3 June 2014

New realities in the world order

June 3, 2014 
Suhasini Haidar

While Narendra Modi’s immediate task will be to focus on bailing India out of its current economic crisis, it would be a mistake to ignore the massive shifts the world has undergone while India was caught up in election fever

Sometime in 2005, goes the story at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi got in touch as he wanted to visit China and study business and investment opportunities. The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi was cold to the idea, given the taint of the Gujarat riots of 2002, while the Embassy was unsure of what kind of protocol Mr. Modi could receive as no dignitary was available to meet him.

Mr. Modi’s reply startled them as he said his was a “study tour,” and if they wished to, they could treat it as a personal visit. Officials describe how Mr. Modi arrived a few months later, on his own, armed with only a notebook and pen. Gujarati businessmen helped open a few doors for him, but for the most part Mr. Modi travelled to state capitals and economic zones like Shenzhen, taking furious notes. At the end of his visit, Mr. Modi said that he had been struck by three things — the importance of economic diplomacy, the marvel of urban planning (his plan for the Sabarmati riverfront possibly came from here), and the fact that China was hampered most by the lack of spoken English in the country.

Driven by trade

Each of these impressions has had lasting impact on Mr. Modi, who made four official visits after the first one to China, and was even received in the Great Hall of the People in 2011. He has made it clear that his foreign policy will be driven by trade and boosting investment in India. Mr. Modi’s ideas include getting Indian States to drive investment by engaging with foreign countries directly (à la ‘Vibrant Gujarat’), having an economic officer in every Indian embassy (a hint that non-service officers and businessmen will be enlisted for the job), and a key goal, according to reports from his team, of raising India’s ranking in the World Bank’s “Ease of doing business” index from the current 134 to less than 100.

Global power structures

As Chief Minister, Mr. Modi was able to keep the focus on business in bilateral ties. In the midst of the border row with Chinese troops and the anger over stapled visas for example, he paid a visit to Beijing and Shanghai, to speak of R&D investment from Huawei and a deep sea port for Gujarat. Despite tensions at the Line of Control in July 2013, Mr. Modi had an official delegation from Pakistan to discuss solar energy projects. On visits abroad too, he has confined himself to countries where business opportunities are most viable — China, Japan, Israel, Singapore and Australia. But for America’s visa ban, the United States would undoubtedly have been high on that list. The new External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, has certainly taken the same cues from here. As she kicks off her bilateral meetings with a visit from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this weekend, she has yet to confirm whether she will give any time to the U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal, at the same time.

Offering an alternative narrative

June 3, 2014 01:15 IST 

APPOWER OF THE BALLOT: Despite attempts by undemocratic elements to derail elections, the transition from one elected government to another took place last year. Picture shows Pakistani women outside a polling station in Hyderabad, Pakistan, in May 2013.

There is a large and growing segment of opinion in Pakistan that questions the security state paradigm and realises that the threat to the country is internal

What are the first thoughts that come to our mind regarding Pakistan? A country founded on the two-nation theory, which is the antithesis of the principle of secularism enshrined in our Constitution. A country which questions our territorial integrity. A country which thrust four wars on us — in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Memories of Pakistan-sponsored terror acts in various parts of India are etched deep in the psyche of the Indian people.

There is, however, another side to Pakistan, less known to us. Rampant terrorism and lawlessness, resulting from Pakistan’s own policies, combined with freer flow of information in the Internet age and a vibrant media, have spurred greater introspection. The judiciary is more assertive than ever before. All state institutions, including the army, have been questioned in an unprecedented manner in recent years.

Despite attempts by undemocratic elements to derail elections, the transition from one elected government to another took place in 2013 because of an active media, judiciary, civil society and above all an understanding between the two major parties — Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PML (N) — not to side with unconstitutional forces against each other.

Civil-military equation

Barring a few sectors, large segments of trade and industry support expanded trade relations with India. India was not an issue during the 2013 elections, except for repeated expression by Nawaz Sharif of his desire to build a better relationship with the country.

I do not intend to say that Pakistan has made a clean break with its past. Civil-military equation has again been in greater focus of late because of reported differences between the army and the civilian government on issues like General (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s trial; dialogue with the Pakistani Taliban; relations with India; and the Army’s demand for action against the Geo TV network, which blamed the ISI for attack on its star anchor.

It is also not my intention to say that threats from Pakistan to our security and stability have disappeared. Groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) continue to enjoy space on the Pakistani soil.

Coal and correction

June 3, 2014

Power producers must not be seen as coal miners. Mining is not their core competence. Coal blocks should be given to specialised coal mining companies.


Solutions to the sector’s problems are known but require political will to implement.

All coal mines were nationalised in 1973 through the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act except a certain few, like the Tisco mines. Following this, Coal India Ltd (CIL) was formed in 1975 and entrusted with coal production and distribution. This is the origin of CIL’s monopoly.

But soon after this monopoly was created, coal production became inefficient. For instance, between 1972, when coking coal mines were nationalised, and 1991-92, the number of contracted unskilled workers increased dramatically. Many people were employed due to political pressure. Even after the economy was liberalised in 1991-92 and the way paved for private participation in many sectors, there were huge shortages of coal in the country. In 1993, the government thought of opening the sector for private players to operate captive mines — wherein they would be allowed to mine coal for their own consumption. But several private sector firms applied for mining licences and coal blocks without understanding the complexities of the sector. It seems that the idea of enhancing production through private sector participation in this way has also been set aside.

The suggestions of various academics, think tanks, analysts and private companies to revisit the regulatory framework in coal block allocations and other areas in order to create a level playing field have not achieved much. But the restructuring of CIL and privatisation of coal mining must be given serious thought.

Given the shortage of coal and the vexing question of how to increase CIL’s productivity, the idea of hiring a consultant to suggest reforms was mooted in early 2013. But while a consultant was engaged, the report is not yet out.

Governance of the energy sector in general and the coal sector in particular has to radically change if India wants to take advantage of its vast coal resources. The reform of the sector must be given priority. It must be understood that coal is the only fuel that India has in abundance and it must be exploited to the fullest. This will not only save vital foreign exchange but also help electrify many villages.

But how should CIL be restructured? The solutions are known but require political will and capital to implement. Start with the basics. First, make CIL subsidiaries independent and allow them to pursue their own goals. The practice of managing inefficiency through cross subsidisation among subsidiaries must stop. Second, the new government must focus on devising a framework to make the sector more competitive. Engaging private players is the best way forward. The question is how this should be done. To start with, power producers must not be seen as competent coal miners. Mining is not their core competence. Coal blocks should be given to specialised coal mining companies — including global mining giants. Not only are they capable of bringing in the required capital but they can also infuse modern technology into the sector.

An opportunity to seal a deal with Pakistan

June 3, 2014

The Hindu Photo ArchivesWITHIN BOUNDS: Finalising India’s offers on Siachen and Sir Creek should be part of the agenda for the first 100 days that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for. Picture shows soldiers climbing Siachen.

Gradualism does not work because those who fear peace stymie it. The only way to defeat this easy subversion is to clear away the problems in one fell swoop

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks out of the box. He showed this in inviting his counterparts from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to his swearing-in. In his meetings with them, however, going by what was reported, he toed the standard line, which, on issues new to him, was both understandable and prudent. As he moves forward, though, he should review received wisdom on our neighbours, above all on Pakistan.

If the Foreign Secretaries meet only to talk about talks, they will simply mark time. We want satisfaction on terrorism before we talk on other issues, though Nawaz Sharif has made clear that Pakistan wants a dialogue that is comprehensive, even if not “composite”. There is a huge irony in this, because in the sincerest form of flattery, Pakistan has embraced our traditional position and we have appropriated theirs. For over two decades after 1971, we urged Pakistan to discuss all issues with us, while it refused without satisfaction on Kashmir. We argued that it was absurd to reduce relations between neighbours to a single issue, no matter how important, and took it as a triumph when Pakistan eventually agreed to what we dubbed the “composite dialogue”. Bizarrely, we have now disowned what we conceived and Pakistan has adopted the foundling, but as we reduce ourselves to a single issue — terrorism — we give Pakistan the excuse to revert to its own one-child policy — Kashmir.

Polinomics: A unique dispute

Jun 03, 2014

In the excitement of the elections and a new Prime Minister assuming power, a most unusual battle between two of the biggest companies in the country all but escaped the attention of large sections of the media. The biggest corporate entity in the public sector, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has in a court of law accused the biggest private sector company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), of pilfering 18 billion cubic metres of natural gas worth as much as Rs 30,000 crore since 2009.

That’s not all there is to this sensational story. ONGC, a company largely owned by the Government of India, has accused the government itself — namely, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas as well as its regulatory and technical wing, the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH) — of virtually turning a blind eye to its complaints of theft against RIL. The private sector company, headed by India’s richest man Mukesh D. Ambani, has refuted the allegations.

What makes the entire episode even more murky is that days before he demitted office, the outgoing Union minister of petroleum and natural gas, M. Veerappa Moily, wrote to the seniormost bureaucrat in the ministry, secretary Saurabh Chandra, claiming that ONGC had “mishandled” the case by moving a petition before the Delhi high court without seeking their prior permission. This, according to former minister Moily, was an “extreme” and “drastic” step. He further claimed that the actions of a relatively junior bureaucrat who was in the ministry had caused “embarrassment” to the government.

RIL issued a statement saying it was “saddened” by a statement made by the ONGC’s chairman and managing director (CMD), Dinesh K. Sarraf, to the effect that the public sector company had sued RIL to protect its commercial interests. He had told the Press Trust of India on May 20: “The matter (of RIL allegedly drawing gas from ONGC blocks) was brought to the notice of our board (in March). The board was of the view that we need to protect our commercial interest at all costs. If that requires any legal recourse, we will take that.”

RIL claimed that “some elements in ONGC” were “misleading the new CMD, Mr Sarraf, in order to hide their own failure to develop discoveries made over the last 13 years in these blocks”.

Interestingly, Mr Moily had earlier suggested that Mr Sarraf’s predecessor, Sudhir Vasudeva, be given an extension of his term as CMD of ONGC which got over in February. But Mr Moily’s move was over-ruled by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. An extension of Mr Vasudeva’s term had been opposed by Nirmala Sitharaman, former spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party who is now minister of state for commerce and industry, and Gurudas Dasgupta, former MP belonging to the Communist Party of India, on the ground that there were vigilance cases pending against him.

On May 15, a day before the election results were declared, ONGC formally petitioned the court accusing RIL of stealing gas from blocks adjoining those where RIL is contracted to operate in the Krishna-Godavari basin. Almost a year ago, in July 2013, ONGC had first apprised the petroleum ministry about its allegations. In September, there were meetings between officials of RIL and ONGC, and in November data was exchanged. On February 11, 2014, after RIL asked ONGC for more data, the public sector company wrote to its administrative ministry asking for a “neutral expert” to be appointed to ascertain whether RIL was indeed stealing gas from ONGC’s wells which adjoin each other.

First Person, Second Draft: Once upon a bloody time

Shekhar Gupta | June 3, 2014

Bhindranwale at the Golden Temple sarai.


There lived and died a man called Bhindranwale. Charismatic and chilling, he wrote this country’s present and future as no one has done post-Independence. A little footnote: once, he pulled my leg and I needed to check his arm-length.

At the many events to mark the release of my latest book, Anticipating India, one question I am inevitably asked is to name the three most interesting people I have met in my life as a journalist. At one of these, a very young member of the audience, pushed me to go beyond the mainstream politicians of today. “Tell us about some others we may not be so familiar with,” she said. I let my mind slip backwards into the past. The most interesting? Why not Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. “But who was he, sir? Was he a nice guy?” was the follow up.

Now, I understand that this is the era of the post-Google generation. Why should it bother about anything that preceded Google, and even the internet? More importantly, why recall the bad dreams, in fact one of the the worst nightmares, of our country’s recent history (yes, 30 years is recent, too)? Why blame a bright 19-year-old, even I had forgotten the man who defined my working life for an entire year (summer of 1983 to ’84), gave me many scoops, stories, memories and old reporter’s tales, but also wrote this country’s present and future as no one Indian has done in our post-Independence history. Good or bad, evil or nice.

Though I was tempted to read out to my curious young questioner the injunction that my old friend and colleague Shailaja Bajpai holds out to her wards at our little but wonderful Express Institute of Media Studies (EXIMS), where she tells batch after batch that “Nice” is a brand of biscuits, not an adjective for reporters to misuse.

But why did I think of Bhindranwale when pushed on that question? Maybe I was influenced by the fact that I had visited the Golden Temple twice in recent weeks, during the election campaign, so three-decade-old memories were refreshed. It struck me — sadly — that it was the first time since early childhood that I was visiting a peaceful Golden Temple as a humble devotee and getting that ultimate benediction, a kada (steel bangle) blessed at the Akal Takht. All my memories and references so far had been from the 1978-89 period of various degrees of violence. I start at 1978 because that was when, on Baisakhi (April 13), a clash took place between Bhindranwale’s supporters and a congregation of the Nirankari sect. Thirteen of his followers were killed, and suddenly an unknown young preacher became a name known nationally. I also became conscious that we were now heading for the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star, not only one of the most traumatic events in our history but also one with the longest-lasting consequences. And I apologise for sounding like such a cynical, insensitive newshound, but it was also the biggest story of my career, made so particularly by the fact that when the army banished the entire rabble of domestic and foreign press on the evening of June 3, filling them into buses that dropped them off directly in Delhi under armed escort, I was among the three reporters who managed to stay back to chronicle and later tell the story. One, Subhash Kirpekar of The Times of India, way senior to us all, is sadly no more. The other was Brahma Chellaney (yes, your famous strategic pundit and TV talking head), who then worked for the Associated Press (of America).

Article 370 and Nation-Building: A Reality Check

IssueNet Edition| Date : 31 May , 2014

“Nothing is as admirable in politics as a short memory’’

–John Galbraith

Nation building is an ‘ongoing’ phenomenon and in the case of India’s quest for nationhood, it is definitely ‘work in progress.’ In the light of this (grim) reality check, the raking up of the (unnecessary) debate on the revocation of Article 370 from the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J & K), a pointless and ill-timed controversy has been generated. It is even more unfortunate that a debate on a subject that has both external and internal dimensions; an issue that has plagued the strategic progression of the sub-continent for six decades has been sparked in such a ham-handed manner for short term electoral gains.

…at the time when Article 370 was framed, India was under immense pressure of the self inflicted wound of ‘plebiscite,’ which would have been impossible to win without the support of the Sheikh.

On the contrary, the debate needs to be vilified as on one hand, it hopes to encash on India’s recent democratic victory and on the other hand, Kashmir’s political parties have been quick to take up cudgels with the centre, since this gave them a rabble-rousing issue for milking in the forthcoming state elections. On the other hand, the spectacular electoral victory of a Hindu Rightist Party by a mandate rising above the spectre of caste and religion needs to be seen as the real victory for secularity as envisaged by the framers of India’s constitution and the protagonists of pseudo-secularity and political wheeler-dealers and their ilk need to note this positive change in the mood of the nation. Having said that, since like Mr. John Galbraith, the well-known US Ambassador to India has observed, public memory in politics is notoriously short; certain facts from the not too recent history of India’s tryst as a nation-state, as pertaining to Article 370 are recounted. Since the drama of the accession of the Princely State of J &K is generally well- known, only important points of what makes the story of Article 370 are highlighted as without them, the debate on the revival of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution could take off on a tangent, as done by India’s over-active media.

Can India Reform Its Agriculture?

Climate change is stressing an already struggling farm sector, but there is a way forward.
By Ashwini K Swain
June 01, 2014

Over the last decade, India’s official position in global climate negotiations has been one of opposition to agricultural mitigation. At Doha (COP18), India joined other developing countries in demanding that any talk about agriculture must be in the realm of adaptation, not mitigation. India considers the farm sector out of bounds with respect to emissions reduction, given its sensitivity and the potential implications for livelihoods. Is the concern valid? Can India achieve agricultural development and adaptation without addressing mitigation concerns?

Changing Climate of Indian Agriculture

Despite decades of industrial development, India remains an agrarian country. At a time of decline in many countries, the agricultural population in India rose a whopping 50 percent between 1980 and 2011. Although agriculture’s contribution to GDP has been falling, it has a far more important role in the Indian economy than its share of GDP suggests. Farming employs about half of the nation’s workforce and provides a livelihood to about two-thirds of the population. Moreover, almost half of the average Indian household’s expenditure goes towards food, which is an important factor in inflation and thus the nation’s chronic poverty.

Although a net exporter of agricultural products, India still depends on imports for essential items like pulses and cooking oil. Food self-sufficiency is not out of the question, yet food security at the micro level remains elusive. The agricultural sector’s ongoing performance struggles are cause for concern in terms of both food and income security as well as rural poverty eradication.

As a climate change hotspot, emergent climate phenomena seem to be aggravating the agrarian distress in India. An estimated 70 percent of the country’s arable land is be prone to drought, 12 percent to floods, and eight percent to cyclones. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that a temperature rise would result in a significant drop in Indian agricultural yield. Given that about 250 million Indians lack food security, the challenge is to produce enough food “sustainably” to meet the increasing demand, despite shrinking resource availability.

Roadmap of Modi Government in India-View from Nepal

Submitted by asiaadmin2 on Mon, 06/02/2014
Paper No. 5713 Dated 02-Jun-2014
Guest Column by Hari Bansh Jha

Immediately after swearing as 15th Prime Minister of India at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, Narendra Modi gave very important message to the nation. He said that the new government under him had the mandate for "development" and "good governance" and he would focus on scripting a glorious future for India.

People in India believe that the new Prime Minister is capable enough to translate his words into action. There is reason to believe so because of the massive mandate he got in the recently held General Election in India. His Bharatiya Janata Party got 282 sets and together with its ally NDA the total number of seats won was 336, when only 272 seats was required to form majority government in the 543-member Lower House of Parliament. 

The victory of Bharatiya Janata Party and that of NDA heralds a beginning of new era in India. It was for the first time after India's independence in 1947 that an opposition party was able to form government on its own strength. And it was after 30-long years in India's history that any party was able to get absolute majority in the parliament. People in India voted for Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally NDA because of the focus on development and also due to the charismatic personality of Narendra Modi.

It is unique that Narendra Modi who was born in lower caste and that too in a poor family in a remote village of Gujrat came to the citadel of power in India. This could happen only in a democratic country. To earn his bread, he had to struggle hard by selling tea at the railway canteen. But this was also opening of his fate. He joined the Rastriya Swamsevak Sangh when he was a boy of eight years. Later on, he became pracharak (propagandist) of this Hindutva-based organization. After his parents got him married at the age of 17, he left home and wandered in various parts of India and also in the Himalayas almost as a deserted person. For some time, he joined the Ram Krishna Mission of Kolkata. He returned home after two years and then started working as student activist. He supported student movement led by Indian leader Jay Prakash Narayan in 1974 and opposed emergency of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. Gradually, he came in contact with the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party and actively participated in Ram Janmbhoomi and other party activities. Because of some of those skills, he was chosen as general secretary and also spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party. Later on, he became Chief Minister of Gujrat in 2001. 

Modi's style of functioning is entirely different. He is widely known as an orator, reformist and a development man. His Gujrat Model of Development is widely known. He works more as a Chief Executive Officer and seeks result from his team on time-bound basis. As a capable administrator, he is in direct communication with the people. He has a rare quality of implementer. In the past, he demonstrated some of these skills among the people of Gujrat, where he was Chief Minister between 2001 and 2014. As he changed the lot of the people in Gujrat and brought this state in the forefront of India, it is expected that he would bring India in the forefront of the world. Because of this charismatic personality, he is widely regarded as an agent of change and an iron man. Often, he is compared with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, American President Nixon, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

India Pakistan Relations: Two Questions on the Way Forward, Part II

Despite the agreement on the need for the two countries to engage with each other, there is a difficult question that remains unanswered. 

Who should India engage with? 

The more important and possibly more difficult question is “Who does India speak to within Pakistan?” Does it seek to engage the civilian leadership in Islamabad or should it accept the ground reality and engage with the real center of power in Rawalpindi? 

The choice is not a simple one. Engaging with the generals would mean reinforcing the commonly held perception and result in the weakening of the elected civilian leadership. In the longer run, the move could prove counterproductive given the impact that it will have on the democratic forces which are consolidating their base following the recent elections. 

The debate within Pakistan over granting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN)/ Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India made it clear that it is the military which calls the shots on any India-related matter. Thus, despite all the talk about a change in heart and focus, the Pakistan Army continues to be India-centric and not much has changed in Rawalpindi’s mindset towards India. The recent statement about Kashmir by Pak Army Chief Raheel Sharif only underlines this point. 

While the new Indian government has chosen to engage the civilian leadership, India is posed with a somewhat of a quandry. Engaging with the civilian leadership is unlikely to result in any headway as it is the generals who have the final say in these matters. On the other hand, talking to the men in khaki might also not get anywhere especially given their disposition towards India. The negative impact on the fledging democratic institutions in Pakistan would be an additional variable to consider. 

India cannot obviously afford to choose one constituency over the other. Thus the best way forward would be to follow a policy of ‘different horses for different courses.’ It might be wise to engage the civilian leadership on ‘softer’ issues like visa regime liberalisation, increasing people to people contact. The civilian leadership would be in a position to deliver on such issues without running afoul with the generals. On the other hand, New Delhi should also consider engaging the military leadership on the ‘hard’ security issues despite their predispositions. At the same time, it is important for India to continue work on securing its interests. Such actions should be independent and not tied to the result of its dialogue with either Islamabad or Rawalpindi. 

Ajit Doval – the Chanakya in the Team

IssueNet Edition| Date : 02 Jun , 2014

Ajit Kumar Doval, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumes office after a blitzkrieg electoral offensive that saw Congress and its allies vanquished as never before, the dishonest and inefficient bureaucrats in the South and North Blocks are scurrying for cover. At the same time, there are officers of unimpeachable integrity and enormous potential who were thus far ignored by a scam-ridden, dysfunctional regime headed by a gentleman who would perhaps be remembered as the most unheard and unseen Prime Minister of India. Whereas there would be many brains of excellence in the Modi Team, India’s new National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval distinguishes himself from the rest in many ways. His appointment as India’s NSA sends a clear signal – nationally and internationally. It is a pointer to the Modi Sarkar’s resolve to free India from the internal and external anxieties so as to create an environment of peace and progress on which the idea of ‘good governance and development for all’ shall flourish.

Doval’s appointment as India’s NSA sends a clear signal – nationally and internationally. It is a pointer to the Modi Sarkar’s resolve to free India from the internal and external anxieties…

Ajit Doval is a man of exceptionally high IQ and uncanny abilities. He is doer, a fighter and achiever who has ventured and accomplished missions where few would dare. And it is not just ‘one of’ type of successes in his case. The chain of his incredible success stories runs through some of the most dangerous and unlikely situations. Here is one incident that explains how he stunned us by giving a simple solution to a complex problem fraught with far reaching ramifications. NSG was flown in at night to flush out the terrorists from the Golden Temple Complex at Amritsar in May 1988. There were conflicting reports about the number and identities of terrorists inside the Golden Temple complex. There was no clarity as to what weapons they had and how many innocent civilians were inside the premises. Our initial brief from the local police and state administration left crucial questions unanswered. This irked us. Nevertheless, operational plans were drawn up and by late night, we were readying to storm the complex. Just as the assault was about to go, it was suddenly cancelled. “Tiger for Two, Billa cancelled. Stand down and get back to your cordon positions,” Tiger (the Group Commander) ordered the assault squadron commander. (Billa was the code word to signal ‘launch’ of phase I of the operation).The operation was called off even before it took off because the Force Commander had received a rider from the Home Ministry – “No civilian casualties and damage to buildings will be accepted!”

Strengthening the Non Proliferation Treaty - Critical Issues to Address

Date: 02/06/2014

The debate on non-proliferation and global disarmament pops up periodically in global circles whenever there is a nuclear related incident in any part of the globe. Though the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been largely successful in maintaining a semblance and balance on the nuclear front, it is essentially a treaty of the cold war and is not reflective of the changing times. In addition to that some of the measures are very vague which limit its ability in dealing with certain aspects of checking proliferation. It was essentially put in place to preserve the exclusive domain of the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and prevent the Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) from getting access to them. In that way it is discriminatory. One of the biggest drawbacks in the current form of the NPT is the lack of clarity on verification and a clear framework for disarmament as a long term objective. Though article III of the treaty prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapon related or dual use materials from NWS to NNWS it is very vaguely defined leaving enough room for self-interpretation and justification. Another chink in the armor of the NPT is there is no mention of non-state actors which is a more recent but significant threat. Let’s briefly look into these three broad aspects and the improvements that need to be incorporated in the NPT with respect to them.

Disarmament: The single biggest drawback of the NPT which has resulted in it being termed discriminatory by many is the distinction between the haves and have not’s with no clear time frame for universal disarmament. This creates dichotomy in terms of the stipulations for different groups and a feeling of insecurity for the have not’s which at a later stage might prompt some NNWS to take the nuclear route. Inequality only aggravates proliferation in the long run. There are enough instances of this happening in the past. For instance, the NNWS in Europe are provided nuclear security under the NATO Umbrella while the gulf countries havesecurity guarantees from the US and it’s rumored that the US would extend itsnuclear umbrella if the need arises. This creates a huge imbalance in regional issues and can prompt countries to take steps to counter them. We have countries like India, Israel and Pakistan which possess nuclear weapons but are outside the NPT as they feel it is biased and discriminatory. Then there is the DPRK which has walked out of the treaty and tested nuclear weapons while the world just watched helplessly. Iran poses a different challenge from these. It is a signatory of the NPT and claims its nuclear program is peaceful in nature but its activities are not transparent. So as long as there are nuclear weapons there will be proliferation, though it may be contained to a reasonable extent. The only sensible answer is total disarmament. That is a near impossible task given the current global geopolitical situation and there should be a global discussion on a long term time bound road map for eventual renunciation of nuclear weapons by all. Any such effort should start with the NWS taking the lead in cutting down their nuclear stockpiles and till that is achieved there is a need to further strengthen the nonproliferation regime given the loopholes that have surfaced. This brings to the fore the issue of verifications.

Strategic Materials: A Resource Challenge for India


Publisher: Pentagon Press
ISBN 978-81-8274-786-9
Price: Rs. 795 [Download E-Book]
About the Book

The scramble for natural resources is not a new phenomenon. Every state, either developed or developing, is always found busy ‘managing’ resources for its sustenance and growth. Minerals (also called materials) is one the crucial natural resource which plays a significant part in the development of both civilian and military industrial complexes of nation-states. There are a few minerals which are categorized as ‘strategic’ because of their importance for the industries and owing to natural and man-made difficulties in their procurement. This work debates the issues of strategic materials and their importance for nation-states. There has been an attempt here to contextualize the importance of strategic materials from a national security perspective. This study presents a macro view with regard to India’s strategic minerals architecture and undertakes analysis to understand current and futuristic challenges and opportunities in this sector, and offers a few recommendations based on the assessment undertaken. Issues related to Rare Earth and new materials are also discussed.

List of Figures and Tables
The Thought
Strategic Materials: An Overview
Mineral Chemistry
Important Materials
Elucidating Strategic Minerals
Global Distribution of Strategic Mineral Resources
United States
Risk Assessment of India
India’s Strategic Materials ‘Resource Management’ Assessment
Broad Evaluation
In closing
India’s Import Dependency
United States
Challenges for the Indian Mining Sector
Environmental Impacts of Mining
Impacts of Open Pit Mining
Threat fromNaxalism
Illegal Mining
Rare Earth Materials
What are REEs?
Explicit REE Significance
Global REE Deposits and Mining Processes
REEs and China
Challenging the Chinese Monopoly
India and REEs
REEs on the Critical List
Wrapping up
Emerging Materials
3D Printing Technology
Molybdenum disulphide
New Solar Cells
Shape Memory Alloys
Self-Healing Artificial Material
Boron, Aluminium and Magnesium (BAM) ‘Ceramic’ Alloy
Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC)
Conclusion and Recommendations

Appendix A: History of Mining and Evolution of Mineral Legislation in India
Appendix B: MMDR Act, 1957
Appendix C: MMDR Act, 1957; Amended up to 10th May, 2012
Appendix D: Press Release MMDR Bill, 2011, September 2011
Appendix E: Press Release MMDR Bill, August 2013


5 Questions with Chris Preble on Allies, Afghanistan, and Free Market Cocktails

June 2, 2014

This is the latest installment of our 5 Questions series, in which we feature an expert, practitioner, or leader answering — you guessed it — five questions on topics of current relevance in the world of defense, security, and foreign policy. Well, four of the questions are topical. The fifth is about booze. We are War on the Rocks, after all.

This week I spoke with Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free and Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy is Failing and How to Fix It. Preble was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and served onboard USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) from 1990 to 1993. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Temple University.

1. Since President Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point last week, you’ve written about the gap between his hopes for greater burden-sharing by America’s allies and the contribution that they’re actually likely to make. Can you explain why this is the case? Is there anything that the U.S. can do to encourage our allies to carry more of the weight of shared strategic challenges?

Our allies are unlikely to pick up the slack unless the United States pulls back on its promises to defend others from harm, and reshapes its military accordingly.

This has been clear since at least the mid-1960s, when Mancur Olson and Richard Zeckhauser first articulated an economic theory of alliances. Because there is a general tendency for smaller nations to free ride on the security assurances of larger ones, Olson and Zeckhauser predicted that “American attempts to persuade her allies to bear larger shares of the common burden are apt to do nothing more than breed division and resentment.” Their predictions have proved more accurate than they could have guessed: As the infographic posted here clearly shows, Americans continue to spend far more on the military than our European and Asian allies, notwithstanding countless attempts to cajole them into doing more.

As for what we can do to change it, I tend to agree with MIT’s Barry Posen who explains in his new book, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, that America’s allies “make their defense decisions in the face of extravagant United States promises to defend them. They will not do more unless the United States credibly commits to doing less.” (Another plug: Posen will be discussing his book at Cato on June 12th.)

2. Beyond that issue, do you have any specific thoughts on the speech? Did it live up to expectations? Were there any missed opportunities?

I had pretty low expectations going in, so I wasn’t disappointed. I was briefly concerned that the president might embrace a new interventionist agenda, bowing to his critics, and pledging to send U.S. troops into the middle of more civil wars around the world, or risk a major confrontation with Russia or China.

Bangladesh: Justice or Revenge?

After several convictions, it is unclear whether the country’s war crimes tribunal is truly about justice.
By M. Sophia Newman
June 02, 2014

Towards the end of his testimony, the prosecution asked their witness, 72-year-old Sunil Kanti Bardhan, to point out his attacker. Bardhan, who was testifying at Bangladesh’s ongoing International Criminal Tribunal (ICT), had already described his arrival in a torture center during the Liberation War of 1971. “As I was dumped in a room of Dalim Hotel, Mir Quasem Ali, appearing on the spot, started grilling me,” he said, adding that Quasem had threatened to kill him.

The accused, Mir Quasem Ali, is currently a senior official at Diganta, a news media organization that reaches into millions of Bangladeshi homes. But 43 years ago, this politically powerful Islamist is alleged to have played a very different role, as a commander at the “Dalim Hotel,” an improvised prison in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where pro-liberation militia members were tortured and killed.

Quasem is one of over a dozen men indicted by Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal, a belated effort to address the atrocities that occurred in the war that made Bangladesh, then a territory of Pakistan, an independent state. The tribunal has convicted several men and executed one. But as it awaits Quasem’s verdict, it’s unclear whether the tribunal has offered justice – or simply revenge.

The tribunal reflects political divisions that date to the 1971 war itself. On one side, there were those who desired an independent country defined by Bengali ethnicity and language. On the other, there was Pakistan, plus Bengalis who preferred the area to remain a Pakistani province defined by Islam. Four decades on, the victorious ethnic nationalists still feel ire for the old pro-Pakistan factions – who have nonetheless retained power through Islamic fundamentalist party Jamaat-e-Islami.

This conflux of guilt and influence is where the war crimes tribunal has focused its attention. In 2010, the government began indicting upper-echelon members of Jamaat, and by early 2013 began delivering convictions.

But if the guilt of many individuals is plausible, the tribunal’s flaws have cast doubt on its proceedings. International observers note that political convenience appears to motivate the charges, as Jamaat and nearly onlyJamaat leadership stand accused. Reports of corruption abound. A statement from Human Rights Watch alleges collusion between the prosecution and judges, which, it says, “calls into serious question the impartiality of the court.”

Modi-fying Phase Developing Trajectories for South Asia

Submitted by asiaadmin
Paper No. 5712 Dated 02-Jun-2014
Guest Column by Ravi Sundaralingam

(These are personal views of a Sri Lankan Tamil based in London. The views expressed are his own- Director)

If Indian Election results were a surprise, then how Narendra Modi was prior to the elections, and now modified as the Premier is a revelation. 

The spectacle of all leaders of SAARC and Mauritius, except Bangladesh being present at Modi’s inaugural ceremony signified much more than discussed by experts in the media or revealed during briefings by the foreign secretary. That the one-to-one with the leaders took place even before the first cabinet meeting is remarkable if not daring on Modi’s part.

There was the usual statement of no real change to Indian foreign policy template. This sounded suspicious given the pageant and rituals, and even sort of a vision sketched out of the words by the tight lipped foreign secretary.

For us as Lankans, always held outside by Indian politicians and analysts as ‘aliens’ because the colonisers taught them to be so, to be considered as part of a big parivar is very welcome.

For many Mahinda Rajapakse’s present was the sour note, which was more to do with our constituencies than the stage demanded. Further, human rights is an issue not too distant to those in Delhi, Muzaffarnagar, Kashmir, Gujarat, etc., therefore, we are sure to revisit the issue long before the end of Modi’s project, at forum such as the SAARC at some point. Besides, more than the gruelling pace Modi set himself as BJP leader the agenda being to set for India and the region, if stretched to its full potential will be revolutionary therefore, more unpleasantness are tolerable.

What is Modi-fing

While the pace of these events and perhaps even the scale of BJP victory are unexpected, what are being considered as Indian policies could not be surprises, especially to those really closer to the ground in South Asia, particularly India.

Modi’s victory has received many different descriptions.

That he represents a post-partition generation has given rise to such a claim that the victory was a kind of ‘true liberation’ from colonialism. 

In a world where neo-colonialism set the phase and in many areas defined how people actually lived, and in a country where the young among the middle classes outstrips their old Anglophiles in their imitations of the West, this assessment seems hollow but sounds attractive.

Then, there is the claim the victory has rendered the caste, race, religious and class divides useless in one stroke by Modi’s development promise.

This however, has two parts and needed to be addressed separately.

Firstly, the nature of the overwhelming support for the BJP. Some section of the wider population voting for BJP does not mean any claim of uniformity is true.

South of Deccan Plateau BJP performance is as thus:

Japan Prime Minister Signals Assertive Asian Security Role at Shangri-La Dialogue 2014: Analysis

Submitted by asiaadmin2 on Mon, 06/02/2014
Paper No. 5715 Dated 02-Jun-2014
By Dr Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Japanese Prime Minister Abe in his keynote Address on May 31 2014 at the Shangri-La Dialogue signalled Japan’s intentions to play an assertive role Asian security role. Implicitly, the target was China though not so named.

The all-pervasive theme at Shangri-La Dialogue was strategic concerns over China’s destabilising the South China Sea region and its recent provocative actions against Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Indo Pacific region is at strategic cross-roads with the United States not going beyond rhetoric on South China Sea and East China Sea conflict escalation by China. Similarly, Russia as an equal stakeholder in security of the region is a passive spectator as China goes on an imperial rampage recklessly trampling all international laws, conventions and refusing to submit to conflict resolution processes.

Against this contextual backdrop, one has been recommending in my past Papers that Asian strategic coalitions must emerge to make a beginning in the direction of ensuring peace and stability of the Indo Pacific region. In a recent Paper one had advocated the imperatives for “Japan-India –Vietnam Strategic Trilateral”.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s assertions at Shangri-La Dialogue 2014 therefore are timely and welcome as Japan along with India are ‘pivots’ on which an Asian Coalition’ can emerge.

Japan’s Intentions to Adopt a New and Assertive Security Role to Preserve Peace and Stability in Asia

“The “New Japanese” are Japanese who are determined ultimately to take on the peace, order and stability of the region as their own responsibility” so declared PM Shinzo Abe. It is a pointer towards the imperatives of an indigenous Asian Strategic Coalition which could provide some semblance of countervailing power against China’s hegemonistic designs in Asia conscious of the strategic dithering that the United States and Russia display when it comes to China.

“Japan intends to play an even greater more proactive role than it has until now in making peace in Asia and the world something more certain.” This is an emphatic declaration worth noting as there are many connotations attached to it.

“Proactive Contribution to Peace”- a new banner for such a “New Japan” – is nothing new other than an expression of Japan’s determination to spare no effort or trouble for the sake of peace, security, and prosperity of Asia and the Pacific, at even greater levels than before.” Peace and prosperity cannot come about when there is no security or security and stability are threatened. Evidently, the Japanese PM was signalling that Japan is ready to contribute significantly in the security of Asia so that peace prevails.

Maldives: Gasim’s Jumhooree Party thrown out from the Ruling Coalition:

Submitted by asiaadmin2 on Mon, 06/02/2014 - 09:33
Paper No.5714 Dated 2-Jun-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

It was not a surprise that Gasim’s Jumhooree party was removed from the ruling coalition on 28th of May when Gasim contested for the post of the Speaker of the New Majlis (national parliament) that assembled after the elections.

The surprise if any was that it took this long for the divorce though we had known from the beginning that both the leaders, Yameen of PPM and Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhooree were never on good terms and that both had tolerated each other only to get former President Nasheed defeated.

Yameen had also to wait till the parliamentary elections were completed to get a majority on his own for his party before he could dispense with the support he had from the Jumhooree to climb to power.

Except for the good will gesture shown by President Yameen to take Gasim along on his formal visit to Sri Lanka after his election, the Jumhooree party of Gasim was ignored in the decision making process. In the local council elections, some PPM candidates contested against the Jumhooree party though both were in the same coalition.

Some of the issues where Gasim’ party were ignored included-

* Jumhooree was not consulted in the preparation of the government’s budget.

* In the matter of political appointments, Jumhooree was not given all the posts they were entitled to and were promised.

* In the victory rally that followed the Presidential elections, as also the Majlis elections, Jumhooree was not invited.

* The Jumhooree was not consulted in nominating candidates to independent institutions.

* The ruling PPM decided to let a PPM candidate to stand for election for the Speaker’s post though Gasim had evinced an interest in standing for the election. Gasim later claimed that he decided to run for the post of the Speaker only after consulting former President Gayoom and present President Yameen, Dy. Leader Ahmed Adheeb and Defence Minister (Col. Mohamed Nazim.)

Gasim claimed that he was the right person for the post. He took perhaps rightly for getting the new constitution through in the Special Majlis five years ago where he was the speaker. Despite many difficulties, he claimed that he convened the sessions, “mornings, afternoons and evenings” to get the constitution through in record time. There is no doubt that Gasim exhibited extraordinary administrative and leadership qualities in getting even contentious issues in the constitution passed in quick time. I had mentioned about this in my earlier papers at the time of constitution making.

The PPM’s argument in not choosing Gasim was that since it had the majority in the parliament the post of Speaker should go to one of its members.