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

26 August 2019

Why India needs to 'fortify' Kashmir

'If Islamic extremists regain power in Afghanistan, Pakistan will lead them to Kashmir as a fighting arena again. India needs to fortify Kashmir and prepare against these Islamic extremists before they come again.'

Dr Satoru Nagao is a visiting fellow at Hudson Institute, the Washington DC-based think tank. His research area is US-Japan-India security cooperation.

A former second lieutenant in the Japanese Army, he was awarded his PhD by Gakushuin University in 2011 for his thesis titled 'India's Military Strategy', the first such research thesis on this topic in Japan.

"Pakistan faces a serious economical and financial problem. Thus, without money, Pakistan cannot do a big military operation against India," Dr Nagao tells's Archana Masih in an e-mail interview.

25 August 2019


By John McLaughlin

When the latest India-Pakistan flare-up arose over disputed Kashmir, my mind went back to Christmas Eve, 2001. My family was urging me to get to the dinner table, but I was in the secure home office I had as CIA’s then-deputy director. I was on an encrypted phone giving a situation report to the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other national security officials. The situation concerned the mobilization of military forces by India and Pakistan along their border and in the disputed territory of Kashmir following attacks by Pakistani militants on the Indian Parliament and the legislative assembly in Kashmir. The overriding concern was, as always in disputes between these two rivals, that the dispute could escalate, with the danger of going nuclear.

That once again must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind as the latest chapter in this long-running conflict plays out. Kashmir has been a flashpoint since 1947 and the subcontinent’s partition into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan following independence from Britain. When the then-ruler of Kashmir (also Muslim-majority) wavered between affiliation with India or Pakistan, Pakistani fighters pushed into Kashmir. This drew in Indian troops, and the fighting eventually settled along the so-called Line of Control, dividing Kashmir state in two. The U.N. called for demilitarizing Kashmir and holding a plebiscite on its future status. Neither ever occurred, and the argument has taken the two countries to war or to the brink on numerous occasions.

24 August 2019

Street scene of businesses in India

By Subrata Majumder

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concern on India’s population explosion raises eyebrows among the global viewers. In his Independence speech on 15th August 2019 from the rampart of Red Fort, he said “Population explosion in India is a big problem for us and our future.” It’s to be wondered why India’s increase in population is considered a burden, while a major part of the developed nations plunged in aging society. 

Countries like Japan, UK, Germany, France, USA, South Korea and even China with biggest population are sinking in ghettoization by aging people. To this end, surge in population in India is an human capital for these countries to overcome shortage of working population. Given the people mired in aging society in developed nations owing to low fertility rate and depopulation, global working population is in danger.

According to a report by United Nation, by 2050, 36.4 percent of Japanese population will plunge in 65 years of age and above – earliest nation to be ghettoized by aging society. This will be followed by S. Korea with 35.3 percent of 65 years of age and above, France with 26.7 percent, Germany with 30.7 percent, USA with 22.1 percent and China with 26.3 percent in 2050. 

From AFSPA to street protests, Modi govt needs new thinking in J&K with Article 370 gone

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Whatever we may think of the merits, the method and the timing of the Narendra Modi government’s move to scrap Article 370, the fact is that the deed has been done. While the constitutionality of the government’s actions has been challenged in the Supreme Court, we should not expect the judiciary to overrule the decision entirely. What ought to be of utmost concern now is: Where do we go from here? How do we try to make India — including Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — a better place than it was before 5 August 2019? If the moment presents us with an opportunity to bring to an end a decades-old conflict that has brutalised Indian society, what should India do to avail it?

I will address these questions in this space over the next few weeks. The Modi government’s action will have broader consequences in the domain of international relations, constitutional rule, and our national self-image. Today, I want to focus on the most important stakeholders in the whole affair: the Kashmiri people. What are the necessary policies that the Modi government must adopt to prevent the situation from deteriorating further?


By Rohan Seth

France and America are gearing up for a tussle thanks to France’s plans to tax U.S. tech firms. Washington is threatening to respond with investigations and tariffs. As the French look to extend digital taxation — they’ve proposed a 3 percent tax on companies that provide digital services to French users — should India do the same?

The arguments against doing so are endless. India does not have a domestic substitute for Facebook, Google or Twitter, and Indians rely on these technologies daily. According to WhatsApp, Indians spend 50 million minutes a day on video calls alone. Silicon Valley’s continued investments are also welcomed in India and have contributed significantly to Bangalore becoming the tech hub that it is today. Taxing these investors might make them reconsider any future plans. And then there’s the Trump administration, which is also likely to crack down on any attempt to tax American tech companies. Just last month, Trump tweeted that Indian tariffs were “no longer acceptable,” so any attempt to tax American companies is undoubtedly going to make the situation worse, stoking geopolitical tensions.

23 August 2019

Why interlinking of rivers is a dangerous idea

As the water crisis has deepened, so has our desperation and the extent we are prepared to go to violate the basic principles of both science and spirituality.

Instead of learning from our errors, we are tempted to go even further in the same mistaken direction.

The proposal for interlinking of India’s rivers (ILR) is based on a series of erroneous presumptions.

It is claimed that since some parts of India chronically have floods and others have droughts, the solution is to divert water from surplus river basins to deficit ones, so that everyone can live happily ever after!

Is it true that some areas in India have too much water?

Try telling the north-eastern states that!

Did you know that Sohra (previously known as Cherrapunjee), one of the highest rainfall hotspots on the planet, today suffers from an acute shortage of drinking water?

22 August 2019

Data is wealth. India must protect it

Brahma Chellaney 

Data is the oil of today’s digital age, in which every individual, through Internet activity, leaves a footprint of personal information, which is controlled by others. In fact, just like oil in the past century, data is now the most valuable resource in the world — an engine of growth and change. Akin to uranium, data is a game changer. But like oil or uranium, data must be processed to create something of value.

How data is processed and stored carries major implications for national and international security. Hacking and theft of critical data is central to cyber-espionage.

The global “data economy” is dominated by a few tech titans like Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. These giants vacuum up vast troves of data that help build a digital profile of every individual, including the person’s preferences, foibles and secrets. Data collection can reveal as much about a person as government surveillance, if not more.

Today’s “data brokers” are financially incentivised to collect and monetise personal data of people all over the world. The collected data, however, is used not just for business purposes. Nor does it stay in the private sector alone. Thanks to Edward Snowden and other revelations, we know that the United States government employs several tools to acquire data from the Internet giants. And through its National Security Agency, it directly accesses the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and others. America’s massive databases arm it with an Orwellian capacity to track digital footprints and personal information of individuals, both Americans and those overseas, including decision-makers. In fact, the 2015 US Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act has essentially legalised all forms of government and corporate spying. This serves as a reminder that the Internet, although a major boon that we cannot live without, facilitates surveillance.

Sino-Indian Relations: Wuhan Spirit Under Growing Strain

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Last week, in his typically dramatic fashion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India was changing its relationship with the State of Jammu and Kashmir, withdrawing the provisions of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave the state special rights in the Indian Union. The move included also splitting the state into two, making Ladakh, the eastern part of the state that abuts Tibet, a separate “Union Territory” that will be administered directly from New Delhi.

The decision appears to have wide popular support in India (outside of the State of Jammu and Kashmir), though the manner in which it has been implemented has been severely criticized. In particular, elected local leaders of the state have been detained, telecommunication facilities in the state have been completely cut off and the population itself has been subjected to repeated curfews and other restrictions. Some of these restrictions are now being slowly lifted though as of this writing, political leaders have not been released.

Researching The Unresearched: Left-Wing Extremism And The Future Rules Of Governance – Analysis

By Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

In the last week of July 2019, a brother and sister pair, in a representation of the two principal adversaries in India’s left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected heartland, came face-to-face. In Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, Vetti Rama, a member of the Chhattisgarh state police, was fired upon by a group of extremists that included his own sister, Vetti Kanni. Rama, himself an extremist until a year ago, has since surrendered and is now a part of the ‘eye and ear’ scheme of the state police. Kanni continues to be a member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). Both escaped unhurt in the encounter. Apart from being a human interest story, the incident can be seen as a coalescing of multiple issues that LWE, and the efforts to counter it, have laid bare. Each of these issues potentially is a subject of serious research. This article is an attempt to throw light on four of them.

First, the one and a half decades of intense conflict, beginning with the formation of the CPI-Maoist in 2004, has left tribal societies across the affected states deeply fractured. Tribals enlisted by the Maoists and the state have fought against each another, leaving villages burnt and deserted, agricultural fields untilled, and thriving self-sustaining economies of the rural belt in ruins. Schools, roads, and health care facilities have been rendered unusable. Kanni and Rama, in a way, represent this division, which has significant societal ramifications. Irrespective of the direction the weakened LWE takes in the coming months, either towards resolution or further weakening, the state will have to address such faultlines to restore normalcy. Somehow, this manmade disaster-in-waiting has escaped the attention of most researchers, barring perhaps the activists operating in the region.

Creating a National Electricity Market: India’s Most Important Power Sector Reform

India’s general election is over, and the newly reelected Modi administration has a slew of reforms that are ripe for implementing to shore up India’s teetering power sector. In the first term of the Modi administration, the government focused on providing electricity connections to all houses, aiming to deploy 175 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity (mainly from solar and wind) by 2022 and to enact the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana, also known as UDAY, a reform meant to improve the technical and financial performance of the cash-strapped state-owned utilities (discoms). These major initiatives were not aimed at altering the structure and operation of the Indian electricity market as it exists today. 

With a second term mandate to govern, the Modi administration has wasted no time in putting together a 100-day action plan to reenergize and address structural issues affecting India’s power sector. The plan includes, among other things, a “power sector council” to synchronize and resolve central government versus state issues that are common in the country’s power sector (such as compliance with central government guidelines for tariff rationalization, reductions in aggregate technical and commercial losses, renewable energy purchase obligations, etc.) and the creation of a national power distribution company that can help ensure quality, around the clock electricity to all households in the next five years. 

21 August 2019

The Chinese Panchen Lama on the Indian Border

The Chinese Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu is said (by the Chinese media) to have conducted an 'inspection tour' of the region, including a village bordering Ladakh.

Hundreds pictures were published showing the Chinese-selected 11th Panchen Lama touring areas such as Purang/Taklakot, Mt Kailash, Manasarovar lake, Minsar, the monasteries in Tholing/Tsaparang, Ngari town, Rutok, the Panggong tso Lake and even a village on the Indian border in East Ladakh.

He visited monasteries, villages, and larger towns such as Tholing, Nagari and Rutok; he ‘inspected’ many projects i.e. an Ecological Agricultural Industry Park of Gar County. 

The Chinese media extensively covered his two-week long visit.

Norbu had come to Ngari prefecture five years ago, but he then had remained in Purang and Kailash area. 

China Tibet Online reported that on July 26, Gyalsten Norbu (called Choskyi Gyalpo by the Chinese media) traveled to Jaggang Village in Rutok County “for survey and research”; he paid a visit to two Tibetan families named as Wangdul Phuntsok's and Tashi Dundrup's.

Is there a way forward for India-China in Ladakh?

'The best trust building measure would be to undo what was done in 1954 and reopen the Demchok-Tashigang route on the border for trade as a first step; the next one would be to let the pilgrims visiting Kailash-Manasarovar use this route,' says Claude Arpi.

On March 23, 1954, after three months of tough negotiations, the Indian and Chinese representatives were still far from an agreement on trade between India and Tibet (a month later, it would become the infamous Panchsheel ‘accord’, which saw India surrendering all its rights in Tibet without getting anything in return, not even an agreed border).

On that day, Ambassador N. Raghavan cabled Delhi about the routes in East Ladakh, the Chinese were reluctant to concede Rudok (near the Panggong lake) or Rawang (further east) simply because China was building ‘military installations’, wrote Raghavan (the Aksai Chin road would be ‘discovered’ four years later).

Was the fact that China was building this important axis on Indian territory known to the Indian negotiators? Perhaps not, Indian diplomats were living on their own cloud. 

19 August 2019

China’s Future Naval Base in Cambodia and the Implications for India

John Foulkes, Howard Wang

At the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, People’s Republic of China (PRC) Defense Minister Wei Fenghe dismissed a question on whether the PRC is seeking a future military presence in Cambodia (VOA Cambodia, June 3). This question arose following an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community that autocratic developments in Cambodia—particularly the single-party dominance of Cambodia’s legislature, which has extended Prime Minister Hu Sen’s tenure and made possible a constitutional amendment permitting a foreign military presence in the country—had increased the possibility of a Chinese military presence on Cambodian soil (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, January 29). Cambodian officials exacerbated these concerns in June when they withdrew a 2017 request to the United States for funds to upgrade facilities at the Ream naval base near Sihanoukville (Radio Free Asia, July 2; Observer Network, July 2).

Recent media reports have indicated that Cambodia signed a “secret agreement” giving the PRC use of Ream, where it may station military servicemen and warships, for 30 years (WSJ, July 22). Although Cambodian and Chinese officials vehemently deny the existence of this agreement, gaining access to Ream is broadly consistent with Chinese foreign policy. The PRC appears to be employing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) funding to further strategic cooperation with Cambodia through the construction of potential dual-use infrastructure. Ream naval base is the latest in a network of regional security projects—including Cambodia’s Dara Sakor investment zone and Thailand’s Kra Canal—which, taken together, significantly improve Chinese power projection into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

China Appears to Understand the Risks in Kashmir More Than India or Pakistan

Candace Rondeaux

It’s too early to say what India’s breach of the status quo in Kashmir will mean for long-term stability in South Asia. There are, of course, many fears of where revoking the semiautonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir could lead—from another retaliatory insurgency by militants in Kashmir backed by Pakistan, or worse still a destabilizing war between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Ultimately, though, it is China—not India or Pakistan—that will likely tip the balance in a region teetering yet again on the brink.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party view downgrading Kashmir’s status from a state in India to a union territory directly governed by New Delhi as a decisive blow to Pakistan’s claims over the disputed territory. But everyone stands to lose if regional tensions escalate further, starting with the 8 million residents of the Kashmir Valley now living under a total Indian security lockdown and communications blackout. China, more than any other player in this dangerous game of Risk, seems to understand that best.

J&K: A New Reality

Ajai Sahni

There is an evident element of constitutional skulduggery in the Government’s rescinding of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370, as well as the division of the State and its reduction to two Union Territories. The matter has already been taken to the Supreme Court, with several petitions already filed. Significantly, the Supreme Court has declined an ‘urgent hearing’ on the case.

The debate on constitutionality is likely to linger on till the Supreme Court pronounces on the subject. The debate on ‘sentiments’ of the people of Kashmir will persist indefinitely. Neither is likely to impact significantly on reality. There are new “facts on the ground” in J&K and the now separate Ladakh. A fait accompli has been established and in the environment of a majoritarian juggernaut, it seems unlikely that this will be reversed. Shocked adversaries will simply have to deal with these new realities as best they can.

The reaction has been divided between triumphalism in the Hindutva Right, and extends along the spectrum from dismay to dire imaginings among those opposed. On both sides, there is much wishful thinking. Votaries of the Government and of the Hindutva fold would have us believe that the situation in the State, and including the Valley, is ‘normal’ – though the criteria for ‘normalcy’ in a region under 24-hour lockdown, massive armed state presence and a comprehensive communications shut-down, remain evidently undefined – and that everyone is celebrating the Government’s sagacious decision. At the other end, the occasional protests that have been witnessed in the Valley are being projected as a massive and unprecedented upsurge, a prelude to a complete and irresistible breakdown. As one commentator summed up the dichotomy of views, “Palestine or Shangri La?”

18 August 2019

How A British Royal's Monumental Errors Made India's Partition More Painful

by Adil Najam, Boston University

The midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947, was one of history’s truly momentous moments: It marked the birth of Pakistan, an independent India and the beginning of the end of an era of colonialism.

It was hardly a joyous moment: A botched process of partition saw the slaughter of more than a million people; some 15 million were displaced. Untold numbers were maimed, mutilated, dismembered and disfigured. Countless lives were scarred.

Two hundred years of British rule in India ended, as Winston Churchill had feared, in a “shameful flight"; a “premature hurried scuttle" that triggered a most tragic and terrifying carnage.

The bloodbath of partition also left the two nations that were borne out of it - Indiaand Pakistan - deeply scarred by anguish, angst, alienation and animus.

By 1947, the political, social, societal and religious complexities of the Indian subcontinent may have made partition inevitable, but the murderous mayhem that ensued was not.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, viceroy of India, met with Indian leaders to discuss partition. Max Desfors/AP

India responds to Belt and Road Initiative with infrastructure push

Rupakjyoti Borah

The recent launch of a direct flight between Guwahati in northeast India and Dhaka in Bangladesh marks the beginning of a new phase in the ties between that region of India and its neighborhood. Bangladesh is a key country for India, particularly in the light of the friendly relations between the two governments.

But more than a simple aeronautical arrangement, the route shines a light on India's Act East Policy, which aims to improve connectivity -- and relationships -- between India and its eastern neighbors, including the ASEAN countries. That this comes as China increases its influence in the region through the Belt and Road Initiative should not surprise anyone.

New Delhi is working on a host of other connectivity initiatives. It is involved in the Kaladan transport project, which links the remote Northeast with other parts of the country via Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal.

Location of Nagaland in India. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

By M.A. Athul*
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The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) in a letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 7, 2019, expressed doubt in the sincerity of the Government of India (GoI) to resolve the Naga political issue. The letter written by ‘chairman’ Q. Tuccu and ‘general secretary’ Thuingaleng Muivah lamented that the talks that were supposed to take place at the highest level have been reduced to the Governor’s level. In the letter it was claimed that the commitments given by successive Prime Ministers that the talks will be at the highest level; that the venue of the talks will be outside India, in a third country; and without any pre-condition, have now been dishonoured.

On August 2, 2019, NSCN-IM had claimed that the latest round of formal talks between the outfit and the GoI held at Hebron Camp at Dimapur in Nagaland on August 1, had not gone down well with the NSCN-IM negotiators led by ‘general secretary’ Thuingaleng Muivah. NSCN-IM also alleged that R.N. Ravi, GoI’s interlocutor to the Indo-Naga political talks since August 29, 2014, and now also the Governor of Nagaland, was ‘capricious and bossy’ in the latest round of formal talks. R.N. Ravi was appointed Governor of Nagaland on July 20, 2019.

What the Bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir Tells Us About India’s China Strategy

By Samanvya Hooda

For better or worse, the BJP government’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is historic in its consequences. While a great deal has been discussed about the move’s internal security and politicalimplications, the bifurcation of the state into two union territories also has significant bearings on India’s strategy vis-à-vis China.

Undivided Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) consists of the erstwhile Indian state of J&K, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Aksai Chin, controlled by China. China also controls the Shaksgam Tract, which was ceded by Pakistan to China by the Boundary Agreement of 1963. Aksai Chin has been occupied since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, and is currently a part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Its importance lies in allowing National Highway 219 to connect Xinjiang and Tibet, both of which are under the jurisdiction of China’s Western Theater Command (WTC), which is responsible for all operations along the border with India. While the Shaksgam Tract itself does not pose an immediate military threat to Indian military forces in Ladakh, connectivity between the various Chinese group armies in Tibet and Xinjiang is an important aspect of military operations against Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

'There's a lot for India to be worried about'

‘The American and Indian security interests continue to be sharply aligned in Asia. And no US visit by Imran Khan, no matter how successful it may have been, can alter that calculus,’ says Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director, Asia Programme, and South Asia Senior Associate at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, and a leading specialist on India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and their relationship with the United States.

In the concluding part of his interview, he tells’s Archana Masih, that India is a perfect security ally for the US -- and an Afghan political settlement that leaves the Taliban in a position of power would be a blow to Indian strategic interests. But it would not necessarily pose as grave a security threat for India as some commentators may fear.

Do you think the Imran Khan-Donald Trump summit in Washington has in any way downgraded India’s importance as America’s security partner in the region?