12 December 2012

Afghan may be focus of future Indo-Pak rivalry: US

Lalit K Jha , Press Trust of India : Washington, Tue Dec 11 2012

Another Mumbai-style terror attack on India emanating from Pakistan holds the potential of triggering off a nuclear confrontation, a report by the US intelligence said today, identifying Afghanistan as the next focus of a future rivalry between the two countries. 

The report, however, said that normalisation of Indo-Pak trade would be a critical factor in building trust between the two countries over the next few years. 

"India worries about a second Mumbai-style terrorist attack from militants backed by Pakistan. A major incident with many casualties and Pakistani fingerprints would put a weakened Indian Government under tremendous pressure to respond with force, with the attendant risk of nuclear miscalculation," said the report. 

Pakistan's large and fast-growing nuclear arsenal in addition to its doctrine of "first use" is intended to deter and balance against India's conventional military advantages, said the fifth installment of the 'Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,' of National Intelligence Council (NIC). 

According to the NIC report, running into more than 150 pages, Afghanistan could become the focus of future Indian-Pakistani competition, particularly after the drawdown in US and NATO forces post-2014. 

"Both countries want to deny giving the other a strategy advantage, making regional cooperation difficult. More broadly, conflicting strategic goals, widespread distrust, and hedging strategies of all Afghanistan's neighbours - not just India and Pakistan - will make it difficult to develop a strong regional security framework," it said. 

I join the advisory board of an Indian "sysadmin" commercial firm

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The company: 

Negara Infracon Private Limited is a company, incorporated under company's act 1956, with the main objects of carrying on business of Irrigation, Solar Power production, Infrastructure and Light Rail projects. The registered office is situated at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh; the corporate office is situated at Bengaluru, Karnataka. 

The website: http://www.negara.in

The vision: 

It is our vision and hope to be an infrastructure company of the country that provides environmentally friendly power on most cost effective basis along with providing the most effective infrastructure such are Mono Rail, Metro Rail, Four or Six lane expressways and bridges. 

We forecast to grow in the field of Irrigation by taking up projects to provide water to the farmers in India which is the life of Indian economy. 

The endless source of energy from the sun is a great task to achieve and requirement of solar power is huge. We visualise our growth at a steady pace. The company is ensuring growth with ethics and prosperity for its stakeholders through inheriting trust, establishing bonds and fostering relationships. We envision a bright further where we stand a globally acclaimed company, synonymous with commitment. 

The Male takeaway

C. Raja Mohan
12 December 2012

Delhi may have good reason to downplay last week's ouster of GMR from the Maldives. That a small neighbour has targeted a major investment by an Indian company has surely set teeth gnashing in South Block. But anger management is one of the first principles of diplomacy. 

India, which has many other interests in the Maldives besides the GMR investment in Male airport, does not want to make the situation any worse by reacting aggressively. India is acutely conscious of the geopolitical significance of the Maldives, which sits astride the Indian Ocean sea lines of communication. So are China and the United States. Pakistan is pursuing its own agenda in the tiny nation of barely 3,20,000 people. 

Delhi signed a wide-ranging partnership agreement with Male in 2011 that has defined the basis for strong Indian involvement in the development of the Maldives and a major role for the Indian navy in helping the island nation secure its vast exclusive economic zone. GMR will certainly not be the last Indian company caught in the whirlpool of the local politics of another nation. Nor is India the first country to experience this. All great powers, old and new, often find smaller countries targeting their assets, personnel and companies for a variety of political reasons. The US and other Western powers have struggled to cope with this for ages. 

As its global commercial footprint grows, China is constantly confronting the political vicissitudes of having its companies operate in foreign lands. Consider, for example, Myanmar's decision in September 2011 to suspend the implementation of the $4 billion Chinese project to build a large dam on the Irrawaddy River at Myitsone. An angry Beijing had to hold its tongue. This happened despite China's strong support to Myanmar during its long years of international isolation and Western sanctions. The scale and scope of China's relationship with Myanmar is certainly much larger than that between Delhi and Male. Yet China had no option but to demonstrate patience. 

India-China Relationship: Remembering the past to look into the future

23 Nov 2012 


General The Centre for Land Warfare Studies organized a one day seminar on “India-China Relationship: Remembering the Past to look into the Future” on 23rd November 2012 at the Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi. Maj Gen (Retd) Dhruv C Katoch, SM, VSM, Director CLAWS delivered the welcome address. His Excellency Gen (Retd) JJ Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, and Governor of Arunachal Pradesh delivered the keynote address. The Indo-China Seminar reflected on the Battle of 1962 in the context of various reasons responsible for India‟s failure and a vigorous analysis over what the future beckons us to do. The defense capabilities of India were seen in the light of that of China, the contentious issues prevalent between the two were discussed, the co-operation that exists between Military and political leadership at present in India was closely observed. It therefore revolved around how India‟s foreign policy towards China can be directed towards risk reduction for potential conflict. The seminar was attended by serving and retired officers of all three services, members of the strategic community and the defense industry sector.

K. Subrahmanyam and India’s Strategic Culture

K. Subrahmanyam and India’s Strategic Culture

Summer 2012

Shri Shivshankar Menon, India’s National Security Adviser, delivered the first K. Subrahmanyam memorial Lecture organised by the “Subbu Forum” on January 19, 2012, at the India International Centre. Shri Subrahmanyam was the country’s leading strategic thinker and critical of the gross lack of strategic culture in India at all level. His demise a year ago was a great loss to the country. Subbu (as he was fondly called) tried tirelessly for more than half a century, through all possible means of communication, to emphasise the critical need for people, especially the thinking elite and decision-makers/opinion shapers, to pay serious attention to the formulation and practice of a strategic approach to national security and national development. He stood tall through the Cold War to articulate India’s core interests and even more eruditely after the end of the Cold War when the framework in which India had to grow toward its manifest destiny had changed rapidly and dramatically.

Shri Shivshankar Menon is the National Security Adviser, Government of India.

Indian Overseas Coal Mines Will Capitalize on Demand from China rather than India


Ashish Gupta, Observer Research Foundation

Coal continues to be the backbone fuel for the electricity generation globally, and its use for this purpose continues to rise in absolute terms. Coal use will decline in OECD countries because of policies they have been willing to adopt currently and in the future. They are using more renewable energy sources, gas and making existing plants more efficient. Therefore, most of the coal demand in the future will come from two nations namely China and India which will off-set the vacant space created by OECD countries. Coal demand from China and India are distinctly different; India is structurally short in production and China is not. And as per the prevailing situation in India India’s shortage keeps on increasing partly because of uncertainty plaguing the coal blocks allocation and partly because of inherent social and structural inadequacies. Download full document.

The Real Fog of War: Assumptions

By James R. Holmes December 12, 2012 

This week’s case for the Strategy & War Course at the U.S. Naval War College is the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, for which I deliver the opening lecture to our student body. I get as much out of studying this episode in Asian history and strategy as (I hope) NWC students do. For an obscure conflict that convulsed the Far East only briefly a century ago, it’s amazingly rich in insights into contemporary Asia. 

The war represented part of China’s long century of humiliation, which commenced by the 1840s with the Opium Wars. Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. The Qing Dynasty was in steep decline by the turn of the century, unable to withstand repeated foreign interventions. Its implosion sucked in ambitious outsiders. Japan turned the regional order upside down with the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. Tokyo and St. Petersburg continually intrigued to expand their interests, and territorial holdings, at the expense of a China that could no longer hold Manchuria or dominate the Korean Peninsula. By 1904 the Japanese leadership decided it was now or never, and the war was on with a nighttime torpedo attack on the Russian naval squadron at Port Arthur, on the Liaotung Peninsula. 

China's Strategy in the South China Sea

Paper 5 September 2012

Role of the United States and India 
Saloni Salil 

This paper, “China’s Strategy in the South China Sea: Role of the United States and India,” strives to understand the changing dynamics of international relations in the 21st Century. Due to the continuously growing global energy demands and maritime security concerns, and their onward impact on economic and diplomatic relations, all the major powers are trying to gain a foothold in a number of geographically and geologically critical regions across the world. The South China Sea is one such region that has been identified as a key strategic location due to its capacity to meet both security concerns and energy demands. China’s aggressive claims over strategically significant islands in this region, has come to influence the associated political dynamics and role of the extra-regional powers. The research conducted was both deductive and inductive, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis. Statistics, maps and diagrams have been used to add credence to the basic premise of the study, which is to understand the geopolitical and geostrategic importance of the South China Sea. However, qualitative examination of the nation states’ behaviour and response was given more emphasis in the study. The data for the research was taken from both primary and secondary sources. One of the major findings is that China’s proportional growth in economy as well as military strength is creating an insecure environment in the region. Also, the national security interests of the littoral states and other major powers are at stake due to China’s assertive stand. Prolonged escalation of these problems will have an impact on the peace and stability of the whole region, and can have global implications. The need of the hour is to establish a multilateral regional organisation, where the United States and other extra-regional powers which are indirectly involved in the South China Sea dispute now, become observers and the issue is brought on the table for negotiations at the international level.

Scowcroft: Inflection Point Much Different Than End of Cold War

James Joyner | December 11, 2012 

Brent Scowcroft believes the world is "at an inflection point but a much different one than end of Cold War." 

Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and current chairman of the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board, was the featured luncheon speaker at the Global Trends 2030: US Leadership in a Post-Western World conference. 

He believes that Westphalian system of state sovereignty is "under assault" from multiple vectors. Globalization has made states interdependent while undermining their ability to control their own economies. 

At the same time, information technology has empowered individual citizens, for good and ill. As we've seen in the Arab Spring and other mass protests, it's easier than ever to rally against oppression. "Organizing used to take a lot of effort," noted Scowcroft, but "today you post it on Facebook and the next day you meet." 

Alas, the same tools enable non-state actors, including terrorist groups, to act in a way that's difficult for states to fight. "We declared a war on terror, but how do you declare war on a killing method?" asked Scowcroft. How observed, because al Qaeda isn't a state, "There is no leadership to target or flags to conquer." 

Moreover, China, which many believe is poised to became a central actor in world affairs, "didn't have a hand in developing the current international system." He observes that, because in the Chinese view "There is China and then everyone else," it was "the only major power that did not participate in Westphalian system." Indeed, Scowcroft explains, "China feels itself a victim of Westphalian system." 

Because of this, Scowcroft contends, "China can't be a responsible stakeholder" in a system where states operate as equals. Even so, he sees "no unresolvable fundamental issues between the US and China." But the United Nations, which Scowcroft sees as having been "built for a world that has disappeared," is unlikely to be the venue for resolving those differences. 

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council. This is part of a New Atlanticist series exploring Envisioning 2030.

Our enemy’s enemy, is never better…

by Rob Dover on 12 December 2012

I’d like to go further than the Faceless Bureaucrat did an hour or so ago.. I should also know that amongst my students he has become ‘the freelance bureaucrat’ for no good reason at all (my first years just read the FB-Betz exchange on freedom of speech as alternative reading on the reading list). 

Anyhow, my proposition and provocation is simple: 

The enemies of our enemies have universally proved to be more problematic than the original enemy. Certainly in the last fifteen years. 

* Saddam was decidedly horrid, but after Gulf War I was also decidedly stable. The situation that followed him, the influence of Iran in the country, and the new leadership are no improvement (if you can see past some flawed elections). 

* The Taliban were not to our taste, and a threat via the harbouring of training camps, but the situation that has followed is a dysfunctional money-pit and a rapid return to the 1980s… 

* In Zimbabwe, the international clamour to replace Mugabe went quiet when it was assessed that the military and security hierarchy that sits to his left and right were even more dangerous than he is/was. 

* Egypt looked promising, then Morsi got excited and decided he was Mubarak-redux, and from a international politics perspective, Mubarak was a force for stability and constructive engagement with Israel (contested, for sure). 

* Libya.. we got excited about the opposition, but we didn’t know who they were or what they were intending and that’s gone badly too. 

* And now Syria, where the opposition groups we’re all officially quite excited about have allegedly massacred Alawite’s (who have broadly supported Assad). 

So, like an emergent isolationist from my previous muscular liberal past… I say again, all of the enemies of our enemies, are worse devils than the ones we know… We should have moved for strategies of containment.

Business As Usual Inside Obama’s Pentagon

By Chuck SpinneyDec. 06, 2012

Winslow Wheeler’s three-part series on the Navy that wrapped up on Battleland Wednesday shows that the sea service is up to its old tricks. 

To wit, it is impregnating President Obama’s five-year defense program by front-loading today’s budget in a way that creates irresistible pressure to grow its future budgets –even if it takes a marginal reduction in the near term. 

Think of this as an emerging right to programmatic life issue, because, for reasons explained by Wheeler, abortion is out of the question, even though a programmatic miscarriage is inevitable. 

Any one who doubts this, or thinks this future pathway is unlikely or accidental, need only recall the braggadocio of Ronald Reagan’s chief navy stud, Navy Secretary John Lehman, when he told a seminar in January 1983 at the Brookings Institution, that it was “too late” to stop the buildup to a 600-ship navy. 

“We’ve already accomplished it,” he continued, “because we front-loaded (emphasis added) the budget.” 

Predictably, Lehman’ 600-ship navy miscarried a few years later in the late 1980s in terms of fleet size, if not money. 

Lehman used the Pentagon‘s term of art — front loading — to describe the ubiquitous practice of downplaying the future consequences of a current programmatic decision in order to gain approval to proceed on a given course of action. 

Push the change in Myanmar

Manish Vaid
12 December 2012

The World is watching carefully the ongoing, encouraging, yet painstaking democratic transition, which is underway in Myanmar. Soon after assuming office following the 2011 elections - after a gap of two decades - President Thein Sein introduced a slew of reforms. 

As a result, countries like India, have accelerated both political and economic engagement with the country. Though India-Myanmar relations go back a long way, there is a new vigour in the current engagement. Since March 2011, there have been a number of high level political visits by leaders from both countries. Myanmar President Thein Sein visited India in October 2011 and then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Myanmar in May 2012. Whole gamut of crucial issues including security, trade and commerce, banking, agriculture and health were discussed extensively in the interactions between the leaders. 

But bang in the middle of these developments, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's remark that, "India and the rest of the world need to understand that Myanmar is just at the beginning of the road to democracy, and that its present Constitution does not make the road smooth", cautioned the world as well as India to go slow with this process of change. Suu Kyi further stated that 2008 Constitution did not take away the powers from the military regime and it was only by a firm acceptance of ongoing reforms that the same could be made irreversible and not otherwise as declared by Thein Sein. Therefore, the smoother the process of establishment of democracy, the clearer would be bilateral relations and investment climate, not just for India but also for the world. 

China’s Territorial Claim on Arunachal Pradesh: Alternative Scenarios 2032


IDSA Occasional Paper No. 29 

China's territorial claim on Arunachal Pradesh is a major bone of contention between India and China. The issue has eluded resolution despite mechanisms of border talks between both countries. Recently, China raised its stakes on the issue by showcasing Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory in a map printed in its new microchip-equipped passports. This Occasional Paper analyzes the Chinese territorial claim from futuristic perspective by identifying three drivers of uncertainty that has bearing on future Chinese behaviour, namely, Chinese regime stability and nationalism; the Tibet factor and internal developments in Arunachal Pradesh. Based on the interactive interplay between the three drivers, the author offers four alternative scenarios with regard to China's territorial claim in 2032. 

Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare

By Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi

Photo: Joint Base Lewis McChord / Flickr 

It’s been fashionable in military circles to talk about cyberspace as a “fifth domain” for warfare, along with land, space, air and sea. But there’s a sixth and arguably more important warfighting domain emerging: the human brain. 

This new battlespace is not just about influencing hearts and minds with people seeking information. It’s about involuntarily penetrating, shaping, and coercing the mind in the ultimate realization of Clausewitz’s definition of war: compelling an adversary to submit to one’s will. And the most powerful tool in this war is brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies, which connect the human brain to devices. 

Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi are research & analysis officers at the Australian army’s Land Warfare Studies Centre. The views expressed are their own and do not reflect those of the Australian Department of Defence or the Australian Government. 

Current BCI work ranges from researchers compiling and interfacing neural data such as in the Human Conectome Project to work by scientists hardening the human brain against rubber hose cryptanalysis to technologists connecting the brain to robotic systems. While these groups are streamlining the BCI for either security or humanitarian purposes, the reality is that misapplication of such research and technology has significant implications for the future of warfare. 

Why Asia’s Insurgencies Are Europe’s Shame

By Pankaj Mishra - Dec 10, 2012 

It wasn’t an incredible photo-op, and it’s unlikely to be included in this month’s valedictory roundup of 2012 highlights. In fact, it was barely reported. 

One of this year’s most remarkable events, however, was the agreement between the Philippine government and the insurgent group Moro Islamic Liberation Front

If successful, it may not only terminate decades of secessionist violence in Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines; it may also inspire hope in a wide swath of Asian countries damaged, politically as well as economically, by internecine conflicts. 

Divide-and-rule European imperialists, favoring one ethnic group and persecuting or neglecting another, or drawing arbitrary lines in the sand or the grass, originally transformed social and religious differences into political antagonisms within Asian societies. Their local opponents -- mostly educated natives -- hardened religious and ethnic identities by turning them into a basis of anti-imperialist solidarity. 

Ethnic Patchworks 

In the end, the principle of self-determination was widely exported from relatively homogenous Europe to multicultural Asia, where it was embraced by rising native elites. The result was the proliferation of hastily and poorly imagined national communities -- unwieldy nation-states where patchworks of relatively autonomous groups and individuals with multiple, overlapping identities had existed. 

Since then, postcolonial rulers eager to hold on to their inheritance -- centralized states, administrations and large, resource-rich territories -- have made the map of Asia bleed red. 

Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Pattani Muslims in Thailand, Baloch secessionists in Pakistan, Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, India’s Kashmiri Muslims and northeastern minorities - - there is barely an Asian nation-state where centralizing governments haven’t fought, often with brute military force, to hold down religious and ethnic minorities. 

Where War Still Echoes, Recalling Earlier Battles

December 11, 2012 

HERAT, Afghanistan — For a country disfigured by decades of conflict, it seems fitting that Afghanistan should have a place set aside for reflecting on war. 

The Jihad Museum on a forested hillside in the western provincial capital of Herat is many things: a temple to the mujahedeen heroes who battled the Soviets in the 1970s and ’80s, and a memorial for the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who were slaughtered or fled the fighting. 

It is also, for many Afghans, a not-so-veiled portrayal of a likely future: they review the museum’s dioramas of historical violence with clenching knots in their stomachs, fearing that the scenes may play out again soon, after the end of the NATO combat mission here in 2014. 

“I think the worst days are yet to come,” said Obaidullah Esar, 51, a former fighter, who was touring the museum one recent afternoon. 

The museum is a blue, green and white rotunda covered on the outside with the names of hundreds of victims from the war, all set in a watered garden of flower beds and fountains. 

It boasts captured Soviet weaponry like tanks, a MIG fighter jet and helicopters. It has a portrait hall of fame of mujahedeen commanders. 

The star attraction is a graphic diorama showing models of Afghan villagers rising up in a hellish wartime landscape to cudgel the heads of Soviet oppressors, in a triumphant if rather rosy narrative arc: Soviets commit heinous acts against poor villagers, farmers besiege Soviet tanks with sticks, Soviet soldiers are throttled, Soviet soldiers are shot. At the end, the army of the mujahedeen marches home victorious. 

Hey, Foreign Policy, the World Really Is Getting Safer

Responses to John Arquilla's "The Big Kill.
DECEMBER 7, 2012 

By Steven Pinker 

When I began to examine trends in warfare while writing The Better Angels of Our Nature, I quickly realized that without a fixed yardstick you can demonstrate any trend you want. If you wish to paint a historical period as violent, just include killings of all kinds, lump together deaths on the battlefield with indirect deaths linked to famines and epidemics, and accept the highest estimates that have been bruited about. Conversely, if you want to portray a period as peaceful, restrict yourself to declared wars between governments, count only the battlefield deaths, and be stringent about which estimates you allow in. 

There is only one way to elevate a discussion of war trends above the level of a barroom argument, and that is to consult quantitative datasets assembled by disinterested scholars who define what they count as a "war," stick to one criterion for which deaths to tally, and exhaustively list all wars known to have taken place during a set interval. 

The Pentagon is still after those hearts and minds

Posted By Gordon Adams
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 

George Little, the Pentagon spokesperson, appeared to make an important announcement last week, saying "strategic communication" had been banned from the Pentagon's lexicon. Sounded like a good thing; strategic communication was a brainchild of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in full flower of his moment when the Pentagon could not only "do it all," it should "do it all." But when USA Today picked up his memo announcing the language change, feathers flew at the Pentagon. 

My Foreign Policy colleague Rosa Brooks thinks this is all a tempest in a turf-infested teapot. 

There is a deeper issue at stake here, though, even if George Little was just asserting turf and some kind of language control. Over the past decade, the Department of Defense has fallen into, fallen prey to, or just chosen to take on an expanded sense of mission. Rumsfeld pushed the department to become, as far as possible, the integrator of stabilization, reconstruction, development, governance, and, yes, messaging for America's overseas engagement, wherever force was present. "Strategic Communication" was very much part of that expansion, aiming to reshape hearts, minds, and governments abroad to behave and understand our benign intent. As Rosa says, it became part of the "war of ideas." 

Two Cheers for the State?

December 12th, 2012 

An excellent post from Adam Elkus – strongly recommended! 

….The report makes a lot of comments about the rise of individual autonomy, the empowering of regional network-cities, and technology’s acceleration of the power of non-state actors. Wired interpreted part of this as signaling a decline of the state, which has been a popular theme since Martin van Creveld’s work on theTransformation of War. I think that is an accurate characterization of the parts of the 2030 report that talk about the empowerment of non-state actors and the rise of international networks. I’m less interested in the report, though, than in the general narrative of state decline in national security policy discourse. 

We’ve heard that states are in decline, and both benign and malign networks and private actors are on the rise. This isn’t a new theme—if you look back a few decades the rise of multinational corporations and the multilaterals prompted a similar debate about sovereignty and power in the modern world. The state-centric defense practitioner is enjoined to move beyond caring about states and embrace a new reality. 

…. What we have been dealing with, however, is an unfortunate tendency to write the non-state actor and transnational network out of the last few centuries of history. But he (or she) stubbornly refuses to go away. We can talk about some of the reasons why this might be the case in the international environment but it is also worth talking about why we often assume much more coherence and cohesion in our domestic environment than reality may justify. 

….In Charles Tilly’s book Democracy, he argues that four processes are necessary to create and sustain a democratic state: the growth of state capacity by suppressing alternative sources of power, the reduction of categorical inequalities, and the integration of strong tie-based trust networks into public life. Warlords and kingpins that predate make it difficult for rights to be guaranteed. Categorical inequality lessens the ability of the people to meaningfully control their own destiny. And strong trust networks that cannot express themselves in political and social life also have the potential for predation and the erosion of state authority. Tilly casts these processes as never-ending in scope, and states are capable of backsliding on any one of them. 

The State Problem In National Security Policy

I’ve been reading the Global Trends 2030 report in between my Comparative Politics exam (earlier today) and my International Relations Theory exam (due tomorrow night) and something didn’t seem quite right. 

I do want to do less planned/more off-the-cuff writing and less overly planned blog posts. This is a good opportunity. Consider this less a specific argument than a series of variations on a theme. There’s a chance that the journey won’t end up anywhere productive, and this post does ramble considerabably. But I have found the process of thinking about it extremely useful for thinking about some of the holes in our understanding of “failed” states, foreign policy, and future warfare. 

The report makes a lot of comments about the rise of individual autonomy, the empowering of regional network-cities, and technology’s acceleration of the power of non-state actors. Wired interpreted part of this as signaling a decline of the state, which has been a popular theme since Martin van Creveld’s work on the Transformation of War. I think that is an accurate characterization of the parts of the 2030 report that talk about the empowerment of non-state actors and the rise of international networks. I’m less interested in the report, though, than in the general narrative of state decline in national security policy discourse. 

We’ve heard that states are in decline, and both benign and malign networks and private actors are on the rise. This isn’t a new theme—if you look back a few decades the rise of multinational corporations and the multilaterals prompted a similar debate about sovereignty and power in the modern world. The state-centric defense practitioner is enjoined to move beyond caring about states and embrace a new reality. 

China’s Space Programme & Its Implications for India

Launch of Shenzhou-9 (Picture Courtesy: China Manned Space Engineering Office) 

China has already sent eight astronauts into space on four manned missions. Budgetary constraints and technology denial regimes have been cited as the primary causes of tardy progress in India. While this may be so, with the nation afflicted by slow and diffused decision making process, bureaucratic lethargy and an uninspiring political system, India may not be in a position to compete with China where decision making is swift, aggressive and centralised. As a result, China has already established a clear lead over India in the economic, military and technological domains. Awareness of the ground realities was evident in a statement by Dr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman ISRO that, “India was not locked in a space race with China.” Indeed, a race between a hare and a tortoise is possible only in the realm of fables. 

End June this year, China stonished the world with another success in the series of ventures into her space endeavour by way of the 13-day mission of the Shenzhou-9 capsule. The mission was executed flawlessly, flagging a landmark which was a major and a critical step forward in the country’s ambitious space program. Having mastered the technology of manned space flight several years after the US and the Soviet Union, in September last year, China moved forward to the next step in human space exploration with the launch of its unmanned space module, the Tiangong 1. This is an experimental space laboratory and a prototype for a future permanently manned Chinese space station to be established by 2020. The Tiangong 1 will be the platform for the mastering of technologies related to rendezvous and docking as also build-up experience for the construction, management and operation of a space station. 

An Indian grammar for International Studies

December 11, 2012
Amitabh Mattoo 

The Hindu 

Exploring our rich past can offer a vocabulary to understand the world in nuanced ways that go beyond the western constructs of realism and liberalism 

A little over three years ago I wrote in The Hindu that at a time when interest in India and India’s interest in the world are arguably at their highest, Indian scholarship on global issues is showing few signs of responding to this challenge and that this could well stunt India’s ability to influence the international system. 

As we meet here now, at the first real convention of scholars (and practitioners) of International Studies from throughout India, we can take some comfort. A quick, albeit anecdotal, audit of the study of International Studies would suggest that the last three years have been unusually productive. So much so, that we are now, I believe, at a veritable “tipping point” in our emergence as an intellectual power in the discipline. 

Stanley Hoffman, Professor of International Relations (IR) at Harvard, once famously remarked that IR was an American social science. The blinding nexus between knowledge and power (particularly stark in the case of IR in the United States) perhaps made him forget that while the first modern IR departments were created in Aberystwyth and in Geneva, thinking on international relations went back, in the case of the Indian, Chinese and other great civilizations, to well before the West even began to think of the world outside their living space. 

Having absorbed the grammar of Western international relations, and transited to a phase of greater self-confidence, it is now opportune for us to also use the vocabulary of our past as a guide to the future. 

Myths of our making

Pratap Bhanu Mehta : Wed Dec 12 2012

Too many of our economic prescriptions are based on dogma, empirical half-truths 

It has become fashionable to say, following the conclusions of Michael Spence’s Growth Commission, that there is no single recipe for growth, only some common ingredients. Such a claim brings a due degree of modesty to what we do or do not know about growth. And at the very least, such a claim has the virtue of jolting us out of fatalism: there are no iron laws explaining success or failure. Lots of causal variables that we intuitively think matter, like education, political stability, good institutions or infrastructure, often turn out to be as much effects as the cause of growth. Lots of conjunctural variables like geo-strategic rents or global circumstances matter. And the one thing we have learnt over the last few years is that the causal correlation between any two variables is highly contingent; it depends on the circumstances. How much do interest rates affect growth? How much does decline in growth rates affect inflation? What is the relationship between agriculture wages and productivity? Many of the challenges of growth are about figuring our way through these kinds of relationships. Nothing can kill an economy better than a dogma or empirical half-truths masquerading as certainty. 

Much of the public discussion about the economy is in a bit of an intellectual limbo. Some of this discussion is an artefact of noise: many bad arguments drive out good ones. Some a product of inevitable ideological differences: in the face of uncertainty, retreat to your simple convictions. Even in academic circles in India, there is more debate than dialogue. The former is oriented to cutting down arguments; the latter to figuring things out. There is a lot of extraordinarily good work in economics. Several were heroically warning against dangers that lie ahead. Nevertheless, with hindsight it has to be said that our political complacency about growth was legitimised by intellectual complacency. The stories we told, or failed to tell, have been as responsible for inducing complacency as political paralysis. It is often the economy, stupid. But behind the economy is a myth. 

The US and a reimagined South Asia by alexander evans in MINT


Chester Bowles, a former US ambassador to India, once called for a single assistant secretary of state to cover the whole of Asia in order to strengthen the state department’s capacity to think strategically about the region. As foreign policy attention turns away from Afghanistan towards China’s rise, it is time for Washington to reorganize its foreign policy machine to recognize that China is an actor in South Asia. US South Asia policy therefore needs to be properly integrated into a broader Asia policy—and one that encompasses all the states across the region, not just the prominent duo of India and China. 

There is no better time to do this than 2013. Finally, South Asia matters enough to Washington to merit sustained policy attention. No longer is it the “backside of the state department globe”, as former undersecretary Tom Pickering once famously called it. And for the first time in over a decade, no single policy priority sucks up all the air in the room. Afghanistan will continue to be important even as it moves to transition. The US-India relationship is intimate, mature and is moving forward. Counterterrorism remains important, but Osama bin Laden’s death along with those of many of his lieutenants means that the campaign against terrorists is no longer a super-priority. At least for now, the US-Pakistan relationship is out of the headlines and being worked on. 

The Barack Obama administration will require good, imaginative people with a firm grasp of the possible to take advantage of this opportunity. Moreover, there needs to be a degree of bureaucratic tinkering—not to solve the riddle of strategic policymaking, but to properly connect those thinking about East Asia with those working on South Asia. Until the late 1990s, the assistant secretaries for South Asia and East Asia in the state department had virtually no contact. Neither China’s rivalry with India nor China’s close alliance with Pakistan encouraged US diplomats to cross the imaginary bamboo wall that divided the two regions. The good news is this has begun to change. Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, has worked hard with his South and Central Asian counterpart Bob Blake to forge closer ties between their bureaus. US South Asia specialists travel to China and US East Asia specialists travel to India. 

Jihadist menace in Maldives

December 11, 2012 by Team SAI
Filed under foreign policy

Ravi Shanker Kapoor 

The takeover of the Male airport by the Maldives government is much more than a blow to GMR and a setback to India’s economic diplomacy. The development is part of the much bigger Islamist shenanigans that threaten not only India’s economic interests but also have the potential to become another menace to our national security. 

On the face of it, this was a case of an Indian infrastructure company having a dispute with the government of a small neighbor and losing out in court. The incumbent regime in Maldives was quick to announce that the concession agreement signed between GMR and the previous government was null and void. “We will take over. We will enroll all those people from GMR who wish to join. Those who don’t can go home,” Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s media spokesman Imad Masood told the media. 

He also promised compensation to GMR which “will be decided by a court in Singapore… Let the Singapore court decide and we will abide by the judgment.” This was cold comfort for the company which lost a $500-million project and witnessed steep fall in its stock price. 

The modernization of Male airport will restart, Masood said. But this time, he emphasized, tendering will be done “in a transparent manner… The mistakes made during the float of the tender which has been cancelled will not be repeated.” 

This is a lie: GMR got the contract after a competitive bidding process that was overseen by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private lending arm. As a former diplomat, Kuldip Sahdev, told The Times Of India, “This was a tender floated by World Bank and IFC, so we can’t say anything was irregular. This is a clearly anti-Indian move by elements in government. It is a clear manifestation of anti-Indian sentiment. We have to take note.” 


December 11, 2012 

China’s leadership transition in the wake of the 18th Party Congress has been orderly except a few hick ups created by the by the Bo Xilai episode. With this Xi Jinping would be at the helm of China’s military, party and state, and Li Keqiang taking the reins of government affairs from March 2013. The going would not be as smooth as the transition had been for the new leadership, for the macro as well micro socio-economic and political environments are not as conducive as these were a decade back. A year or two or even more would be invested in consolidating and strengthening leadership positions before making big decisions. The top priority of the leadership would be to focus on the domestic economy which is marred by the declining exports and increasing social imbalances and corruption. The expectations and pressure on the new leadership would be very high as Hu’s tenure witnessed China’s GDP bouncing to 7.2 trillion USD from a meager 1.20 trillion USD. It would be extremely challenging to further consolidate post reform achievements, and the task of making China a fully well off society by 2020. Politically, it would also be tough for the new leadership to backtrack or escalate the maximal position Hu’s leadership took vis-à-vis territorial disputes with neighbors. In the light of this, China’s foreign policy is going to be a low keyed one where continuity would be emphasized and status quo at different levels maintained. Let’s examine how India would fit in this continuity and status quo approach: 


The new leadership would best endeavor towards maintaining a status quo on the border, for it would be impossible for the leadership to enhance or reduce the maximal position China has taken on solving the border issue with India. Hu’s reign saw China taking such positions as regards its territorial disputes with neighbors that the previous generations shied from. Both sides know it better that 38 rounds of talks (8 before 1988, 15 between the JWGs and 15 between the Special Representatives) in last three decades have failed the officials of both the countries to conclude a settlement. The December 3, 2012 informal border negotiations between Shiv Shankar Menon and his counterpart Dai Bingguo who is about to retire in next March remains a non starter like other formal rounds between the two countries, even though Menon has talked of “considerable progress” on the border issue during his recent China visit. Does he indicate that there is a breakthrough as regards accepting the claims of disputing parties as regards the Line of Actual Control (LAC)? If it is the case, there is indeed a ‘considerable progress’ contrary to the general viewpoint that the talks at the Special Representative level have really run out of steam, and these seem to have been reduced more or less to perfunctory level by changing venues within the respective county. The outcome of the 15 rounds between the Special Representatives is a “common understanding report” to be submitted to respective governments for their perusal. 

Is India ready for the Arab Winter?

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com
Is India ready for the Arab Winter? 
By editor 
Created 11 Dec 2012
The United Nations recently approved by an overwhelming and enthusiastic vote (138 to 9, India contributing), the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) regime as the legitimate government of a “non-member observer state”. Without getting lost in the technicalities of status, the nations of the Arab Spring consider the UN resolution on Palestine a major victory, while Israel and the Western bloc are outraged at an equally major loss of face. The vote has triggered a high-voltage controversy between the Western bloc and the countries of the Arab Spring, in which India has been sensible enough to stand on the sidelines and avoid any direct involvement. It is important for India to maintain a balanced view of events in West Asia, particularly the confrontations in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, and the incomprehensible civil war in Syria with its horrendous slaughter of civilians (more than 30,000 at last report), and avoid the knee-jerk reactions of an earlier era, because this time around India is also a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as its current rotatory chairperson. An impression of objectivity on the Palestine issue is essential to dispel impressions of any tilt in India’s political perceptions which may be interpreted as a legacy the earlier Nehruvian era.

However, it would also be well for India to note that there has never been any reciprocal support for India from the PLO in any international forum, particularly the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) on the touchstone issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, in some senses, for India, support on Jammu and Kashmir from the PLO in the OIC would be even more significant than at the UN, but the PLO has generally sided with Pakistan, as a co-religionist Islamic country, rather than with India as a friend of long standing from the Nehru-Arafat era. This lack of support from the PLO on Kashmir is a factor India must always remember when calibrating its relative relationships between Israel and the PLO.

Indian car exports face excise duty hurdle in Sri Lanka

Tue, Dec 11 2012

A steep increase in indirect levies will make it all but impossible for Indian cars to remain competitive in that country 

A file photo of Hyundai cars manufactured in India parked at Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. In 2011-12, out of India’s $6 billion worth of auto exports, Sri Lanka accounted for $800 million. Photo: AFP 

New Delhi: Indian auto companies, facing the prospect of a slowdown in their home market, are also seeing an export market that accounts for around 13% of their exports dry up after Sri Lanka effected a steep increase in indirect levies that will make it all but impossible for them to remain competitive. 

The move, which dates back to early November but is just coming to light, doesn’t single Indian firms out, but affects them the most because they account for 95% of the auto market in the island nation. 

Through 2012, Sri Lanka has made it difficult for Indian auto exporters, first by increasing import duty significantly in April, and following up with the increase in excise duty. 

Sri Lanka has increased excise duty on utility vehicles to 173% from 100% previously. Total duty on cars less than 1,000cc increased from 120% to 200%, including a 47% increase in excise. 

HT exclusive: India plans fund to invest abroad

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 

India is all set to join an elite club of 30 nations that have sovereign wealth funds (SWF) by dipping into an estimated surplus of Rs. 2,50,000 crore with cash-rich public sector companies in addition to using a small chunk of foreign exchange reserves.

With only two months to go for the UPA government’s last budget before the next general election, details of the fund are still being stitched up. One option being considered is to create special instruments that public sector companies can invest in and use the funds raised from them to shop overseas.

Government documents available with HT said the funds are expected to be used to secure the economy’s long-term interests by buying up assets to ensure supply of critical energy and fertilisers for India.Governments use SWFs to secure their economies and smartly balance their growth and macroeconomic objectives. Trillions of dollars are parked worldwide by SWFs. 

After a series of meetings with the PMO, the finance ministry recently sent a letter to the economic ministries concerned, including petroleum, power and fertilisers, on “mobilising resources from within, including the public sector undertakings”.