3 April 2014

Sam Manekshaw: An icon of Indian Army

April 3, 2014, marks the 100 birth anniversary of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. If greatness is judged by the silhouette a person has popularised, a sensibility he has nurtured, an aesthetics that is unmistakably his own, we can say he has added to the vocabulary of soldiering. This is true of Sam 

Lt Gen Depinder Singh (Retd)

TO Sam Manekshaw fame and power came naturally, the reward of a hugely successful career and the validation of great professional competence, impeccable personal character and indomitable courage. The admiration, affection and confidence he evoked were unparalleled in the history of our armed forces leadership. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff in May 1969 and his Special Order of the Day on assuming command was a model of brevity: "I have today taken over as Chief of the Army Staff. I expect everyone to do his duty."

Sam Manekshaw did not take kindly to ‘passengers’, saying, "Everyone is paid and everyone has to do his job 100 per cent.” 

The period up to March 1971 saw a rapidly increasing tempo. Commands would be grilled over their daily situation reports which he saw first thing every morning, directors and principal staff officers at Army Headquarters got to see his phenomenal memory when he would quote assurances given and not yet fulfilled, if he did not understand some subject or was dissatisfied with a draft, he would pick up the file and march at this customary 140 paces to the minute to the officer concerned who would get a shock seeing the Chief entering his office and sitting down opposite him to question and advise. The bureaucracy was cautioned that a case under the Chief's signature would bear notings by the Defence Secretary only. Concurrently, re-organisation and re-equipment of the Army was taken up. A massive construction programme was launched to overcome the huge deficiencies of accommodation. Orders were issued that allotted funds must be expended in full and in time, cautioning that the time honoured practice of saving allotted funds and then expecting a pat on the back would, instead, get a rap on the knuckles. A widely welcome change in the retirement age of personnel was that it would be by age replacing the existing ad-hoc tenure system wherein no one knew when the retirement axe would fall.

Three incidents

Three incidents from this hectic period deserve mention. One, while returning from Palam one evening he noticed that the exterior upkeep of Sardar Patel Officers Quarters was shoddy. The next morning the Quarter Master General and the Engineer-in-Chief were directed to visit the site and report back within two hours with a corrective plan. Two, while inspecting new construction coming up in Jaipur, he expressed annoyance over the lack of attention to detail. The accompanying garrison engineer (a Major) bore the brunt of his criticism but retained his cool and pointed out that plans emanated from Delhi and he was not empowered to make any changes. Some months after this visit, promotion board proceedings were put up to the Chief for approval. When the proceedings came out there was a remark in red ink against the same Major who had not been cleared by the board. "Clear him. He had guts to stand up to me," Sam remarked. Three, visiting a battalion of the Garhwal Rifles he asked the Commanding Officer what action was taken against a soldier who contacted a venereal disease. "We get this head shaved off," said the officer, who did not know where to look when the Chief retorted, "But Sweetie, he did not do it with this head." Busy as he was with this hectic schedule, he still found time to notice that the civilian staff of his secretariat warmed their lunch boxes on the stove. They get a hot box.

Sam enjoyed excellent rapport with the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Following the Kamraj Plan re-shuffle, she was a bit apprehensive of some senior ministers ganging up against her. Her solution: Get the Army Chief to visit her office, have a one to one meeting after which he would leave with everyone trying to guess what the two had discussed. In one such meeting she remarked that there were reports that he was planning a coup. With a smile he said, "You do your job and let me do mine.' While on the subject, another incident comes to mind. In an interview, Abu Abraham, the famous cartoonist, asked, "Can the Army stage a coup?" The answer was, "The question is grammatically incorrect. Can implies capability and of course the Army can, but it never will." Despite the rapport with the PM, Sam was constantly emphasising the need for correctness while dealing with civilians. "We serve, but we are not sycophants." This was highlighted in a dramatic manner one day. The Defence Secretary was chairing a meeting in the Ministry's conference room. It was a warm day and as the Secretary entered, he shouted at an officer sitting next to a closed window, "You there, open that window." Before the officer could react came another command, "Please sit." This was from the chief who had entered through another door. He then turned to the Secretary and said, "You will never address an officer of mine as 'you there'. A very useful lesson was learnt by all that day.


Wednesday, 02 April 2014 | 

The birth centenary of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw, who successfully led Indian troops in the battle for Bangladesh, serves as an occasion to honour the life of this great soldier, sadly ignored by the country

Tomorrow, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw would have been 100 years ‘young’, as he would have said. A living legend and a folk hero, Sam, from almost becoming a gynaecologist, rose to being India’s first Field Marshal who bequeathed on his constantly conquered country, a stunning military victory, the first in a thousand years, and helped give birth to a new nation: Bangladesh.

In his most recent book, India At Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misadventures of Security Policy, Mr Jaswant Singh describes this epic event as the revenge of geography over history. Sam’s greatest passion was his beloved Gorkhas, the doughty khukri-wielding fighters who gave him his name. Visiting a Gorkha battalion, he asked a bewildered johnny: “What’s my name”? “Sum Bahadur”, said the Gorkha, confused, which was his name. “But that’s my name”, said Sam, and so he was christened Sam Bahadur for the rest of his life. Till his dying day, he was surrounded by serving and retired Gorkhas. “They’re my life, in a way. It’s what Harka Bahadur made me”, he would say.

At his 90th birthday, in Delhi’s Battle Honours Mess in 2003, mobbed by his admirers and well-wishers, the slightly hunched Sam confessed he had misused the khukri, the legendary Gorkha knife reserved for close quarter battle, to cut the birthday cake. When asked what his life’s biggest achievement was, he said: “I never punished anyone”. Blowing out 90 candles with the help of one Gorkha piper, Sam exulted: “Like everything else in my life, I was born the wrong way around. My father, a gynaecologist, took 40 minutes to straighten me out”.

Sam was a showman par excellence, orchestrating events for, what in today’s parlance, would be called strategic signalling. During the 1971 war, he would make it a point to appear in the newly appointed bar in the Oberoi Hotel in the capital every evening sipping his favourite Red Label, ensuring the media took note that he was on top of the campaigns both in the east and the west. Later, he would rush back to the War Room where in a corner a camp-cot was kept for him. After independence, Sam never belonged to any regiment, though he was commissioned into the 2nd Royal Scots and later joined the famous 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment, with whom during the disastrous battle for Sittang Bridge, he won an instant Military Cross. Although he was posted to 3/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force), he never got to command a battalion as then Army chief General PN Thapar wanted him in the Military Operations Directorate.

What ails Indian science?

 April 3, 2014 
PTISriharikota: India successfully launched its first mission to Mars on board PSLV C25 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

Indian science’s bureaucratic mentality values administrative power over achievements

“Getting funding [for research] is easy in India,” said Dr. Mathai Joseph “because there is no competition here. Money is not scarce [though R&D spending is less than 1 per cent of GDP]. But money comes with the same bureaucratic restrictions that apply to all government expenditure.” Dr. Joseph is a computer scientist and a consultant, and was earlier a senior research scientist at TIFR, Mumbai. For instance, while research students get no funding support to travel abroad to participate in conferences, scientists are constrained by “limited foreign travel.”

These restrictions on foreign travel prevent students and scientists from gaining in terms of networking, exchanging ideas and being exposed to the kind of work being done by their peers in other countries. “Science does not happen like that — by not allowing them to travel abroad,” he said.The big mistake

But the systematic undermining of scientific enterprise started way back in the mid 1950s. According to an opinion piece published today (April 3) in Nature, (Dr. Joseph is the first author), the Department of Atomic Energy, which was created as a different model, had Homi Bhabha, the head of DAE as a “secretary to the government.” The mistake was repeated when the DAE model was replicated in other institutions — space and biotechnology, to name a few.

“The fact that scientific departments are modelled on the rest of the bureaucracy has turned out to be a big mistake,” Dr. Joseph said. “That’s because bureaucracy is not designed to encourage innovation. DAE and the department of space are the only institutions that undertake developments in-house. Others like the DBT [Department of Biotechnology] do not.” Contrast this with the system followed in the developed countries. For instance, in the case of the U.S., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are outside the government bureaucracy.

The endless calamity in West Asia

Published: April 3, 2014 
Vijay Prashad

The Jewish state and its toxic right-wing hardly have any tolerance for the plight of Palestinians, but does the Indian public even care any longer about the situation?

Palestine that once was is no more, and what is no more strives to be reborn. When new nations were to be born in the dawn of decolonisation, Palestine vanished from the world map. In its place came Israel, hastily welcomed into the newly created United Nations, which played a part in its formation. Since 1948 the U.N. has attempted in so many ways to atone for Resolution 181, which delivered the land to Israel. Its relief organisation, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) tends to the needs of the Palestinian refugees and its other agencies attempt to document Israel’s routine violation of international law and U.N. resolutions. Each year on the day that Resolution 181 passed, November 29, the U.N. celebrates a Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The day passes with modest programmes at the local U.N. offices; 2014 is the U.N.’s Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, although the planet can be forgiven for its ignorance. No celebrities have lined up to take “selfies” with signs that proclaim their solidarity, and no news organisations have devoted any time for a discussion of this endless calamity in West Asia. Matters are so grave indeed that the Palestinians are no longer sure that they will retain the 22 per cent of historical Palestine that had been promised to them by the 1993 Oslo Accords, what Edward Said called the “Palestinian Versailles.” The U.N., as midwife, stands aside as Israel prevents the birth of even this moth-eaten state.

If not for the blind support by the United States, Israel would be considered one of the planet’s most undesirable states. Israel has disregarded more U.N. Security Council resolutions that sanction its behaviour than any other state. But with U.S. protection, these resolutions come without any pressure — no sanctions, no retribution, and certainly no threat of humanitarian intervention. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk writes in his December 2013 report that Israeli policy amounts to “segregation and apartheid,” including “continuing excessive use of force by Israeli security forces,” extra-judicial killings that “are part of acts carried out in order to maintain dominance over Palestinians” and a blockade of the Palestinian economy by the use of checkpoints and walls. The most striking part of Mr. Falk’s report is his assertion that Israel is conducting “ethnic cleansing” in the region. “The combined effect of the measures designed to ensure security for Israeli citizens, to facilitate and expand settlements, and it would appear, to annex land,” he writes, “is hafrada (the Hebrew word for separation), discrimination and systematic oppression of, and domination over, the Palestinian people.”The ‘Jewish State’

FAILED STATE IN EUROPE - Obama needs advisers with a surer grasp of the Soviet past

Krishnan Srinivasan & Hari Vasudevan

In Europe and the United States of America there is talk of a new Cold War owing to the Ukraine crisis. Two agreements have been broken that were designed to avoid a Cold War: in 1994, Britain, the US and Russia agreed to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for its surrender of nuclear weapons. This was broken by Russia in Crimea. Last February, the European Union brokered an agreement between Ukraine’s President Yanukovich and his Opposition. The West reneged on this and accepted the coup against Yanukovich, although it had pronounced his 2010 election free and fair — a precipitate move that lost Crimea to Russia.

The West considers that any solution to the Ukraine crisis must respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and its government’s legitimacy, despite a non-elected Maidan’s veto over a rump parliament where over 25 per cent of the members are absent. It calls the Crimea referendum a sham although it was supported by 95 per cent of the voters who make up over 80 per cent of the population. In the United Nations general assembly resolution in March, 100 voted in favour but 69 voted against or abstained, including Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa and China, which should give the West cause for reflection. Territorial integrity normally strikes a chord in most countries; China is conscious of the dangers of referenda in Tibet and Xinjiang, and India in Kashmir.The West sponsors secession movements and street opposition to elected governments when it suits its interests. In Ukraine’s Maidan, the killings were often perpetrated not by Yanukovich but by circles identified with the West. Europe is impatient to embrace Ukraine with an association agreement and uses the offices of an unelected interim authority under a prime minister who is a US-preferred candidate and a neo-con, and a president who is an ideologue affiliated to the corrupt oligarch, Yulia Tymoshenko. Both have been given time until the May elections to pacify a country that has gone into administrative meltdown.

The US hopes that the successful coup in Kiev would encourage the domestic opposition to Russia’s President Putin. A more proximate goal is to advance Ukraine’s Nato membership in which the incorporation of what is left of former Yugoslavia is almost complete. The next target is the group of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova — a shaky US-inspired anti-Russian formation.

The US has restored its transatlantic leadership over a debellicized Europe that is dependent on US strategic policy despite its misgivings, including the extensive eavesdropping revealed by Edward Snowden. Putin is regarded by the West as a post-Soviet democrat gone wrong. His ideas of ‘sovereign democracy’ and the Eurasian Union are seen as hangovers of the Cold War and so he must be contained and isolated, and Ukraine seen to succeed as a democratic market economy. To achieve this, the US invokes a rule-based international system despite inconvenient history: it invaded puny Grenada in 1983 when it considered its strategic interests were affected. It supported the break-up of Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Sudan on grounds of self-determination. It bombed Serbia to create Kosovan independence and invaded Iraq, both termed illegal by the UN secretary-general.

Paperweight politics

Thomas L. Friedman | April 2, 2014 

The tools are primarily economic: denying Russian oligarchs access to the Western financial system and reducing the energy revenues flowing into Putin’s coffers.

To contain Putin on Ukraine, regulate his supply of money.

If you follow the debates about Ukraine, you can see three trends: those who use the crisis for humour, those who use it to reinforce preconceived views and those trying to figure out if it’s telling us something new about today’s world.

For humour, I like Seth Meyers’s line: “Despite the fact that the Ukraine has been all over the news for the past few weeks, a survey found that 64 per cent of US students still couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. Said Vladimir Putin, ‘Soon nobody will.’ “

For self-reinforcement, the oped pages are full of the argument that Putin’s seizure of Crimea signals a return of either traditional 19th-century power politics or the Cold War — and anyone who thought globalisation had trumped such geopolitics is naïve.

For new thinking, I’m intrigued by an argument made by Masha Gessen, a Russian-American journalist, and Nader Mousavizadeh, a geopolitical consultant and Reuters columnist, in different ways: That Putin represents a new hybrid — leaders who are using the tools, and profits, from globalisation to promote, as Mousavizadeh put it, “strategic choices in direct opposition” to Western “values and interests.” Or as Gessen said in The Washington Post: “Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world… This is exactly how Russians see the events in Ukraine: The West is literally taking over, and only Russian troops can stand between the Slavic country’s unsuspecting citizens and the homosexuals marching in from Brussels.”

My own view is that today’s global economic and technological interdependence can’t, of course, make war obsolete — human beings will always surprise you — but globalisation does impose real restraints that shape geopolitics today more than you think. The Associated Press reported from Moscow last week that “recent figures suggest that Russia suffered roughly $70 billion of capital outflow in the first three months of the year, which is more than in all of 2013.” Putin didn’t miss that.

Fracking's Known Unknowns

If the United States is going to help Western allies neutralize Russia's energy stranglehold, it needs to get to the root of why so many people fear fracking.

MARCH 31, 2014

With Russia menacing Ukraine and Europe with its natural gas heft, the cry has gone out from British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Wall Street Journal, and even (implicitly) U.S. President Barack Obama: more fracking! If only the EU would stop importing a third of its natural gas from Russia, the argument goes, it would be easier to impose sterner sanctions and go beyond grandly booting Russia from the G-8. Fracking sounds like a simple and smart solution. Not only can the United States export liquefied shale gas to Europe, but Europe can also help itself diversify by embracing a technology that taps homegrown reserves. "You cannot just rely on other people's energy," Obama reportedly told EU leaders.

The trouble, of course, is that much of Europe, especially the western half, doesn't want to frack. France (which has considerable reserves) has banned it, Germany has effectively done the same, and Cameron's enthusiasm has been slowed in the United Kingdom by not-in-my-backyard environmental protests. As Conservative MP Nick Herbert (who's not reflexively against fracking) put it last year, fracking has sparked a "fear of the unknown."

Ah, those pesky known unknowns! Herbert actually nailed the problem. So, here's a way to help spread fracking: Banish the unknowns. There is still so much uncertainty and hence controversy surrounding fracking, even in the shale-crazed United States, that other countries inevitably have qualms about adopting the technology even as they hanker for its benefits. Fracking, aka hydraulic fracturing, involves shooting water, sand, and chemicals beneath the earth to break rock and extract oil or gas. People living in shale-rich areas have raised concerns about air pollution, potential groundwater contamination, and even earthquakes. Here's Herbert again: "People understand the national arguments about the need for secure and cheap energy, but they don't know how much this is going to damage the local environment." Exactly.

Definitive, comprehensive, objective studies of fracking are needed to help both ourselves and our allies think rationally about fracking and how it stacks up to the alternatives, like renewable energy, nuclear power, coal, or the cheap-gas trough of Vladimir Putin. Alas, such studies are elusive -- and those that exist are quickly challenged by one side or another. As ProPublica has written, "A long-term systematic study of the adverse effects of gas drilling on communities has yet to be undertaken." That's a notable omission, given that shale accounted for one-third of U.S. natural gas production in 2011 and is rising quickly.

Fracking is a complex, multistage procedure that can affect the environment in many ways, each of which deserves careful independent review. From an environmental perspective, the key difference from conventional drilling is the amount of liquid involved. Fracking uses a mix of water, sand, and chemicals to blast rock and extract oil or gas. That liquid, often several million gallons or more per oil or gas well, must be acquired, transported, and used in the frack job. Leftover wastewater must be stored and then disposed of, usually by injection into an underground formation where it is supposed to remain in perpetuity. (Recycling of this excess liquid is still in its infancy.)

India is in a timidity trap with China

April 02, 2014 

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'The Panchsheel Agreement is unique in the annals of international relations as it stands out as a bizarre illustration of a prime minister trading his country's crucial national interests solely to buffer his personal international image,' feels R N Ravi.

The unofficial release of some parts of the Henderson Brooks Report on the untold story of the India-China war and the flurry of commentaries in its aftermath illuminate a tragic irony of India.

While the Indian government, wielding pernicious laws and rules, shields its culpable acts and omissions, including those bearing serious consequences for India's national security, from scrutiny behind a deliberately created smokescreen, concerned Indians are left to speculate until an enterprising Neville Maxwell casts some fortuitous light on them.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a well-known crypto-Anglophile, in his zeal to promote his anti-imperial image among the newly liberated countries, went overboard, undid India's historical relations with Tibet forged over centuries, and sacrificed India's special geo-political interests earned and accrued therein over a long period of time with a stroke of pen (Panchsheel Agreement, 1954).

He did it wilfully, ignoring the ominous rumblings from the border since 1951. While Nehru basked in his image in the high-sounding empty preamble of the agreement, China swallowed Tibet and made India dismantle its long established diplomatic and operational infrastructures and beat a quick retreat from Tibet.

This agreement is unique in the annals of international relations as it stands out as a bizarre illustration of a prime minister trading his country's crucial national interests solely to buffer his personal international image.

8 Reasons Why India's Elections Really Matter to the World

March 31, 2014

NEW DELHI, India - With 48 countries going to the polls this year, it would be easy to dismiss India's April general election as just more democracy in action.

But India is different, and not only because it is the world's largest democracy.

The current prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is stepping down which means the world will see a new leader of the subcontinent's 1.3 billion people. That new leader will rule over nearly one out of every five people on planet Earth.

Favored to win is the charismatic nationalist Narendra Modi, of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, who would be expected to follow a Hindu nationalist agenda.

But whoever emerges as the winner when the results are announced on May 12 will have some tough decisions to make, which will have a real impact on people around the world.

Here are 8 reasons:

1. India is developing a nuclear missile that could reach the United States

Sure, it's unlikely that India would decide to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. But that hasn't stopped the country from designing a missile that could reach Alaska. The Agni VI is due for its first flight test in 2017 and is reported to have an intended range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles). New York is about 11,500km (7,150 miles) from Delhi.

India already has an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,000km (3,100 miles): the Agni V which can reach Beijing and Teheran. It has fought wars with Pakistan and China, but the land-based Agni VI missile would allow India's next prime minister to potentially threaten western Europe and Australia, in addition to parts of the US.

Modi is an enthusiastic supporter of India's nuclear armory. Last year he wrote that the original nuclear tests, under the BJP's previous Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, were "very much a test of our political will and needless to say, we passed the test with flying colors."

India's nuclear ambition may enable a future leader to lobby harder for a seat on the United Nations Security Council - something leaders of all parties have been keen to win.

Indian Ocean Regionalism – Picking up the Pattern of Connectivity

2 April 2014

By Anthony Bergin

Photo: Lucentbyte/Wikimedia commons.

It’s fair to say that, despite the existence of initiatives and organisations such as theIndian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Indian Ocean regional architecture is under-developed. This reflects a lack of shared interests relative to some other regions, including limited economic and strategic integration, great socio-economic disparities, and modest people-to-people links. Yet there’s benefit in seeking to address Indian Ocean transnational issues by regional means.

I recently attended a workshop in Mauritius organised by IORA, in association with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, on ‘IORA and Strategic Stability in the Indian Ocean’. I was asked to address the question of what IORA can do to build trust, confidence and effective security cooperation. Here are the key points of what I said in Port Louis.

IORA is the only body with a broadly-based agenda that spans the region and meets at ministerial level. But it has struggled to find common ground among its diverse membership and suffered from institutional weakness (its secretariat has fewer than ten people). This has led to narrow project-focused agendas and an absence of strategic focus.

Australia (as chair for the next two years), India, (the immediate past chair), Indonesia (the current vice chair), and South Africa (which intends to nominate to succeed Indonesia in two years), should drive a more productive IORA agenda. South Africa’s intention to nominate for vice-chair is welcome, as it’s keen to strengthen IORA’s work program and practices. But these four countries need to avoid any sense of dictating to IORA’s smaller members.

IORA has agreed to work on six priority areas: maritime safety and security; trade and investment facilitation; fisheries management; disaster risk management; science and technology and academic cooperation; and tourism and cultural exchanges. The‘Perth Principles’ Declaration on the peaceful, productive and sustainable use of the Indian Ocean and its resources was issued at IORA’s annual meeting in Perth in November last year and should guide IORA’s future work.

IORA should be using projects on oceanography and meteorology as a base for exploring more systematic work on the ‘blue’ economy. The Indian Ocean remains one of the least studied and understood of the world’s oceans, so IORA should support projects such as the ambitious International Indian Ocean Expedition 50th Anniversary Initiative (PDF).

Climate change is a huge issue for countries like Bangladesh, Seychelles and the Maldives. IORA should have a wider agenda on risk mitigation and humanitarian assistance arrangements in the Indian Ocean region. For example, an IORA protocol on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief could be useful.

The Indian Ocean Region: A Strategic Net Assessment

By Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
Contributor: Daniel Dewitt, Garrett Berntsen

APR 1, 2014

The IOR is one of the most complex regions in the world in human terms. It includes a wide variety of different races, cultures and religions. The level of political stability, the quality of governance, demographic pressures, ethnic and sectarian tensions, and the pace of economic growth create a different mix of opportunity and risk in each state. This can affect mid and long-term development, and sometimes creates near term problems in stability that can trigger internal or civil conflict.

The Burke Chair is issuing a final review draft of ananalysis of the region entitled The Indian Ocean Region: A Strategic Net Assessment. This document is available on the CISIS web site at http://csis.org/publication/indian-ocean-region-strategic-net-assessment

The Contents of the Net Assessment

The revised study provides an updated and expanded comprehensive overview of the subregions and countries in the region, drawing heavily on a new Country Risk Assessment Model developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan, a Senior Associate with the Burke Chair at CSIS. It provides detailed graphs, tables, and maps covering the IOR as a whole, each major subregion, and each of the 32 countries in the region as well as the impact of US and Chinese military forces.

Chapter One provides an overview of risks in terms of governance, economics, ease of doing business, security, and progress in human development using the Country Risk Assessment model and ratings by the UN, World Bank, and IMF. It provides summary risk assessments in each key category.

Chapter Two examines demographic trends and risks for the period from 1950 to 2050. It highlights the importance of population pressure, the “youth bulge” caused by the very young population in a number of countries, and the shock caused by rapid urbanization and the breakdown of previous patterns of social and political stability. It also examines the level of gender inequality. A critical factor slowing economic growth and development in a number of IOR states.

Chapter Three expands the economic analysis but focuses on Gulf energy exports as a key factor shaping the IOR’s strategic importance to the world.It examines trends in production and exports, the growing importance of Chinese and Asian imports, and the strategic impact of the growth in US domestic energy production.

Chapter Four focuses on the Gulf states: It examines the military and internal security risks in the Subregion. It summarizes the relative stability of the Southern Gulf states, and examines the overall military balance and threat posed by Iran, and the stability of Iraq, Bahrain, and Jordan.

Chapter Five focuses on the Horn, Red Sea sates, and Egypt: It discusses the strategic threat posed by piracy in the region, and examines the level of instability in each Red Sea state and the growing instability in Egypt.

Chapter Six focuses on East Africa and South Africa: There is no clear strategic threat in this sub-region as such. The chapter focuses on the level of instability in each East African state and its possible implication for the subregion and the IOR as a whole.

Chapter Seven forces on South Asia: It examines the risk of another India-Pakistan conflict, India’s focus on China’s build up and the risks by country in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Chapter Eight analyzes risks in Southeast Asia: This chapter analyzes the threat of piracy in the Strait of Malacca, stability and instability in each state, and the impact of the Chinese military build-up on national forces in the subregion.

Chapter Nine analyzes the impact of US and Chinese forces: It examines the changing military balance between the US and a rising China and the effects of this relationship on the present and future stability of the IOR.

The Strategic Impact of the IOR

The analysis shows that three critical strategic issues cut across the IOR and have a global impact:
  • The stability and security of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • The special risks create by the possibility of a future conflict involving India, which may be emerging as a major global power, and the risk if a nuclear conflict involving India and Pakistan.
  • The overall security of maritime traffic and commerce through the entire region.
  • In the Western part of the IOR, the Arab Gulf states and Iran shape much of the world’s petroleum exports and play a critical role in the global economy. While many other areas in the Indian Ocean have strategic importance – and a fuller list is provided in the introduction to this study – petroleum exports through the India Ocean to Asia, through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, and around the Horn are the area where the IOR has the greatest single impact on the global economy and the world.
This is also the area of highest near-term risk in terms of serious military conflict. The negotiations between the P5+1 may have reduced the nuclear aspect of this conflict – although this may take several years to fully verify and determine. It has not yet affected the broad regional competition for influence between Iran and Arabs states, the risk of asymmetric war in the Gulf, a major conventional arms race, and Iran’s build-up of major ballistic missile forces.

In the center of the IOR, India is such a large state that its emerging role in the global economy has great strategic importance, but so does the risk of another conflict between India and Pakistan – both now nuclear-armed states. This risk is assessed as low to moderate. Both nations have established a relatively high level of mutual deterrence and have little to gain from any form of future conflict. At the same time, both states still confront each other, keep increasing their inventories of nuclear weapons and now deploy them at the tactical level, terrorism is a serious threat, and the history of war is not the history of carefully calculated actions and risk assessments.

Finally, the overall stability of the flow of shipping and maritime traffic throughout the IOR impacts on importers and exporter on global basis, affects the flow of petroleum exports. The main risk to this stability is currently piracy and maritime crime. In the west, it is concentrated around Somalia and to the east around the Strait of Malacca and Indonesia. Piracy is presently a low but continuing risk, and one of major importance to shippers. It does, however, have a particularly critical impact on key East Asian trading states like China, Japan, and South Korea.

A more serious strategic risk may be emerging. At present, US sea and air power, and partnerships with a variety of regional states, play a major role in securing Gulf oil exports and the security of maritime traffic throughout the region. The US is now committed to a strategy that gives the Middle East and Asia high priority, but some question whether it will remain committed in the future as US energy import needs diminish. This risk currently seems limited, but cannot be dismissed.

The other risk is a potential shift in air-sea power as China acquires a major blue water navy and the potential ability to project air and missile power throughout the IOR. Asia has already replaced the West as the key energy importer and source of maritime trade across the IOR, and China will steadily increase its volume of imports and import dependence over time.

Given the tensions between China and the US and other states in the Pacific, this raises the question of whether China and the US will compete or cooperate in the IOR, and particularly how their actions could interact with the role of the states in the IOR, affect a key chokepoint like the strait of Malacca, and tie the IOR to regional tensions over the South China sea and the much broader areas involved China’s claims to maritime and air rights in the entire Pacific. This is not currently more than a possible area of future risk, but its strategic importance is too great to ignore.

The Gulf and Energy Exports

The extent to which Iran and the Arab Gulf states can produce and move oil, gas, and product by sea or pipeline has a massive impact on the economy of virtually every developed and trading state and increasingly on the developed and more advanced economies in Asia – whose exports, in turn affect the security and stability of the economy of virtually every other developed state.

This analysis shows that several of the states in the Gulf – or states that affect the flow of petroleum within the Gulf and Middle East Subregion -- suffer from serious internal instability and face the risk of civil conflict. Egypt is a key case in point because of its role in establishing the security of the Suez Canal and SUMED pipeline, but Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen – and to a lesser degree Iran – all present significant national risks.

More broadly, the struggle between the Arab Gulf states and Iran, and the role the US plays in ensuring the security and stability of the Gulf, presents major ongoing risks that will not be resolved by the current negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 even if these negotiations are fully successful.

At present the arms race in the Gulf; Iran’s broader struggle for influence over Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; and the growing tensions and conflicts between Sunnis and Shi’ites/Alawites seem containable and the level of deterrence of any serious conflict seems relatively high. This is, however, by far the most serious strategic risk and flashpoint in the IOR.

India and the Prospects for an India-Pakistan Conflict

The strategic impact of South Asia on the IOR is dominated by the potential emergence of India as major economic power, by the risk of another India-Pakistan conflict, and by the degree of competition between India and China. Its overall impact on the security and stability of the IOR is confined largely to the immediate sub-region region. There is no immediate threat to world maritime traffic or the flow of petroleum.

The extent to which India does or does not emerge as a growing and developing economy has a vast human impact, but also affects the balance of power in all of Asia, the relative role of China as a world power, and the extent to which South Asia emerges as a major trading bloc.

This study concludes that the internal pressures in India still sharply limit the probability it will emerge as a major part of the global economy and major military power at anything like the rate and level of China. This is a possibility, but not a probability. India imposes too many limits on its own development.

At the same time, the tensions between India and Pakistan have led to several major conflicts and now involve substantial inventories of nuclear-armed missiles and aircraft. A major nuclear conflict between the two is unlikely, and its strategic impact on states outside of South Asia would be relatively limited, but it would be a human disaster of exceptional proportions and set a precedent for future nuclear arms races and conflicts.

Piracy and the Security of IOR Sea Lanes and Chokepoints

The overall security of maritime traffic throughout the region is another key strategic priority to the nations outside the IOR, and to the major trading nations and exporters within it. The most immediate near-term threat to the secure flow of shipping is piracy; a threat currently concentrated in the actions of Somali pirates in the west, and broader range of pirates and maritime criminals in the Strait of Malacca and Indonesia. This threat currently seems to be contained in both areas, although maritime crime in Indonesia presents serious problems and Somali piracy has not been ended.

The key question is whether broader threats will emerge because of the competition between Asian powers over maritime rights in the Pacific, and for strategic influence over the Strait of Malacca. Other threats include tensions between the US and China, the possible expansion of piracy or threats to maritime traffic because of instability in Yemen and other Red Sea states, and internal tensions within Egypt that could lead to attacks on shipping in the Suez Canal area. 

The near term probability of such threats becoming major problems seems limited, but they may emerge as far more serious issues in the mid-to-long term.

Forces Outside the IOR: The US and China

The air-sea balances that affect the overall flow of trade and petroleum are a critical factor shaping the overall strategic impact of the IOR on the global economy. These balances are now dominated by the level of US power projection from outside the IOR.

The US is now the dominant outside power in the Gulf and Middle East backed by limited support from Britain and France. The US is also the dominant power in projecting air-sea forces into the Indian Ocean from the East. It is China and the Asian powers, however, which now are most dependent on Gulf oil exports and supplies from the IOR, and this dependence is projected to increase massively over the next few decades.

China is gradually becoming a modern blue water navy, and is playing a growing role in the Indian Ocean. It may become a competitor to the US and India. Japan and South Korea are even more dependent than China, but currently have limited power projection capability even near or beyond the Strait of Malacca.

Much depends on whether the United States will continue to use its forces to maintain stability in the IOR, and whether it sees its growing domestic energy output as reducing its need for strategic involvement in the Gulf and IOR. This analysis shows that the US remains committed to the defense of the Gulf and maintaining a major presence in the Indian Ocean region. There has been considerable confusion over the level of US commitment because of speeches referring to a “pivot to Asia,” US and P5+1 negotiation with Iran, claims of US energy independence, and the impact of sequestration and US defense budget cuts.

The new US strategic guidance issued in January 2012, however, gave the same priority to the Middle East as to the “rebalancing to Asia” – the phrase used in all US strategic documents and budget requests and one that refers to a 5-10% shift in US forces away from NATO Europe and to the US west coast and Pacific. This has been regularly reaffirmed in US budget guidance through FY2014, by USCENTCOM commanders, and by Secretary of Defense Hagel in his speech to the Manama Dialog in Bahrain during a trip to the Gulf in December 2013.

Secretary Hagel made it clear that the US negotiations with Iran were part of long standing P5+1 effort to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons programs. He said the US was involved in 6 month process to see if it could work through its differences with Iran and that it was it was his opinion that this represented a wise opportunity to probe in great detail the possibilities to see if Iran was serious about following through on its commitments in the nuclear area.

The US increased its forces in the Gulf in 2013, rather than cut them. It also is transferring over $70 billion worth of arms to Arab Gulf and neighboring Arab states. Currently, the US can rapidly deploy massive amounts of air and cruise missile power, base B-2 stealth bombers forward in areas like Diego Garcia, is upgrading much of its tactical airpower to F-35 stealth strike fighters, is introducing the Littoral Combat Ship to deal with threats like Iran, has offered THAAD anti-missile defenses to states like Qatar and the UAE, and Secretary Clinton had offered the same “extended deterrence” guarantees to the Gulf states that the US had once offered to Europe during the Cold War – an offer that remains on the table.

Secretary Hagel and other US officials noted that the US had stepped up its partnering and exercise activity with the Gulf States, and that moving US aircraft and ships to the West Coast and Pacific meant they could be used in the IOR and Gulf as well as the Pacific and reduced US dependence on the Suez Canal. They also noted that France and the UK had strengthened their exercise and partnership activities as well.

Other Key Trends Affecting the IOR

There is no easy way to summarize the overall mix of trends in the IOR. Chapter I does, however, provide an overview of the risks in governance and economics using a new Country Risk Assessment Model developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan, a coauthor of this study. One of the key conclusions of this model, however, is the need to assess all of the key internal risks by country. While given subregions do share many common values, it is all too clear that neighboring states can present radically different levels of risk in radically different areas. In fact, a second key conclusion is the need to explore the full range of risk in depth and accept the complexity of doing so.

A third conclusion, however, can be drawn from the population data in Chapter II and the discussion of the individual countries in each Subregion that follows. Demographic pressures from massive population growth is putting a high degree of stress on the governance and economies of most regional states. The region is filled with countries with very young populations, and with the exception of a few Gulf and Southeast Asia states, these present major challenges in terms of education, job creation, and infrastructure.

Few countries report unemployment by age group and none report disguised unemployment – jobs which have no productive output or where more than one individual is doing a job that one person could perform. Measurements of poverty levels also do not reflect age, and are set so low that people well above the poverty level can be deeply dissatisfied with their lives. In many countries – even including some of the “wealthy” Gulf oil states -- this presents a serious problem in terms of being able to marry or acquire housing.

Other factors affect many countries. A larger population of older citizens presents different problems in terms of employment and income, and further increases the high dependency ratio caused by large numbers of children. Urbanization has reached far higher levels than the data on most countries reflect, with large numbers of rural poor living in the equivalent of slums. It has also deeply disturbed the previous social structure and traditional safety net, and has often pushed different religious, sectarian, and ethnic groups into new mixes – sometimes exposing serious fault lines.

Governance is weak and sometimes at the crisis point in many critical areas and states across the IOR. This not only compounds the problems caused by young populations and the resulting “youth bulge,” but the problems in adjusting to rapid social change and urbanization. It is often a key problem causing the alienation of young men in male-dominated societies, and most of the political structures in the region suppress opposition and dissent, make compromise and change more difficult, and to this alienation.

As Chapter I and the following chapters on each Subregion show, the interaction between weak governance and poor economic policies creates additional problems. Most governments in the region create serious barriers in terms of doing business and economic growth. State sectors are generally mismanaged, and many countries are deeply corrupt and pursue a form of crony capitalism that leads to poor distribution of wealth and often serious pressure on the middle class. The failure to fully integrate women into the political structure and economy adds to these problems, not simply as a human rights problem, but because it sharply restricts the productivity gain within the labor force and economy as a whole.

There are – as this study shows – notable exceptions. There are many countries that show progress in a number of areas, and some that are breaking out of the problems and traps of the past. The fact remains, however, that in many other countries, a combination of these problems, deep internal tensions and conflicts, interstate tensions and the risk of war with neighboring states, combine to create serious cumulative risks. Risks of this kind have already helped lead to explosive political upheavals and civil conflict in some IOR states.

India’s Nonperforming Assets

A Lurking Crisis
By Rasika Gynedi
APR 1, 2014

Asset quality in India’s banks has deteriorated sharply and if not tackled promptly poses a systemic risk to the banking system—and by extension the Indian economy. A high proportion of nonperforming assets (NPAs) steadily erodes the capital base of a bank, impinging on the ability of banks to raise fresh capital and continue lending for investment activities. Indeed, the spillover impact from banking crises to the real economy is all too familiar, evinced by the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States. However, despite this risk, the issue is not garnering sufficient attention outside the banking industry.

Rasika Gynedi is a researcher with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. She worked as an economic research analyst with Yes Bank in Mumbai, prior to which she was an investment banker with State Street Corporation in London. She holds a master’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Publisher CSIS

Why is Japan important to India’s energy security?

April 1, 2014

The increasing importance accorded to India-Japan relationship was reemphasized during Prime Minister Abe’s New Delhi visit late January that brought into sharp focus the critical issue of energy security in the changing geo-political landscape in Asia. The highlight of the visit were deliberations on energy efficiency and conservation measures, which both the countries believe can effectively handle the energy crisis, thereby providing a secure and sustainable energy future.

Moreover, this visit also significantly opened avenues for bolstering energy ties between the two countries in areas ranging from conventional to non-conventional energy resources.

This renewed energy cooperation between the two countries attains significance particularly at a time when India, despite having an objective of energy independence through substantially decreasing its crude imports by 2030 is actually becoming increasingly dependent on it. If estimates of BP Energy Outlook 2035 are to be believed, India’s oil imports will rise by 169 per cent, accounting for 60 per cent of the net increase in imports.

It therefore becomes inescapable for India to find a way out in dealing with its ever increasing energy consumption and imports by implementing stringent measures of energy efficiency and conservation, while inculcating energy discipline at the core of its economic activity as a long term sustainable goal. India-Japan energy cooperation will also address the concern of India’s rising crude import bills and falling domestic natural gas production by importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) jointly, bringing down the procurement cost.

Though, Indo-Japan energy cooperation initially began in the beginning of the new millennium when during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Mori in 2000 to India, ‘Global Partnership in the 21st Century was launched. However, greater thrust given to energy sector cooperation was evident in India-Japan joint statement on ‘Enhancement of Cooperation on Environment Protection and Energy Security’, during Abe’s visit in August 2007.

Keeping the fundamental objective of energy security in mind, various agreements between these two countries have been signed during Abe’s January visit. To enhance energy efficiency in telecom towers, for instance, memorandum of undertaking (MoU) was signed between Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and India’s Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Communication & Information Technology, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India on a Model Project for Energy Management Systems.

Further, to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in coal-fired plant, both countries agreed to use Clean Coal Technologies. And as a result, they signed a loan agreement between National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) and Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) for Kudgi supercritical coal-fired power project in Karnataka and Auraiya power project in Uttar Pradesh to the tune of $430 million.

Islamabad’s (Charm) Offensive

BY Joshua T. White
MARCH 31, 2014

Talk to most any Afghan, and you'll get an earful about how Pakistan has treated its smaller neighbor: the use of proxies, the tendency to see Afghan Pashtuns as pliant Pakistanis-in-waiting rather than independent political actors, and the persistent fixation on the Indian presence in Afghanistan. These criticisms, while often legitimate, overlook what has been a relatively sophisticated and restrained diplomatic strategy by Pakistan over the last couple of years. As part of what appears to be a coordinated campaign by both diplomats and the military, Pakistan has made efforts to minimize border tensions and go out of its way in public to emphasize its deference to Afghan sovereignty.

Talk, of course, is cheap. Many Afghans simply do not take Pakistan's pronouncements at face value. Decades of border tensions over the disputed Durand Line, public accusations about each countries' respective links to Islamist groups, and personality clashes have clearly bred mistrust. Most recently, the Afghan intelligence service directly fingered Pakistan for the deadly attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. All the same, Islamabad's charm offensive has helped to keep Afghanistan-Pakistan relations from deteriorating into overt dysfunctionality -- for now.

Pakistan's leaders, as uncertain as anyone about the outcome of the upcoming Afghan elections, appear to have adopted a wait-and-see approach, keeping tensions with Afghanistan under control, while quietly retaining longstanding links to reliable proxies.

What are the chances that this approach will change once the results of the Afghan elections -- which might not be known until run-offs conclude in late spring or early summer -- finally become clear? In the short term, the election outcome is unlikely to precipitate a shift in Islamabad's posture toward Kabul -- with one notable exception.

The Abdullah Outlier

That exception has a name: Abdullah Abdullah. Of mixed Pashtun and Tajik descent, Abdullah is viewed by Islamabad as a Tajik partisan who is closer to India, more bitterly opposed to the Taliban, and more fundamentally hostile to Pakistani influence in Afghanistan than any of the other leading presidential candidates. (These views are not without warrant: Abdullah was a close aide to the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, whose Northern Alliance received support from India; and he sent his family to New Delhi when the Taliban came to power.) Although they are loathe to admit it, the Pakistanis see an Abdullah victory as a very bad outcome, and one to which they might be forced to reevaluate their wait-and-see posture.

Polling in Afghanistan, while not highly reliable, suggests that an Abdullah victory is at least a distinct possibility. Moreover, the recent death of Vice President Mohammad Fahim may serve to consolidate the Tajik vote, further boosting Abdullah's prospects. Setting aside whether an Abdullah victory would be good for Afghan politics and governance, it should be an unsettling prospect for U.S. policymakers. Pakistan may well hold a caricatured view of Abdullah's pro-Tajik and pro-India orientation, underestimating the degree to which he would adopt conciliatory big-tent politics as president, but perception itself can be a powerful driver of Pakistani strategic behavior.

Why Pakistan Fears Indo-Afghan Ties

BY Amanullah Ghilzai
APRIL 1, 2014

Why is Pakistan so sensitive to India's enhanced role in Afghanistan?

As United States and NATO forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, there is growing fear that tension between the two arch-rivals of the region, India and Pakistan, could rise as they compete for influence in Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, the sense is growing that the country's role in Afghanistan has greatly diminished following the defeat of the Taliban in 2001. India, which shares more than 2,500 kilometers of porous borderland with Afghanistan, is widely seen as having taken Pakistan's place. Many analysts believe that the rivalry between India and Pakistan could seriously threaten peace in Afghanistan if tensions continue after the drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces.

International and regional analysts are putting forward many ideas on how to allay Islamabad's fears regarding India's increased ties with Afghanistan. Some of these arguments suggest bringing the two countries closer or even pushing India to reduce its role in Afghanistan.

But the answer is largely linked to the history of Pashtun and Baluch nationalism in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces, both of which border Afghanistan.

Baluch separatists continue to carry out low-level insurgency in Baluchistan province, including sporadic attacks against Pakistani troops. Some of these insurgents are based in Afghanistan, and Pakistan has accused India of supporting the Baluch guerillas from across the Afghan border. India denies giving any material backing to the insurgents.

During an early Baluch insurgency in the 1970s, which was openly supported by the Afghan government of the time under President Sardar Daud, a large number of Baluch freedom fighters operated from across the border in Afghanistan. Pakistan repeatedly accused the Indians of backing the Baluch separatists during that time, though India always denied any such allegations.

Tension between India and Pakistan over Pashtun nationalism stems from the partition of the two countries in 1947, when some Pashtuns refused to accept the newly created country of Pakistan. Pashtun nationalists headed by Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan, known as "The Frontier Gandhi" to Indians, demanded a separate country of their own, independent of Pakistan, named Pushtunistan. Pashtun nationalists were traditionally close allies of India, and Pakistan always looked at them with deep suspicion.