12 July 2015

Indo-Pak Talks: The problem is with the Pakistani mindset

By Kanwal Sibal
10 Jul , 2015

Prime Minister Modi extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan immediately after his electoral triumph by inviting Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony and agreeing to hold foreign secretary level talks. This despite the experience of a sterile dialogue with Pakistan all these years and the mixed messages from Nawaz Sharif himself who, while expressing his desire to normalise relations with India, has been emphasising his intention to escalate the Kashmir issue politically .

Frequent cease-fire violations on the line of control have created a background of tension that erodes the seriousness of efforts to resume political level negotiations.

How Nawaz Sharif reconciles these two contradictory strategies is unclear. Pakistan cannot say that it wants to turn a page with India while determined to read from the same well-worn text on Kashmir dating back several decades. If Nawaz Sharif as a Muslim Leaguer cannot disregard his family and party links with jihadi groups and this compels him to agitate the Kashmir issue, then Sharif the businessman, with Pakistan’s economic interests in mind, cannot move very far with India. In dealing with Pakistan we are always caught half-cock between rude reality and wishful thinking and hence the inconsistencies of our policies towards that country.

India Needs to Stop Obsessing Over IITs

When people discuss higher education in India, they often talk about what is happening at IITs and IIMs. Once in a while, people talk about NITs or the internal politics of Delhi University. India's barely functional universities are elephants in the room - direly in need reform and rejuvenation, and yet largely missing from public imagination. 

Understandably, Education Minister Smriti Irani has also largely focused on IITs and IIMs within her higher education portfolio. These institutions take in less than 20,000 students a year all put together, and are currently in a shape where they can largely take care of themselves. Even if Education Ministers were to largely let IITs and IIMs cruise on autopilot for the next decade, India will be just about fine. 

Where India desperately needs someone in the cockpit is in rescuing our universities from oblivion and irrelevance. According to the UGC, India has almost 25 million students enrolled in higher education - with an intake of about 5 or 6 million students a year. Those who graduate are far from employable, and most struggle to participate in the modern Indian economy. 

India's New Opportunity to Lead South Asia

India’s domestic and international economic choices have not always been the wisest.

At independence, India was determined to transcend the distorted pattern of economic integration with the world that two centuries of exploitative colonialism had engendered. But in the process, it ended up effectively locking itself out of global trade and investment flows altogether—just at the time when advanced countries were tearing down their mercantilist tariff walls to make way for the liberal, post-war trading order.

Central planners in New Delhi foisted an import substitution industrialization model of development, one suited to middle-income, primary-product exporters, upon an impoverished agrarian society. In doing so they condemned all but a privileged pocket of urban and public sector employees to the margins of the modern economy.

The Hurriyat’s journey — or Kashmir’s road to impasse

by Praveen Swami 
July 9, 2015 
The story of the project, and why it failed, doesn’t necessarily bear out his suggestion that New Delhi could have talked its way out of trouble in Kashmir.
One sunny winter afternoon in November 2009, three men, holding the keys to history in their hands, slipped past the restaurants and coffee shops in New Delhi’s Khan Market, and walked towards the rear parking lot. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the All Parties’ Hurriyat Conference, and his colleagues Bilal Lone and Abdul Gani Butt, got into an unmarked car that would take them to India’s Home Minister, P Chidambaram, and a chance to shape Kashmir’s future.

The meeting, however, saw nothing but recrimination — and the death of New Delhi’s years-long effort at bringing about a grand reconciliation in Kashmir.

What I Saw in Afghanistan

When the late Richard Holbrooke was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he would periodically invite members of Congress to breakfast meetings with his staff, on which I was serving. On September 16, 2009, we met with Representative Nita Lowey, the chair of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. As chair of the subcommittee, Lowey had more authority over funding for civilian activities in Afghanistan than anyone else in the U.S. Congress. She was also the representative of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home district, and Clinton attended the meeting.

Holbrooke declared the meeting to be on the record, since my former boss at the Council on Foreign Relations, Holbrooke’s friend Les Gelb, was there covering it for a profile of Clinton. Before Lowey arrived with Clinton, Holbrooke cautioned us, “She gives us the money.” Lowey told us that a chorus of influential members was questioning why we were spending so much money in Afghanistan. The women’s caucus and others in Congress were up in arms about the lack of progress on women’s rights and fighting corruption, and about the ongoing dispute over the results of the August, 2009, Presidential election. Transforming Afghan society, Lowey argued, would take a long time and would be a permanent drain on the U.S. budget. Holbrooke responded, “Transforming Afghan society is not our mission. Girls’ education is a big issue in many places. We are in Afghanistan because of our national-security interests.”

ISI’s Grip Still Strong In Bangladesh – Analysis

By Swadesh Roy*
July 9, 2015

She is a student of one of the leading private universities in Bangladesh. Her hobby is listening to Western music and dressing up in modern attire. She was passing her early university life cheerfully. Like any other day, she was returning home by her Prado jeep and moving her head to the rhythm of music. But on checking her email on her smartphone she became stiff; she even stopped registering the music. She got a single line email from one of her study group friends. The mail said, “Sister, it is the last for you, come to the way of Dawah”. Dawah are rules in the Islamic lifestyle. In Bangladesh now many sister terrorist organizations of Jamaat–e-Islam Bangladesh (Jamaat) are using the term for spreading their tentacles.

One of the economists in Bangladesh, who was a civil bureaucrat and had served in many top-level positions like chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), is one of the members and mentors of Jamaat. A close source of Jamaat says that he put forth the plan that, now it is tough to make Islamic terrorists in Bangladesh in the name of the political party like Jamaat. And a day is coming when the Sheikh Hasina government will ban Jamaat and all the senior leaders of Jamaat will be hanged for war crimes. Therefore, he proposed a plan that they have to create Islamic terrorists in the name of Dawah and Islamic study groups. The system of Dawah is working under many guises in Bangladesh. In the name of Dawah they are trying to motivate the upper class boys and girls. On the other hand, through study groups they are also trying to motivate the public university students, who come from the middle class and poor economic backgrounds. They never utter that they will overthrow the government of Bangladesh. 

What Justice? Afghan Court Overturns Death Sentences in Farkhunda Murder

July 09, 2015
The U.S. spent over $1 billion since 2003 on rule of law programs in Afghanistan and has little to show for it.
Only July 2 a Kabul judge quietly overturned thedeath sentences handed in May to four men for the brutal killing of Farkhunda. In March, Farkhunda, a 27-year old woman, got into an argument with Zain-ul Abedeen, who Reuters reported as the caretaker of the Shah-e Do-Shamshera shrine in central Kabul, over his amulet selling. She was accused of burning a Quran and a violent mob murdered her. Dozens of videos filmed with cell phones by bystanders show Farkhunda surrounded, stomped, and beaten bloody by a crowd of men. She was then run over by a car and set on fire, before being thrown in the Kabul River.

The original trial, criticized by human rights organizations for being too quick, took only four days to sentence four men to death, eight men to 16 years in prison, and found an additional 18 men not guilty. A subsequent trial handed eleven police officers one-year terms and set eight others free.

Of the 49 people initially convicted of crimes in relation to Farkhunda’s death, AP reports that 37 have been released ahead of their appeals.

Afghanistan: Darkening Shadows – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh*
The Islamic State (IS) has started making significant territorial gains within war-torn Afghanistan. IS, according to the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, has emerged as the most dreaded global terror outfit, and has captured large parts of Syria and Iraq. According to June 2015 reports, fighters loyal to IS have seized sizeable territories in Afghanistan as well. Reports citing witnesses, who have fled from Nangarhar Province due to fierce clashes between forces loyal to IS and those loyal to the Afghan Taliban, claim that IS has pushed the Taliban out from areas previously under Taliban control. Haji Abdul Jan, a tribal elder from Achin District (Nangarhar Province) stated,
They (IS loyalists) came in on many white pickup trucks mounted with big machine guns and fought the Taliban. The Taliban could not resist and fled… Unlike the Taliban, they (IS) don’t force villagers to feed and house them. Instead, they have lots of cash in their pockets and spend it on food and luring young villagers to join them. Some villagers welcomed the new arrivals.

Modi Visit To Central Asia: Enhancing Indian Presence In Bridge Region – Analysis

By Dr. Athar Zafar*
July 9, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a visit to five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. For the Central Asian countries the visit was long awaited as it is for the first time that an Indian prime minister is visiting all the five republics in a single trip to the region. The visit has already generated much enthusiasm and expectations in the Central Asian countries because the experts and analysts from the region have long been demanding from India to increase its political, economic and cultural presence in the region.

The new government in India has been placing greater emphasis on connecting with the countries in the neighbourhood. Prime Minister Modi is seen as a decisive leader and his foreign visits are focused, goal-oriented and executed well. He conducts diplomacy with extra vigour, leading to increased hope for concrete outcomes. Recently, India expressed its willingness to play a greater role in the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) grouping. SCO is evolving as an important forum to discuss and address the challenges faced by the region. During the visit the prime minister is scheduled to attend the BRICS Summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa countries hosted by Russia and also expected to participate in the SCO meeting. It is also expected that India will get full membership of SCO at the Ufa summit

Sparing India’s Strategic Space For China’s Entry In East – Analysis

By Col R. Hariharan*
July 9, 2015

China’s latest strategy paper provides insights to Xi’s thinking on power projection. India should keep its options open while sparing its strategic space to China by participating in the BCIM corridor project.

At last India also seems to have made up its mind on joining the China-promoted Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor project to open up a land access route between South Asia to China’s South Western region.[i] General VK Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, recent statement that the recent standoff with Burmese Naga insurgents in Manipur would not affect the Project amply clarifies that New Delhi is clear in its decision.[ii]

Perhaps, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to join the Project after clarifying his mind on some of India’s strategic concerns about China after his May 2015 visit to Kunming capital of Yunnan Province where he inaugurated a Yoga Institute supported by India. The Chinese also “acknowledge that unlike in the past, when it was perceived to be dragging its feet, India is now showing enthusiasm over the project” according a news report in The Hindu from Kunming.[iii] With its changed stance Chinese have high expectations of India speedily completing the last bit of 200 km of road on Indian side of the border to provide four-lane highway connectivity between Kunming and Kolkata.

Why is a Big Cambodia Military Delegation in China?

On July 8, Defense Minister Tea Banh left Cambodia with a large, high-powered delegation of 23 high-ranking military and security officials for a five-day trip to China. While both sides have insisted that the visit is a routine one, recent events, as well as the specifics of the visit, have led it to get significantly more attention than it otherwise would.

Cambodian and Chinese officials have been bending over backwards to describe the visit as a routine one. On the Cambodian side, a military spokesman told reporters it was “just an annual exchange visit,” and Defense Minister Banh himself told The Cambodia Daily that the visit was “nothing big.” On the Chinese side, reports said very little about the agenda except that it was designed to “further enhance bilateral ties and cooperation,” with Banh meeting military leaders and visiting some key institutions of China’s Ministry of Defense.

For some, this is hard to believe. According to Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat, the 23-member delegation for the so-called “friendship-boosting” trip includes the commanders of all three branches of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – the army, navy and air force – as well as the National Military Police Commander. Despite Banh’s denial, such a large and high-powered delegation makes the visit look “big” regardless of what it is actually designed to do and what else is going on at the time.

Stock Market a Test for China’s Government

The state intervention in the market will have some serious ramifications.
All eyes are on Greece this week, where $350 billion in debt threaten a “Grexit” from the euro zone. But another economic nosedive with arguably even greater consequences is taking place: China’s stock market has lost over $3.2 trillion in value in the past month. The Shanghai Composite rose 130 percent between last September and June 12, when it entered a downward spiral that has wiped off more than thirty percent of market value to date, an amount roughly twice the size of the entire Indian stock market.

Signs of a Chinese stock market bubble can be traced over the course of the last year. More Chinese citizens have gotten involved in buying and trading shares on the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets, with college students to grandparents alike making money in a “stir-frying” of stocks. Many of these newer investors wereborrowing money to buy shares they couldn’t afford. These smaller, less resilient players on the market believed that stocks could only move higher. The bull market came at a time when the Chinese economy was more broadly slowing, a trend that led to an overvaluation of the market and further exacerbated the market’s detachment from the Chinese economy, according to Patrick Chovanec at Silvercrest Asset Management.

China’s New Cybersecurity Law: What You Need to Know

July 9, 2015

The National People’s Congress posted the draft of a new cybersecurity law (in Chinese) on Monday. The purpose of the law, according the NPC, is to maintain “cyberspace sovereignty.” The law is open for comments until August, and the important questions will be in how it is modified, interpreted, and implemented. But here are some of the key points:

-Government will establish national security standards for technical systems and networks.

-Real name registration to be enforced more strictly, especially with messaging apps where enforcement has been lax.

-Internet operators must provide “support and assistance” to the government for dealing with criminal investigations and national security. Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International, tells Reuters that Article 50 gives authorities the legal power to cut Internet access in to maintain order as Beijing did in Xinjiang in 2009.

-“Timely warning and notification” system for cybersecurity incidents.

-Greater investment in cybersecurity (including subsidies for cybersecurity companies, internet operators, etc.) and cybersecurity education.

Could Islamic State Go Nuclear? – Analysis

By Wolfgang Rudischhauser*, NATO Review 
July 9, 2015

This year has shown that terrorism is again coming closer to Europe. After Madrid in 2003 and London in 2005, this year it has already visited Paris, Brussels and Verviers. Tomorrow it could be Frankfurt, Berlin or Rome.
Muslim countries in Asia are also at risk. The US has had its own terrorist experiences with New York, Boston and other attacks. While public attention is currently very much focused on military security in Europe, and in particular in Europe’s Eastern neighbourhood, much less attention is given to developments on the southern borders of NATO. Terrorist groups operating there, as inhumane as they are, are still considered primarily as a “conventional threat”.

But a further particular risk could become a major threat to Western societies. There is a very real – but not yet fully identified risk – of foreign fighters in ISIL’s ranks using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials as “weapons of terror” against the West.

Who has 'boots on the ground' in fight against IS?

July 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — As the United States and Iran continue efforts to reach a long-term nuclear agreement, it is becoming increasingly evident that they are tacitly aligned in a longer-term struggle against the mutual threat of Sunni extremism.
Summary⎙ Print A mismatch in priorities between the United States and its Sunni allies is obliging the Obama administration to rely more on Iran-backed forces to fight the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indirectly confirmed July 7 that the “boots on the ground” battling the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) are primarily forces also backed by Iran, including Shiites and Kurds.

The United States has managed to train only 60 vetted individuals to fight IS in Syria, Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. The figures for Iraq are better but hardly impressive. As of June 30, Carter said, the United States has trained fewer than 11,000 Iraqis — of whom only 1,300 are Sunnis — to join forces seeking to roll back IS advances in Iraq.

Tajikistan: An Opportunity for Great Power Cooperation

The plight of Central Asia’s poorest nation offers a rare opportunity for collaboration among regional powers.
One of the least known nations on the planet, Tajikistan demands little attention from the outside world – even less than its Central Asian neighbors do. And since the conclusion of its civil war at the end of 1997, it has had little reason to do so.

Despite a small population – just shy of 8 million – and a flagging economy, the poorest nation in Central Asia is geopolitically unique. The major powers, however, have largely ignored it in their strategic thinking. With the withdrawal of U.S. forces from neighboring Afghanistan (as well as their large contingencies of support units in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), China’s geostrategic interests focused largely elsewhere, and Russia’s priorities now pointed towards the Caucasus and Ukraine, Tajikistan finds itself increasingly isolated, with no lifeline, in a seemingly perpetually troubled region.

Why Is Iran's Foreign Minister So Angry?

Nuclear negotiations that once contested questions of access and verification now seem to be turning into a contest of measurement—and those aren’t uranium stockpiles they’re measuring. Yesterday, Russian and Iranian media outlets reported a string of bombastic outbursts from their nations’ top diplomats in disputes over the removal of the United Nations Security Council’s arms embargoon Iran. The Russians and Iranians want the arms embargoes lifted; the U.S. and others want some restrictions to remain. After European Union foreign policy head Federica Mogherini suggested the talks could end over Iran’s intransigence,say the reports, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shouted back, “Never threaten an Iranian!” “Or a Russian,” Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is said to have added. Zarif and U.S. secretary of state John Kerry are also reported to have been shouting at each other so loudly one night that other delegations in the hotel could hear; on another occasion, when Western negotiators raised the issue of Iran’s destabilizing role around the Middle East, Zarif “erupted” that “If we are talking about regional security, I should take every one of you to international courts for supporting Saddam” in the Iran-Iraq War.

Explained: Why America's Strategy Against ISIS Is Doomed to Fail

In the Islamic State (ISIS), we face a determined enemy melding terrorism and guerrilla warfare with an expansionist, state-building agenda and a mastery of online propaganda. And no country has yet mustered the political will or strategic understanding to defeat the group. In strikingly similar speeches on both sides of the Atlantic on July 6, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron each admitted that no complete strategy is yet in place, and acknowledged this will be a protracted “generational” struggle with many setbacks.

Over the past year, since its capture of Mosul drew a belated response from the United States, Australia and others, ISIS has adapted to western counterterror efforts, repeatedly beaten Iraqi and Syrian regular troops and Iranian-backed militias, established provinces in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, the Caucasus, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and inspired attacks in western states and several North African and Middle Eastern countries.

Turkey’s Syrian Intervention Calculus

Despite heightened media reporting that Turkey has been planning a full-scale intervention in Syria, Prime Minister Davutoglu has repeatedly tried to dismiss these rumors saying this past week, “No one should expect that Turkey will go into Syria tomorrow or in the near future. It's speculation.” Having just hosted a high-level American delegation in Ankara to discuss the situation in Syria and joint efforts to defeat the so-called Islamic State, many observers are prone to believe the prime minister. However, the real man to watch may be his political patron, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey has already deployed further artillery and missile batteries and addedadditional troops on the Syrian border over this past weekend as President Erdogan called an unprecedented National Security Council meeting without an elected government in place yet. In addition, the Armed Forces leadership has called a meeting for this weekend to discuss a proposed intervention toestablish a buffer zone in northern Syria. Talk of intervention is being considered at a time when Washington has been focused on defeating ISIS through working closely with “effective partners” on the ground in the form of Kurdish forces and regional allies. While Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar’s backed opposition militias are laying siege to President Assad’s remaining positions in Aleppo, they still do not have a unified command structure and there is little consensus on what a post-Assad Syria might look like. Key to any future regional calculus in Syria is understanding the reasoning of one man, President Erdogan, who seems determined to assert Turkish leadership and can be a powerful spoiler for all future developments.

Sanctions Relief Can Empower the Iranian People

If the United States, other world powers and Iran sign a nuclear deal in the coming weeks, the United States should proceed strategically in its diplomatic opening with Iran to empower positive change in Iran’s civil society and private sector. Such an approach will be an important complement to the much-discussed and critically-important deterrence strategy that will be needed to check Tehran’s destabilizing regional ambitions. It has the potential to promote a more peaceful Iran over time, freer from censorship and repression. U.S. policymakers have tools to pursue this course: the removal of sanctions in ways that create opportunities for Iran’s entrepreneurs and civil society.

Sanctions relief will be a part of any potential comprehensive nuclear deal to reward the Iranian government for rolling back its nuclear program. However U.S. negotiators and our allies must be careful that such economic relief loosens the Iranian government’s tight grip on the domestic economy and civil society, rather than reinforces it. U.S. policymakers should implement pro-active measures to ensure that sanctions relief reaches the people of Iran as a strategy to contribute to positive change.

What A Real Russian Propaganda Ministry Would Do – OpEd

July 9, 2015

Most people assume that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become a genuine propaganda state, but two Moscow military commentators say there is much more to be done and in the authoritative “Voenno-Promyshlenny kuryer,” they describe just what a real Russian “ministry of propaganda” should do.

The appearance of this article suggests that at least some in Moscow are considering additional steps to make Putin’s propaganda effort even more all-embracing than it is at present. At the very least, it provides a useful checklist of steps some in Moscow are pushing for in this important sector.

In the current issue of the journal directed at Russia’s military industry, Anatoly Brychkov and Grigory Nikonorov argue that under conditions of globalization, “the defense of a territory by armed forces alone without an information component has already become impossible” (vpk-news.ru/articles/25979).

The way ahead

A deal between Greece and its creditors would be best. But if there has to be a Grexit, here is how to do itJul 11th 2015

IN A crisis studded with missed deadlines, Sunday July 12th really could mark the denouement of the Greek debt drama. The leaders of the euro zone along with those of all the EU’s 28 member countries will gather for a set of meetings in Brussels. If Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, can strike a deal with his creditors that day, his country will stay afloat inside the euro. If there is no such deal, Greece is heading inexorably towards the whirlpool of Grexit. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council—a Pole not prone to hyperbole—calls it “the most critical moment in the history of the EU”.

Time for the US to Get Clear on Taiwan Arms Sales

The Obama administration must end its inaction now.
Just as President George W. Bush raised doubts with a much-criticized “freeze” on arms sales to Taiwan, President Barack Obama has raised questions about his adherence to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA guides US policy in making available to Taiwan defense articles and defense services for its “self-defense.” US leadership and credibility regarding the “Rebalance” to Asia requires decisive, urgent action regarding Taiwan. That policy should include tangible follow-up actions to support Taiwan, maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific, and help Taiwan avoid coercion and conflict.

In May, the Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted to Congress its annual report on China’s military power, a report that is coordinated throughout the administration. In it, the administration claimed that “consistent with the TRA, the United States has helped to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Taiwan Strait by providing defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. To this end, the United States has announced more than $12 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010.” The next month, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou boasted that “the U.S. has sold a total of $18.3 billion worth of arms to Taiwan since he took office seven years ago.”

Asia’s Strategic Landscape: Continuity and Change

The Rebalance authors Mercy Kuo and Angie Tang regularly engage subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. rebalance to Asia. This conversation with Muthiah Alagappa –non-resident Senior Associate in the Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of Long Shadow: Nuclear Weapons and Security in 21st Century Asia, Civil Society and Political Change in Asia: Expanding and Contracting Democratic Change, and Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features – is the ninth in “The Rebalance Insight Series.”

Please explain the nature of Asia’s strategic landscape.

Russia May Build India New Super Advanced Submarine

July 10, 2015

India and Russia are in the final stages of talks for Delhi to lease another nuclear attack submarine from Moscow.

According to India’s Economic Times, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin will discuss the deal on the sidelines of the BRICS Leadership Summit currently being held in Ufa, Russia.

“Several sources related to the project that ET spoke with confirmed that talks on leasing a new submarine under the 'Chakra 3' project are in advanced stages and that the issue will be discussed during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia this week,” the report said.

There has been previous signs that India intends to lease a second Russian-built nuclear attack submarine (SSK). And, during a trip to India last year, Vladimir Putin indicated that Russia would be interested in such a deal.

However, the new Economic Times report said that in contrast to previous Indo-Russian submarine deals, under the “Chakra 3” project, Russia will build India a customized submarine. The report speculates that the boat may be one of Russia’s new Yasen-class submarines, or else a derivative with a similar design. 

America and Japan's 'War' Plan: Defend and Deter

There is a clear distinction between war as an instrument of policy and self-defense to protect Japan and its people.
Japan is on its way to strengthening its deterrence through increased military capabilities, along with political reform. Yet its U.S. security relationship needs to be updated for the twenty-first century, especially to address China’s rapid arming and regional ambitions. As Japan reforms its defense policies, it is up to both the United States and Japan to build a Collective Self-Defense strategywith a relatively unobjectionable strategic goal: protecting the interests, territory and the lives of the citizens of our two nations. In order to develop such a strategy, we must address and analyze the development of Japan’s security structure and constitution, emerging threats to security, legislation promoting cooperation, as well as methods for strengthening deterrence.

Japan’s Security Architecture Revolution

Here's How to Save the Minsk II Agreement

July 10, 2015

In its current form, Minsk II can't solve the Ukraine conflict. Here's how to fix it.
As tensions once again increase in eastern Ukraine, western leaders look for the Minsk II protocol to be carried out as a solution. Unfortunately, due to inherent structural flaws of the agreement, this has proven difficult. Without any constructive progress, there is great trepidation that this current framework will collapse, just as the September 2014 Minsk protocol broke down.

Since the Minsk II protocol was signed on February 15, 2015 the United States has regarded it as the key to resolving the conflict in the Donbas, a region of Ukraine which includes Donetsk and Lugansk. The agreement was negotiated at length by the “Normandy Four”—leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany—but its signatories held far less diplomatic clout. They included Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative Heidi Tagliavini, former president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, and representatives Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk respectively. Minsk II covers a broad variety of issues, from ceasefire procedures, to local elections, to constitutional reform. Although it bears many of the same hallmarks of the original Minsk I protocol of September 2014, it was drafted under significantly different conditions on the battlefield.

Southeast Asia's Unlikely Young Dissidents

The 14 anti-junta protesters in Thailand. The teenager who criticized Singapore’s founding prime minister. The student who heckled the Philippine president during the country’s Independence Day celebration. They are young activists and critics who were penalized for speaking out against their respective governments. This week they walked to freedom. But their struggles are far from over.

Amos Yee is a 16-year-old video blogger from Singapore who posted a video which offended the admirers of the late Lee Kuan Yew. For causing ‘distress’ to many Singaporeans he was charged, arrested, and placed under police custody for 55 days. He was released on July 7.

On the same day, a local court dismissed all cases against student leader Pio Emmanuel Mijares, who was charged for direct assault, tumult and public disturbance after he unfurled a banner denouncing the lack of reforms under the government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III when the latter was delivering a speech more than a year ago.

What to Expect as Leaders of BRICS, SCO and EEU Gather in Russia

July 08, 2015
BRICS to chart a course, SCO to expand, and the EEU to link up with the Chinese Silk Road.
Leaders from the BRICS countries and members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are arriving in Ufa, Russia for their twin summits. Russian media is also reporting a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) countries. RT is live-blogging, Modi tweeted a picture shortly after arriving and the Chinese released a handy explainer cartoon complete with a bicycle built for nine (ridden by the leaders of the BRICS and SCO). The festive atmosphere—RT reports that 10,000 visitors are expected to come through Ufa—belies serious questions of what direction the various organizations are moving in, how much, if at all, they matter, and how the Russo-Chinese relationship will shape the region’s future.

How Does Japan's LDP Plan to Pass Security Reform?

With the 60-day rule, the Diet juggles technicalities and the LDP presses forward its bill reinterpreting Article 9.
Last Friday, a special committee of Japan’s House of Representatives scheduled a Diet hearing for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s proposed security legislation for July 13. The Diet hearing is a prerequisite to putting the legislation to a vote. The LDP and their junior coalition partner, the Komeito Party, hope to pass the bills through the House of Representatives on July 16.

At the very latest, the LDP wants to be able to send the bills to the House of Councillors by July 24 in order to take advantage of the 60-day rule. According to the 60-day rule, once a bill is sent from the lower house to the upper house if 60 days pass and the upper hours does not hold a vote, it can be considered that the upper house rejected the bill. After those 60 days, the lower house can override the “veto” with a two-thirds majority. This is the most effective way to get around the possibility that the upper house could block the legislation simply by delaying a vote on it.

Opinion: Merkel Must End Devil's Pact with America

By Markus Feldenkirchen

Enough is enough: American spying on Germany is killing the friendship between the countries.
Following the latest revelations about surveillance by the United States on the German government and media, it is high time for Chancellor Angela Merkel to take action against the systematic spying.

The German-American friendship no longer exists. It may still remain between citizens of both countries, but not between their governments. Perhaps it has always been an illusion, perhaps the United States pulled away over the course of time. But what binds these two nations today cannot be considered friendship. Openness and fairness are part of the essence of friendship, which is about mutual respect and trust. A quarter century after the United States helped the German people restore their national unity, little remains of this friendship.

As new documents from WikiLeaks and reporting by SPIEGEL show, the NSA has been systematically spying on much of the German government. America's spies not only listened in on Chancellor Angela Merkel's private conversations about sensitive political issues. The NSA also bugged ministries, ministerial offices and other government agencies. Not even journalism is sacred to the Americans -- at least not in Germany. American spies monitored at least one SPIEGEL colleague in Berlin -- spies who represent a country that considers itself a guarantor of freedom of the press, one of the cornerstones of a liberal democracy.

NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India's Vanishing Water


NASA Hydrologist Matt Rodell discusses vanishing groundwater in India.

Groundwater resides beneath the soil surface in permeable rock, clay and sand as illustrated in this conceptual image. Many aquifers extend hundreds of feet underground and in some instances have filled with water over the course of thousands of years. Credit: NASA

The map, showing groundwater withdrawals as a percentage of groundwater recharge, is based on state-level estimates of annual withdrawals and recharge reported by India's Ministry of Water Resources. The three states included in this study are labeled.

Number of the Week: Total World Debt Load at 313% of GDP

$223.3 trillion: The total indebtedness of the world, including all parts of the public and private sectors, amounting to 313% of global gross domestic product.

Advanced economies tend to draw attention for their debt at the government and household levels. But emerging markets are gathering debt at an increasing pace to drive their economic development.

In a comprehensive report on global indebtedness, economists at ING found that debt in developed economies amounted to $157 trillion, or 376% of GDP. Emerging-market debt totaled $66.3 trillion at the end of last year, or 224% of GDP.

The $223.3 trillion in total global debt includes public-sector debt of $55.7 trillion, financial-sector debt of $75.3 trillion and household or corporate debt of $92.3 trillion. (The figures exclude China’s shadow finance and off-balance-sheet financing.)

The 10 biggest policy mistakes of the past that have yet to be dealt with

July 8, 2015

As monsoon showers blanket the country, the prevailing economic mood is still one of waiting for the economic recovery. Few pay heed to the controversial, new series GDP growth data which indicate that the recovery began (improbably) in 2013-4 and is now in full swing. All the other indicators (index of industrial production, purchasing managers' indices for manufacturing and services, bank credit growth, corporate earnings and tax revenue growth) still suggest a sluggish economy, marking time and struggling to rebound. There are conflicting signs on the investment cycle, certainly nothing to suggest a full-blooded recovery. If one steps back from the present, and looks at the various legacy constraints and impediments to a vigorous revival, the current situation is hardly surprising. Some of these legacy constraints go back several decades; others are due to freshpolicy mistakes of the last ten years. Here I list my "top ten", six from the earlier past and four from the latest decade of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governance.

Enduring hold of old legacies

(1) Subsidies for electricity, irrigation water and fertilisers to agriculture: Half a century ago, when agriculture (mostly small farmer) accounted for over half of GDP and three-quarters of total employment, it may have been sensible to subsidise these inputs to catalyse the spread of modern agricultural practices. By the late 1980s professional opinion had shifted in favour of replacing these burgeoning subsidies with investment in modern transport networks, medium and minor irrigation and other rural infrastructure. Unfortunately, the path dependence of politics ensured that the subsidies stayed, though state electricity boards went bankrupt (today they owe suppliers and banks around Rs 300,000 crores!), water tables plummeted, costly irrigation command areas remained woefully under-utilised and over-use of urea damaged soil fertility.