignorance about the world.

Mr Sharma, a scholar of Sanskrit, didn’t share this debility. He spoke naturally of Tibbat as another crossroads within an expansive Indian cultural sphere, in which Indian religions and philosophies had travelled across mainland Asia and deep into the Pacific. I envied him his Tibbat, part of his private idea of Asia, one that must have clarified the larger world, relieved the ache of incomprehension, and anchored him to the earth.

I had no such Tibbat. My own Asia was yet to be populated by specific cultures, histories and peoples. I had read the fiction of Lu Xun and some essays by Mao Zedong, but didn’t know much more about China apart from that it had betrayed India in 1962, hastening Jawaharlal Nehru’s death, and was, for this reason, not to be trusted. I knew of the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but Japan was almost entirely embodied by Akio Morita, the purveyor of the Walkman as well as the blonde-wood encased Sony Trinitron (both much coveted in India’s still austere early 1990s). No political and intellectual movements animated the East or Asia in my mind as they did India and the West.

It is easy to sneer, in our intricately interdependent world today, at the quasi-orientalist concepts of the ‘East’ and ‘Asia’. Both came into the world conjoined with their domineering twin, the idea of Europe. Denoting the West’s barbaric or inferior ‘other’, they were originally meant to quicken western self-consciousness. In the late 19th century, however, a range of Chinese, Japanese and Indian thinkers put ‘East’ and ‘Asia’ at their service, infusing these categories with particular values and traits such as respect for nature, communitarianism, simple contentment and spiritual transcendence. This supposedly Asian tradition of anti-materialism was then counterposed to modern western ideologies of individualism, conquest and economic growth. The idea of Asia became an expression of cultural defensiveness against conceited westerners who claimed a monopoly on civilisation and regarded people without its manifest signs—the nation-state, industrial capitalism and mechanistic science—as inferior.

This proposed cultural unity of Asia acquired a geopolitical edge during early postcolonial struggles for national wealth and power—an endeavour in which Indian, Chinese and Indonesian leaders self-consciously invoked solidarity with each other. Thus, the experience of domination and racial humiliation and the claims to freedom and dignity that once bound Rabindranath Tagore to Liang Qichao and Tenshin Okakura came to link Jawaharlal Nehru to Mao Zedong and Sukarno. Contemplating the great turmoil and trauma of their societies, artists such as Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa came to share a troubled humanism.

Such imagined communities have now fragmented, both at home and abroad, replaced by pragmatic economic associations such as ASEAN and cross-border networks of manufacture, finance and trade. Authoritarian-minded leaders still invoke ‘Asian values’, positing Asia’s Con­fu­cius-sanctioned communal harmony against the west’s evidently amoral and fissiparous individualism. They are little more than a rhetorical cover for regimes that enjoy harmonious relationships with local plutocrats while denying political rights to the majority.

The idea of Asia has acquired a different coherence today. What connects geographically disparate experien­ces—of rural migrants in Jakarta, factory workers in Manesar, tribals in Chhattisgarh, nomads in Tibet as well as the gated communitarian patrons of Hermes and Jimmy Choo in Hangzhou and Gurgaon—is the late arrival of capitalism. The great shifts that convulsed 19th-century Europe can now be witnessed across Asia: the commodification of life and land, their valuation by supply and demand, the disintegration of communities into aggregates of self-seeking individuals, the scramble for personal wealth and status, the desperation and anxiety of the also-rans, and the resentful resistance and hectic improvisations of those left, or pushed, behind.

What gives Asia its provisional unity today, cutting across boundaries of ethnicity, religion, geography, class and nationality, is the experience of an often bitterly paradoxical modernity: the promise of self-transformation and growth that is frequently realised through the destruction of familiar landmarks, an atmosphere of agitation and contradiction in which the betrayal and disintegration of old bonds necessarily goes together with renewal.

It took me many years after that awakening to Tibbat’s proximity to see familiar faultlines, threats and possibilities in this new Asia—the setting of immense collective and individual strivings, violence, suffering, frustration, despair and optimism. My intellectual blindness was due largely to my intense desire to be a writer in English. To be born in an Anglophone culture was to not only be reflexively west-centric, and to reserve one’s profoundest attention for western literatures and philosophies. It was also to assume that the institutions (parliamentary democracy, nation-state), philosophical principles (secularism, liberalism), economic ideologies (socialism, followed by free-market capitalism) and aesthetic forms (the novel) introduced or adopted during the long decades of British rule belonged to the natural, indeed superior, order of things.

China and its Peripheries

The China Research programme in collaboration with the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi and the Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University undertook a project on China’s relation with its external and internal peripheries. Please find below the papers published as part of this project:

The Rise of Chinese Space Junk

September 16, 2013
By Wilson VornDick

Most orbital debris is U.S. or Russian in origin. But China’s space program exacerbates an urgent issue.

In one of this fall’s most anticipated blockbusters, Gravity, an astronaut duo played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are left adrift in space after their shuttle is destroyed. The culprit is Hollywood’s newest villain: space debris. Unfortunately for present day astronauts, this is not just Hollywood’s febrile imagination at work. As innocuous as it may sound, space debris is extremely hazardous and could even be lethal. In fact, the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) has initiated an entire program, the Orbital Debris Program Office, dedicated to studying and monitoring this man-made phenomena. The international community, including the European Union and United Nations, has meanwhile been pursuing resolutions to mitigate and reduce space debris.

Orbital Debris: Just Trash?

NASA classifies space debris into two groups: natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. Most artificial debris is found in orbit around the Earth; hence it is called orbital debris. NASA further defines orbital debris as “any man-made object in orbit about the Earth which no longer serves a useful function.” This includes nonfunctional spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicle stages, mission-related debris and fragmentation debris.

Presently, both the Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA track orbital debris as miniscule as 2 inches (5 centimeters) in size. Per NASA estimates, there are more than 500,000 pieces of debris larger than a marble and up to 20,000 pieces larger than a softball floating around the Earth’s atmosphere. This debris is incredibly dangerous as it whizzes in orbit at speeds in excess of 17,500 mph. At these velocities, even the smallest piece could incapacitate a satellite or spacecraft.

As early as the 1970s, scientists working on both the U.S. and Russian space programs were becoming increasingly alarmed by the exponential growth of orbital debris. NASA’s Donald J. Kessler studied the potential dangers of colliding space debris. In what was later dubbed the “Kessler Syndrome,” he postulated that the volume of space debris increases with the number of launches, especially in the low Earth orbit (LEO). Over time, the density of debris will increase, causing collusions that produce even more debris. Often, this debris will fall harmlessly to Earth. But Kessler believed the remainder could ultimately form a “debris belt” around the Earth that would inhibit space travel. A 2008 report by the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that orbital debris is like radioactive fallout after a nuclear detonation because it can linger for many years.