4 February 2014

Bangla Court Establishes BNP-Jamaat Fountainhead of Terrorism

Paper No. 5642 Dated 03-Feb-2014
By Bhaskar Roy

A special court in the port city of Chittagong, Bangladesh, sentenced (Jan 30) 14 to death. They were the principals in illegally importing 10 truck loads of arms, ammunition and explosives on April 01, 2004 by sea. The court ruled that the consignment was destined for Indian separatist/ terrorist organization, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to wage war against the Indian state.

The consignment included 1,500 boxes containing 4,930 sophisticated fire arms of different types, 840 rocket launchers, 300 rockets, 27,020 grenades, 2000 grenade launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 11.41 million rounds of bullets. They were unloaded at the Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd. (CUFL) jetty, which was under the ministry of Industries.

Those sentenced and the positions they held during the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government (2001-2006) are as follows: Jamaat chief (Amir) and minister for Industries Motiur Reheman Nizami, BNP leader and minister of state for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar, National Security and Intelligence (NSI) director general Brig. Gen. Abdur Rahim, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) director general Rezzakul Haider Choudhury, former NSI director wing commander Shahabuddin, former CUFL general manager (Admin) Enamul Haque, ex-managing director of CUFL Mohsin Talukdar, and ex- NSI field officer Akbar Hossain Khan. Two others, additional secretary of industry minister Nurul Amin and commander in chief of ULFA stationed in Dhaka, Paresh Barua, were also sentenced. The verdict was delivered after permission from High Court division. Those sentenced can appeal against the judgment.

The enormity of the conspiracy can only be imagined considering the size of the arms consignment. Although there was regular illegal shipment of arms through Bangladesh to Indian insurgents, this was the biggest consignment ever. Paresh Barua was in Chittagong on April 01 to receive the consignment. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the trucks carrying the arms were discovered that night in a routine check by two police officers. These officers were immediately arrested and put in jail in a false arms case. The main case was sought to be buried quietly. Babar even issued a statement that the arms consignment had been destroyed by a court order.

Had the arms crossed the border and reached Assam the devastation it would have created is unimaginable. The ULFA also may have sold parts of the consignment to other Indian insurgents like the Naga NSCN (I/B), the Mizos and the like.

Initial movement in the case was seen after the army-backed caretaker government came into position in November 2007, when the Chittagong metropolitan judge ordered further investigations in February 2008 following a prosecution petition. The trial finally began in November 2011, after the Awami League led alliance government came to power. Judge Mojibur Rehman observed that a small cantonment could have been armed with the weapons seized.

Federalism and Foreign Policy: Limits of the Political-Institutional Framework in India

1 February 2014
Zaad Mahmood
Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Kolkata 
Email: mahmood.zaad@gmail.com

ln response to evolving federalism in India. The first instalment in this exercise is PR Chari’s Limits of Federalism which makes important assertions regarding the disproportionate dominance of regional interests over national interests in the formulation of foreign policy. Chari attributes such a development to the regionalisation of politics and increasing currency of coalition government at the centre. He cites example such as India not joining the CHOGM summit in Colombo and non-ratification of the Indo-Bangladesh water-sharing agreement to reinforce his argument of regional parochial interests impeding broader national interests. 

Such an assertion however is limited by its understanding of the evolving relationship between federalism and foreign policy. D Suba Chandran in his Expanse of Federalismhighlights some of the weaknesses in Chari’s argument and I seek to develop the leitmotif further. 

Firstly, the claims of distressing implications of federalisation on foreign policy choice are farfetched and reflect a superficial evaluation of contemporary developments. Although Chari is correct in highlighting increasing assertion of regional parties, he fails to recognise that the relation is not automatic or unilinear. There are situations when contrary to the claims of Chari regionalisation has in fact provided leeway for foreign policy shifts by the centre. Most of the regional parties have specific local and political constituency and their policy orientations are geared towards such support base with little or none international focus. 

The foreign policy outlooks of regional parties are largely contingent upon negotiation and trade-off with the central government and nature of political contestation in the sub-national states. It would be instructive to recall that the most prominent shift in Indian foreign policy in recent memory - the Indo-US nuclear deal - could be ratified in the face of opposition from the two largest opposition parties in Parliament (BJP and Left) only due to support from regional parties like DMK, RJD and most famously, the SP. Regional parties reflect clear provincial aspirations and the assertion that coalition government with regional players will necessarily have serious implications for India’s internal and external security is untenable. 

Thailand: Analysis of the 2014 Political Protests


The New Year (2014) in Thailand has been off to a roaring start thanks to the political protests in Bangkok and a shutdown accompanied with violence that led to the declaration of emergency by the government. The emergency has been imposed in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces for a period of two months to restore law and order. Thailand has been restive and vulnerable to political protests for decades. It has experienced similar political crises under different governments. One can make a whimsical attribution to the untameable Thai spirit, which has the unique distinction in Asia-Pacific of never having fallen prey to foreign colonisation. In fact, the reality is one of class rivalry that has entrenched itself deep in the hearts of both the citizenry and the political elite. The current agitation targets the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and Pheu Thai Party (PTP) coalition government and its plans to hold elections on 2nd February 2014.

Presumably, this indicates that the protesters comprising of the royalist and pro-military urbanites (yellow shirts) are experiencing a trust deficit in Thailand’s democratic institutions or simply disregard their functionality. Thailand’s political protests can also be understood as the modus operandi of the opposition. Both the pro-UDD red shirts comprising of Thaksin Shinawatra loyalists and the yellow shirts belonging of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) led by Suthep Thaugsuban, have in the past taken to the streets to rally against incumbent governments. For the yellow shirts, the democratic approach is not very promising given that the UDD has the rural majority in their corner.

It has been argued that the yellow shirts seek to, ‘create such disorder that either Thailand’s military or judiciary intervene’. Notably, the military has usurped power in ‘18 coups over the past 80 years.’ Indeed it ousted Thaksin Shinawatra from power in 2006 and has even shown a willingness to intervene in the current showdown. Thailand’s Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said recently that, ‘whenever conflicts become violent and insoluble the military will have to solve them’.This could have been in response to the refrain that the government has shown in containing the protests. Nevertheless, should the reins be taken from a democratically elected incumbent government, the regression would amount to the same, regardless of the usurper being the military or an unelected ‘People’s Council’ as demanded by the yellow shirts. 

The yellow shirts have expressed the view that the incumbent Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra is a puppet of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra who is currently in exile in light of the multiple corruption charges levelled against him post the 2006 military coup. His return prospects looked good with the lower house of Parliament passing an Amnesty Bill for that purpose in November 2013. Being a controversial topic, it has not yet been passed by the upper house. This is a major reason for the yellow shirts taking to the streets with the impending February elections furthering the sense of urgency for the PAD activists. Interestingly, both the UDD and PAD highlight the cause of democracy in their names. Yet, each appeals and caters to a only particular section of society, making elusive the sense of inclusion that is the entitlement of every citizen in a democracy.

Integrating IT and BT


Information Technology and Biotechnology need to come together to streamline manufacturing processes of biotech products

Beyond the rhyming of the terms IT (Information Technology) and BT (Biotechnology), there can indeed be a valuable integration between the two — which is yet to be optimally exploited in the country. Many government departments deal with these sectors together, but essentially without any connection. IT, at least to start with, grew with initiatives in the private sector, whereas the growth of BT has been mostly due to government support. There was hype around BT at one stage to the extent that parents were prepared to pay expensive fees to get their children admitted to BT courses, only to find that their employment opportunities, unlike in the IT sector, did not hold much promise. The backlash led to such courses losing their sheen. There were not many industries to absorb the candidates, who were also found to be unemployable in terms of knowledge and training. However, the sector seems to have now stabilised and is on the growth path. The BT industry is growing at around 20 per cent which is quite significant in the context of a general industrial deceleration. The present turnover is estimated at $5 billion with a projection of $100 billion by 2025. The IT industry is valued at $100 billion with a projection of $300 billion by 2025. However, the scope of the BT sector is very large and can even eclipse the IT sector in terms of employment opportunities and reach to the economy and social sectors. The sector permeates health and disease, food and agriculture, environment and industry. A more appropriate strategy would be to integrate IT and BT seamlessly, wherever applicable, and aim for the $500 billion mark by 2025.

There is a fundamental difference between the two sectors in India. The IT/ITes (IT-enabled Services) industry has become a major growth engine for the country’s economy. It is stated that it contributes to around 5.6 per cent of GDP and direct employment to 2.3 million people and much more indirectly. The projection is to provide jobs to 20 million people by 2020. The main verticals utilising IT are BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), telecom, manufacturing, media, construction and utilities, airlines and transportation, health services, etc. The fulcrum is services, be it IT or ITes/BPO (Business Process Outsourcing based on Internet) or engineering services. India is identified with software services and there is now an effort to generate products (software) and work out strategies for the global and internal markets. To remain competitive, strategies like cloud computing and Platform-BPO strategies are becoming the options. The weakest link is hardware, be it the IT or electronics sectors.Academia-industry link

The limitations are raw material, technology and skilled human resource. Both raw material and technology need to be imported. Unlike the software industry, available human resource is not skilled enough to compete with the Asian giants in the field. Interestingly, BT is grounded in a hardware equivalent, be it vaccines or drugs, or diagnostics or monoclonal antibodies or agri-biotech or biomass-based products including the energy sector.

Global terrorism expanding, especially in Asia?

03 February 2014

Speaking at the NIA Raising Day on January 20, 2014, former National Security Adviser and currently Governor of West Bengal, M.K. Narayanan, said that the intelligence agencies, including Intelligence Bureau and the Research & Analysis Wing, knew of the impending terrorist attacks on Mumbai, including some targets like Taj Hotel, and yet they failed to take the requisite preventive measures since they did not know in what form it would be. 

It was indeed a sad commentary that this specific warning coming a few days before the actual attack, and even mentioning one of the prime targets in Mumbai was not acted upon both by the intelligence agencies and the police. Authors Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have given interesting details of the Mumbai attack in their book, 'The Siege'. 

Pakistan's pervasive hostility and its resort to terrorism through Islamic Jihadi terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Indian Mujahideen are known to the major intelligence agencies. The failure to face the Mumbai attack in a well-prepared manner was due to the failure of the Navy, to begin with. 

The 10-member team, armed with AK-47 rifles, pistols, grenades, etc., came from Karachi through the sea route. Half way through, its members hijacked an Indian trawler on the Arabian sea and got an Indian navigator on the trawler to guide them to sail towards Mumbai. The attackers were connected by a satellite phone to a control room in Karachi. Once they sighted the coast of Mumbai, they killed the navigator. After landing on the deserted coast of Mumbai, they quietly walked into the city unchallenged. Then, the ruthless attack on the Taj Hotel began, while a few of them ran towards Chhatrapati Shivaji terminal. 

Can we come across another instance of a more defenceless city than Mumbai? 

First, consider the Navy's role. Surely, there should be a system of watching the high seas, even beyond the Arabian sea. These are the days of satellite watch on sailing vessels. Even otherwise, the Naval Yard of Mumbai should have deployed the radar system and scanned the high seas constantly beyond Mumbai. How was it that the jihadis travelling from Karachi towards Mumbai for four days remained unseen by the radars of the Navy? In fact, the Navy had the foremost responsibility of locating and alerting the agencies of the movements of suspicious vessels. By not fulfilling the foremost responsibility, the Naval unit of Colaba, Mumbai, should own a major part of the blame for the failure to meet the attack. 

M.K. Narayanan also noted that contrary to what many security and strategic analysts in the West profess, terrorism remained by all means a grave threat to the civilised world. The reality is global terrorism is expanding, especially in Asia. 

Since Lashkar-e-Taiba and Indian Mujahideen have given terrorism new dimensions, one should anticipate the intensity and number of future attacks. The possibility of possible suicide means also need to be factored into future calculations. 

Indira’s trial run in Kerala

February 03, 2014


How she cannily allied with the CPI to undercut the CPM and raise her standing after the Congress split

From the moment the Congress split, Indira Gandhi knew — as did the country — that she would have to hold fresh elections to seek a mandate for herself sooner or later. She could not go on running a minority government depending on the support of others. But being habitually cautious, she also knew that a lot of preparatory work had to be done before taking the plunge. So she kept everyone guessing.

By this time I was no longer in Delhi, where I had covered for long years the intense political activity that was occasionally of historical importance, and more often either bizarre or hilarious. I had moved to Calcutta, now Kolkata, to the head office of the newspaper I was then working for. On a hot and humid afternoon in June 1970, a good friend and news source in the national capital phoned me, as he often did. Usually a talkative man, this time he uttered only two words — “Watch Kerala” — and rang off. From the newsroom I found out that the United Left Front government in that troubled state had just fallen because of unending dissensions among its numerous constituents, principally between the larger of the two communist parties — the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that led the government and the Communist Party of India. A couple of hours later, amidst great excitement, Gandhi announced that her party, the second largest in the state assembly after the CPM, would support a CPI-led minority government without joining it.

This was much more than quid pro quo for the CPI’s support to her government in New Delhi.

The shrewd move had two purposes: to discern the wider power play after the Congress split and to use the CPI to undermine the Marxists, with whom she was having a tough struggle in both their strongholds, West Bengal and Kerala. As it happened, her move also represented an exquisite twist of irony. This needs explaining.

In the second general election in 1957, the then undivided CPI earned the distinction of being the first communist party in history to come to power anywhere in a free and fair election. It then embarked on land and educational reforms in the country’s most literate and largely feudal state. Landlords and those controlling lucrative educational institutions were incensed and started an agitation for “throwing the communists out”. The state unit of the undivided Congress joined the agitation a while later. Gandhi was at that time Congress president. With the support of the highly influential home minister, Govind Ballabh Pant, and the Congress rightwing, she virtually forced her father to dismiss the Kerala ministry, despite his heavy qualms about this unconstitutional act. When Jawaharlal Nehru told her that the demand for sacking the communist ministry was partly communal, she had retorted: “Everything in Kerala is communal, including the communists”. And now she was in close alliance with the CPI.

On Kashmir, the same din

Muzamil Jaleel | February 03, 2014

No serious questioning is allowed. All parties keep the status quo by foreclosing meaningful discussion

Two different political statements recently brought Kashmir back into focus in public discussion, provoking heated exchanges between political parties, protests and even vandalism. First, as he addressed a press conference in early January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talked about a possible deal to resolve the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, saying that “at one time it appeared that an important breakthrough was in sight”. Then, lawyer and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, Prashant Bhushan, advocated a “referendum to decide whether or not the army should be deployed to deal with internal threats in Kashmir” and “whether people want AFSPA to continue in the Valley or not”.

PM Singh was only recalling a widely known fact. Bhushan’s idea of a referendum for decision-making on internal security is far more controversial, but the widespread opposition to large-scale army deployment and laws like AFSPA in Kashmir is no secret, and does not require a referendum to ascertain the public view. Yet, these statements touched off a similar, undifferentiated clamour. A look at the reactions to the two statements provides a context to understand the overwhelming feeling in Kashmir that New Delhi is not interested in resolving the conflict and wants to maintain the status quo at all costs.

The BJP asked Singh to make a “full disclosure” on the contours of this failed Kashmir deal, terming any change in the status quo a dilution of India’s sovereignty. BJP leader Arun Jaitley saw almost every shade of political opinion on Kashmir, from the Congress’s stand for separate status, the National Conference’s demand for pre-1953 status, the PDP’s talk of self-rule and the separatists’ demand of “azadi”, as intended “to dilute India’s sovereignty”. Senior Congress leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had to reiterate publicly that J&K is an integral part of India to downplay the controversy. The AAP distanced itself from Bhushan, who issued a clarification, asserting that he never questioned Kashmir’s status as an integral part of India.

It is evident that when it comes to the conflict in Kashmir or the questions surrounding it, all political parties converge to a single point from where they must raise the banner of Kashmir being an integral part of India. Under its shadow, all nuances are dropped and debate stifled. Whether the question is one of impunity and immunity to the army and paramilitary forces, or about demilitarisation, autonomy or plebiscite, whether the conversation is being held with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah or separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, there is no real debate on Kashmir. Irrespective of which political party is in power, New Delhi’s Kashmir policy has always been defined by delay and ambiguity. Every initiative has been a tactical move with an aim to keep the situation inside Kashmir within the manageable threshold.

Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging

3 February 2014
Pramod Jaiswal
SAARC Doctorate Fellow, Centre for South Asian Studies, JNU

In the words of Aristotle, “Well begun is half done.” However, the second Constituent Assembly (CA) of Nepal is getting hiccups right from the beginning. The political parties do not seem to have learned much from the past. Though almost all the political parties agree on readying the first draft of the constitution within a year, the hardening fact remains that the debate on the constitution is not likely to be deliberated for six months as it has taken almost a month to decide who can legitimately call the Assembly. Therefore, it is likely that another month will be taken for the formation of the Council of Ministers and nomination of twenty six members that will provide a fuller shape to the CA. Inter and intra-party differences are the major reasons that have handicapped constitution-writing.

Inter and Intra-Party Differences

In Nepali Congress, Sushil Koirala became the parliamentary party (PP) leader, defeating Sher Bahadur Deuba, as the party failed to forge an agreement even after several rounds of talks. Deuba had asked for the post of acting president of the party in order to support Koirala. Ram Chandra Paudel made the same claims. This unfolded the three-sided rift in the NC. 

The CPN-UML is in a similar crisis where all four senior leaders are eying the post of party chairman in the next general convention, scheduled for April 2014. The standing committee meeting decided to elect its PP leader through vote as the party could not nominate one through consensus. Most likely, KP Oli will make the way for the PP leader by defeating Jhalanath Khanal as he is trying to get the support of Bamdev Gautam. Although Gautam has been a trusted partner of Khanal for the last five years, he will be a game-changer in this election.

After being dissatisfied with the proportionate candidate selection row, two senior leaders of UCPN-Maoists, Baburam Bhattarai and Narayankaji Shrestha, accused Prachanda for the election setback. Bhattarai even asked Prachanda to handover leadership to the younger generation. Ruling out the chances of power handover during a ‘crisis’, Prachanda announced the holding of conventions to restructure and shape the political ideology of the party. 

However, the breakaway faction led by Mohan Baidya has threatened to launch protest programmes if the major political parties keep turning a deaf ear to his demand for the dissolution of the CA. There are some speculations that both the factions might merge. 

SC gives Centre a week to resolve Italian marines case

Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to resolve within a week all disputes arising out of the issue of invoking anti-piracy law against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.

A bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan directed the Centre to end the logjam in the issue in which Ministries of Law, Home Affairs and External Affairs are involved and make its stand clear on February 10.

“Will you be able to end the logjam by next Monday? Don’t expect us to grant adjournment on the next date,” the bench said while posting the case for hearing on February 10.

Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati told the bench that the Centre has “almost” resolved the issue and will respond on the next date of hearing.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Italian Government and Marines, submitted that the Centre has not been able to proceed in the case and 13 months have lapsed since the apex court has passed the order for conducting day-to-day proceedings.

He submitted that marines should be allowed to go back to their country.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Italian government challenging invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf) Act, saying it is against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, IPC, CrPC and UNCLOS.

The joint petition, filed by Ambassador of Italy Daniele Mancini along with Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, also sought direction to the Centre and NIA to expedite the proceedings in the case or discharge the marines.

During the last hearing on January 20, the apex court had adjourned the case after Mr. Vahanvati had submitted that the Centre was trying to resolve all disputes with Italian government on the issue.

The petition has said, “Invoking the anti-terrorism SUA Act would tantamount to the Republic of Italy being termed a terrorist state and acts of its organs, which were in repression of piracy, as being deemed as acts of terrorism, which is wholly untenable and unacceptable in the facts and circumstances of this case and in keeping with the comity of nations and international cooperation.”

It has said that the draft protocol of 2005 to the SUA convention expressly excludes the applicability of the convention to activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties.

“The purported attempt by the Centre to unilaterally invoke the provisions of SUA Act is contrary to and in wilful disregard of the directions of this court,” the petition has said, adding that they came to know about invoking SUA on the basis of application filed by NIA in trial court.

It has contended that one year has passed since the apex court had directed an expeditious hearing in the case but the Centre has failed to implement the order and charge sheet has so far not been filed in the case.

“The petitioners have been detained in India for the last two years without any criminal case against them being started and the Centre has in fact failed to present any Final Report against them for almost one year despite the direction of the apex court to try and dispose of the case on a fast track basis,” the petition has said, adding that the accused be allowed to return to Italy till the proceedings begin.

On January 18 last year, the Supreme Court had directed the central agency to probe the case against the marines and directed the Centre to set up a special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after the charge sheet is filed.

The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ‘Enrica Lexie’.

Fearing a pirate attack, the two officers had allegedly fired at the fishermen’s vessel off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, killing two of them. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.

Apology no absolution


Apology cannot be absolution. There is no concept of absolution in the modern criminal justice system

In 1997, Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, where, in 1919, a British army officer ordered his troops to fire at a crowd of unarmed Indians, leading to over a thousand deaths. Terming it as a “difficult episode,” the Queen said that “history cannot be rewritten.” It was the closest the British had come to an apology — until February last year, when the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jallianwala Bagh and called the massacre a “deeply shameful event in British history.”

Mr. Cameron was more contrite than Queen Elizabeth. But it still could not be considered an apology. India had no other choice than to accept it. The massacre had happened almost a hundred years ago and, General Dyer, the butcher of Amritsar, had died in 1927, seeking to know on his deathbed from his maker whether he did right or wrong.

We have no way to know what General Dyer’s maker thought of him. But if one were to go by the biblical concept of hell, he would most certainly be burning in unquenchable fire. And those fires will not be doused even if Queen Elizabeth or Mr. Cameron were to apologise a hundred times. But in India, we seem to have strangely come to believe that tendering an apology for riots or pogroms is like taking a proverbial dip in the holy Ganges — the one that is supposed to absolve the perpetrator of all his sins.

From the 1984 Sikh pogrom onwards, we have been playing a yo-yo game of sorts with speculations of this or that leader apologising for his — or his party’s — complicity in an act of mass violence. We have turned demanding apology into a national pastime. We do not realise that such a proposition allows an easy escape.Part of the system

Consider what the Congress’s probable prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi said in his recent TV interview to journalist Arnab Goswami. When asked if he would apologise for 1984, Mr. Gandhi said: “First of all I wasn’t involved in the riots at all. It wasn’t that I was part of it… I was not in operation in the Congress.” Somebody ought to remind him that in 1984, he was 14. So nobody is blaming him for the killings that took place when he was a boy. But, today, at almost 44, he is the party’s vice-president. That means, as Mr. Goswami rightly pointed out to him, he is the boss. He can refer to himself in the third person as much as he wants, but he cannot shrug off his responsibility. He keeps on mentioning his personal history, “the circumstances” in which he grew up. One may empathise with Mr. Gandhi just as one may have done with his father who he says was thrown, “because of circumstances,” into the political system. But once you are into the system, you are into the system.

Did Abe-Singh joint statement live up to expectations?

K.V. Kesavan
03 February 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India during 25-27 January 2014 drew a great deal of attention as the bilateral relations have assumed increasing strategic and economic significance. Further, it was also known that Abe would have his sayonara summit meeting wih Manmohan Singh since the latter had already announced his decision to step down after the parliamentary elections in May this year. It was the fourth and final round of talks that they had and both must have had the satisfaction of truly adding a great deal of strategic and economic substance to the partnership. This partnership was for a long time narrowly focussed only on economic matters like trade, investment and official development assistance; but today it has become truly diversified to include a wide range of subjects including defence cooperation, maritime security, counter terrorism, energy cooperation, cyber security, UN reforms, climate change and regional cooperation. Every joint statement following the summit meeting demonstrates the willingness of the two countries to further widen their partnership by including new subjects of importance. 

Before any attempt is made to examine the Abe-Singh joint statement of January 25, it would be useful to note that the past year in the bilateral ties has been extremely productive in terms of numerous events between the two countries starting from Manmohan Singh's visit to Tokyo in May, 2013 and his joint statement with Abe which laid out a broad vision for the two countries. Earlier, the two countries had a strategic dialogue at the level of foreign ministers in Tokyo. In November-December, Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made a historic visit which gave a tremendous impetus to the partnership. A month after their visit, Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera came to India to conduct defence dialogue with his counterpart A.K. Anthony. Both discussed the prospects of promoting defence cooperation while simultaneously taking measures to encourage naval cooperation between the two navies. 

The present meeting between the two leaders came in the wake of Japan's formulation of a new National Security Strategy (NSS) and the new National Defence Policy Guidelines 2014. Both these are very important seeking to lay out Japan's future postures in the security field. The establishment of the National Security Council has further added a new thrust to Japan's future security goals in the region. That the new Japanese National Security Advisor Shotaru Yachi was with Prime Minister Abe in New Delhi further highlighted the importance of the summit from the security angle. Yachi met his Indian counterpart Shivsankar Menon and launched the first security discussion at that level. The two prime ministers in their joint statement expressed their satisfaction with the launch of regular consultations between the two top security advisors. In addition, they also expressed their "determination" to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation. Noting the successful visit of Japanese Defence Minister Onodera to New Delhi in the first week of January 2014, they also expected that the 4th Defence Policy Dialogue would be held before the end of 2014.The joint statement noted the two leaders expressing their satisfaction at the smooth progress of such dialogue mechanisms like the bilateral 2+2 Dialogue and the US-Japan-India trilateral talks. 

Our Wasted Effort in Afghanistan

By Steve Chapman - February 2, 2014

The United States government and the Taliban don't agree on much, but they have found one point of convergence: Both think someone needs to get a hose and put out the flames engulfing Hamid Karzai's pants.

The Afghan president has often criticized the Americans for carrying out drone strikes that kill innocent bystanders. But over the past year or so he has started blaming us for things we didn't even do. He has gone from understandably prickly to irrationally hysterical.

Last month, he welcomed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kabul by publicly accusing the U.S. of collaborating with the Taliban in bombings that killed 17 people. "Those bombs that went off in Kabul and Khost were not a show of force to America," he announced. "They were in service of America."

His latest claim goes further, accusing the U.S. of actually mounting insurgent-like attacks against his forces.

"Karzai has formalized his suspicions with a list of dozens of attacks that he believes the U.S. government may have been involved in," reported The Washington Post. "The list even includes the recent bomb and gun assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, one of the bloodiest acts targeting the international community in Afghanistan."

American commander Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. called the charge "ludicrous." We have to assume that Dunford coordinated his response with Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who said the group has taken credit for many of the incidents because "those are attacks that have genuinely been carried out by our forces."

In Karzai's mind, Barack Obama has obvious motives for this brazen treachery. One, relayed to the Post by an anonymous Karzai aide, is distracting everyone from the civilians killed in American air strikes. Another is undermining Karzai because he is too protective of his people.

Then there is the most powerful of all: our desire "to keep foreigners longer in Afghanistan," as Karzai puts it.

He evidently is laboring under the misimpression that we have sacrificed more than 2,000 lives and vast sums of money because we enjoy occupying a poor, inhospitable, violence-prone country with which we have almost nothing in common.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Obama saluted Army Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who "was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan." But, the president noted, "he's learned to speak again and stand again and walk again -- and he's working toward the day when he can serve his country again."

Pakistan’s Militancy Response: Too Little, Too Late

Pakistan may finally be getting more serious about tackling its militancy problem. But don’t get your hopes up.
By Michael Kugelman
February 03, 2014

For years, the U.S. government has pushed Pakistan to crack down harder on militancy. And for years, Islamabad has largely refused. Instead, it has dithered as extremist violence has spread across the country. Last week, investigative journalist Umar Cheema revealedthat Pakistan’s previous government used a secret counterterror fund to purchase jewels, rugs and even sacrificial goats.

Yet the tides may be turning.

Last week, Pakistan was rocked by a rapid succession of bomb blasts—including attacks on consecutive days that killed Pakistani soldiers in the northwest and near military headquarters in Rawalpindi. In response, the military launched air strikes in North Waziristan—a tribal region bordering Afghanistan that shelters the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP (which attacks the Pakistani state), as well as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network (which attack the Afghan government and U.S. troops in Afghanistan). Pakistani troops have waged limited operations in other tribal areas in recent years, but North Waziristan has largely been spared.

Initially, Islamabad described the North Waziristan strikes as retaliatory in nature, and not a precursor to a larger offensive. Yet in recent days, Pakistani media reports have revealed that the government and military are planning a full-scale offensive in the tribal areas in March.

These developments would represent a dramatic turnaround for Islamabad, which has largely called for talks, not war, with militants. On January 27, a majority of parliamentarians from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party voted in favor of a military operation against the TTP. On January 28, a top PML-N official, Rana Sanaullah, declaredthat the country was “on a war footing.”

But then, the very next day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the formation of a committee to take another look at peace talks with the TTP. He insists that he won’t authorize an operation in North Waziristan “without consensus of all stakeholders”—even though many opposition leaders, including the fervently pro-talks Imran Khan, have said they’d throw their support behind an offensive.

No Winners, Only Losers in Thailand’s Elections

Marred by protests, the weekend vote hardly signals the end of Thailand’s troubles.
By Elliot Brennan
February 03, 2014

No Winners, Only Losers in Thailand’s ElectionsAnti-government protesters were successful in disrupting Thailand’s elections on Sunday, with only 89 percent of polling stations operating without disruption. Polling booths in the south of the country, where anti-government sentiments are strongest, were the most affected. The Election Commission secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong stated after polling had finished that 333 out of 375 constituencies were able to conduct voting. Given the disruptions, the election results will not be known until further voting has taken place; at the earliest a result could be released by the EC after February 23.

The night before the election a fire-fight broke out as masked gunmen shot at anti-government protesters, injuring seven people. The ongoing crisis, which began several months ago, has been bloody. It has thus far left ten dead and 577 injured, while it continues to batter the economy. On Sunday, some 130,000 security personnel were deployed nationwide, including 12,000 in Bangkok, to protect polling stations. In the tense environment, security forces stood as buffers between people trying to vote and anti-government protester’s blockades.

Given the hostile environment and quick call of the election, there has been little campaigning by local candidates. As such, the vote became more about allegiances than issues. As argued here, if the deadlock is to be broken, issues not allegiance must be tackled.

The caretaker government has been under severe pressure to come to some resolution. This pressure has come in large part from business, which has already endured more than three weeks of the Bangkok shutdown campaign. Confidence in Southeast Asia’s second biggest economy is faltering. The government slashed its GDP growth forecast from 5.1 percent (December 26) to 4 percent recently, while the director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office noted that if protests continue GDP growth in 2014 may be less than 2 percent. Political risk analysts have continued to downgrade the country’s stability for investment. This has been on the back of reports of the possibility of a coup d’état – which would be the country’s 19th attempted coup since democracy began in 1932 – and even the chance of civil war.

Pressure, again emanating from business, has also been on the anti-government protesters and the Democrat Party to negotiate. While few, including this commentator, would argue that the Thai political environment doesn’t need cleaning up, lasting solutions come through compromise and seldom through revolt. As popular commentator Bangkok Pundit notes “it hasn’t been the Thai government that has been intractable and uncompromising – it’s the opposition and the protesters.”

My Experience as head of intelligence with the IPKF

Paper No. 5641 Dated 03-Feb-2014
By Col. R. Hariharan

Interviewer: Parasaran Rangarajan, Editor, International Law Journal of London

PR: First, we would like to thank you for joining us. I understand you spent nearly three decades in the Indian Armed Forces and salute you for that and would like to ask how you started and if you can describe your journey entering the Intelligence Services of India (Intelligence Corps), more so become the Chief, which is extremely difficult to do?

RH: Thank you for providing me this opportunity for sharing with you my experience as the head of intelligence (not the chief of Intelligence Corps) of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka for the duration of its existence from 1987 to 90. I belonged to the Intelligence Corps, which is a part of Army’s General Staff Branch tasked to collect as well as deny military information in areas of security interest. It also provides tactical and strategic assessments both in peace and war on security threats including insurgency. I was commissioned as an artillery officer and took part in 1965 war as an artillery officer. Two years later I was transferred to the Intelligence Corps which was expanding in the wake of India-China war 1962.

Of course, as an MI officer for nearly three decades I have worked closely with all intelligence agencies (there are nearly a dozen of them!) including the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India’s counter intelligence and security agency. For over two decades, as intelligence officer I gained both staff and field experience in COIN operations against about 12 insurgencies including some in Bangladesh and Burma. This could be one of the reasons why I was picked to head the military intelligence effort in Sri Lanka; but more importantly as I was the senior most Tamil speaking MI officer which is an important factor in Sri Lanka. 

I served as the first and last Colonel General Staff (Intelligence) at the Headquarters of the IPKF. As the senior most Intelligence staff officer, usually I was required to assess the developing threat almost on a daily basis and give periodic assessments to help plan future operations. However, the MI role in Sri Lanka was unique as it was practically the only agency to collect intelligence on the LTTE in areas where we operated as RAW resources were mainly focused on meeting Government of India’s requirements which were largely political. All military field intelligence units in Sri Lanka operated under my direction were a great help in meeting the military requirements. Of course, my work involved close interaction and cooperation with the RAW, IB, Sri Lanka’s National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and Tamil Nadu state police and at times with Sri Lanka police. 

PR: Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was of the view that what was taking place in Sri Lanka in the 1980’s was indeed a genocide and India should not be a simple spectator which is why many claim the RAW trained the Tamil Tigers. First, why was the IPKF dispatched to Sri Lanka, what was your role and day to day activities during that period?

RH: There are several parts to this question:

Who Will Be the Next China?

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
February 3, 2014

China posted astounding growth rates both before and after the Great Recession. But now its GDP growth numbers are decelerating, and the days of 10 percent growth are over. Slowing is different than ceasing to contribute, however, and China should continue to contribute more than any other country to global growth.

A slow and subtle slowdown in China is no cause for alarm. It could slow significantly more than expected and still be the single largest contributor to global economic growth. At its current growth rate, China’s economy will contribute more than $1 trillion to global GDP growth (using purchasing power parity GDP from the International Monetary Fund). Overall, the global economy should grow by around $3.5 trillion, meaning China will contribute nearly 30 percent of global growth in 2014.

According to IMF projections, China will add more than $1.7 trillion to the global economy in 2018. Meanwhile, the number two contributor, the US, will add a little more than $1 trillion. The importance of the US to the global economy is far from over. And China is expected to continue to produce around quarter of all global economic growth through the end of the decade.

Not bad for a developing country. Developing economies supplanted advanced economies more than a decade ago as the primary contributors to global economic growth, and as of last year the developing world now controls more GDP than the advanced economies. But much of this is actually China, and taking China out—or shifting China to the advanced country column—would dramatically alter the global economic picture (at least on paper). And that may be what the future holds.

Why? Chinese demographics are part of the reason for its success. With 1.3 billion people, China is the most populous country on the planet, and its economy has benefitted from a tremendous inflow of people from the countryside to cities. More migration to cities is expected, but China faces an aging population that is partially a result of its one child policy. This means a declining working age population in coming years, and an increase in the costs of caring for the elderly. Demographics evolve slowly though, giving time for the next growth engine to emerge.

Which countries and regions may, one day, replace Chinese growth? Brazil, India, Russia have not yet had their moment. India boasts the world’s youngest and second largest population. And India is contributing about 7 percent of global growth at the moment, a figure projected to grow towards 10 percent by the end of the decade. Brazil, which seems to be perpetually plagued by its reliance on commodity prices—and the corresponding boom and bust cycles, only contributes 3 to 4 percent to global growth. Russia, at 2 to 3 percent, has yet to live up to its hype. In fact, Russia, India, and Brazil supply a paltry 12 percent of growth. The RIBs have little meat on their bones.

Why energy needs a big-picture view

February 03, 2014


Introduce a comprehensive bill in Parliament and create a separate facilitating department under the PMO

The word “energy” is missing from the executive and legislative vocabulary. It is, of course, liberally used, and issues like “energy independence” and “energy security” are part of any official statement on economic policy. But it has not been officially defined. There is no national policy on energy endorsed or supported by Parliament. Nor is there an official body authorised and accountable for overseeing the country’s energy policy. So here are two proposals that the various political parties should consider in the run up to the elections.

First, the introduction of a bill in Parliament on energy responsibility and security, a la the fiscal responsibility and food security acts. This bill should define the interlinkages between energy, food, water, environment, technology, infrastructure, conservation and efficiency, and lay out the roadmap to energy independence, energy security and energy sustainability. It should define measurable metrics for progress towards these objectives, and make explicit India’s global obligations and commitments.

Second, the creation of a department of energy resources and security in the prime minister’s office. This department should supplement and not replace the existing five core ministries engaged with energy (that is, petroleum, coal, power, non-conventional and atomic ). It would be too difficult and time-consuming to undertake a radical institutional overhaul. It should be headed by a person of cabinet rank and supported by a multidisciplinary cadre of specialists in finance, technology, energy and environment. Its mandate should be to deal with the issues that fall into the cracks between the five ministries. There are five such issues:

One, the formulation and implementation of an integrated energy policy and the development of clear, transparent and measurable monitoring and evaluation systems. No executive body currently has this mandate.

Two, the development of an international energy strategy. The department should be the focal point for ensuring that all initiatives by the companies involved with international matters — that is, OVL for upstream petroleum assets, IOC for downstream oil supply deals, GAIL for LNG contracts, ICV for coal supplies — operate within an agreed strategic framework, and that as and when required, the resources of “India Energy Inc” are leveraged to maximise international competitiveness.

Three, the creation and implementation of an integrated energy R&D strategy. Energy companies currently spend too little on R&D, and what is spent is often misdirected. This department should identify areas of research, develop relevant partnerships, incubate new ideas and ensure that resources are sensibly allocated. It should act as the fount of government support for universities, research labs and companies. It should become, in effect, the single-point driver for energy technology and innovation.

Federalism and Foreign Policy: Regional Inputs in India's Neighbourhood Strategy

31 January 2014
V Suryanarayan
Former Senior Professor, Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras


The IPCS should be complemented for initiating a healthy debate on what role federal units should play in the making of India’s foreign policy. This essay is a perspective from Chennai.

India borders Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Maldives. India’s relations with each neighbouring country will therefore have its immediate fallout on the contiguous Indian sates. India-Pakistan relations will have an effect on Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir; India-China relations will affect Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. India-Nepal relations will spill over to Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal; India-Bhutan relations will impinge upon West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam; India-Myanmar relations will have its fall out on Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram; India-Bangladesh relations will affect West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam; India-Sri Lanka relations are closely intertwined with the politics of Tamil Nadu and India-Maldives relations will have its impact on Minicoy Islands. Relations with Thailand and Indonesia have yet to take off in a big way and have thus not been mentioned. 

During the era of one-party dominance, New Delhi pursued a foreign policy that it considered to be in India’s national interest. In that process, on several occasions, the interests and sensitivities of the contiguous Indian states were not taken into consideration. To illustrate, the Sirimavo-Shastri Pact of October 1964, by which large sections of the people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) were given Indian citizenship was concluded without taking into considerations the wishes of the affected people. It was also opposed by important political sections in Tamil Nadu. Rajagopalachari, Kamaraj Nadar, Krishna Menon, Annadurai and Ramamurthy criticised the inhuman agreement as a betrayal of the Gandhi-Nehru legacy. Similarly the India-Sri Lanka maritime boundary agreements of 1974 and 1976 which ceded the island of Kachchatheevu to Sri Lanka and bartered away traditional fishing rights enjoyed by Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay region was opposed by the ruling party and the opposition in Tamil Nadu. 

Even constructive suggestions made by the government of Tamil Nadu for improvement of bilateral relations were ignored by the Mandarins in outh Block. Chief Minister CN Annadurai was deeply concerned with the involuntary repatriation of Tamil labourers from Burma consequent to the nationalisation of retail trade and the related issue of non-payment of compensation due to them. After analysing the pros and cons of the issue, Annadurai wrote a letter to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suggesting that India should enter into a long-term trade agreement with Burma for import of rice, and compensation due to Burmese repatriates could be adjusted in the proposed deal. It may be recalled that in the mid-1960s, India was facing an acute shortage of food grain. It is unfortunate, but true, that this concrete proposal did not elicit any favourable response from New Delhi. 

Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness

3 February 2014
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Faculty, University of Delhi and Visiting Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS).

Shinjo Abe’s unrelenting tough approach towards China is arguably the second most important development in recent years in East Asia after the growing military might of China. There is lots of support across the region for his policy of ‘staring at China’ on the Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands disputes, especially among those countries, which have been uncomfortable with growing ‘Chinese assertiveness’ in the region but unable to stop it. The US stance has also been overall supportive to the changed posture of Japan.

However, Abe’s indiscriminate assertiveness, which hurts South Korea and other regional players, would be unable to achieve desired results. There are critiques of Japanese foreign policy, who point out that Japan has not been able to create trust in any of its neighboring countries such as South Korea, North Korea, Russia, and China. Thus, Japan needs to moderate its assertiveness and make it more nuanced to make it more palatable and wide-based.

The biggest problem in Shinjo Abe’s approach is that it entirely disregards ‘goodwill capital’ of Japan, which has been accumulated in the post-World War-II period. Japan evokes a very different kind of state behaviour, which denounced use of force in resolving inter-state disputes and concentrated on welfare of people inside its own territory and beyond. The concept of official development assistance (ODA) became synonym of the Japanese economic assistance to many Asian, African and Latin American countries. Japan could and must utilize this ‘capital’ for creating a network of relations across the region along with economic interdependence and people-to-people contacts, which would make it costly for China or any other countries to becoming assertive. It does not mean that Japan could be complacent on its defense preparedness, however, it does need to be approached in a framework of cooperative security involving as many as possible like-minded countries of the region. Japan has been respected for its peace-constitution and enough deliberation must happen before abandoning the alternate model of Japan.

Even if, Japan decides to make a paradigm shift in its foreign policy approach, which seems to be the case under Shinjo Abe, it must be more careful in articulating it. First and foremost, it is advisable to Japan to work on its defense preparedness without too much rhetoric directed against one or other country. In 2013, Japanese defense budget was increased to Yen 4.77 trillion which was an increase first time after 2002. The increase in itself is enough to create suspicions in the minds of observers and any sharp words are further going to create mistrust in the regional countries. Probably, Japan could learn from China, which continues augmenting its defense capabilities but keeps talking about ‘peaceful rise’ and ‘harmonious development’.