Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

29 January 2020

20 years after Clinton’s pathbreaking trip to India, Trump contemplates one of his own

Bruce Riedel

President Trump is planning on a trip to India — probably next month, depending on his impeachment trial in the Senate. That will be almost exactly 20 years after President Clinton’s pathbreaking trip to India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in March 2000. There are some interesting lessons to be learned from looking back.

Presidential travel to South Asia began with President Eisenhower in 1959, the first-ever voyage by Air Force One. Ike also visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jacky Kennedy visited India and Pakistan as first lady, as well. But it was not a frequent occurrence. After President Carter visited New Delhi in 1978, almost a quarter-century went by with no presidential travel to India — until Clinton’s trip. Clinton spent five days in India and did a day trip to Bangladesh from New Delhi, the only U.S. president ever to visit the capital of Dhaka.

The visit to India ended a turbulent period in America’s relationship with India following the Indian nuclear weapons tests in 1998. It also followed Clinton’s intervention in the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan, which threatened to go nuclear. Clinton persuaded Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw his troops from territory seized by Pakistan in the spring of 1999. India was considering expanding the war outside Kashmir, and possibly blockading Karachi. Pakistan was preparing its nuclear arsenal for use. It was a perilous moment.

After Sharif backed down — something Clinton arranged in a summit at Blair House on July 4, 1999 — he was ousted in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf, who was the mastermind behind the Kargil fiasco. All American assistance to Pakistan was suspended.

28 January 2020

Key Global Takeaways From India's Revised Personal Data Protection Bill

By Arindrajit Basu, Justin Sherman 
The Indian government finally introduced its Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament on Dec. 11, 2019, after more than two years of fierce debate on the bill’s provisions. Rather than pushing to immediately pass this hugely significant bill, India’s minister of information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, referred it for scrutiny to a joint parliamentary committee. After the committee publishes a report on the bill, it will then be debated in the Indian Parliament—and, given the huge majority the ruling coalition has in both houses, likely passed—in 2020.

This bill has implications far beyond India, as the country seeks to develop a comprehensive data governance framework that would affect virtually any company attempting to do business in India. India—thanks to its population size, gross domestic product and influx of new internet users—has a unique ability to exercise leverage over multinational tech companies and shape global policy.

As many countries begin to construct data governance regimes, this bill will have an important role in shaping the regulation governing today’s increasingly data-driven geopolitical landscape. All the while, the bill contains some elements of the protectionist and authoritarian-leaning data policies that are cropping up around the world as some countries attempt to curtail the global and open internet.

27 January 2020

The Strategic Implications of Chinese-Iranian-Russian Naval Drills in the Indian Ocean

By: Syed Fazl-e Haider


In early December, Major General Shao Yuanming (邵元明), the Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran for rare high-level military meetings. These meetings were held for the purpose of organizing a series of unprecedented joint naval drills between China, Iran, and Russia, which were held in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman from December 27–29. The drills took place just as escalating tensions between the United States and Iran reached a crisis point at the end of 2019. The exercise also signified a deepening relationship between Iran and the PRC in economics, diplomacy, and security affairs.

China and Russia have both increased military and economic cooperation with Iran in the year and a half since the U.S. government pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, while Iran’s government has repeatedly touted its deepening relations with China and Russia as a show of diplomatic strength, its allies have been less public about the growing relationship. In December, Iranian officials lauded the trilateral exercises—titled “Marine Security Belt”—as proof that Iran can outlast crippling sanctions with aid from its non-Western allies, and declared that the drills signaled a new triple alliance in the Middle East (Tasnim News, December 29, 2019). [1] By contrast, officials from Russia and the PRC were more restrained, framing the joint exercises as part of routine anti-piracy operations, highlighting their peacekeeping priorities and seeking to depoliticize the drills (South China Morning Post, September 23, 2019; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia), October 2, 2019).

Participating Vessels and Exercise Activities

What Does Xi’s Myanmar Visit Mean for India’s China Anxieties?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded a two-day visit to Myanmar, the first for Xi in his current capacity and his first overseas visit of 2020. Viewed from the perspective of growing Chinese inroads in the Indian Ocean, Xi’s trip spotlighted Beijing’s continued efforts to make geopolitical gains in line with its broader regional interests, which will be of concern to India.

While there may have been some surprise about Xi’s choice of Myanmar for his trip, it is in fact in line with China’s continued interest in making inroads with respect to the Indian Ocean. With the Myanmar visit, Xi has effectively completed his key neighborhood trips, having traveled through the Maldives and Sri Lanka in 2014, Pakistan in 2015, Bangladesh in 2016, and Nepal in 2019.

From India’s perspective, New Delhi can be none too pleased with China’s constant forays into the wider Indian Ocean region. But at least for now, India appears to be letting Myanmar’s natural caution limit China’s influence.

26 January 2020

Ideological shift, public support and social media: The ‘New’ in Kashmir’s ‘New Militancy’


The new militant movement in Kashmir, which began with Burhan Wani in the southern areas, has escalated the conflict in the Valley. While militancy is not new in Kashmir, the Pulwama attack put the conflict back on the radar of the international community. This paper examines the changing nature of militancy in Kashmir, specifically with regard to training, recruitment patterns and the use of social media, public support for militants, and an apparent ideological drift. The paper identifies four new variables that have changed the contours of militancy in Kashmir, further complicating the security threats to the Indian state.

This paper is part of ORF's series, 'National Security'. Find other research in the series here:

Attribution: Khalid Shah, “Ideological Shift, Public Support and Social Media: The ‘New’ in Kashmir’s ‘New Militancy’”, ORF Occasional Paper No. 231, January 2020, Observer Research Foundation.

On 14 February 2019, a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.[1] It was the biggest terror attack the Kashmir Valley had witnessed since militancy first broke out in the 1990s.[2] Following the attack, India and Pakistan—both of them nuclear powers—seemed to have come closer to the brink of war. India’s retaliation to the Pulwama attack—the Balakot airstrikes and the dogfight in the wake of the retaliatory strike—set a new benchmark in the country’s efforts to counter cross-border terrorism.[3]

India’s Economy: When Will the Elephant Dance?

Thirty years ago, the world saw the Indian and Chinese economies as being comparable. Both were considered engines of global growth. Today, the view looks different. China’s GDP and per capita income are nearly five times those of India. Meanwhile, India’s economic engine is sputtering — GDP growth today is the lowest it has been in six years.

In order to prevent the situation from worsening, the Modi government should pay undivided attention to getting growth back on track, says Duvvuri Subbarao, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania. He recently gave a talk at Penn titled, “Will the Indian Elephant Dance Again?

Knowledge@Wharton interviewed Subbarao about his views on the Indian economy and how it can get back on track, among other issues. An edited transcript of the conversation follows. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

Knowledge@Wharton: Why is the elephant an apt metaphor for the Indian economy?

25 January 2020

Force Development Options for India by 2030

By Chris Dougherty

Strategists and military force planners in India and the United States are grappling with a similar set of challenges posed by China’s military modernization and increasingly aggressive foreign policy. While the overall challenge may be similar, India’s responses must conform to India’s unique strategic position rather than attempt to emulate the United States in reduced form. Moreover, while increased budgets and institutional defense reform may improve India’s capacity, these efforts are politically and bureaucratically difficult and cannot singlehandedly solve the challenges India faces in competing with China.

This paper proceeds in three parts. The first part compares the strategic situations of India and the United States vis-à-vis China and uses the contrasts in this analysis to shade in the outlines and assumptions for the rest of the paper. Next, the paper explores two specific military challenges—one on the land border and one at sea—that China could pose, and recommends Indian strategies and operational responses. Finally, the paper concludes with force-planning recommendations for India based on the demands of these responses and informed by the core strategic assumptions laid out in the first section.

23 January 2020

The Need for Détente: Cyberwarfare in India/Pakistan Conflict

Jonathan Lancelot

Sometimes brutal honesty is the best form of diplomacy, and if there is a conflict that is in immediate need for some kind of resolution, it is the conflict over the region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. As both nuclear nation-states are within instant reach of one another, the conflict has reached a new high beginning in early 2019, and the escalation includes use of cyberwarfare. “While countries like Russia, China, and North Korea have often dominated the international landscape for their cyberattack capabilities, both India and Pakistan also have formidable government hacking programs, as well as populations with strong technology skills and access to hacking tools” (Fazzini). Granted, the cyberwar between the two nations have been ongoing since the late 1990s. Recent escalations have led organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations or individuals like Alex Stamos, former chief security officer of Facebook to be deeply concerned. This concern should lead to diplomatic interventions from the United States, China, Russia, and Iran as three of these nations have a geopolitical interest in helping the cyber conflict from metastasizing into a full blow conventional war, and the United States interest in mitigating the conflict is within responsibility of the most powerful nuclear nation-state on Earth. 

The biggest hurdle to a strategic partnership between the US and the other three nations is evident. There is respective mutual tension amid the US and each of the three, preventing a geopolitical collaboration that could possibly solve the real danger of an escalation and nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India. There could very well be a partnership between Russia, Iran, and China to help the situation, yet China might not be an impartial partner as they might side with Pakistan against India due to historical relationships. These are examples of vulnerabilities within the international system’s capacity to collectively solve the Kashmir problem. 

Fears over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act are unfounded


The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been passed by Parliament after a thorough debate in both Houses. It is the product of a fully democratic exercise.

The continued opposition from political parties, civil society activists, retired government servants and students to CAA makes little sense to those who have no political axe to grind, no ideological bias, are capable of thinking on their own about the reasons for the amendment and do not believe that protests through open letters to the government are free of political party preferences.

Historical concerns

The status and condition of religious minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is well known. The number of Hindus and Sikhs in these countries has declined steeply over the years. Even today, we have instances in Pakistan of Sikh girls being abducted, forcibly married and converted to Islam. Many Sikhs moved out of Afghanistan during Taliban rule. A significant number of Hindus have migrated from Bangladesh to India before 1971 and afterwards, even if Sheikh Hasina’s government today is protective of minorities.

22 January 2020

China Hopes UN Meeting Spurs India-Pakistan Talks on Kashmir

By Edith M. Lederer

China’s U.N. ambassador warned Wednesday against further escalation between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region and expressed hope that a Security Council meeting called by Beijing will encourage both countries to seek a solution through dialogue.

Zhang Jun told several reporters after the closed meeting that China remains “concerned about the situation on the ground” in Kashmir.

“I’m sure the meeting will be a help in both parties to understand the risk of further escalation and encourage them to approach to each other and to have dialogue and to seek means to seek solutions through dialogue,” Zhang said.

India’s Hindu nationalist-led government ended Muslim-majority Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status in August. The move was accompanied by a harsh crackdown, with New Delhi sending tens of thousands of additional troops to the already heavily militarized region, imposing a sweeping curfew, arresting thousands and cutting virtually all communications.

21 January 2020

Why protests in India over the new citizenship law are much ado about nothing

Rajiv Sikri
Source Link

A widespread and unseemly controversy has broken out in India over the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Indian Parliament in December 2019 that fast-tracks Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Parsee faiths.

The act brings closure to a sad and messy legacy of the Partition of India in 1947 when the new, expressly Muslim, state of Pakistan was carved out of India. There was widespread bloodshed and killing in both India and Pakistan as millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated from Punjab, Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province of West Pakistan (now Pakistan) to India, and Muslims, mostly from Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, in India migrated to West Pakistan.

Many Hindus and Sikhs living in Afghanistan also migrated to India since there was an open, undefined border and free movement of people between Afghanistan and undivided India. However, the exchange of populations was not comprehensive. Some chose not to migrate, others just couldn’t manage to do so.

On the India-East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) border, although the Partition was less violent and bloody, there has been a steady inflow of Hindu refugees into India from East Pakistan/Bangladesh over the last seven decades.

20 January 2020

The Flaring Sino-Indian Security Dilemma: Is Conventional Deterrence Eroding?


After more than a decade of standoffs at the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), questions have been raised about the Sino-Indian military balance and the possibility of a repetition of the events that led to war in 1962. Especially after the Doklam plateau incident in 2017, where the countries’ forces faced each other for several weeks, analysts have focused on the territorial balance of power as a crucial element of Sino-Indian competition and deterrence dynamics. The resounding question in the heads of policy-makers and experts is: Over the next decade, are China and India more or less likely to go to war than before? This article analyzes the effects of infrastructure building and military modernization for Chinese and Indian strategies at the disputed border. Using the offense-defense balance framework, our findings point towards an erosion of conventional deterrence at the Himalayas, where both sides have more capabilities and incentives to choose preemption and offensive action than any moment in the last five decades. These changes have also led to new military doctrines and strategies by China and India, which are now preparing for scenarios ranging from low-intensity conflict to a large-scale – although limited – conventional war.

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The Sino-Indian security dilemma and the changing offense-defense balance

19 January 2020

The Retreat of the Data Localization Brigade: India, Indonesia and Vietnam

By Arindrajit Basu
Source Link

2019 saw a major global tussle come into view over the regulation of cross-border data transfers, with a number of emerging economies taking measures to exercise greater sovereign control over their data. Contention on this issue is a product of a desire among emerging economies to push back against exploitative economic systems adopted by U.S.-based technology companies and mend a cumbersome process for law enforcement agencies seeking to access data stored in the United States. A key strategy adopted by these countries has been data localization mandates — a range of measures providing for mandatory storage or processing of data within the territory of a given country.

A major stakeholder in the political ecosystem surrounding data localization debates has been the Western lobby representing the interests of technology companies based in the United States. Through concerted efforts made in conjunction with both industry-led lobbying groups and state-backed diplomatic efforts they have managed to push emerging economies into diluting the scope of their data localization mandates and easing the restrictions on the free flow of data.

9 January 2020

Xi’s Upcoming Visit to Myanmar Could Reshape the Indian Ocean Region

By Amara Thiha

A decade after Xi Jinping’s first visit to Myanmar in 2009, Naypyidaw is planning a banquet for another Xi visit, expected to be on January 17, 2020. As part of the preparation, shuttle diplomacy is already underway, with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on December 9, 2019. The agenda is loud and clear: to speed up the construction of the projects within the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) and realization of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In particular, speeding up the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Beijing’s strategic window to the India Ocean, is on the short list.

Originating as one of 16 MoUs signed during then-Vice President Xi’s 2009 visit, the Kyaukphyu SEZ is the capstone of all China’s investments in Myanmar and was Beijing’s strategic offset in the Indian Ocean prior to the launch of the BRI. However, Chinese projects in Myanmar stalled after the suspension of controversial Myitsone Dam, which created uneasy relations with Beijing for the first time in 20 years and caused BRI capital injections to fall short of the hype. Kyaukphyu was not an exception. The project was significantly trimmed down with the fear of a debt trap.

7 January 2020

India–UK counter-terrorism cooperation: convergences and challenges

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury

Cooperation on counter-terrorism is an important, but little-known, aspect of the India-UK security relationship. This was formally institutionalised in 2002 with the establishment of their foreign ministry-led Joint Working Group (JWG) on Terrorism. Continued and more sustained cooperation on counter-terrorism will remain key to a meaningful bilateral strategic partnership.

Both countries have a strong shared interest in preventing terror attacks on their mainland, having suffered such attacks in the recent past. The deadliest single terror act on British soil took place in London on 7 July 2005; one of the most devastating terror attacks in India took place in Mumbai on 26-28 November 2008. With the Indian government now perceiving terrorism as the single biggest threat to peace, security and development, counter-terrorism has emerged as one of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s top priorities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Bilateral cooperation

6 January 2020

India in Japan’s Strategic Thinking: Charting Convergences in the Indo-Pacific

By Titli Basu

The arrival of China as a major actor in the international system is causing structural shifts in the distribution of power as it challenges the role of the United States and its allies. In its attempt to alter the existing hierarchy of states and exert its primacy, China has challenged the core tenets of the U.S.-led liberal international order.

For traditional U.S. allies like Japan ⁠⁠– a critical anchor in the hub-and-spokes San Francisco system of alliances — the strategic calculus has complicated even more under the Trump presidency.

At the global level, President Donald Trump’s America First policy is underscored by an imprudent transactional approach, lacking a nuanced understanding of alliance management, and an aversion toward multilateralism, challenging the very rules that the United States created and has upheld since the end of World War II. At the regional level, strategic fluidity in the East Asian is influencing Japan to revisit its grand strategy. Although the overall U.S.-China military balance remains favorable in terms of aggregate capabilities, Japan is acutely aware that Beijing does not need to catch up to the U.S. globally to dominate its immediate periphery.

2019 in Tibet: The Year of Relocation

In Tibet, 2019 should be declared "The Year of Relocation".
On December 24, China Daily announced that in 2019 in China, more than 10 million people were expected to be lifted from poverty; some 340 counties would no longer be labeled as 'impoverished'. This was stated by Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development in Beijing.

Liu particularly mentioned the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the four provinces where ethnic Tibetan people live (particularly in three prefectures in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan), the southern part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is clubbed with these areas: “Officials commonly refer to these regions as the Three Areas and Three Prefectures, the deeply impoverished areas.”

Liu’s report added: “In the renewed effort to combat poverty, local authorities were barred from merely handing out State benefits to farmers. Instead, they were required to adopt targeted measures in developing local industries and creating jobs that would help the poor attain sustainable incomes.”

5 January 2020

2019: A turbulent and eventful year for Indo-China relations

Even as China speaks of ‘early harvest’ in border negotiations, existing Confidence Building Measures need to be improved in 2020 for a good crop to both the countries.

This has been a turbulent and eventful year for Sino-Indian relations. The informal summits between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped maintain a ‘sound momentum’ in 2019, reported PTI sounding an optimistic note.

Doval-Wang Yi meet

However, while preparing the balance sheet of 2019, it is not easy to objectively see the ‘sound momentum’. After the 22nd Meeting of the Special Representatives (SR) of India and China held in New Delhi on December 21, between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, an Indian communiqué mentioned: “The talks were constructive with focus on taking forward the India-China Closer Developmental Partnership as per the guidance provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the 2nd Informal Summit at Chennai in October 2019.” The two spoke of “the importance of approaching the boundary question from the strategic perspective of India-China relations and agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries.” This approach is not new.

During the meetings of the officials in 1960, while the negotiators of the two countries looked at the issue from a historic and juristic angle, in July 1961, China proposed a new ‘strategic’ approach. Zhang Wenji, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department met G Parthasarathy (GP), the Indian Chargé d’Affaires in Beijing. Zhang suggested that “each country presents a factual basis and, objectively compares them, looking to see whose information is relatively more logical, and finally parceling the land out to the country whose version is more beneficial to the two countries’ friendship.”

Why it is the right time to reclaim Gilgit-Baltistan

My article Why it is the right time to reclaim Gilgit-Baltistan appeared in Mail Today/DailyO

The India-China border is 4,056 km and not 3,488 km, as China would like to believe.

Recently, I came across an interesting announcement published in the 1948 London Gazette which mentioned that the King "has been graciously pleased… to give orders for… appointments to the Most Exalted Order of the British Empire…" The list included "Brown, Major (acting) William Alexander, Special List (ex-Indian Army)."

Who was he? What was this 'special list'? Brown is infamous for illegally 'offering' Gilgit to Pakistan in 1947.

As we debate the question of nationalities after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by Parliament it raises several questions, including the question of the nationality of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

But first, a little bit of history.

4 January 2020

Chhattisgarh: Sukma: Diminishing Influence

S. Binodkumar Singh

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

After months of delay and bitter allegations of fraud and corruption, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) on December 22, 2019, published the preliminary results of the Presidential Election held on September 28, 2019. According to these results, incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani won the Election. Out of 1,824,401 total votes, Ghani secured 923,868 (50.64 percent) – enough to win in the first round of voting – defeating his main challenger, incumbent Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who secured 720,099 votes (39.52 percent).The head of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, came a distant third, with 70,243 votes (3.85 percent). The remaining 5.99 per cent votes went to 11 other candidates. Eight of these candidates– Rahmatullah Nabil, Faramarz Tamana, Enayatullah Hafiz, Mohammad Hakim Torsan, Ahmad Wali Masood, Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, Ghulam Farooq Najrabi and Noor Rahman Lewal – had together formed the Council of Presidential Candidates on April 15, 2019.The Presidential Election was contested by 14 candidates.

There was a total of 9,665,745 million (the exact number released by the IEC on August 18, 2019) registered voters, out of which1,929,333 exercised their right to vote, i.e. around 19 percent. 104,932 of the registered voters, i.e., around one percent, was found invalid. During the 2014 Presidential Election, the voting percentage was 58 percent.