14 November 2013

The divide that never was

Vidya Subrahmaniam

IN HIGH REGARD: Nehru and Patel often disagreed, and furiously so. But such was the beauty of the relationship that they rarely kept a secret from each other. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Facsimile reproductions of the cover, and part of two inside pages where Sardar Patel pays tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru on his 60th birthday, which form part of a commemorative volume, Nehru: Abhinandan Granth, that was brought out on the occasion. Courtesy: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Facsimile reproductions of the cover, and part of two inside pages where Sardar Patel pays tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru on his 60th birthday, which form part of a commemorative volume, Nehru: Abhinandan Granth, that was brought out on the occasion. Courtesy: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
Facsimile reproductions of the cover, and part of two inside pages where Sardar Patel pays tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru on his 60th birthday, which form part of a commemorative volume, Nehru: Abhinandan Granth, that was brought out on the occasion. Courtesy: Nehru Memorial 

Museum and Library

Any Nehru-Patel differences have been deliberately exaggerated by partisan interests. In truth, they shared a close bond that overrode the differences

Over the past month, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have laid competing claims to the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in Independent India’s first government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Salute that Soldier at the LoC

Exclusive: Salute that soldier at the LoC
Last updated on: March 19, 2012 

At the Line of Control, young Indian soldiers -- in their 20s and 30s -- defend one of the world's most volatile borders.

Battling harsh weather, tough terrain and a hostile enemy -- as old as the Indian nation itself -- these soldiers face a war every day to hold the peace.

Rediff.com's Archana L Masih reports from Indian Army posts along the Line of Control.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

"Line of Control -- what comes to your mind when you think about it?" asks Major Anurag Chaturvedi, sitting in the front seat of the Maruti Gypsy as we drive towards a forward post guarding the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

The officer, a native of Rajasthan, is stationed at a place which does not have a name; only a number -- indicating its location from sea level.

This morning he has left at 4.30 am to pick us up -- soldiers at the LoC say their day begins at night when infiltrators often use the shroud of darkness to cross into Indian territory.

But that hardly means that the day is any better and to prove this the commanding officer of one of the battalions guarding the LoC stops the car en route and asked, "Can you see anything beyond the periphery of this forest?"

You can't.

It is early afternoon and it is calm. There is a stillness in the wooded landscape flecked with hills, the last village is left 15 kilometres behind, ahead lies the India-Pakistan Ceasefire Line, famously known as the LoC, defended by the Indian Army -- where at one point in this area the enemy post lies just 70 metres away.

Here 'Eyeball to Eyeball' is not just a figure of speech; it means that and only that.

From these border posts, soldiers keep a strict watch -- 24x7x365 -- defending the Line of Control. Keeping a day and night vigil to prevent Pakistani infiltrators from crossing into India.

'You have to know the LoC with your eyes closed'
Last updated on: March 19, 2012

In the distance, across the landscape scattered with mine fields, one can see the Pakistani posts -- on a hill, or another on a pointed tip, among a grove of trees under a star and crescent flag.

"He is watching us. As we are moving, he is observing us at places. He must know we have visitors," says an officer whose unit is in-charge of manning a chunk of the ridge along the LoC and the electric fencing that lies behind the LoC on the Indian side, constructed in 2004.

Officers here often refer to the enemy as 'he' and the Line of Control as 'LC.' They say they have to know the location of the Line of Control like the back of their hand.

On the map it is another thing but on the ground, this is no physical boundary drawn by a painted line -- in this famously treacherous terrain the LoC is identified by physical features -- "that tree, that hill, that rock, it runs between those hills with tall trees, through that river..."

"If you are posted here you have to know the LoC with your eyes closed -- even if you are blind," says Colonel Rakesh Nair, a proud second generation soldier from the Gorkha Rifles, who has served with the Rashtriya Rifles fighting insurgency in the Kashmir valley -- also in the Siachen Glacier and in Lebanon on a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.

"When the winter fog comes in, you won't be able to make out whether you are seeing a rock or a man if it is stationery -- and still this area is better. It keeps getting worse if you go higher in the Kashmir valley," says another officer, who has been stationed in the area since last year, someone who prefers these field postings to peace stations.

How smart cities can transform India's future

November 13, 2013

Cisco's CEO, John Chambers says India's urban planners urgently need to think innovatively to prepare for the unprecedented migration from villages that is expected over the next decade.

In a fast-urbanising world, India is setting the pace. Over the next ten years, more than one hundred million Indians will move from villages to cities, seeking schools for their children, health care for their families, and jobs for themselves. 

With more than 833 million people still living in the country’s 640,000 villages, this unprecedented exodus will only accelerate.

“Mass urbanization” is an abstract concept, but one piece of data may help illustrate the enormity of changes ahead: India today has only 20 per cent of the total floor space it will need by 2030 to accommodate the millions expected to migrate to its cities. 

Put another way, India must build a staggering 900 million square meters of new urban residential space in less than twenty years. Without radical innovation, expansion on such scale will place an unsustainable strain on the environment.

I visit India regularly and always return with deep admiration for its people’s optimism and work ethic. 

In the world’s largest democracy, change often happens slowly, and it can seem messy and chaotic. But I have no doubt change will come to India. Its people will face up to their problems and get the solutions right.

As India devises those solutions, however, it would do well to embrace some basic principles of successful development. The first is open standards. 

Imagine the savings in energy costs, carbon emissions, and water that could be realized by adopting global open standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). 

At our offices in India, we’ve already implemented LEED standards at their highest levels, dramatically reducing energy usage compared to our buildings in the United States.

Another challenge is traffic. By 2020, motor vehicle traffic in India is expected to increase fivefold - and yet, over that same period, the nation’s highway network is projected to grow by only 4 per cent per year. 

At Cisco we like to say, “Don’t commute to compute.” We have launched a number of initiatives around the world to make it easier for people to get work done without having to move around and consume energy resources. South Korea, for example, has adopted a plan to create 450 “smart work centers” by 2015.

Based on open platforms, these centers will result in $1.3 billion savings in transit expenses with a reduction of 1.1 million tons in carbon emissions. Telecommuting can save money and reduce traffic, but only if the digital and energy infrastructure is reliable.

As the country develops, it must employ smart planning techniques and make targeted investments in its cities. 

India’s Nuclear Deals: Are They Workable?


The US and Russia have a large stake in India’s nuclear energy pie.

Misusing various oppressive and repressive instruments at their command and in brazen disregard of Supreme Court orders, India’s government recently put the Russian Koondankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP, Unit 1) on the road to commissioning. 

Washington and Moscow

Presuming this to be "success," American companies are now pushing their projects in India, looking to finalize a commercial agreement between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Westinghouse for the 6000 MW Mithivirdi nuclear reactor in Gujarat. Another US project — 10,000 MW Kovvada (General Electric) in Andhra Pradesh — is also on the pipeline. However, it is currently at a very preliminary stage. Pushing forward this agenda, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden recently visited India in quick succession.

As a follow-up, two influential US senators (co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, Mark Warner and John Cornyn) have written to Kerry lamenting that even eight years after announcing the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, which lifted the US moratorium on nuclear trade with India, New Delhi is yet to provide a "workable" nuclear liability architecture that will help companies to move forward. In the letter, they have demanded: "We need to finish what we started and realise full commercial potential of this important agreement."

Currently, Americans and Russians seem to be teaming up to pressurize India – this was evident when ambassadors from both countries came together in Delhi on August 23. Each country had their entire nuclear top-brass in attendance for the conference, Nuclear Energy: Towards the Next Phase of Cooperation. India’s nuclear energy programme is under severe stress; this high-octane lobbying is occurring due to strong public protests and serious doubts over its economic viability and ecological desirability.

In today’s context, very high capital costs make nuclear energy ab initio unviable. Russian KKNPP units 3 and 4 are estimated to cost a whopping Rs 40,000 crore or Rs 20 crore a MW. This is 2.5 to 3 times higher than coal, wind, or solar power plants. If the past is any indication, the cost could rise even further.

Why fret over might-haves of history?

Nov 13, 2013

Both Nehru and Patel were secular but their approaches were different. Nehru showed special consideration for the minority to put them at ease. Patel assured the minority of fair treatment but warned them against riding two horses at the same time.

During my student days, I revered Gandhiji, adored Nehru and admired Patel. That got accentuated after I joined the Army, three years before Independence. I had seen each of them from a distance before joining the Army. I now had the good fortune to see them from fairly close quarters. I was dealing with internal security as a junior staff officer at Army Headquarters during the Partition riots. The Mahatma single-handedly achieved more positive results in Calcutta than our over 50,000 Punjab Boundary Force in Punjab.

I accompanied then Maj. Gen. Cariappa to the Harijan colony when he briefed the Mahatma on how the Indian Army had rescued Srinagar. I saw Nehru twice in his office, first after we had broken through Zojila Pass in November 1948. I accompanied Cariappa, by then a lieutenant-general and our Army Commander. He briefed him on the advance to Kargil and beyond to besieged Leh. The second time was when the Indian delegation, of which I was the secretary, was going to the UN Conference for delineating the ceasefire line in Kashmir. My interaction with Patel was remoter. He used to go for his morning walk in Lodi Gardens accompanied by a few people when I would be out for my morning run. I would stop running on seeing him and do my “Pranam”. He would nod in reply. Later the nod became a smile of recognition. In September 1948, he summoned Cariappa to discuss Army intervention in Hyderabad. I sat with his PA on the veranda of his house from where I could see him and Cariappa talking in the room.

Nehru and Patel functioned like the two hands of the Mahatma, one with Leftist leanings and the other Rightist. They were united in their total loyalty to him. The Mahatma had paternal affection for Nehru. He appreciated Patel’s practical approach and his ability as a doer. After the Bardoli campaign, he gave him the title of Sardar. Patel was the organisation man who controlled the party. Nehru was an idealist and a visionary. He was a charismatic figure who was the icon of the youth. Despite the Congress Party almost unanimously voting for Patel to be Prime Minister, the Mahatma overruled the party and chose Nehru. Like a disciplined soldier Patel accepted this decision without a murmur. He agreed to serve as deputy Prime Minister under Nehru, who was 14 years younger to him. Patel made a stupendous contribution to the history of India not only as the integrator of over 500 Princely States but to administrative functioning, retaining the ICS and the IP against opposition and insisting on having the All-India Services — the new IAS and IPS.

‘Research in India happens in a few elite institutions’

November 14, 2013
Vasudevan Mukunth

Interview with Professor Shiraz Naval Minwalla

Shiraz Naval Minwalla, a professor of theoretical physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, won the New Horizons in Physics Prize for 2013 on November 5. The $100,000 prize, which recognises “promising researchers,” is awarded by the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation, which was set up by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner in 2012. Dr. Minwalla has been cited for his contributions to the study of string theory and quantum field theory, especially in improving our understanding of the equations governing fluid dynamics, and using them to verify the predictions of all quantum field theories as opposed to a limited class of theories before. On November 12, he was also awarded the Infosys Foundation Prize in the physical sciences category. Here are excerpts from an interview done on Tuesday with Vasudevan Mukunth, through Skype.

Why do you work with string theory and quantum field theory? Why are you interested in these subjects?

Because it seems like one of the roads to completing one element of the unfinished task of physics. In the last century, there have been two big developments in physic. The quantum revolution, which established the language of quantum mechanics for dealing with physical systems, and the general theory of relativity, which established the dynamic nature of spacetime as reality in the world and realized it was responsible for gravity. These two paradigms have been incredibly successful in their domains of applicability. Quantum theory is ubiquitous in physics, and is also the basis for theories of elementary particle physics. The general relativity way of thinking has been successful with astrophysics and cosmology, i.e. successful at larger scales.

These paradigms have been individually confirmed and individually very successful, yet we have no way of putting them together, no single mathematically consistent framework. This is why I work with string theory and quantum field theory because I think it is the correct path to realize a unified theory quantum of gravity.

What’s the nature of your work that has snagged the New Horizons Prize? Could you describe it in simpler terms?

The context for this discussion is the AdS/CFT correspondence of string theory. AdS/CFT asserts that certain conformal quantum field theories admit a reformulation as higher dimensional theories of gravity under appropriate circumstances. Now it has long been expected that the dynamics of any quantum field theory reduces, under appropriate circumstances, to the equations of hydrodynamics. If you put these two statements together it should follow that Einstein’s equations of gravity reduce, under appropriate circumstances, to the equations of hydrodynamics.

My collaborators and I were able to directly verify this expectation. The equations of hydrodynamics that Einstein’s equations reduce have particular values of transport coefficients. And there was a surprise here. It turns out that the equations charged relativistic hydrodynamics that came out of this procedure were slightly different in form from those listed in textbooks on the subject, like the text of (Lev) Landau and (Evgeny) Lifshitz. The resolution of this apparent paradox was obtained by (Dam) Son and (Piotr) Surowka and in subsequent work, where it was demonstrated that the textbook expectations for the equations of hydrodynamics are incomplete. The correct equations sometimes have more terms, in agreement with our constructions.

In 1971, a Genocide Took Place. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger Did Nothing. Intentionally

NOVEMBER 9, 2013

Among the many bizarre White House conversations between President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger that Gary Bass cites in his devastating account of America’s role in the creation of Bangladesh, a particularly wrenching one took place in April 1971, a little over two weeks into an onslaught by the Pakistani military upon its own citizens.

Sparking the Nixon-Kissinger exchange was an indignant diplomat named Archer Blood, the U. S. consul general in Dacca, the capital of Pakistan’s eastern half. For a fortnight, Blood had been cabling Washington details, meticulously gathered by his staff, of massacres and expulsions that had left the Bengali city “a ghost town.” Kissinger had downplayed the details of these reports to the president, and made clear to his aides that they should ignore the dispatches, even as three fourths of Dacca’s population fled for their lives.

On April 6, disgusted by Washington’s silence, Blood and his staff transmitted to their superiors in Washington a collectively authored telegram registering official disagreement with American policy: the “Blood telegram” of Bass’s title. It used the word “genocide” to describe the killings in Bengal, which were targeting the Bengalis—and specifically the Hindus among them—of East Pakistan. It was, Bass writes, “as scorching a cable as could be imagined” and “probably the most blistering denunciation of U. S. foreign policy ever sent by its own diplomats.” The five-page cable catalogued the “moral bankruptcy” of America’s Pakistan policy in failing to denounce the atrocities, in condoning the suppression of democracy, and in continuing to support and to arm the fast-dissolving country’s military leader.

Less than a week later, Nixon and Kissinger met in the Oval Office to try to convince themselves of the rightness of their dedication to that military leader, General Yahya Khan. He was a Sandhurst-trained officer straight out of central casting, complete with swagger stick, strut, and slick-backed hair. Nixon admired him and considered him a friend. Kissinger privately judged him a moron, but saw in him a supremely useful instrument to pursue America’s geopolitical interests. Now, as Yahya pressed his American-equipped army into service against Pakistan’s Bengali population, he was becoming an awkward problem for his Washington backers. The contents of Blood’s denunciatory cable had spread fast, winning supporters within the State Department and reaching the press and Democratic leaders. (Blood had taken care to give the telegram a low classification—merely “Confidential.”)

Rural Poverty and the Public Distribution System

Vol - XLVIII No. 45-46, November 16, 2013 | Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera

This article presents estimates of the impact of the public distribution system on rural poverty, using National Sample Survey data for 2009-10 and official poverty lines. At the all-India level, the PDS is estimated to reduce the poverty-gap index of rural poverty by 18% to 22%. The corresponding figures are much larger for states with a well-functioning PDS, e g, 61% to 83% in Tamil Nadu and 39% to 57% in Chhattisgarh.

Jean Drèze (jaandaraz@gmail.com) is at the Department of Economics, Allahabad University and Reetika Khera (reetika.khera@gmail.com) teaches at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

We are grateful to Aashish Gupta and Dimple Kukreja for research assistance, and to Angus Deaton and Himanshu for helpful discussions

Swat hardened

Thu Nov 14 2013

Mullah Fazlullah, the recently appointed chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is not new to the scene. But his background differs from that of his predecessors, who were Mehsuds from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Fazlullah comes from the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM — Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law), which has its roots in the Malakand Agency. The movement's initial programme is evident from its name, but its methods have changed over time.

The TNSM was founded in 1989 by Maulana Sufi Muhammad, a native of Dir, a former princely state of the Malakand Agency. Once a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Sufi Muhammad soon eschewed electoral politics (though he had participated in it to become a local elected official). He grew in influence after the Supreme Court decision of 1994, which deprived the local executive authorities of their judicial powers and merged the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) into the legal mainstream. The discontented Khans and Maliks of the Pata then rallied around him. In November 1994, the TNSM staged an armed operation and forced the government to promulgate the Shariah Regulation, making the Shariah the primary source of law. Aftab Sherpao, then chief minister of the North West Frontier Province, was compelled to make substantial concessions.

In September-October 2001, the TNSM marshalled about 10,000 militants to aid the Taliban in fighting the post-9/11 Western (and Northern Alliance) military attacks. Its poorly armed foot soldiers crossed the Durand Line and came under a hail of bombs. When Sufi Mohammad returned to Pakistan, he was arrested and imprisoned. The TNSM was banned.

The movement continued to function under the leadership of his son-in-law, Mullah Fazlullah, who began to broadcast his sermons on the radio from Swat, his stronghold. These sermons, pronounced in a quietistic tone, gained an enormous following and Fazlullah soon became known as "Mullah Radio". The TNSM then pursued its career with the blessings of all political parties. As the 2002 elections approached, they attempted to share the TNSM's popularity, particularly in the Swat Valley. But the TNSM only backed Islamic parties affiliated with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal — which returned the favour. The rescue operations undertaken by the movement in the wake of the 2005 earthquake further polished its image.

The turning point came in 2007. After the storming of the Red Mosque, the TNSM struck up an alliance with the TTP of Baittullah Mehsud. In late October, about 4,500 TNSM combatants took control of some 60 villages in the Swat Valley, which they subjected to cultural policing operations and Shariah courts. The formidable army response forced the TNSM to enter into negotiations.

The TNSM went back on the offensive in 2008. Its troops took control of the valley in a wave of unspeakable violence and Shariah courts started operating in the region. Girls were prevented from attending school (their schools were the first to be demolished), women were no longer to appear in public, men had to grow beards. As a result, about a third of the valley's 1.7 million inhabitants fled towards the south. By late 2008, the Swat Valley, a place known for its picturesque tourist attractions, was virtually under the complete control of TTP representatives.

The ISI then decided to release Sufi Mohammad to hammer out a ceasefire agreement with him. In February 2009, the provincial government (dominated by the ANP Pashtun nationalists since 2008) and the militants agreed to a truce, according to which the Shariah became law in Malakand Division (to which the Swat Valley belonged) in exchange for an end to the violence. But in April, the TNSM violated the agreement it had only just signed, on the pretence that the government had not allowed it to appoint the judges of Shariah courts. The ISI again turned to Sufi Mohammad, but he had become hostage to the TTP, which was not in favour of any agreement.

What to Pack When You're Leaving a War


As the U.S. retrograde hits its peak, what will America really leave behind in Afghanistan?

Such a small word, such a giant operation. The drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan -- known as the retrograde -- is to be completed by the end of 2014; in raw tonnage, it's the biggest single military logistical undertaking ever. For size and complexity, think of something in between D-Day and the moon landing. To the Taliban, the retrograde is the shortening shadow of a decade-long war against Western occupation, announcing the dawn of victory. Increasingly left to fend for itself, the Western-backed Hamid Karzai regime is under pressure to settle with the insurgents, or risk being swept away by a second Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. As America's Afghan war draws to a close, is there a way for the United States and its allies to snatch victory from the jaws of retreat? While it's too early to say for sure, history does not look kindly on retreating superpowers.

But before we get bogged down in the semantic quagmire of assessing what victory sounds like, let's first take a look at the hard numbers. The U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan will fill 40,000 containers, a task requiring 29,000 personnel, and costing more than $5.5 billion. The retrograde hits its peak just about now, at a rate of 2,000 containers and 1,000 vehicles repatriated each month, before winter snows make the mountains impassable.

In-country, the retrograde consists of sorting yards at Bagram Airfield and eight other bases, where vehicles and other military equipment will be dismantled and stripped of weapons and ammo before being stuck in a seaworthy box. In all, the army has to account for approximately 2 million pieces of non-rolling stock and 24,000 pieces of rolling stock that need to be retrograded, transferred, or disposed. About 10 percentof these items will remain in Afghanistan, for the benefit of the Afghan National Army or -- equally likely -- as a welcome addition to the livelihood of smugglers and other traders. The rest will be removed via one ofthree routes: by truck, to the Pakistani port of Karachi; north through the former Soviet 'stans of Central Asia and Russia proper to the Baltic and Black Seas on a combination of road and rail dubbed the Northern Distribution Network; or by air, to the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia and then directly into Fort Blair and other airbases in the continental United States. Each route is fraught with dangers and limitations, together providing the retrograde with that Biblical example of logistical improbability -- a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

Doubtlessly, the outbound convoys will suffer some Taliban strafing; but essentially, the insurgents are glad to see the back of the Americans. And emboldened: in July, the Taliban even opened an embassy-like office in Qatar, the better to pursue a talk-and-fight strategy. While it is not clear how much talking is being done -- the office closed in July -- continuing attacks on U.S. and Afghan bases are a clear sign the Taliban is testing the strength of the drawing down Western forces and their replacement, the Afghan national army.

No wonder that the U.S. retreat won't be complete, not even on Dec. 31, 2014. Afghan and U.S. officials are still haggling over the exact figures -- with an exasperated Obama reportedly threatening complete withdrawal -- but the numbers bandied about vary between 5,000 and 12,000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, plus a small counterterrorism force. The Afghan forces will then be solely responsible for fighting the Taliban on a "day-to-day basis," but even so a continuing U.S. military presence will be necessary to make their gains "sustainable," Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, told the New York Times in July.

Xi vs. the Strongmen: The Battle for Reform in China

November 12, 2013

Beijing must control local leaders if it is to pass vital economic reforms. It won’t be easy.

No story out of China over the last year and a half has received as much attention as the Bo Xilai case. Much of what intrigued people about the Bo case was unique to it, including Bo’s flamboyant personality and the Hollywood-like drama of his downfall. Yet one aspect of his case, though largely ignored by foreign press accounts, had deep roots in Chinese history: namely, the rise of the local strongman.

A reoccurring theme in Chinese history, captured in the proverb “The mountains [heavens] are high, and the emperor is far away,” has been the struggles of the central government to maintain control over the vast territory it nominally ruled. Time and again in China, regional strongmen have established local power bases from which they have mounted challenges to the central government, with often devastating consequences for the country as a whole.

This history has had a profound impact of the evolution of the People’s Republic of China since its inception. Indeed, after taking the mainland, Mao Zedong immediately turned to consolidating Communist control over the entire country. As one historian reflected, “Through neighborhood committees and informants the state found its way into all parts of life…. Regions of the country that had not seen much central state presence for a hundred years found themselves regimented.” To this day, China differs from similarly large countries like the U.S. and India in being a unitary state, at least in theory.

As Bo demonstrated, center-local power struggles also continue to plague contemporary China. In fact, many of the major initiatives that Xi Jinping launched during his first year in office should be seen in the context of trying to establish greater authority over local officials. While this is partly due to the Bo case, it also reflects the fact that local governments will be major obstacles to nearly every reform he intends to undertake.

As is usually the case with Chinese politics, Xi’s first year in power has often times baffled Western observers seeking to understand his actions. This is partly due to Westerners’ strong tendency to see economic and political liberalization as inseparable, which has clashed with Xi’s eager embrace of economic reform, even as he cracked down politically.

But Xi has been remarkably forthcoming about his goals, particularly as the year progressed. From the start, both Xi and Premier Li Keqiang have signaled that they understand the imperative of rebalancing China’s economic model to avoid the so-called middle income trap.

They have also noted the importance of central government control for achieving this task. For example, Xi has stressed the importance of ensuring “that [Beijing's] policies and directives are smoothly followed.” Elsewhere he has proclaimed, “We must resolutely remain in the highest degree of unison with the central authorities and resolutely uphold the central authorities.” Other leaders have echoed these views, including Beijing party secretary Guo Jinlong, who demanded that officials under his command must “always maintain a high degree of unison in terms of ideas and action with the party central authorities with comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary…. We must self-consciously protect the authority of the central authorities.”

Credible Chinese Undersea Nuclear Deterrent is Imminent

Source Link
By Ankit Panda
November 13, 2013

In recent days, there have been several reports that the Chinese navy (PLAN) has, for the first time in the country’s history, reached a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. Defense News reports that the China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is expected to reach initial operational capability (IOC) by the end of 2014. The source of the report is a forthcoming report by a U.S. congressional commission on China. The reports are in line with analyst expectations for China’s SSBN program.

According to the report, the PLAN’s sea-based deterrent will have a range of 4,000 nautical miles, lending it a comfortable position against targets on the North American western coastline. The deterrent will be delivered via the much-discussed Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), three of which are in active operation by the PLAN. China is also pursuing more advanced SSBNs: the Type 095 is expected to be a guided-missile attack submarine, and the Type 096 is expected to be a next-generation successor to the Type 094, reinforcing its “range, mobility, stealth, and lethality.” The aging Type 092 Xia-class submarine was largely a failure and is expected to be retired soon.

The Type 094 Jin-class submarine is additionally what is known as a “boomer,” capable of launching both 12 to 16 JL-2 missiles with a "range of about 8,700 miles, covering much of the continental U.S. with single or multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicle warhead,” according to The Washington Times. The Congressional report also states that U.S. facilities on Guam will soon be within conventional missile range.

Last month, The Diplomat reported on the publication of boastful articles in China’s Global Times, touting the ability of China’s SSBNs. These latest reports about a credible sea-based deterrent nearing IOC by the end of 2014 lend credence to the Chinese reports. According to the Washington Times, the Global Times said "Our JL-2 SLBMs have become the fourth type of Chinese nuclear missiles that threaten the continental United States, after our DF-31A, DF-5A and DF-5B ICBMs.”

Nuclear-equipped SLBMs are widely understood to be the pinnacle of a robust “nuclear triad” deterrent system. The United States and Russia have been the only “nuclear triad” powers to date, maintaining a robust arsenal deliverable by land, sea, and air. India, with its indigenously-developed nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, is expected to field a triad deterrent soon as well. However, the deadliness of SLBMs is such that both France and the United Kingdom – two of the original nuclear powers – have a deterrence strategy based squarely around SSBNs (France maintains a small air-based deterrent).

Chinese Party Meeting Calls for Establishing 'National Security Council'

by David Cohen

The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have resolved to establish a national security council (guojia anquan weiyuanhui) in order to “perfect the national security system and strategy, and guarantee national security” (Xinhua, November 12). The call, buried in the final communiqué of the Third Plenum of the Central Committee, appears from context to be focused on addressing domestic threats to the Party, but both the choice of name—the same as the Chinese translation of the names of the U.S. and Russian National Security Councils­­ (NSC)—and the leadership’s recent decision to apply the concept of “top-level design” to foreign affairs suggest that this body may come to function as a Chinese equivalent of its international counterparts, as a venue for inter-agency coordination on security issues.

As such, the proposal likely reflects a recognition that the Chinese system has profound problems with inter-agency cooperation, but is probably not a hasty response to recent terrorist attacks—rather, as Heath showed in the piece referenced above, Chinese President Xi Jinping has already begun an effort to integrate strategic planning between organizations with an interest in foreign relations. A new NSC may be a step in this direction, or, if its brief is mostly focused on internal threats, it could be an application of this principle to stability preservation.

There is, as yet, almost no information available on the new body. It is mentioned in a single sentence of the communiqué, at the end of a paragraph on social management sandwiched between paragraphs on inequality and “ecological civilization.” A complete translation of the relevant paragraph follows:

The Plenary session raised the issue of innovation in social management. [We] must focus on protecting the fundamental interests of the majority, maximizing harmonious social elements, enhancing the vitality of society, improving the level of social management and protecting national security to ensure that the people can live and work happily and to ensure social stability. [We] must advance the style of social management, stimulate the vitality of social organizations, innovate an effective system to prevent and resolve social contradictions and build the whole public security system. [We will] establish a national security council to perfect the national security system and strategy, and ensure national security."

China-Japan Relations Worsen as Chinese Naval Aviation Flies Through “First Island Chain”

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 22
November 7, 2013 04:12 PM Age: 5 days

China's relationship with Japan took a turn for the worse this past week, with a number of incidents and statements increasing tensions over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. On October 27th, a formation of H-6 bombers and Y-8 surveillance aircraft passed the disputed area on their way through the Miyako Strait to the Pacific Ocean (Kyodo News, October 27). Similar flights followed for the next two days. This was the largest-ever formation of Chinese military aircraft to transit the area, and the first to be repeated on successive days.

Over the past two months, flights by Chinese surveillance aircraft, drones and bombers through the Miyako Strait, a gap in Japanese airspace and territorial waters in the Ryukyu Island Chain, have prompted frequent scrambles of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) jets. Though these sorts of flights (and interceptions) have happened regularly since September, the series of flights ending on October 29th was noteworthy in the number of aircraft, and duration (three consecutive days).

A translation of a question and answer session with the Japanese Minister of Defense posted on the MOD’s website quoted him as saying “I interpret this behavior as an example of China's aggressive expansion of its active range that includes the ocean” (Japanese Ministry of Defense, October 29). Previously, unaccompanied Chinese bombers had only transited this area on two occasions, in late July and early September (Asahi Shimbun, September 9). Additionally, China’s Coast Guard frequently patrols the area close to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands (Kyodo News, October 28).

This follows on strident policy statements from the Abe administration in response to China's use of drones to survey disputed areas. It has been widely reported that a plan drawn up by Mr. Abe would have Japanese defense forces shoot down drones that violated Japanese airspace. In response, Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng responded that it would view such action as “a severe provocation” and tantamount to a declaration of war (Xinhua, October 27; Global Times, October 27). China continues to insist that the territory in dispute is its own, and that the Coast Guard vessels and military aircraft are merely carrying out police duties.

Tiananmen Attack: Global, Local or Both?

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 22
November 2, 2013 06:25 PM Age: 10 days

On October 23, in Beijing, a driver crashed his Jeep into a gate in Tiananmen Square, setting off an explosion that killed two foreign tourists, the driver and his two passengers, who were his wife and mother. It also injured 40 other people. 

Within one week, Chinese police announced that the driver and his family were Uighurs from Xinjiang Province and that the “suicide attack” was “carefully planned, organized and premeditated” (South China Morning Post [SCMP], October 31). The police also reported that five suspects, who were all Uighurs from Xinjiang’s Hotan Prefecture, had confessed to plotting the “suicide attack” and that “jihad banners” and long knives were found in residence of one of the suspects (AFP, October 31). On November 2, Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Communist Party’s Central Politics and Law Commission, added from the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Uzbekistan that “the group behind [the attack] was the East Turkestan Islamic Movement [ETIM], which is entrenched in central and western Asia” (SCMP, November 2). 

China’s initial censorship of news coverage of the incident and details about the incident led Uighur organizations in the United States, Turkey and elsewhere to question the government’s narrative. These organizations pointed out the unusual circumstance of a mother and wife taking part in what Beijing described as a “jihadist” attack. The World Uyghur Congress also warned that “Uighurs in East Turkestan and across China are about to enter into a period of unprecedented repression in the wake of the car crash” (World Uyghur Congress press release, November 1). 

Circumstantial evidence suggests the attack was likely a suicide operation. The explosion that detonated after the car rammed into the gate, for example, was large enough to kill all three passengers. It appears that the driver rammed into the gate in a deliberate attack at a chosen symbolic location, and is reported to have had “devices filled with gasoline” in his car (CCTV News, November 1). The layout of Tiananmen Square would also have prevented the driver from gaining enough momentum to kill himself and the two passengers solely on impact.

Suicide operations are also not unprecedented for Uighur militants or Uighurs with local grievances who have carried out attacks in Xinjiang. In 2011, two Uighurs in Aksu, Xinjiang, drove an explosive-laden electric tricycle cart into a crowd of policemen who worked at a station that had a reputation for providing “political education” to Uighurs with long beards and women with headscarves (Reuters, August 25, 2012; al-Jazeera, August 20, 2010). The blast killed eight and wounded 15 others. In addition, the 300–500-member Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a Uighur-led militant group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for a motorcycle-borne suicide attack in Yecheng, Xinjiang, near the Pakistani border, which killed 21 border guards on October 1, 2012 (Islamic Turkistan, March; Radio Free Asia, October 12, 2012). 

If the Uighurs who carried out the attack in Beijing intended to avenge what some Uighurs consider to be Chinese “occupation” of Xinjiang, then the question arises whether the driver and his family were connected to the TIP (which the Chinese often refers to as “ETIM”). The TIP has verifiably claimed only one attack in Xinjiang, which was on July 30, 2011, when a car bomb detonated on a pedestrian street frequented by Han Chinese in Kashgar. Shortly after, two Uighur men who hijacked a truck and killed its driver rammed the vehicle into a group of pedestrians and stabbed them, killing about ten people. In August 2011, the TIP showed one of the attackers, who was killed by Xinjiang police in a corn field days after the attack, training at a camp in Pakistan with other fighters (Times of India, September 8, 2011). 

Yet, most violence between Uighurs and Hans—or Uighurs and Uighur policemen who work for the government—are not claimed by the TIP, nor have they been proven to have any connection with outside militant groups, despite Chinese claims. Chinese officials attribute violence in Xinjiang to outside interference, such as Uighur militants in Pakistan, Turkey and Syria. While outside groups have not been clearly linked to specific attacks, Xinjiang today is more connected to the outside world than ever before, as a result of expanded trade routes from the region into Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is likely that Uighurs with grievances like those articulated by the TIP may learn methods from international jihadists to draw attention to the situation in Xinjiang. 

Wave of propaganda in China

By Jayadeva Ranade
Last Updated: 12th November 2013

Disconcerted by the publication over the past two years of a growing number of articles espousing “liberal” themes, which at times seemed to challenge the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the new CCP leadership took a deliberate decision this January to rein in and discipline the media. The campaign is being driven by the CCP’s propaganda department, which controls and supervises the media and has the authority to guide and shape the party’s narrative. Significantly, the campaign to overhaul, reform and discipline the media coincides with CCP’s severe “mass-line” campaign that focuses on restoring adherence to its ideology, traditions, values and discipline.

The parameters for “reform” of China’s propaganda and cultural organisations are based on a tough speech delivered by president Xi Jinping at a meeting in Beijing over August 19-20, when he stressed the need for stringent controls over the country’s propaganda apparatus. These were concretised in party document No. 9 also issued in August. The contents of his speech, available elsewhere but only excerpts of which have been publicised by China’s official media, were reinforced in a hard-hitting article published by CCP’s theoretical magazine Qiu Shi (Seeking Truth) on October 16, and later repeated by China Central Television (CCTV). The article calls for ideological uniformity, warns against “anti-China forces” who are attempting to “Westernize” China to destabilise it, and attacks those who have been proposing “neo-liberal economic and constitutional governance reforms”.

Controls over the media had slackened in China over the past year or two, especially in the political climate prevailing before the 18th Party Congress held in November 2012. An atmosphere of apparent laxity had allowed the airing of fairly “liberal” ideas, usually anathema to authoritarian and communist regimes, including advocacy of “democracy”, demands for civil rights and freedoms for individuals, suggestions for the armed forces being moved out from under party control and being placed under the state, etc.

An example of this laxity was evident as recently as on October 18, when a Guangzhou newspaper, the New Express, challenged the CCP CC’s propaganda department to demand the release of one of its journalists, Chen Yongzhou. The newspaper was supported by bloggers and other commercial media despite the department’s instructions not to report on the incident. On October 26, however, China’s media began reporting that Chen Yongzhou had “confessed” to being bribed to print disinformation and he was paraded on CCTV in a prison uniform. The New Express was cowed into publishing an apology the following day for its earlier statements.

Long walk to normalcy

November 14, 2013
Kanak Mani Dixit

Nepal is making another try at Constitution-writing, hoping that a free and fair election exercise this time will give deliverance

Thirteen-year old Suraj Thapa works as a kitchen boy at a highway dhaba on Jalandhar Bypass, well cared for by his Sikh employers. But why is Suraj here in the first place, rather than attending school in his home district of Pyuthan in western Nepal?

Since the unification of Nepal two-and-a-half centuries ago, the state has failed to provide for its citizenry, pauperising it through expansionary wars, hereditary autocracies and royal dictatorships. The poorest have had to migrate for survival, reaching back to when Gorkhalis turned up at the gates of Ranjit Singh in Lahore.

Opportunity for growth

When the 1990 People’s Movement ushered in democracy, the opportunity for economic growth and equity seemed finally at hand, a time to shed Kathmandu-centricism and the historical marginalisation of whole communities. Nepal would now be able to parlay its size, sovereignty and abundant natural resources for material wealth, to emerge as an exemplary nation-state of South Asia.

Before five years were over, however, the Maoists had picked up the gun against the embryonic parliamentary system. Evolution of the polity was derailed and the economy stunted; the process of ‘de-employment’ has been ongoing now for 17 years, a decade of conflict and seven years of chaotic ‘transition.’

The poorest from hill and plains cross the open border to the south, swelling the ranks of the labouring Nepali underclass, from the wheat fields of Punjab to the apple orchards of kalapahad (Himachal) and the bylanes of Bangalore. The less-poor go to the Gulf and Malaysia. At least six million of Nepal’s 27.5 million able-bodied are outside today, also severely depleting the voter rolls for the upcoming elections of November 19.

Crows in a fog

The so-called transitional period has become almost as long as the conflict itself, with the economy held hostage and the state directionless like a crow in a mountain fog. The Maoists came above ground following the massive and peaceful People’s Movement of 2006, but they cheated on the peace process by holding on to their combatants for six years instead of the promised six months. The historical monarchy was abolished by political consensus, but the Republic of Nepal was weakened from the start by its progenitors.

An electoral farce was enacted in April 2008, with aggression and reckless propaganda making the Maoists the largest party by far in the Constituent Assembly (CA). The electorate was trapped by the hurried announcement by Jimmy Carter (as a parachutist election observer) that the polls were just fine; and by the Chief Election Commissioner of the day who declared that the polls were to be seen as part of the peace process. Given the sullied elections, the Assembly was robbed of gravitas and credibility; after extending its two-year term by a further two years, the CA collapsed in May 2012 without delivering a document.

East African Infrastructure Development, Part I: The Central Corridor


Editor's Note: This is a four-part series on the development of transport infrastructure in East Africa. The region is looking to expand its economy and increase international trade as it becomes a seemingly attractive destination for low-end manufacturing. Part 1 examines the factors behind the drive to improve and expand the region's transport infrastructure and the possibilities and limitations in the Central Corridor. 

East Africa's existing transport infrastructure is limited in its capacity and efficiency. If the countries in East Africa are to expand their commercial operations and attract new activity, particularly manufacturing, more reliable transportation networks will be needed. 

The Central Corridor transport route is crucial to the movement of exports (especially mining exports) from inland areas to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. However, the railroads in the Central Corridor need to be upgraded, if not replaced outright. Countries with interests in the region, including China and Japan, have offered to invest in development projects, and Tanzania is planning several railway expansions. But other constraints, including a lack of capacity at Dar es Salaam, will remain. 


Most of East Africa's infrastructure development focuses on the region surrounding Lake Victoria and extends into the Great Lakes region. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are all located in the fertile and mineral-rich area that wraps around the lakes. The main purpose for establishing reliable transport infrastructure in the region is to strengthen the connection between the inland states, located west of Lake Victoria, to the ports on the East African coast. Two routes have emerged to achieve this goal: the Central Corridor, which runs south of the lake through Tanzania, and the Northern Corridor, which runs north of the lake through Kenya. While these routes do not necessarily compete for internal traffic, they do compete for external investment. There is also a Southern Corridor that runs south from Tanzania, but this corridor caters more to what comes in and out of Central Africa's mining regions. 

Existing and Proposed Transport Arteries of East Africa These arteries of surface transport, which connect to smaller, local nodes, are essential to the development of the regional economy and are driven by national interests. The region's economic activity, and the population supporting it, is concentrated along Lake Victoria and farther inland in the Great Lakes basin. These local economies are driven mostly by primary industries -- the extraction and production of raw materials, agriculture, mining and potentially oil and natural gas. However, the East African region, particularly Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, shows potential for developing a low-end manufacturing base. Initial investments across several sectors, such as textile manufacturing, have already been noted in these countries. 

The transport routes are focused mostly on regional trade and international exports. These exports mostly consist of coffee, tea and mining products. The corridors are not just essential for moving these goods into international markets; they are also critical for the provisioning of agricultural and mining projects and emerging sectors. However, the existing surface transport network -- consisting of roads and railways -- faces constraints in capacity and efficiency that limit the region's ability to attract investment in complementary industrial and utility sectors. The existing network is also insufficient to scale up mining activity (although increased mining activity, especially in the adjoining eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, would also require more political and security stability).