20 May 2014

‘Higher standards’ are double standards

May 20, 2014
World View
David Cohen

Israel and India are two lonely democracies in turbulent regions of the world. They have much in common, but have never been close

Foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but a complete lack of moral consistency is the hobgoblin of bigoted minds. Those who would single out the world’s only Jewish state for boycott, divestment and sanctions, while ignoring the infinitely more virulent persecution and intolerance that prevails throughout the surrounding region, cannot claim to be crusading against injustice. They are crusading against Jews.

Israel, of course, is not the only victim of double standards. I recently wrote about a misguided crusade by some in Congress against India: House Resolution 417, pushed by an odd coalition of left-wing Democrats and Christian conservatives, suggests, among other things, that India persecutes Christians. The truth is that few countries with a Christian minority are as hospitable to Christians as is India. The accommodation of diversity is inherent in India’s Hindu culture; for centuries, India has provided refuge to Christians and countless others fleeing persecution. If you want to find genuinely hateful oppression of Christians, you need look no further than some of India’s neighbours. Why, then, should India be singled out for criticism?

A friend of mine asked that very question to an activist lobbying for House Resolution 417. The activist professed respect for India’s long tradition of religious tolerance, and insisted: “I just want to see India hold itself to the highest standard.” I’ve heard this type of logic before — in connection with Israel. Some of Israel’s critics use the Jewish people’s long history of suffering as an excuse to hold Israel to a higher standard. “Jews have endured persecution like no other people,” these critics argue. “They should know better than to persecute others.” This type of condescending blather is nothing more than bigotry masquerading as flattery. “Higher standards” are used as an excuse to punish imperfect behaviour — be it in India or Israel — while ignoring the truly despicable behaviour next door. These “higher standards” are simply double standards.Two multicultural democracies

It is probably no coincidence that the same double standards are applied against Israel and India. Neither Judaism nor Hinduism seeks converts; Jews and Hindus thus tend to be surrounded, and outnumbered, by faiths that do. Israel is, of course, the only Jewish-majority state in the world, and India (along with much smaller Nepal) is one of only two Hindu-majority states. Jews see Israel as a necessary refuge for their people, just as Hindus see India as a necessary refuge for their people. And while Israel and India are both intent on retaining the character of their respective majority cultures, both are multicultural democracies that, unlike their neighbours, provide full rights to all.

The modern states of India and Israel entered the world community in a similar fashion. On their way out the door as colonial rulers of India, the British arranged for the partition of India into two countries: India and Pakistan. (Pakistan included two non-contiguous parts, and the eastern part would later split off to become Bangladesh.) It was Muslims who pushed for the partition in the name of Muslim self-determination: They wanted a homeland in two parts of India where they constituted a majority. The creation of the Muslim homeland, however, essentially ended up driving over 7 million Hindus and Sikhs from their ancestral homelands, the cradle of their respective civilizations. The logic of partition was essentially as follows: In order to create a Muslim state alongside a multicultural Hindu-majority state, many people would move from one place to another. If your particular village or region was within the borders of the “other side,” you could still exercise your right of self-determination by moving “next door” to rejoin “your side.”Palestine partition

Patel vs Nehru: Clash of titans on China policy

Critics have condemned Nehru for failing to heed Patel’s advice. It has been alleged that he failed to perceive the new security challenges across the Himalayas and that the origins of the 1962 debacle lie in the blunders committed by Nehru in 1950. A dispassionate examination of the facts does not substantiate these charges 

Chandrashekhar Dasgupta

FEW historical documents have generated as many myths as Sardar Patel’s famous letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on the Chinese threat. On November 7, 1950, Patel drew the Prime Minister’s attention to the implications of the PLA’s entry into Tibet. He warned that “for the first time, after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously.” Patel called for a comprehensive policy response covering both border security and foreign policy. This included a military and intelligence assessment of the Chinese threat; re-deployment of Indian forces to guard access routes and “areas that are likely to be the subject of disputes”; improvement of communications in border areas; and an appraisal of required force levels and long-term defence needs.
Nehru, Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at the All-India Congress Committee meeting, Bombay, 1946.

Review of India’s advocacy

Turning to foreign policy, he proposed a review of India’s advocacy of Beijing’s entry into the United Nations in light of developments in Tibet and Korea. He concluded with the terse comment that “it is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into (the) wider question of our relationship with China, Russia, America, Britain and Burma”, hinting that his reservations regarding Nehru’s foreign policy were not confined narrowly to China but extended to wider questions of relations with the major power blocs.

Critics have condemned Nehru for failing to heed Patel’s advice. It has been alleged that he failed to perceive the new security challenges across the Himalayas and that the origins of the 1962 debacle lie in the blunders committed by Nehru in 1950.

A dispassionate examination of the facts does not substantiate these charges. It is not true that the prime minister failed to anticipate the PLA’s entry into Tibet and the resulting security challenges. More than a year before the event, Nehru wrote to finance minister John Mathai, alerting him that “recent developments in China and Tibet indicate that Chinese Communists are likely to invade Tibet sometime or other…it may well take place within a year…it seems to me essential from every point of view that these areas should have good communications.” Nehru asked the finance minister to provide funds for this purpose to the extent possible. It is another matter that actual implementation was – and continues to be – tardy. Nehru bears no greater responsibility for this failure than any of his successors.

What it takes for an economic turnaround

Alok Sheel | May 19, 2014

Economic growth declined sharply across the globe following the trans-Atlantic financial crisis of 2008-09. 

Despite what is arguably the greatest growth potential amongst major economies in the world, the Indian economy is stuttering. After a recovery to 8.6 per cent in 2009-10 and 8.9 per cent in 2010-11 after the global meltdown of 2007-08, India’s growth rate declined almost continuously over several successive quarters from Q1 2010-11 to Q1 2012-13. As a result, annual economic growth moderated significantly to 6.7 per cent in 2011-12, 4.5 per cent in 2012-13 and is estimated to be below 5 per cent in 2013-14.

Economic growth declined sharply across the globe following the trans-Atlantic financial crisis of 2008-09. Growth in emerging markets (EMs) still overly dependent on final consumer demand in advanced economies has also declined sharply. India was expected to weather the storm better than its EM peers because of its greater reliance on domestic demand. Over the last three years, the decline in Indian growth has, however, been steeper than in several major Asian EM peers, including China and Indonesia, and indeed emerging Asia taken together. Except China, the BRICS are no doubt growing slower than India, but Indian growth trends need to be assessed by Asian standards. Domestic factors seem to have played a large role in the decline in growth.

The downturn is not simply cyclical. Macroeconomic stabilisation policies — monetary and fiscal — can therefore play only a limited role in remedying the current stagflationary mix of low growth and high inflation. Fiscal and monetary tightening to target inflation would further reduce growth at this juncture. Monetary policy is also a blunt tool for targeting inflation emanating from supply side constraints in agriculture. On the other hand, monetary and fiscal stimulus to target low growth will only add to inflationary pressures, without ramping up supply in the short run.

Recent incremental capital output ratios indicated that it was nevertheless possible to accelerate growth over the short run. This is because the decline in growth was much sharper than the decline in investment, pointing to a decline in the productivity of capital rather than in growth potential. A number of measures to stabilise growth by de-bottlenecking projects under execution and accelerating new projects in the pipeline were consequently put in place over the last 18 months, but they have yet to yield the expected outcome.

Although the decline in growth seems to have bottomed out since the second quarter of 2012-13, manufacturing, exports and new investment remain flat. Current data on lead indicators such as purchase of vehicles, consumer durables and housing also suggest that the recovery is far from certain. There is also a sharp decline in the pipeline of fresh projects that underpin medium-term growth. The overall investment sentiment remains weak and macroeconomic imbalances (the twin current account and fiscal deficits, and a continuing demand-supply gap reflected in high inflation) continue to be high by EM standards. Recent declines in the CAD and inflation are more a reflection of the sharp decline in growth rather than a return to a virtuous cycle of robust growth and macroeconomic balance.

Why China and Pakistan want demilitarization of Siachen

IssueNet Edition| Date : 19 May , 2014

Siachen and Sir Creek are back on the menu again. The Track II diplomacy to bring about a rapprochement between India and Pakistan is interesting in many ways. Official bilateral conclaves having failed to make much headway in ‘confidence building measures’, the Track II peace initiative is now joined by those who have fought fierce battles against each other – the military veterans from both sides of the border and the Line of Control (LoC). Sworn enemies and acclaimed warriors then, they now realise futility of war and advise India to abandon its defences to ‘demilitarise’ Siachen complex at one end and reconcile to Pakistan’s idea of border alignment at Sir Creek.

Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield of the world, is at the northern extremity of the LoC in J&K. Sir Creek is the lowest point at its southern end where the Indo-Pak border meets the Arabian Sea. There is no human habitation at either location. Siachen, they say, is a wasteland bereft of life and resources taking avoidable toll of soldiers besides being a huge burden on the defence exchequers. Sir Creek, likewise is a mass of uninhabitable marshlands where the alignment of the IB is in dispute for about 100 kilometres. India believes it runs along midcourse of the stream; Pakistan believes it runs along the eastern edge of the creek.

No doubt, for twenty years since 1984, numerous attempts were made by the Pakistan Army to wrest control of these heights but in vain.

Since an unresolved terminal point of Indo-Pak border at Sir Creek estuary controverts alignment of maritime boundaries and EEZs, there have been problems like fishermen and trawlers straying into disputed areas. Clearly, there is a case for amicable resolution of the alignment of the border that actually exists but is being interpreted differently. In the case of Siachen, on the other hand, its present status does not affect life of common people on either side of the border in any way. Logically, since it lies beyond point NJ 9842, the Indian Army deployment violates neither the LoC nor any Treaty or Agreement. No doubt, for twenty years since 1984, numerous attempts were made by the Pakistan Army to wrest control of these heights but in vain. Saltoro ridge and heights dominating the complex are under Indian control while the Pakistan Army is holding lower western reaches of the range. The situation has been quiet since the ceasefire agreement of 2003.

Ideally, as civilised progressive societies of modern world, India, Pakistan and China should have no need to hold their borders militarily. Economic cooperation, technology exchange, trade and cultural exchange and development programmes should have been the hallmarks of good neighbourliness instead of an atmosphere of animosity and suspicion. It is strange that eminent media houses like Times of India, Jung and the ‘freelance’ Track II group of senior military veterans have ignored issues that are far more vital and notorious for derailing every peace move in the past and continue to be the main threat even now, for instance, Anti-India Terrorist Camps in Pakistan, Role of ISI in sponsoring terror attacks (Mumbai 26/11 gave ample evidence), Pakistan harbouring some of India’s most wanted criminals, ignoring evidence given by India to substantiate such claims. When seen in the light of such momentous issues, ‘demilitarisation’ of Siachen becomes too tiny and insignificant to be traded for larger objectives like peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

Demographic Fault Lines in Assam

By Ashwani Gupta
Issue: Courtesy: CLAWS | Date : 19 May , 2014

The ethnic killings in the first week of May 2014 once again exposed the demographic fault lines in Assam. 45 persons lost their lives in violence perpetrated by suspected insurgents of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). Assam has witnessed a series of ethnic clashes between the Bodos and Bengali speaking settlers, both Hindus and Muslims earlier also.

In 2012, acts of rioting and arson on ethnic lines led to death of almost 100 persons and over 400,000 persons were forced to seek shelter in refugee camps.While the affected people were largely Muslim immigrants, the conflict does not have communal overtones.

…in the earlier two decades between 1962 and 1984, over 300,000 illegal migrants were detected and deported.

Rather, it is the apprehension of the Bodo community that they may be marginalised or dispossessed of their land within their traditional homeland areas. These fears have arisen due to alteration of the demographic pattern within a culturally sensitive society which is grappling with skewed population ratios due to unchecked migration over the last six decades.

The unchecked illegal migration into the state through the 286 km long porous border with Bangladesh has resulted in ethnic clashes, paved a way for insurgencies and growth of number of insurgent groups fighting for ethnic identity. The last three decades have witnessed large scale violence which has stalled development and created divisions within a harmonious society. Such a massive inflow did not go undetected, but official apathy and the compulsion of electoral vote bank politics allowed it to continue. This was an invite to disaster as it radically altered the demographic balance in many areas. A close scrutiny of the population increase since 1951 indicates a high population growth in the state presumably due to the heavy influx of the illegal migrants.

Population (in Lakh)
Decadal Growth % (Assam)

In the last six decades of independence, the population of Assam has increased by almost four times from 80.3 lakh in 1951 to 311.7 lakh in 2011 against a national average of 3.2 times. The census report of 1991 of Bangladesh talked of a unique phenomenon of missing population, estimated at eight million[2], 6.27 million Muslims and 1.73 million Hindus who presumably had migrated to India.

India's Moment

The world's largest democracy makes a statement at the polls: No to corruption, bureaucracy and dynastic politics, and yes to Narendra Modi's promise of a country ready to do business.

May 16, 2014

Narenda Modi flashes a victory sign to supporters as he arrives in Varanasi, India, on April 24. His victory in the elections marks a major turning point for the country. Associated Press

A few weeks ago in Bikaner, a remote district in India's western desert state of Rajasthan, a group of four young men having lunch at the roadside Karan Restaurant said they were ready for change.

Under a Congress party chief minister, the state had brought in a new program to give residents free medicine. The young men liked the program but said they were going to vote in the national election for Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party because they wanted a future filled with jobs and economic growth—not more government handouts.

"We want Modi. What he did for [the Indian state of] Gujarat, he should do for us," said Suraj Pal Singh, who works as a lineman for a power company.

Thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters welcomed India's next prime minister Narendra Modi to New Delhi ahead of his talks to form a new government. Photo: AP

On Friday, India's governing Congress party was shoved aside in spectacular fashion by Mr. Modi, a charismatic politician with Hindu nationalist roots and a pro-business policy agenda, and his resurgent BJP.

Mr. Modi's sweeping victory marks a major turning point in the postcolonial history of the world's largest democracy. For most of the 67 years since India gained its independence from Britain, the course of the country has been charted by the family of Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation's first prime minister. After Mr. Nehru's death, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, took the helm of the Congress party and served as premier. And her children, grandchildren and other family members, with some interruptions, have held sway ever since.

Should Pakistan Welcome Modi’s Election in India?

Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory may ultimately work out in Pakistan’s favor.
May 17, 2014

As others have reported today, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s parliamentary elections this month. It’s the first time that a single party has won a clear majority in an Indian election in three decades.

The BJP’s victory will bring Narendra Modi to power as India’s next prime minister. As Ankit and I talk abouton the podcast today, Modi and the BJP’s victory are in many ways a nightmare for Pakistan. The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, and both Modi and the BJP have been perceived as being especially hardline when it comes to Pakistan.

Ankit, for instance, pointed out that Modi has suggested that India might conduct covert cross-border raidstargeting specific Pakistan-based anti-India terrorists. Another harrowing possibility is that Pakistan-based terrorists, at least assumed to be working in cohort with Pakistani terrorists, will carry out another major terrorist attack in India in the mold of the 2001 bombing of the Indian Parliament building or the siege of Mumbai in 2008. A BJP government under Modi is unlikely to act with the same restraint that the outgoing UPA government has shown in these incidents.

Even if incidents as dramatic as these don’t materialize, Modi and the BJP’s victory could put the brakes on the nascent Indo-Pakistani détente. As The Diplomat has reported, since Nawaz Sharif’s assumption of power in Pakistan in 2013, India and Pakistan have made small but notable progress in expanding trade and people-to-people ties. It’s possible that Modi will reverse course on this front, which is probably one reason Sharif has been so quick to reach out to Modi and congratulate him on his victory.

Although none of these possibilities should be dismissed, it’s possible that Modi will actually become an asset for Pakistan on a couple of fronts.

First, the BJP in general and Modi in particular have been widely criticized as being anti-Muslim. Most notably, many believe Modi either acquiesced in or actively encouraged the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat back in 2002. At the very least, Muslims in India are extremely wary of Modi and the BJP at present. If actions and rhetoric in the ensuing months and years confirm their current suspicions, Indian Muslims and other non-Hindu Indians are likely to become extremely dissatisfied.

India-Pakistan Relations: Modi’s Options

PR Chari
Visiting Professor, IPCS

How will Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi deal with Pakistan? He made a passing reference to China when he visited Arunachal Pradesh during the election campaign. An uncomplimentary mention of Bangladesh was also made as the major originating source of illegal immigrants, who will be speedily sent back home if the BJP came to power. But no reference to Pakistan was made, which is intriguing, given Modi’s RSS roots and earlier rhetoric lambasting “Miya Musharraf.” The BJP’s election manifesto, too, offers no clues. It commends a foreign policy based on pursuing friendly relations [with nations] “in our neighborhood… [and that] India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” Surprisingly, there is no evidence to discern Modi’s likely Pakistan policy. 

It would be the understatement of the year to notice that Modi’s coming to power in New Delhi has caused great anxiety in Pakistan’s ruling elite. Modi has repeatedly stressed that the need for development and reviving the economy are his main priorities. Foreign policy, one suspects, will be tailored to promoting these objectives. But, he is also seen as a primordial nationalist, and naturally hawkish towards Pakistan and China. Modi has sidelined practically all the senior leaders in the BJP, but praised Atal Behari Vajpayee for adopting a foreign policy that sought “peace and strength.” Still, this additional information is not very helpful in discovering Modi’s Pakistan policy.

It would therefore be useful to lay out India’s abiding apprehensions regarding Pakistan. The US State Department has noted in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013(April 2014) that: “Continued allegations of violations of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s failure to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice, and activities of Pakistan-based terrorist groups remained serious concerns for the Indian government.” We can reasonably conclude that India’s major security concerned with Pakistan arises from its support to cross-border militancy and terrorism. 

Naxalism: The Insufficiency of a Force-Centric Approach

Bibhu Prasad Routray
Singapore-based Security Analyst

In the first week of May 2014, security forces launched a fresh anti-Naxal operation at the Saranda forests in Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district. The operation was started following intelligence inputs that a squad of armed Maoists had entered the forests. Few days into the operation, the state police Director General of Police (DGP) led a contingent of troops and spent a night deep inside the forests. The motive was to make a point. The media personnel were told by an assertive DGP, “We have conquered Saranda and nobody can dispute it now.”

It was, however, strange for the DGP to affirm the success of his forces, for Saranda had reportedly been conquered three years back. Considered to be a Maoist liberated zone, which housed the Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist)'s Eastern Regional Bureau (ERB) headquarters and also a large number of arms training camps, the impregnability of Saranda had been shattered in 2011. 

Between July and September 2011, about 10 battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel conducted Operation Anaconda seeking to liberate the area. Not many encounters took place during the operations, probably due to fact that the Maoists had decided to desert the area rather than to put up a fight. The state duly claimed victory. The domination of the security forces over the 855-square kilometre area had apparently been established.

The recovery of Saranda was important for two reasons. Firstly, it came after the failure and subsequent abandonment of Operation Green Hunt, the multi-theatre counter-Maoist operation which was launched in 2010. The OGH's failure, following a series of Maoist attacks on security forces, had convinced the MHA of the criticality of small area operations as opposed to a nation-wide blitzkrieg against the extremists. The recovery of Saranda through a focussed area approach, thus, became a reaffirmation of the fact that an incremental approach is key to ultimately defeat the extremists. 

First take on Foreign Policy and Power Projection under Modi

Paper No. 5703 Dated 19-May-2014
By Col R. Hariharan

[This article includes points made by Col Hariharan at a panel discussion on the Door Darshan TV on May 16, 2014.]

Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has been given massive mandate by the people in the just concluded general elections to the parliament. The BJP is poised to get a majority on its own steam, even without the support of coalition partners. So Modi enjoys a lot of freedom to shape and execute his policies without depending upon the support of coalition partners. But he has clearly indicated that he would like to carry all parties along with him in furthering his national development agenda.

Despite Modi’s huge public presence, New Delhi’s so called liberal left-leaning “intellectual” class which had rallied against him had never been able to carry out a dispassionate analysis of Modi and his style of governance. His success has made a mockery of the traditional yardsticks of class, caste and communal equations used by analysts to study Indian political operations. He had planned and fleshed out the entire BJP election campaign using the best available human resources and technology to achieve his campaign goals.

His assertive style of leadership has a few characteristics: leading from the front, clear articulation of objectives, single minded pursuit of goals, ability to motivate his team, and thinking out of the box, assisted by indefatigable energy and oratorical skills. This had helped him make Gujarat a frontline state in development. So we can expect him to largely use his experiential learning as chief minister while serving as prime minister. As a man with abundant commonsense we can also expect him to adapt his style to suit the complexities of his new job at the national level. 

Foreign policy 

There is a lot of convergence in the overall foreign policy vision of the Congress party and the BJP. However, Narendra Modi’s grammar and articulation of policies will make a difference to the policy dispensation. His assertive leadership style and expression will bring the much needed clarity in foreign policy pronouncements. His developmental model will offer greater opportunities for foreign countries to expand their economic relations with India, beyond the limitations of real politick.

As Modi is an assertive leader; foreign countries like the U.S. and China who have been routinely trashing Indian sentiments as a part of their policy would be more cautious in handling sensitive issues.

Internal Security Priorities for the New Government: Institutional Reforms

May 19, 2014

Since the Mumbai terrorist attacks on 26th November 2008, the complexity of internal security of challenges faced by the nation has increased. In order to deal with these challenges, a concerted, coordinated institutional approach based on the widest possible political consensus and improved Centre-State synergy is required. In addition, new internal security challenges arising out of contemporary trends like increasing urbanization, growth of mega cities, demographic shift, rising expectations of the youth and social media, need to be taken into account. If not addressed urgently, these challenges will become more complex and go out of hand.

A huge debate has taken place in the country on the nature of internal security challenges and how to deal with them. The Group of Ministers Report in 2001 had made a series of recommendations many of which have been implemented. Yet, we are still some distance away from being confident about handling these challenges. A large number of recommendations have been made by various experts and expert committees. The implementation of the recommendations has, however, been poor. The political consensus on implementing the key recommendations, for instance, the setting up of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre has proved to be elusive.

Following is a selection of recommendations1 , which if implemented urgently, could prove to be transformative in addressing the internal security challenges. A time bound implementation will create a broader consensus on the internal security issues which is urgently needed.
Centre-State Relations:

In the past few years, strained relationships and absence of effective communication between Centre and the States have created hurdles in addressing problems of internal security constructively. Political consensus on internal security issues is lacking. Therefore it is recommended that:

The Prime Minister should hold right in the beginning of his tenure meetings with the Chief Ministers and political parties to build a political consensus on carrying out institutional reforms, implementing recommendations of various committees set up by the Government of India and setting up a comprehensive agenda for internal security reform.

The constitutional mechanisms like the National Integration Council (NIA), Development Council, etc. should be reinvigorated to discuss internal security issues between the Centre and the States.


The absence of a Central Institution to tackle terrorism has resulted in a fragmented approach to terrorism. Therefore it is recommended that:

Set up urgently an NCTC like body to fight terrorism If need be, examine the existing draft and modify.

Operationalize the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and strengthen national Investigation Agency (NIA)

Explore ways to curb the internal sources for terrorist funding.

India's Incoming Government Faces Challenges of Jump-Starting Economy

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Blowout Election Victory of Pro-Business Party Raises Hopes
Updated May 18, 2014 11:26 p.m. ET

Thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters welcomed India's next prime minister Narendra Modi to New Delhi ahead of his talks to form a new government. Photo: AP

NEW DELHI—India's incoming government will face daunting challenges to revive Asia's third-largest economy and get it on a sustainable growth track.

The blowout election victory of the pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party has raised hopes that a strong government led by Narendra Modi, its prime ministerial candidate, can jump-start commerce. According to final results released Saturday, the BJP won 282 of the 545 seats in the lower house of Parliament, allowing the party to form a government without the support of allied parties.

The Indian National Congress, in government for nearly all of the country's post-independence history, suffered its worst result, winning just 44 seats. Mr. Modi and the Hindu-nationalist BJP replaced sectarian rhetoric with promises of jobs and development, riding a wave of disgust with India's economic stagnation under the leadership of the departing Congress party-led government.

Mr. Modi met Sunday with other party leaders to discuss picking a cabinet.

"I want to assure the people of this country that we will live up to the faith you have shown in us," Mr. Modi told supporters during victory celebrations on Friday. "The lives of young people in this country won't change without development."

A blowout election win for Narendra Modi's pro-business BJP has raised hopes for jump-starting commerce. Reuters

Economic activity is expanding at almost the slowest clip in a decade, less than 5% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2014 down from more than 9% in 2011. Inflation has remained high despite the slowdown because of bottlenecks in production and infrastructure, which prevent companies from ramping up output. And job creation isn't keeping pace with population growth—a major problem in a country where 10 million people turn working-age every year.

A revival of business investment and spending would help. The BJP's pledge to streamline bureaucratic procedures would make it easier to do business in a country famous for burdensome and often capricious regulation. It could also boost exports—crucial to reduce reliance on inflows of foreign financing as the U.S. Federal Reserve cuts back on its bond purchases to stimulate the economy.

The Fed's stimulus had boosted emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere by driving investors to seek higher returns in riskier markets.

The announcement of tapering the stimulus last year triggered flows out of those markets and India was among the worst-hit.

Among other problems that need to be addressed are persistent fiscal deficits that also foster dependence on foreign capital. Government spending swelled during the 2008 global financial crisis, as Delhi raised government workers' salaries and expanded welfare programs amid other measures to stimulate the economy. Budget deficits didn't come down, however, even after the panic subsided.

Hence many economists' calls for the new government to reduce India's expansive subsidies for food, diesel fuel and fertilizer, among other things, which together account for about 15% of total spending. The new government has to present its first budget by July.

Cutting subsidies would be unpopular. Steps to increase revenue, such as privatizations, also would be politically difficult.

Agenda for the new Govt: Reform and restructure the national security system

Manoj Joshi
19 May 2014

Among the low hanging fruit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government could pluck in a bid to transform the country, is to restructure and reform the Ministry of Defence and the national security system. This needs no additional expenditure or investment, but it does require tough political leadership, insight and determination. Twice in the last decade and a half—following the attack on Parliament in 2001 and the Mumbai attack of 2008-- India needed its armed forces to punish Pakistan for possible complicity in acts of terrorism against India. But on both occasions, they failed to rise to the occasion. This was not for the lack of any bravery or sense of duty, but simply because they were not ready. 

The dysfunctional management and organisation of India's Ministry of Defence and its "attached offices"—the three services— were the primary cause of this. And today, nothing has changed. Another terrorist attack, and another attempt to punish Pakistan could come up with the same unsatisfactory and humiliating conclusion. This is leaving aside the more important challenge—ascendant China which is blatantly flexing its muscles in the South China Sea. Its last year's action in the Depsang Plains indicated that it was capable of springing surprise challenges in what is an otherwise quiet border. 

If the incoming Modi government must have a robust foreign policy, it must be anchored on a strong national security system. The lack of such a linkage has led to the historical weaknesses of independent India that led to our defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962, and the repeated acts of aggression by Pakistan against our country. Even today, India remains a weak military power, unable to project power beyond its frontiers. Indeed, it remains hard-pressed to defend its borders, and, if you take into account the Maoists, even its heartland. 

The government does not lack for advice. Among the documents that the new government will have is a 178 page report with some 400 recommendations, broken up further into some 2,500 smaller actionable points relating to reforming the national security system. These recommendations were made by the Task Force on National Security set up by the UPA government in 2011, chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra. However, from the outset, the Task Force faced resistance from the bureaucracies, in particular, that of the Ministry of Defence. In the end, with the aid of the "do nothing" Minister, A K Antony, the recommendations were put into deep freeze. 

Modi's first priority should be reviving economy

TV Rajeswar
19 May 2014

For the first time since 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi secured more than a 2/3rd majority in the Lok Sabha in the aftermath of a sympathy wave generated by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the latest election has yielded a clear majority to the main opposition party, BJP, which will now come to power. 

Modi's achievements as a 'Man of Destiny' are manifold. The BJP received almost 32 per cent of the votes polled which is the highest ever. It won all the seven parliamentary seats in Delhi. In Gujarat the party won all the 26 seats. It won an unprecedented 73 out of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, where the BSP, which came to power in 2007 by securing the support of Brahmins and Dalits, got no Lok Sabha seat this time. 

Nationwide, the elections saw the defeat of several Central Cabinet ministers, including Sushilkumar Shinde, Kapil Sibal, Pawan Bansal, Sachin Pilot, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni, a remarkable array of casualties. 

In winning the two Lok Sabha constituencies, Vadodara and Varanasi, Modi scored with an unbeatable margin of 5,70,000 votes in Vadodara and over 3,00,000 in Varanasi. 

This election undoubtedly marks the eclipse of the Congress party. The last 10 years of Congress rule witnessed lack of requisite governance and a number of scams, which explain such a huge fall in the fortunes of the Congress and the defeat of several stalwarts. The president and the vice-president of the Congress graciously owned the responsibility for the setback. 

In his victory speech at Vadodara on the May 16 evening, Modi made some important points. He said that he considered himself as "Mazdoor No. 1", that he would never betray the country's mandate and that he would not discriminate against any community. Modi also said that he wanted 10 years to make India a powerful nation. There is little doubt that he will deliver on what he has promised. People look up to him as Vikas Purush and that he will be able to extend the Gujarat model to the whole country. 

At the very minimum, the Gujarat model of development means the availability of water and power all the 24 hours on all the 365 days of the year. Most parts of the country are without both water and power; it is a common sight to see women with utensils waiting patiently on the roadside for water tanks to come and deliver water. On the power situation, the less said the better. Many industrial sectors in the south like Coimbatore are deprived of power, leading to frequent shutdowns and unemployment, apart from the loss of exports. 

Chief of Defence Staff: A Debilitating Dilemma

IssueVol. 29.1 Jan-Mar 2014| Date : 18 May , 2014

It will take years to streamline the archaic system of higher defence management in India. Meanwhile, trapped in the complexities of the geo-political adversities, India’s compulsion of fostering cost-efficient security is rising by the day. However, in a trend converse, our political leadership has not even attempted, let alone succeed, in marshalling the military institution to the requisite level of efficiency. Further, it has been unable to make the fiscal allocations count, adopting instead a simplistic expediency of imposing ad hoc budgetary constraints which further exacerbate imbalance in force-modernisation. In the context of national security, that is a road to disaster. Institution of a body of military professionals to participate in defence policy-making at the apex level, duly empowered in advisory as well as management roles, is a call of strategic wisdom. This call must be attended to with alacrity; the institution of the CDS being the inaugural step towards that end.

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status”, — Lawrence Peter

An institution of CDS is needed to foster a level of operational efficiency in the Indian armed forces…

Although it is known that the recommendation to have an institution of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the nation’s defence establishment was made in year 2000 by the ‘Kargil Committee’, actually the need had been felt some years before that. That was the time in the early 1990s, when the defence budget was so squeezed that the war-worthiness of the armed forces fell well below the level as mandated in the Government’s directive.1 The case, however, received more serious attention, when post-nuclearisation, a structure for national command authority had to be set up.

A decade down the line, the need remains unattended yet. This inertia is particularly jarring when compared to the great restructuring that proceeds briskly in the rest of India’s state-apparatus. In contrast, the military institution, the entire defence sector in fact, continues to wallow in a system long rendered obsolete, much to the detriment of national interest. The matter, therefore, calls for serious attention.

This paper argues that the necessity of the institution of CDS goes deeper than nuclear weaponisation or lessons of Kargil War. It suggests that an institution of CDS is needed to foster that level of operational efficiency in the Indian armed forces which would allow the nation to reap full benefits of its investments in military security.

Post-Election Afghanistan to Repeat History?

Given history and political realities, coalition building could play a major role in Afghanistan in the coming months.
By Arif Sahar
May 18, 2014

The outcome of Afghanistan’s presidential electionremains in the balance, with no clear winner. The losing candidates from the first round, Zalmai Rassoul and Gul Agha Sherzai have declared their support forAbdullah Abdullah, while the pro-Palace Hizb-e-Islami elites have joined Ashraf Ghani’s camp for the run-off, slated for June 14. Will that final ballot alone have the authority to choose a president, or will the Bonn Agreement once again come into play?

When it comes to questions of power, Afghanistan has a unique history of oppression and accommodation. Following its inception as a political identity in 1747, Afghanistan had 28 monarchs, only six of whom died natural deaths. The violence with which power was often seized stymied the development of the constituents of modern governance, such as a national interest or a national identity. Even the very concept of nationhood remains weak in Afghanistan.

This history also paved the way for the rise of ethno-regional players, who see their interests best served through ethnic politics and the dynamics of power networking and power brokerage. The formation and consolidation of national identity has always been superseded by competing local-tribal-ethnic identities. Without a mechanism to convert conflicting individual preferences into collective decision-making, Afghanistan has been fertile ground for identity politics reliant on deal-making.

Thus it is that in these elections, the losing candidates and their powerbroker clientele seem to be repositioning themselves and striking deals with the candidate they see as having the better chance in any run-off.

In this context, the Bonn Agreement gains in relevance as a seemingly useful prescription for this brand of Afghan politics. As a political settlement, the Bonn Agreement sought to restore peace, rejuvenate failed state institutions, repair inter-communal relationships, and provide a framework to accommodate the disorderly elites. Given the volume and voracity of animosity that determined the relationships amongst the quarrelsome groups prior to 2001, the deal was hailed as a major success – providing an institutional framework with an unprecedented dimension and degree of inclusiveness only rarely before experienced in Afghanistan’s politics, and laying the groundwork for institutions that were uniquely diverse.

The Bonn Agreement represented a significant shift in the balance of power. The Taliban were driven from their bases and the mujahedeen factions – which had been largely vanquished by the Taliban –once again had a shot at power, either replacing or taking on their old rivals.

What the agreement did not do was bring real change to the monopolization and consolidation of power in Afghanistan. The deal was designed to please all sides, rather than pacifying political parties or fundamentally changing the nature of their power. As such, it merely produced a repositioning and rearranging of political elites, possible only because of the pressure applied by an international community that was trying to match politics with the changing reality on the ground.

Institutionalizing this political arrangement in a conflict-ridden society, with most of its social fabric and economic and political infrastructures in tatters, came at the price of deepening ethno-political cleavages and dividing the country still further along ethnic lines. The Bonn Agreement, in the larger atmosphere created by ethnic conflict, made Afghanistan a hotbed for ethno-regional rivalry and competition that determined the politics of state and institution building in the years that followed.

Nepal: Sushil Koirala Roundly criticised for inertia in Government: Update No 296

Note No. 717 Dated 19-May-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

It was no surprise that in the parliamentary meeting of the Nepali Congress held at the PM’s residence on 3rd May, a large number of members roundly criticised PM Sushil Koirala for not exercising the PM’s power fully and for creating an inertia in the government by not taking decisions in time. Mr. Koirala is not seen to have been moved by the internal criticisms levelled against him.

The Nepali Congress should be aware by this time that the people who voted for them and the UML are getting disappointed and angry.

The complaints specifically were on the following.

* Failure of the cabinet to nominate 26 members to the Constituent Assembly.
* Failure to make appointments in the National Planning Commission
* Failure and delay in making constitutional appointments.
* Delay in making political appointments including his own consultants.
* Internally not holding elections for forming the working committee.

The Speakers were generally critical of Koirala’s work Style.

Of these, failure to fill up the 26 vacancies in the Constituent Assembly is the most serious one. Fed up with the delay, one of the Parliamentarians went to the Supreme Court for orders to expedite the appointments. So on 15th May, the Supreme Court not only ordered the government to nominate individuals for the 26 vacancies within fifteen days but also gave detailed instructions on the type of persons to be chosen and the qualifications that need to be looked into in appointing such members. 

Appointment to the 26 vacancies falls clearly within the purview of the government where the Court has nothing to say or interfere unless there had been a miscarriage of justice or wrong and wilful mis interpretation of the rules. But when the government failed to fill up the vacancies even after six months of the elections, one cannot blame the Supreme Court for its “over reach.”

The Supreme Court rightly lamented that the CA remained incomplete even after six months and maintained that it had a historic responsibility. The thrust was that when the Government fails in its responsibility, the Supreme Court has no alternative but to intervene. Now with the Supreme Court’s directive to fill up in fifteen days, the CA will have no alternative but come to an understanding with all the stake holders!

What is worse, the Supreme Court has given broad directions as- how to go about to make the selection! Those who lost the elections in the “First Past the Post System” and the Proportional Representation systems are not to be considered for the posts. Secondly the Court defined the term ‘ distinguished persons’- as the ones who had acquired special position in the field of history, culture, law, industry, media, education, social service, bureaucracy among others whose contribution will be useful in constitution writing. Among the indigenous groups the Supreme Court specifically said that preference should be given to nominate those disadvantaged from among the indigenous groups. Finally the government in choosing the persons for the 26 vacancies should specify reasons for recommending the names of those who have contributed significantly to the nation.