19 September 2013

India’s Water Crisis: Causes and Cures

By Sonia Luthra and Amrita Kundu 
August 13, 2013

An Interview with Kirit S. Parikh
Download a printer-friendly PDF:

Water touches every aspect of life, and in India uncertainty over access to and the availability of this basic resource may be reaching crisis levels. As India continues to undergo dramatic shifts caused by a growing economy and population, competing demands for this limited resource coming from households, industry, and agriculture have wide-ranging implications for the country’s future.

Should no action be taken, there could be dire consequences. The World Health Organization estimates that 97 million Indians lack access to safe water today, second only to China. As a result, the World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water. Without change, the problem may get worse as India is projected to grow significantly in the coming decades and overtake China by 2028 to become the world’s most populous country.

For insights into what has led to India’s water crisis and what should be done to help alleviate it, NBR spoke with Kirit S. Parikh, chairman of Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) and a former member of the Government of India’s Planning Commission in charge of water and energy issues. Dr. Parikh argues that the country’s water crisis has been caused by a combination of factors, including population growth, dwindling groundwater supplies from over-extraction by farmers, and insufficient investment in treatment facilities at the federal, state, and local levels. He highlights the roles of the central and state governments in addressing this issue and explains why tools like dams—although often opposed—are critical for ensuring the water storage and distribution needed to sustain India's growth trajectory.

What are the root causes of India’s water crisis?

India’s water crisis is rooted in three causes. The first is insufficient water per person as a result of population growth. The total amount of usable water has been estimated to be between 700 to 1,200 billion cubic meters (bcm). With a population of 1.2 billion according to the 2011 census, India has only 1,000 cubic meters of water per person, even using the higher estimate. A country is considered water-stressed if it has less than 1,700 cubic meters per person per year. For comparison, India had between 3,000 and 4,000 cubic meters per person in 1951, whereas the United States has nearly 8,000 cubic meters per person today.

The second cause is poor water quality resulting from insufficient and delayed investment in urban water-treatment facilities. Water in most rivers in India is largely not fit for drinking, and in many stretches not even fit for bathing. Despite the Ganga Action Plan, which was launched in 1984 to clean up the Ganges River in 25 years, much of the river remains polluted with a high coliform count at many places. The facilities created are also not properly maintained because adequate fees are not charged for the service. Moreover, industrial effluent standards are not enforced because the state pollution control boards have inadequate technical and human resources.

It's Time for a New United Nations

SEP 17 2013

The struggle to find a diplomatic solution on Syria within the Security Council exposed the need for a new global decision-making body.

In March of 2011 and just hours before the United Nations Security Council vote, Libyan dictator Muammar Ghaddafi promised citizens of Benghazi--his own countrymen--that he was "coming tonight" and that would show them "no mercy and no pity." Gaddafi's brazen statement telegraphed an impending attack with a high possibility massive civilian casualties.

In the Security Council immediately following Gaddafi's threats, Russia and China--two permanent members with noted authoritarian governments themselves--abstained from voting on resolution 1973, which authorized "all necessary measures to protect civilians... including Benghazi." (Germany, Brazil, and India, then-rotating members of the Security Council, abstained as well for their own reasons.)

In hindsight, Russia seems to have regretted its abstention. In January 2012, speaking about the growing civil war in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Australian TV that "the international community unfortunately did take sides in Libya and we would never allow the Security Council to authorize anything similar to what happened in Libya" in Syria.

That seems odd, because "what happened in Libya" was, on balance, a good thing: A sustained NATO air campaign unquestionably protected many more innocent civilians than it harmed and weakened Gaddafi's forces en route to his downfall. What's more, the Libya operation served as validation for those supporting the "responsibility to protect," a 2006 Security Council mandate that called on parties involved in armed conflict to bear primary responsibility to protect civilians, approved by a unanimous 15-0 vote.

NATO's mission in Libya seems to have fundamentally changed Moscow's calculus. Russia's firm opposition to any resolution authorizing military action against its client-state derailed American, French, and British hopes of a "legal" intervention. Russian President Vladimir Putin went a step farther, pointing out the illegality of military action without a UN mandate:

Under international law the only body that can authorize using weapons against a sovereign state is the UN Security Council. Any other reasons and methods to justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state are unacceptable and they can be seen as nothing but aggression.

This is, of course, a rich statement from the man who invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008 with 9,000 troops and 350 tanks and nary a Security Council vote in sight. But if Putin's calculation is that standing for the sanctity of the Security Council is the best way to protect Russia against anything hinting of intervention, it's clearly his best trump card.

In other words, when it comes humanitarian, good governance, freedom and safety issues, it's time to admit something: The United Nations Security Council is now officially broken.

President Barack Obama knows this, of course, too. And that's a problem, because the president is a believer in "legitimate" international action. The Libya operation's UN mandate was supplemented by resolutions sanctioning action from the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. To Ryan Lizza of theNew Yorker, this looked like "leading from behind," but could also be called "winning international legitimacy for a potentially contentious military intervention," or what John Kerry infamously referred to in a 2004 presidential debate against George Bush, "passing the global test"... a phrase Bush immediately turned it into a political attack.

How to Improve U.S. National Security Strategies

September 17, 2013 

Presented to The Center for Army Analysis on 17 September 2013

“Gentlemen, we’ve run out of money. Now we must think.”

-Winston Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1925

U.S. national security specialists should urgently rethink thorny problems, because sequestration threatens to emasculate our increasingly expensive All- Volunteer Force. Inept solutions, like many in the past, will no longer suffice. My topic today, entitled How to Improve U.S. National Security Strategies, concentrates on two Center of Army Analysis objectives: first it seeks to enhance the understanding of modern military operations by using historical examples; then it examines current and future issues that may require U.S. Army participation. My principal purpose in both regards is to help you think, not tell you what to think. Be relaxed. Stay cool. Take notes. Act like you really believe that what I’m about to say is important. 

Historical Background

It should come as no surprise that combat in the Balkans during 1999 is the only war U.S. armed forces and friends have won against worthy opponents since World War II. Eccentric strategic concepts and skewed force structures have long been U.S. stocks in trade, even though excessive reliance on ANY theory, ANY concept, ANY principle, ANY school of thought, ANY policy, or ANY other elemental alternative attracts avoidable problems and invites costly failures. Cockamamie courses of action in the past featured mismatches between strategies and threats, strategies and objectives, strategies and forces, strategies and tactics, strategies and strategies. The following three cases, which deposited too many or too few eggs in fatefully important baskets, are illustrative.

All eggs went into the "Strategic Air Power" basket soon after the first nuclear fireballs burst over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That allocation continued after five-star General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower occupied the Oval Office. He called it “The New Look.” That simplistic U.S. strategy, calculated to "get a bigger bang for each buck," matched ends and means very poorly, because concepts of total war leading to total victory couldn't convert nuclear supremacy into deterrent capital. Foes who favored psychological warfare, subversion, and insurgency consequently scored consistently without tripping U.S. nuclear triggers. Stalin trapped Central Europe behind an Iron Curtain, then squashed rebellious satellite states while U.S. leaders wrung their hands impotently, mindful that even limited nuclear reprisals might precipitate World War III, which we sought to prevent. Mao concurrently consolidated control over China and Tibet. Communist-kindled conflagrations flared along East Asia's fringe from Korea to Malaya throughout the 1950s. Inflexible U.S. abilities to cope with that sort of skullduggery fell flat.

U.S. conventional capabilities benefited briefly after retired Army Chief of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor’s thesis entitled The Uncertain Trumpet stimulated widespread debate. President Kennedy consecrated Flexible Response in 1961, but the basket labeled "Nuclear Deterrence" collected a disproportionately large number of eggs when Defense Secretary Robert Strange McNamara modified Massive Retaliation to fit Mutual Assured Destruction (M.A.D) schemes, which critics contended were "almost literally mad." Deterrence based on a balance of terror emerged as DoD’s only aim. Active and passive defense programs designed to safeguard the United States from atomization languished, because power to destroy aggressors presumably provided the prime deterrent, not the ability to protect our people or production base (historical archives reveal that no other nation had previously repudiated homeland defense). Far from capping the nuclear arms race, self-imposed U.S. constraints encouraged Soviet competitors to catch up, and then surpass us in several respects. Nuclear warhead inventories soared on both sides and, if deterrence failed, savage retaliation against Soviet cities would have culminated in U.S. national suicide.

Carl von Clausewitz's classic On War correctly stated that "The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish...the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature." Misguided U.S. strategists who put most eggs in the "Traditional Military Operations" basket therefore failed to subdue Viet Cong insurgents for several years while will-o-the-wisp foes engaged allied armed forces whenever and wherever they wished, using hit-and-run tactics much like those that frustrated British Regulars during the American Revolution. U.S. military power took precedence over political and psychological offensives. "Grab 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow" was a popular slogan, but indiscriminate firepower disaffected many indigenous friends whose cooperation was imperative. North Vietnam’s emissaries sued for peace after we finally got the hang of it, but soon regained control at conference tables in Paris, where savvy Communist negotiators rid the region of U.S. power while leaving red power in place. We lost a game of intellectual judo.

Recent Proclivities

Fast forward to 1990, when the first of four poorly-planned combat operations resulted in unfinished business that publicly embarrassed the United States, wasted precious lives, and squandered immense amounts of money that could have been better spent for other purposes.

Unfinished Business in Kuwait

A United Nations-authorized, U.S.-led coalition of armed forces from 34 countries quickly trounced Iraqi troops who invaded and sought to annex Kuwait. Combat commenced on 17 January 1991 and terminated on 28 February, soon after President George H. W. Bush announced that “Iraq’s Army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight…exactly 100 hours since ground operations commenced…all U.S. and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations.” Enemy troops and machines scrambling to escape the “Highway of Death” between Kuwait City and Basra survived to fight another day.

Amphibious Ops in the 21st Century

September 17, 2013

“Going forward, we will also remember the lessons of history….we will ensure our military is agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies…”

-President Obama

For over 2000 years, amphibious operations have been a critical tool for any military with ties to the sea. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta cited 10 specific missions for the military in his “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century.” Four the missions cannot be accomplished without amphibious operations. An additional three are enhanced by amphibious capability. Secretary Panetta’s orientation of security interests towards the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and South and East Asia demand amphibious operations in order to avoid the “unwise divestment of the capability to conduct any mission.” Employing U.S. military forces in the 21st Century will require introducing combat forces across unimproved beaches or terrain on a potentially hostile shore. A strategic imperative for the United States in the 21st Century remains not “if” amphibious operations will be employed but “how,” “when,” and “where.”

“Land the Landing Force” is the command given when forces are to move from ship-to-shore in an amphibious operation. Anyone with knowledge of air combat in World War II will admit that the F4U Corsair and P51 Mustang are amongst, if not the best, propeller-driven combat aircraft in history. However, no one in their right mind today would advocate a return to these platforms today. Yet, discussions around conducting amphibious operations today and developing concepts for tomorrow wallow in this specious “back to the future” debate. Unfortunately, the foundation upon which naval services conduct amphibious operations are based date back to World War II, and need to be scrapped. The ship-to-shore-movement (STSM) capability of the United States mirrors operational capabilities dating back to 1943. More importantly, future concepts for the remainder of this century advocate the landing force be delivered by families of craft whose capabilities will soon be nearly a century old.

Amphibious forces move from ship-to-shore on four different platforms: the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), Landing Craft Utility (LCU), Landing Craft Air-Cushioned (LCAC), and MV-22/CH-53 rotary-winged aircraft. AAVs landing on a beach in 2013 move at the same speed as their 1943 predecessors. In succeeding waves, LCUs, if the beach gradient allows, drop a ramp to spit out huge motorized and mechanized cargo into six-to-ten feet of water. While MV-22s offer speed, the combat power they carry and deliver is little better than that borne by airborne forces landing by parachute in Operation Market Garden in 1944. Only the LCAC offers capability worthy of the 21st century, but is undermined by the gargantuan equipment procured over the last 30 years.

In 1943, AAVs matched the revolutionary performance of the Mustang and Corsair. Tracked-vehicles “swimming” to shore provided armored protection to its occupants as compared to wooden boats. The AMTRACs travelled to nearly any shoreline at a steady six-to-eight knots, equal to any boat used at the time for landing forces. Various versions provided organic firepower—mounting weapons of large and small caliber. Once done landing initial assault waves, the craft conducted multiple other missions such as logistical resupply and medical evacuation of the wounded to ships offshore.

Today’s AAV is little changed, thus deeming it archaic instead of revolutionary. Large amphibious ships still launch from a doctrinal distance of 3000-to-4000 yards. The same speed of six-to-eight knots prohibits realistic launches from any farther offshore due to transit time and the fitness of occupants after extended times in a dark, enclosed box rocking at sea. A pair of machine guns provides limited firepower. The aluminum construction used to save weight lacks protection to the point that the vehicle is ineffective for combat. The size of the vehicle as a target and the thin armor makes it vulnerable to IEDs. This threat in Iraq caused Marine commanders to prohibit the vehicles from combat operations as early as 2006. When the Marine Corps returned to Afghanistan in 2009, the AAV did not go. Unfortunately, the AAV has become the proverbial “one-trick pony,” only suitable for moving personnel at close range from ship-to-shore, slowly.


The easy availability of Chinese weapons is fuelling conflicts and radical violence in Southeast Asia, writes Subir Bhaumik

The American senator, Larry Pressler, had told mediapersons during his 2002 visit to Calcutta that China was not merely a source of nuclear proliferation but — what he considered more dangerous — the major source of small arms proliferation. He was bang on spot. Across the ‘little war’ theatres of South and Southeast Asia and as far as the killing fields of Iraq and now Syria, non-State actors and many State actors tend to use Chinese weapons, not only because they are cheap, easily available and easy to transport, but also because they are user-friendly and can be effectively used without much training.

China is no longer an exporter of revolution, as during the heyday of Mao Zedong and his failed Cultural Revolution. Several batches of Naga and Mizo rebels from India’s troubled Northeast marched to China’s Yunnan province between 1966 and 1976 to receive training in guerrilla warfare and marched back with weapons given to them for free to fight Indian forces. After Deng Xiaoping took charge, that stopped. Indian intelligence does suggest the presence of the United Liberation Front of Asom military wing chief, Paresh Barua, in the Myanmar-China border town of Ruili and his reported liaison with Chinese intelligence, but there is no indication that any northeastern Indian rebel groups are getting Chinese weapons for free these days. They all come for a price, as Chinese ordnance giants like Norinco seek to boost exports, even if that involves questionable means and the killing machines end up with non-State actors, including some regimes friendly with China and even in receipt of Chinese aid.

The blackmarkets of Southeast Asia, awash with weapons of American, Chinese and Soviet make in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, provided insurgents in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other southeastern Asian countries with the weapons they needed for their separatist campaigns. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam put the Naga, Manipuri and Assamese rebels of northeastern India in touch with a Karaikal syndicate (Tamil Muslims from the French colony, Karaikal, now in Tamil Nadu, who had settled in Indo-China during French colonial rule) active on the Thai-Cambodian border in early 1990s. This was when these rebels were running out of the supplies secured from Chinese sources until 1976 and from Bangladesh blackmarkets, where defeated Pakistanis had left behind much weaponry in 1971. The Karaikal syndicate would deliver these weapons to the rebel conduits at the Thai port of Ranong and the ships docked there would be cleared for their South Asian voyages by corrupt Thai generals who had been paid off. With the Khmer Rouge falling apart, more illegal weapons were available to the Karaikal syndicate to sell to the rebels of northeastern India and other groups like the Indian and Nepali Maoists who would buy from them at a premium.

That called for use of the Bangladesh coast to receive these illegal consignments and then take them into India’s Northeast or elsewhere. In April-March 1995, the Indian army launched ‘Operation Golden bird’ in southern Mizoram when it received intelligence that a combined group of Naga, Manipuri and Assamese rebels had picked up a huge consignment of weapons landed by ship at Wyakuang beach near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Thirty-eight rebels were killed and 118, including some leaders, were arrested during the several encounters between the guerrillas and formations of the 57th Mountain Division. The Myanmar army played its part by sealing its side of the border until the awarding of the Nehru peace prize to Aung Sang Suu Kyi upset them and the survivors of the trapped rebel column managed to escape into the wilds of Myanmar’s Chin Hills through gaps in the dragnet caused by the Tatmadaw’s withdrawal.

Two huge seizures of weapons in Bangladesh a decade later proved that the country’s coast was still valued as a safe zone for landing these illegal weapons shipments. In July 2003, Bangladesh police and the Rapid Action Battalion seized a huge consignment of weapons, ammunition and explosives at Jogarpara in Bogra. The consignment belonged to the All Tripura Tiger Force, believed to be close to the ULFA, but it was said to be heading for West Bengal, possibly for sale to the Indian and Nepali Maoists who had already started sourcing the weapons from northeastern rebels. Then in April 2004 came the huge seizure of weapons and ammunition at Karnaphuli jetty in Chittagong — a consignment good enough to arm two full battalions of regular forces. The case has now been revived after the Awami League came to power and a lookout notice has been issued by a Chittagong court for the ULFA military wing chief, Barua, who was believed to have been waiting in the port city for the consignment. Several top figures in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamaat e-Islami government, including the former industry minister, Motiur Rahman Nizami (of Jamaat-e-Islami), and those heading intelligence organizations in Bangladesh at that time have been implicated in the case.

Fragility of tolerance

Sep 19 2013

Muzaffarnagar challenges ingrained assumptions on secularism and diversity.

The logic of communal politics is gathering momentum. There have been major clashes across UP. But worryingly, this trend is beginning to appear, albeit at a low level, in Bihar as well. There has been much discussion of the immediate political antecedents of the violence in UP: the deadly combination of criminality, communalism and administrative incompetence of the SP, the sordid propaganda of the VHP, the irresponsible rabble rousing of MLAs across political parties, the irrelevance of the Congress on the ground, and the fact that the opposition's candidate for prime minister cannot speak with much moral authority on the subject. There are also larger sociological trends that are worrying. The violence is increasingly rural, taking place in the face of new economic mobility and competition, and dependent on new kinds of riot systems. To conclude that there is nothing to this violence except something like a bad electoral cycle at work would be to miss the enormity of what is going on.

We seem stuck in the same dreary pattern of violence since competitive politics came to UP in the 1930s. It is almost as if decades of democracy, growth and education have done little to dislodge the archetypal manifestations of hostility. A rumour legitimises a discourse of revenge; the same old propaganda of Muslim boys out to ensnare Hindu girls is given free rein by politicians, the standard blame mongering over which community started it, the morally sick metrics over which community got more sympathy, the creation of thousands of refugees, the same partisan media reporting. And then the usual homilies: only politics is to blame, communities always had good relations, the standard poems about humanity beyond Hindu and Muslim. So tired is the narrative that even the poetry of healing has a well-worn quality to it. Sins of omission and commission by the state are central to producing riots. But the suffocating structure of a discourse of identity that cracks at the slightest shifts in politics needs more attention. Our breast-beating about diversity is matched by the fragility of tolerance; the growth in democracy matched by infantilism over relationships between individuals and communities.

Some deeply ingrained assumptions have made us complacent. Data is hugely important for understanding social reality. But it often tells you yesterday's story, and if not interpreted contextually, can create its own mythologies. We came to believe that rural communalism does not translate into violence. We came to believe that contingent political alliances between communities are harbingers of secularism. Much has been made of Jat-Muslim political cooperation in UP over the years. The alliances are important. But do these secular political alliances move the needle on the eradication of deep prejudice? As Paul Brass's magnificent biography of Charan Singh reminds us, in Indian politics, the harbouring of prejudice and openness to political alliances have often gone together. Charan Singh himself was a great case of someone for whom secular political alliances and communalism went together. There is peace while the political alliances last, but the alliances themselves do little to fundamentally alter the structure of underlying relations. Bihar and UP illustrate this. Is it that our democracy has often been good at producing a kind of cold peace? The underlying structure of potential conflict remains, sensitive to the slightest political perturbation.

The second assumption is the entrenched discourse on diversity. It bears repeating that we need to move from a discourse of diversity to a discourse of freedom and human rights. Diversity, if not elaborated in the context of freedom, can be a fetter. The Indian discourse of diversity was about diversity alright, but it was about diversity where everyone had their place. From on high, diversity looks stunning. But this diversity can be compatible with imprisoning people in compulsory identities. It is compatible with the idea that boundaries should not be crossed; populations should not mix, and to view the world as a competition between groups is fine. There is no country in the world that talks so much of diversity. Yet no other country produces such a politically suffocating discourse of identity. Who you are seems to matter at every turn: what job you can get, what government scheme you are eligible for, how much institutional autonomy you can get, what house you can rent. Conceptually, there is no incompatibility between celebrating the diversity of the nation and refusing to rent housing to a Muslim just because they are Muslim. The diversity-based conception of tolerance does not work where the need is for boundaries to be crossed: people will inhabit the same spaces, compete for the same jobs, intermarry and so forth. Our moral discourse is so centred on diversity, pluralism and community, that it forgets the more basic ideas of freedom, equality, individual dignity.

Pulling manufacturing out of the rut

Published: September 19, 2013
Arun Maira

It is the only sector that can create jobs and prevent the economic crisis from deepening

In the last two decades, the Indian economy has witnessed a transformational change to emerge as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Economic reforms unveiled in 1991 have brought about a structural shift enabling the private sector to assume a much larger role in the economy. GDP growth has largely been enabled by growth of the services sector. The worry is that India’s manufacturing sector has stagnated at about 16 per cent of GDP, with India’s share in global manufacturing at only 1.8 per cent. This is in stark contrast to the experience of other Asian nations at similar stages of economic development, particularly China where manufacturing constitutes 34 per cent of GDP and 13.7 per cent of world manufacturing — up from 2.9 per cent in 1991.

Socio-political consequences

The Institute of Applied Manpower Research estimates that 8 to 9 million additional young persons will join the labour force annually, between 2012 and 2022. Additionally, with productivity improvement jobs in agriculture are declining. Therefore, India must create over 200 million jobs outside agriculture by 2025. A large burden of this job creation must fall on the manufacturing sector which has so far been a laggard. Failure to create the jobs required will have serious socio-political consequences.

Besides the employment imperative, growth of the manufacturing sector is also critical for ensuring that India’s trade balance is corrected. The country has been happily importing large volumes of manufactured goods as its economy has grown, which has pleased citizens no doubt. But it has not been able to develop a large, competitive manufacturing base to dampen the need for imports and to export.

There are two broad failures in India’s development since the 1990s which explain why India’s manufacturing sector has languished while high-end information services have grown. The first is the glaring failure to develop power and transportation infrastructure commensurate with the needs of the economy. IT industries are far less dependent on this infrastructure for their operations than are manufacturing units. The second is the absence of an industrial policy, an idea that Indian economists and policymakers threw out of the window when they dismantled the stifling controls of DGTD (Director General of Trade and Development) on industry and lowered duties on imports in 1991. Both these were welcome steps. But the baby was also thrown out with the bathwater. For the last 20 years, even the mention of the need for a concerted industrial policy for India has been taboo.

The National Manufacturing Policy which was introduced in 2011 is a belated departure from the policy neglect of earlier years. It must address the challenges of rapid job creation and expansion of domestic production. It has ambitious goals. These are to create 100 million additional jobs in manufacturing by 2025 by accelerating the growth of manufacturing to exceed the overall growth of the economy by an additional 2 per cent to 4 per cent annually. Thereby the share of manufacturing in the overall growth of the economy will also increase from 16 per cent, where it has been stagnant, to 25 per cent.

Two points must be made here while mentioning these goals. The first is that the summation of the bottom up plans made by the producers and policymakers associated with the various manufacturing sectors results in the same numbers. Therefore they can be achieved. The second point is that these plans were made when the forecast of growth of the economy was 8 per cent in the 12th Plan and faster growth thereafter. The 2 per cent to 4 per cent growth is over and above the base level growth. If the base falls due to other macro-economic problems and policy log-jams, which has happened, the growth of the manufacturing sector will be lower and it will not meet its employment targets. However the need to create jobs will not reduce. Young people will continue to pour out of schools and colleges and many with better skills too. They will be very disappointed if they do not get jobs.

India as a "Global Swing State": A New Framework For U.S. Engagement with India

By Sonia Luthra 
July 22, 2013

An Interview with Richard Fontaine and Daniel Kliman

As India continues its rise, a combination of factors may give it outsized influence on the global stage. NBR spoke with Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, and Daniel Kliman, senior advisor for the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, about their argument for why India is a "global swing state" (along with Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey). They outline what being a "swing state" means for India's role in the international order and offer recommendations on how Washington should engage New Delhi within this framework.

What are "global swing states"?

We came up with the concept of "global swing states" during the run-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In the American political context, swing states are those whose mixed political orientation gives them a greater impact than their population or economic output might warrant. Such states promise the highest return on investment for U.S. presidential campaigns deciding where to allocate scarce time and resources.

Global swing states are nations that possess large and growing economies, occupy central positions in a region or stand at the hinge of multiple regions, and embrace democratic government at home. Increasingly active at the regional and global level, they desire changes to the existing international order but do not seek to scrap the interlocking web of global institutions, rules, and relationships that has fostered peace, prosperity and freedom for the past six decades.

In U.S. foreign policy, a focus on these nations can deliver a large geopolitical payoff because their approach to the international order is more fluid and open than that of more established powers like China or Russia. In addition, the choices they make—about whether to take on new global responsibilities, free ride on the efforts of established powers, or complicate the solving of key challenges—may, together, decisively influence the course of world affairs. Due to their mixed orientation and potentially outsized impact, these nations resemble swing states in the U.S. domestic context. In a report last year, we identified four global swing states: Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.

Why India?

India is the quintessential global swing state. Its GDP is roughly $4 trillion and grew 7.4% annually between 2000 and 2011. By some measures, India is now the world's third-largest economy. Sitting at the edge of the Middle East and East Asia, it occupies the majority of the South Asian landmass and has a land or maritime boundary with every state in the region, as well as China, Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand. Democracy in India has endured with only a single brief interruption since independence in 1947.

Indian leaders have on occasion called for a new system of international governance—lending their voice, for example, to a 2011 joint statement with Brazil and South Africa that endorsed "a new world order whose political, economic and financial architecture is more inclusive, representative and legitimate." [1] Yet in practice, Indian leaders prefer to boost their country's representation in existing institutions. This is most evidenced by India's ongoing quest for permanent membership in an enlarged UN Security Council, an issue that has become a litmus test in its bilateral relations with the United States and other established powers.

At the same time, New Delhi is increasingly torn between pursuing an international approach aimed at giving India the space to focus on internal development and pursuing economic growth at home while taking on greater—and more costly—responsibilities abroad. A sign of this internal tension was the recent debate triggered by "Nonalignment 2.0," a report authored by a group of distinguished Indian scholars and policymakers that argued for an inward turn. [2] It is currently unclear which contending perspective will win out and just how active India will become in upholding the international order over the medium term.

Tri-service ‘jointmanship’ is inevitable

Rakesh Datta
Source Link

Jointness is viewed with great enthusiasm by middle and junior ranking officers of the three services. At the senior level, however, there is little evidence of operational and administrative cohesiveness

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with Defence Minister AK Antony (left) and the three service chiefs, interacts with senior officers in New Delhi. Tri-service jointmanship has become a stark reality presenting itself as fait accompli to the armed forces the world over and India is no exception. PIB

JOINTMANSHIP is an expression used to describe command and control through cross service cooperation in all stages of military processes. It is to command the integration of the doctrines of each of the combat arm for combined operational benefits to achieve military objectives. The integration of the combat arms means integration of the concepts, strategies, competencies and capabilities of land, air d sea and aerospace power to excel in the battlefield.

The basic concept for jointness means how forces will operate in response to a wide variety of security challenges. It suggests how the future joint force commander will combine and subsequently adapt some combination of all basic categories of military activities, combat, security engagement and internal security issues in accordance with the unique requirements of each operational situation. Jointness is considered essential not only for current strategic guidance, but because it looks to the future.

It was seen that all operations fought jointly and in an integrated manner during and after the Great War were successful. The unsuccessful operations world over have only proved the significance of integrating the forces and fighting jointly by raising the institution of the Chief of Defence Staff. India too has to look prudently in this manner. It was also realized that the success in the concept of wars on campaigns combined with the strategy of active defense depends upon achieving a high level of joint capabilities.

It has been observed that nearly 143 countries comprising of 28 in Asia, 28 in Africa, six in North America, 15 in South America, 12 in Australia, 29 in Europe and 19 in Central America have not formally adopted the combined arms concept. India is an exception with reasons both historical and political for not going in for the institution of Chief of Defense Staff.

All countries practicing jointmanship have an appointment of chief of defence staff (CDS) chief of general staff (CGS) or chief of joint operations (CJO), providing a single window advice or more correctly synergised institutional advice to the government. The appointment of such CDS is validated in all the countries as an legislative act. In this regard, the Goldwater Nicholas Act serves as a watershed principle in making jointness mandatory in the US, followed by the Heseltine reforms in the United Kingdom.

Corroborating the significance of Goldwater Nicholas, the Forbes magazine had commented that the Act helped ensure that Iraq War had less inter service infighting, less deadly bureaucracy, fewer needless causalities and more military cohesion than any other major military operation.

Australia with much lesser force operationalised Jointmanship in 1976 through an Act of Parliament. The Russian Duma passed it in 1983 whereas Germany has been practicing jointmanship since World War--II, though intensifying it more in the present time. China also initiated military jointness as a sequence of its military modernisation programme that began in 1978, whereas the Pakistani armed forces are enjoying its 14th Joint Chief of Staff. In France, the Unified Command Structure was adopted in 1980. According to the Israeli Defence Attaché, jointness is a difficult and a challenging task though a matter of common knowledge and managing expectations are evolved over a period.

It has been determined that CDS is a political decision and not an organisational one. It was seen that only the legislature could enhance its authority and effectiveness. Further, in case of the United States, where the national military strategy revolves around concepts with respect to overseas presence and power projection, the military jointness gets strengthened by synchronisation of the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the theatre commanders-in-chief and their joint commanders. It achieves unity of efforts in support of national military objectives through effective coordination, command and control assigned to the subordinate elements of the military services. In this scenario, another power centre, that of the theatre commander, emerges, who reports directly to the elected head of the state, thus retaining the political control.

Tri-service jointmanship has become a stark reality presenting itself as fait accompli to armed forces the world over and India is no exception. The larger attributes however indicate to build on the positive aspects of integration to meet the imperatives and necessity for jointness arising out of strategic vision and examining future operational environment in the Indian context.

Games RBI can play

Thu Sep 19 2013

How the new governor could help save the economy from the economists.

We're just past the summer of the squabbling septuagenarians. Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati auditioned brilliantly for roles in the movie version of Professor Sen's earlier book, The Argumentative Indian. While the battle of the super-economists played out in the headlines, we almost missed the side story of India's economy heading for far-from-super status. Today, with the venerable professors back at their perches abroad, the world awakes to India's tryst with a new super-economist. Despite his relative youth, for now, there are few who would dare to argue against Raghuram Rajan, the new RBI governor. An entire nation waits with bated breath and asks, will Raghunomics save India?

The governor's table has been laid. The current account deficit is at $90 billion and foreign exchange reserves are at $275 billion. Add to this the $170 billion in short-term debt, which will have to be repaid if it cannot be rolled over. With a devaluing rupee, this is a recipe for an unappetising dish. In his homage to Will Durant's The Case for India last week, Rajan made a case for modest reforms and the mundane tasks that can get at the necessary — in his words — low-hanging fruit. He is too smart a man to not know that he will rather quickly have to reach higher, dig deeper and pivot faster. For this, he must draw from other reserves.

Most people know the governor as a bright economist; few know that he is also a mean squash player. Having lost to him several times on the MIT squash courts, I know that he appreciates an essential principle of the game: always get to the "T". The "T" is the point on the court that puts you in the best position to get to the ball, no matter where it might unexpectedly appear next, especially if one doesn't quite know the nature of the opponent or what kind of game might ensue. Indeed, who is the real opponent here, and what sort of game has the new governor signed up for? There are at least five scenarios.

Game 1: The opponent is the emerging markets' favourite bogeyman, Rajan's counterpart at the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Clearly, the Indian economy is not nose-diving alone. The trials and tribulations of the rupee parallel those of the Brazilian real, the Turkish lira, the South African rand and the Indonesian rupiah. The simple theory connecting all falling currencies points the finger at the (at the time of writing) anticipated "tapering" of the $85 billion-a-month asset purchases signalled by the Fed. This will mean that international investors hungry for returns take their hot money and exit emerging markets and seek sanctuary back in the US. The 1997-98 Asian financial crisis still casts a rather long shadow: then, as now, money fled from Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea with the prospect of the US raising interest rates. To prop up its currency, India may have to consider joining the others in raising interest rates, which could choke off chances for growth, presenting the RBI with a real dilemma.

Game 2: The opponent is the US's favourite bogeyman, China. As China "re-balances", that is, moves away from an investment-led economy to one that is more consumption-oriented, an immediate effect is that global demand for commodities decreases. The resulting drop in commodity prices could provide a potential boost to importers such as India, offering some relief from inflationary pressures and giving policymakers some additional wiggle room. Second, with China letting up on investment in its manufacturing sector and wages rising, India may have an opening to finally do something about its giant deficit in manufacturing. This may be an opportunity that India cannot afford to miss. Third is the wildcard: the unpredictable economic and political consequences of a sustained slowdown in China and its effects on international markets could cause ripples worth preparing for.

In a first, OVL blocks Chinese bid; to buy Brazilian oilfield stake

New Delhi, Thu Sep 19 2013

In a first by an Indian firm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) has exercised its pre-emption rights to block China's Sinochem Group from buying 35 per cent interest in a Brazilian oilfield for $1.54 billion.

OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), in collaboration with Royal Dutch Shell will buy the 35 per cent stake in block BC-10, known as Parque das Conchas, that Brazil's Petrobras had planned to sell to Sinochem, sources with direct knowledge of the development said.

While the Indian firm will pick up 12.08 per cent stake, the remaining 23 per cent will go to Shell.

Sources said OVL-Shell, who by virtue of their existing stake in BC-10 had a first right of refusal or pre-emption when fellow participants offer stakes for sale, have informed Petrobras about their decision.

OVL currently has a 15 per cent stake in the block which is entitled for an extra 8 per cent taken from the 35 per cent stake being sold by Petrobras. Shell is the operator with 50 per cent share.

But, OVL managed 12.08 per cent after convincing Shell to take a smaller than its entitled stake, sources said. OVL managing director DK Sarraf declined to comment citing confidentiality in the joint operating agreement (JOA).

This is the first time an Indian firm has exercised pre-emption rights to block the sale of an oilfield stake to a Chinese firm.

Petrobras is shedding non-core assets to help finance a $237-billion, five-year investment plan. Last month, it agreed to sell its stake in block BC-10, known as Parque das Conchas, in Brazil's Campos Basin, for $1.54 billion to Sinochem Group.

OVL, a few weeks back, lost out on acquisition of US energy major ConocoPhillips' 8.4 per cent stake in Kazakhstan's giant Kashagan oilfield for $5 billion.

Kazakhstan first exercised its pre-emption right to block the OVL deal and then sold the 8.4 per cent stake to China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). India has lost at least $12.5 billion of deals to China in past years.

Pre-Emption Right

* This is the first time an Indian firm has exercised pre-emption rights to block the sale of an oilfield stake to a Chinese firm

* ONGC Videsh in collaboration with Royal Dutch Shell will buy the 35 per cent stake in block BC-10 that Brazil's Petrobras had planned to sell to Sinochem

* While the Indian firm will pick up 12.08 per cent stake, the remaining 23 per cent will go to Shell

Jaw-Jaw and War-War in Pakistan

September 17, 2013

While the United States is fixated on negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons, other talks of consequence were on the verge of beginning between Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban). Ninety-six days after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office, the All Parties Conference finally convened. Participants agreed to initiate dialogue with militant groups waging war against the state, starting with the Pakistani Taliban. Washington is wisely treating this, publicly at least, as an internal matter for Pakistan. However, the consequences of this effort could be felt throughout the region.

Previous All Parties Conferences endorsed initiating attempts at a negotiated peace, most recently in advance of the May 2013 elections, which brought Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (N) to power. Many observers, myself included, viewed this as a ploy to reduce attacks during an election season. After expressing initial interest, the Pakistani Taliban instead launched a withering assault against select parties deemed to have a secular agenda and to be responsible for the military’s incursions into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Pakistan Muslim League (N) escaped relatively unscathed and its candidates remained silent as many of their opponents were slain.

Since his election, Sharif has maintained an interest in opening negotiations, even as he has taken tentative, but welcome, steps to reform Pakistan’s seriously deficient counterterrorism architecture. In order to assess the possible rationales for the All Parties Conference’s bid to negotiate, it’s helpful to understand the myriad barriers to waging a successful campaign against the Pakistani Taliban and its anti-state associates.

As I wrote in a report for United States Institute of Peace—which was released online last week and will be launched formally next month—Pakistani concerns over threats to the state from a subset of its Islamist militants have been building for several years. Its military remains preoccupied with using jihadist proxies to achieve geopolitical aims. The ongoing policy of distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants creates the most obvious and most significant barrier to action. It muddles the narrative for the Pakistani populace, introduces gray areas for civilian authorities, and creates operational impediments because the interconnectivity of the militant milieu means pro- and anti-state militants cooperate as well as complete. Many other barriers reinforce the status quo. The following does not represent a full account of domestic barriers to countering the militant threat, but it highlights some of the most notable.

Parliament’s Role in Pakistan’s Democratic Transition

Asia Report N°249 18 Sep 2013


Because of repeated direct or indirect authoritarian interventions during Pakistan’s history, its parliaments have either been absent, short-lived or rubber stamps for the military’s policies, their proceedings hollowed out and meaningless. Even under civilian rule, an overactive judiciary has repeatedly encroached on parliamentary prerogatives, while the executive branch has dominated the governance agenda; legislative advice and consent has been more a matter of form than substance. Five and a half years after the democratic transition began in February 2008, the legislature is still developing its institutional identity. The thirteenth National Assembly (2008-2013), led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was far more assertive. Some of the most prominent committees exercised their authority to oversee the executive and to engage the public. But the political system will remain unstable so long as the legacy of military rule is kept alive. The current legislature must resume the unfinished work of democratic reform if it is to fully restore parliamentary sovereignty and stabilise a volatile polity.

The 2013 elections and their aftermath marked the first-ever transition from one elected government to another, 40 years after the 1973 constitution established a federal parliamentary democracy. While the previous parliament missed many opportunities for reform, it nevertheless passed major legislation to restore democratic governance. It also represented an era of bipartisan cooperation that was unlike the vendetta-driven, winner-take-all politics of the 1990s democratic interlude.

The key achievement of the thirteenth National Assembly was the eighteenth constitutional amendment, passed unanimously in April 2010. This removed many of the constitutional distortions of General Pervez Musharraf’s military regime, enhanced fundamental rights and laid the foundations for more transparent and accountable governance. Its most consequential provision was the devolution of power from the centre to the provinces, addressing a longstanding political fault line that had largely contributed to the country’s dismemberment in 1971. The shift towards greater cooperation across the aisle also helped ensure the survival of a fragile political order that faced constant challenges from an interventionist military and a hyperactive judiciary.

The second phase of the democratic transition now underway offers opportunities to entrench parliamentary democracy. With incumbents losing at the centre and in all but one province in the 2013 elections, the parties now in power at the federal and provincial levels, particularly Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), must prioritise governance and deliver on campaign pledges if they are to retain their positions. The opposition parties, too, should realise that they will be better placed to unseat their political rivals if they are an effective government-in-waiting in parliament, presenting alternative policies, budgets and other legislation, rather than merely obstructing ruling party proposals and bills.

If the legislature is to respond to public needs and also exercise oversight of the executive, it must reinvigorate the committee system that was largely dormant during Musharraf’s military regime. While several important committees were far more active in the previous assembly, pursuing official misdeeds and even questioning the military’s role in the polity, legislation was not enacted to provide for parliamentary authority to hold the security apparatus, including its intelligence agencies, accountable.

The committees’ additional value lies in their ability to lead the debate on specific policies; conduct detailed investigations and inquiries on issues of public importance; and engage civil society in the legislative process. Particularly urgent issues include electoral reform, public expenditure and budgetary allocations, law and order and human rights.

The Advancing Borders of the Chinese Empire

By Claude Arpi
Issue Vol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013 | Date : 17 Sep , 2013

Akshai Chin detailed map showing all the landmarks recently in the news. Map not to scale.

The incidents in the Depsang Plain, near the Karakoram Pass in April or more recently, in Chumar in South Ladakh, are the continuance of Nehru’s blind spot for China. There is today a huge difference of ‘perception’ on the location of the Line of Actual Control which over the years has been moving towards the South and the West. The 1959 LAC was indeed far more advantageous for India than the present LAC.

The Aksai Chin was definitely Indian territory though the area was “very remote and uninhabited”.

At the end of August 1959, a serious border incident occurred in the Subansiri sector of the then NEFA. According to a Note sent by the Indian government to its Chinese counterpart, “On August 25, 1959, a strong Chinese detachment crossed into Indian territory (in Lonju) south of Migyitun on the NEFA border and fired without notice on an Indian forward picket. They arrested the entire picket which was twelve strong but eight Indian personnel somehow managed to escape.”1

A few days later, the issue came to the Parliament. As the Migyitun/Longju skirmish was being discussed, Nehru’s Government was also asked about a road supposedly cutting through Aksai Chin in Ladakh. For the first time, Nehru conceded that China had built a road. However, he explained that although Indian maps showed the area within India’s territory, the boundary in Ladakh was not ‘defined’. He stated, “Nobody had marked it.” The Prime Minister added that Delhi was prepared to discuss specific areas ‘in dispute or as yet unsettled’, though not the ‘considerable regions’ claimed by Chinese maps.

The Aksai Chin was definitely Indian territory though the area was “Very remote and uninhabited”, said the Prime Minister who, on March 22 that year, had written to Premier Zhou En-lai on the subject. Nehru could not escape and remain vague as he had done in the past. He had to make a detailed statement; he even agreed to release a White Paper on the border issue. Nehru admitted that the boundary in Ladakh was not sufficiently defined and that Aksai Chin was a “barren uninhabited region without a vestige of grass”. He further confessed the road was, “an important connection” for the Chinese though in any case, in comparison with the NEFA, the dispute over Aksai Chin was a “minor” thing. India was, however, prepared to discuss the issue on the basis of treaties, maps, usage and geography.

Nehru admitted that the boundary in Ladakh was not sufficiently defined…

It was a real bombshell for India. The cat was out of the bag!

The New Roads

It is necessary to go back eight years since the border incident. Soon after the PLA entered Lhasa in September 1951, the Chinese decided to improve communications on The Roof of the World and built new roads on a war-footing.2 The only way to consolidate and ‘unify’ the Empire was to construct a large network of roads. The work began immediately after the arrival of the first Chinese soldiers in Lhasa. Priority was given to motorable roads – the Chamdo-Lhasa3, the Qinghai-Lhasa4 and the Tibet-Xinjiang Highway (later known as the Aksai Chin) linking Western Tibet to former Eastern Turkestan. For the latter, the first surveys were done in 1952 and construction commenced soon after5.

The official report of the 1962 China War prepared by the Indian Ministry of Defence6 gives a few examples showing that the construction of the road cutting across Indian soil on the Aksai Chin plateau of Ladakh was known to the Indian Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs long before it was made public.

China Finds Resistance to Oil Deals in Africa

Published: September 17, 2013

NIAMEY, Niger — In Niger, government officials have fought a Chinese oil giant step by step, painfully undoing parts of a contract they call ruinous. In neighboring Chad, they have been even more forceful, shutting down the Chinese and accusing them of gross environmental negligence. In Gabon, they have seized major oil tracts from China, handing them over to the state company.

China wants Africa’s oil as much as ever. But instead of accepting the old terms, which many African officials call unconditional surrender, some cash-starved African states are pushing back, showing an assertiveness unthinkable until recently and suggesting that the days of unbridled influence by the African continent’s mega-investor may be waning.

For years, China has found eager partners across the continent, where governments of every ilk have welcomed the nation’s deep pockets and hands-off approach to local politics as an alternative to the West.

Now China’s major state oil companies are being challenged by African governments that have learned decades of hard lessons about heedless resource-grabs by outsiders and are looking anew at the deals they or their predecessors have signed. Where the Chinese companies are seen as gouging, polluting or hogging valuable tracts, African officials have started resisting, often at the risk of angering one of their most important trading partners.

“This is all we’ve got,” said Niger’s oil minister, Foumakoye Gado. “If our natural resources are given away, we’ll never get out of this.”

Below Mr. Gado’s seventh-floor office, reached through a dark stairwell because there is no working elevator, his fellow citizens are living in mud-brick houses without electricity and washing their clothes in the river. Oil production in Niger began nearly two years ago but has yet to make a dent in living standards.

“We’ve got to fight to get full value for these resources,” Mr. Gado said. “If they are valued correctly, we can hope to bring something to our people.”

Seven hundred miles away in the oil-producing region, Chinese refinery workers and engineers massed boisterously at a crumbling and otherwise unused airport for their quarterly holiday flights out, one of the many costs that Mr. Gado said Niger, at the bottom of the United Nations human development index, could not afford.

A private auditor hired by Niger recently found bloated costs and unfair charges by the China National Petroleum Corporation, providing Niger with ammunition for its next round of tense negotiations in Beijing, Mr. Gado suggested. Tens of millions of dollars have already been scored off the Chinese through such painstaking revisions.

Across the border in Chad, officials have taken a harder line with China National Petroleum, reflecting a growing confidence after 10 years of oil production that has brought the country new roads and public buildings, a revamped army, and a strengthening of the government’s grip on power, though little change in the country’s low poverty ranking.

The country’s oil minister shut down the Chinese operations in mid-August after discovering that they were dumping excess crude oil in ditches south of the capital, N’Djamena, then making Chadian workers remove it with no protection.