6 March 2013

India-China shibboleths take time to dissipate


Two years back at a rare colloquium with Delhi’s China watchers, when I mentioned that from an Indian perspective China should be regarded as a ‘factor of stability’ in relation to the worsening Afghan situation, eyebrows were raised and vague traces of condescending smile began spreading on many familiar faces suggesting I was an innocent abroad trespassing into a mystique land where I might lose my way. 

Today, we are a lot closer to that maverick idea, which was obviously struggling to be born. No doubt, the proposed idea of an ‘Afghan dialogue’ between India and China took its time to mature, but its raison d’etre was never in doubt. 

This may sound a paradox, but India and China do share a lot of common ground on the Afghan problem. First and foremost, both are stakeholders in Afghanistan’s stabilization. Both have searing experiences of terror radiating from the Afghan-Pakistan border regions and they shudder to think of Afghanistan becoming a revolving door for international terrorists. 

Neither India nor China abhors Islamism as such but both are acutely conscious of the dangers posed by radical Islamist groups. Thus, Afghanistan as a country of observant Muslims is an idea that neither would have a problem with, but both India and China disfavor a takeover in Kabul by the Taliban. 

Neither is a great game player in the big league, associated with the rival projects of Russia’s Eurasian Union or the United States’ New Silk Road Initiative, but both could take advantage of the regional stability and development that these enterprises of the great powers may come to offer. 

Most important, neither India nor China will get involved on the ground militarily in Afghanistan, while the anticipated post-2014 security vacuum worries them. Arguably, both countries would tacitly welcome the continued commitment — military and civilian — of the ‘international community’ to the stability and security of Afghanistan although they remain sceptical about long-term military presence by outside powers. 

But then, there is also going to be an element of competition. India seems destined to ‘lose’ in the competition over accessing the vast resources of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The dismal truth is that India has no transportation route connecting Afghanistan. And none is likely to be available for the foreseeable future. 

This is where China scores. The fact remains that China has an integrated regional vision whereas we seem to lack it, as evident from the volatile ties with Pakistan and the indifferent relationship with Iran. Thus, Gwadar becomes not only a fantastic gateway for Xinjiang (and Central Asian countries) but also holds the potential to create a template in the overall matrix aimed at harmonizing the Chinese and US regional objectives in Central Asia. 

Much ado about absence of trust


March 6, 2013
A. G. Noorani

The purpose of diplomacy is to explore a congruence of diverse interests and to work through the acceptance of the other side’s realities

The hurt was palpable and justified as President Pervez Musharraf complained to seniors in the media at the famous Agra breakfast on July 16, 2001. He had heard a television anchor asking whether he could be trusted. One of those present, Shekhar Gupta, Editor of Indian Express, recalled, on January 31, 2004 that Gen. Musharraf had made concessions in his talks with them which no Pakistani leader had, until then. The media’s talk of trust reveals chauvinism and, not surprisingly, a profound ignorance of the diplomatic process. 

We do not have a monopoly on virtue. On June 16, 1997, the Cabinet Committee on Security decided that India should go ahead and disclose the stock of the chemical weapons in its possession. India could not but sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. The deadline for disclosure it imposed, June 26, 1997, had to be met. It is another matter that only a few years earlier, in a solemn document, India had flatly denied that it possessed such weapons. 

Did Indira Gandhi “trust” Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when she invited him to a summit in Simla in 1972? Leaders do not meet because they “trust” each other. They do so precisely because trust is absent, interests clash and adjustments are necessary. 
Churchill-Stalin agreement

The classic, but highly neglected, case is that of the Churchill-Stalin Percentages Agreement in Moscow at 10 p.m. on October 9, 1944. Hitlerite Germany’s fate was already sealed. Armies of the allies were racing towards Berlin, its capital. Allied troops had landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944 to open the delayed Second Front. Churchill knew that Stalin suspected the delay was deliberate. Trust was very much in short supply. In such a situation, Churchill thought that an accord with Stalin was necessary. “A settlement must be reached on all major issues between the West and the East in Europe before the armies of democracy melted” (italics in the original). 

Four months later, in Moscow, he concluded just such an accord with Stalin as he records in Triumph and Tragedy, the 6th Volume of his memoirs of the Second World War. “The moment was apt for business, so I said, ‘Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Romania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety per cent predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety per cent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?’ While this was being translated I wrote out on a half-sheet of paper.” 

The Kumbh is not a political tamasha

March 6, 2013
Badri Narayan

APFor many devotees, the melA and its rituals were part of a unique spiritual experience which they did not want to dilute by discussing politics. 

Media overplay in projecting VHP support to Narendra Modi as the Kumbh’s general outcome is at variance with the reality that it is a diverse gathering that has little connect with Hindutva politics 

The Kumbh in Allahabad is thought to have a special place in Hindutva politics. Allahabad is the hometown andkarma bhumi (place of work) of the international president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Ashok Singhal. The agenda of the Ram Janmabhoomi began during the Kumbh of 1989. 

In the 2013 Kumbh, the VHP backed Narendra Modi for the prime ministership which became headline news on television. The VHP did this opportunistically, seeing Modi as the rising star of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and hoping to benefit from early support to him. It was also a way to pressure the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to make its choice. 

Yet the Kumbh is far from being a hotbed of politics. Indeed, even within the Dharma Sansad (Religious Parliament) that was jointly hosted by the VHP and the RSS at the Kumbh, there was no unanimity of opinion on Modi. If anything, influential saints of the Akhara Parishad like Gyan Das, Awdeshanand Giri and Adyokshananda have argued time and again that the Kumbh should not be converted into a political arena. Unfortunately, these divergent voices from different sects like the Kabir Panth, Ravidas Panth and Buddhist Panth have not been heard above the political din. 

The Naga seers here had no clue about Modi; many of them did not even know where the Dharma Sansad was being held. The common pilgrims were unconcerned about politics as a whole and paid little attention to the posters of Modi put up at the mela. Ram Sumer of Balia had not heard of Modi, the VHP or the Dharma Sansad. These are concerns outside the everyday preoccupations of the Kalpavasis. 

Belief the focus

The Kumbh is diversity at its most spectacular. The throng is a rich mosaic comprising farm labour, the urban poor, the middle classes and the rich. In terms of castes too the grounds are a leveller, hosting the upper and middle castes as much as the Dalits. The Kalpavasis, who make their temporary homes in the akharas of the sadhus and camps of the pandas (priests), form the largest section of the crowds here. They stay immersed in sacrifice (tyag) and meditation (tapasya) and refrain from worldly enticements for the duration of the mela. 

A floating crowd comes to the mela for bathing on different occasions between Makara Sankranti and Shivratri. And then there are the street-circus performers, snake charmers, flute sellers, beggars, hawkers, small businessmen and shopkeepers. Together they infuse colour, charm and variety into the mela, making it one of the biggest carnivals in the world. Little wonder then that the Kumbh is a photographer’s delight and a haunt of the international tourist. 

For the commoners, religion is a matter of belief and faith. They have neither any interest nor knowledge of the ideological construct of Hindutva. Sixty-year-old Bahron, a bharbhujwa (they roast grains for puffed rice and popcorn) was not sure if Modi was a name or a thing or a caste. He had never heard of this word and he had never seen a television set. When I explained what a TV is, he said, “…oh, that kind of a box. I heard our village Chauhan Sahib has it. I have myself never seen it.” 

On the web front

Mar 06 2013

Recent revelations in the American media about the involvement of the Chinese military in cyber attacks against the United States have attracted much attention — not because such unfriendly acts are news, but because for the first time, accusations of Chinese misdeeds are accompanied by well-documented evidence gathered by an independent party (in this case, an American computer security company called Mandiant, which was hired by The New York Times to defend the paper against Chinese cyber attacks after it published investigative reports on the enormous wealth accumulated by the family members of the Chinese premier). In other words, one might say that the Chinese military was caught red-handed. 

The Chinese government, of course, does not see things the same way. Its military has countered with its own evidence, showing over 100,000 recent cyber attacks against Chinese military websites, most of them originating in the US. 

This unfolding US-China duel in cyberspace is a stark reminder that not only is the strategic rivalry between the world's two most powerful countries becoming full-fledged, but it could also spread into dangerous territories if neither side sets the minimum rules of engagement. 

It has been known for a long time that the Chinese government has a comprehensive and, by some accounts, extremely aggressive, programme to build cyber offensive capabilities. What sets the Chinese programme apart from those of other major countries is its scale and scope. Data compiled by the American technology firm, Akamai, which tracks web trafficking, shows that roughly one-third of all cyber attacks originate in China (compared to under 15 per cent for the US). Based on volume, China can easily qualify as the world's most active cyber attacker. Cyber attacks launched from China are also distinct in the wide scope of their targets, ranging from American government institutions and its military establishment to its commercial enterprises, newspapers, thinktanks, and US-based Chinese dissident groups. This is another piece of evidence suggesting that such attacks have clear guidance from China's civilian leadership and are unlikely to be rogue operations by freelancers. Among the most damning evidence uncovered by Mandiant is that Chinese cyber attackers begin work at 8 am, Beijing time, and take weekends off, suggesting that they are employees of companies or government agencies based in China. 

Given the enormous publicity surrounding China's cyber attacks, political pressure is building up in the US to "do something". Some Congressmen are openly talking about sanctions, which might include restrictions on technology transfers, limitations on the operations of Chinese-owned businesses in the US and visa bans on Chinese individuals suspected of involvement in such attacks. More outspoken critics of China even hint at counter-attacks against Chinese military and civilian establishments. 

The questions that need to be asked are whether such threats can produce the desired results and whether there may be a better way of managing China's cyber threat. The answers to these questions are, unfortunately, not very encouraging. 

Maldives: Keeping Nasheeed Alive

Dated 5-Mar-2013 

By B.Raman 

1. India has a moral obligation to see that former President Mohammad Nasheed, who was arrested by Maldivian Commandoes on March 5,2013, in alleged response to a court order to face trial in a case pending against him, remains alive and is not shown by the Maldivian Government of President Mohammad Waheed as killed in an encounter while trying to escape from custody. 

2. Even though he might have been arrested ostensibly in pursuance of a court order, his arrest is a breach of faith on the part of the Waheed Government. He left the Indian High Commission, where he had taken sanctuary, in response to assurances regarding his safety and security. India, which played a role in the negotiations that led to his leaving his safe sanctuary in the High Commission, is a guarantor of the assurances given by the Waheed Government regarding his safety and security. 

3. India should immediately make it clear to former President Abdul Gayoom, who has allegedly been playing an active behind-the-scene role in advising the Government of Waheed, that it will hold him and Waheed personally and morally responsible for the safety and security of Nasheed and that should anything untoward happen to him while in custody India would act in the appropriate manner to ensure that solemn assurances given to India by the Government are not violated with impunity. 

4. To underline the seriousness of the Government of India’s concerns, some ships of our Navy should take up position near the Maldivian capital so that they can mount an economic blockade should anything happen to Nasheed . 

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter: @SORBONNE75)

Kishenganga Project: Interim Verdict of ICA- Lessons to be learnt

Dated 05-Mar-2013 

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

In a dispute between India and Pakistan over the diversion of water of Kishenganga in J & K through Wular lake, the International Court of Arbitration ruled that Diversion of Water from Kishenganga river for generation of hydro power is not prohibited under the Indus Water Treaty.

The planned diversion of India comes within the ambit of being “necessary” 

At the same time, the right for diversion is not absolute. India is obligated to maintain a minimum flow at a rate to be determined by a final verdict (expected in October) depending on the flow data and details of environmental impact, to be provided by both the countries. 

In a way it is a victory for India as the arbitration court has clearly given a verdict that India has not violated the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty and that it has a right to construct run of the river projects on the rivers allotted to Pakistan. 

The Project:

  • The Kishanganga project envisages a dam to be built on the Kishenganga river, a tributary of Jhelum on the Indian side, divert a substantial quantity of water through a tunnel 22 Km long to a hydroelectric project near Bonar Nullah, another tributary of the Jhelum in India and return the water through Wular lake to the same river Jhelum and then on to Pakistan. 
  • Pakistan’s position was that diversion of water is not permissible under the treaty. It was also its contention that the Kishenganga project (KHEP) would adversely affect the 969 MW Neeleum Jhelum Hydro Electric Project (NJHEP) downstream reportedly awarded to a Chinese consortium in 2007. 
  • The seven member court while awarding the judgement mostly in favour of India had asked before giving the final verdict
  • India on KHEP- the details of power generation at KHEP and the environmental concerns at the dam site at Gurez in J & K up to the LOC 
  • Pakistan to give details of impact of power generation at NJHEP, agricultural use of water downstream from LOC up to Nauser.
Pakistan’s Contention: 

Pakistan raised two issues- namely 1. Whether the proposed diversion violates the Indus Water treaty? And 2. Whether India may deplete or bring the water of the reservoir level below dead storage level (DSL) in any circumstances except in the case of an unforseen emergency? 

On point 1- the verdict is clear- India can diver water and is not a violation of Indus Water treaty. On point 2. The court has not accepted the Indian position of using the method of “draw down flushing” which may bring the level below the DSL ( Dead Storage level). The Court is to give a final verdict of the minimum flow to be maintained and had not accepted the Indian intention of allowing 3.94 cubic centimetres per second- the lowest recorded in the last thirty years. 

Conclusion: 

In my earlier paper (copy attached) of July 30, 2010 I had indicated that it was unfortunate that Pakistan took the initiative to take the case of Kishenganga to the court when the matter could have been settled mutually by dialogue. A court order would only end up in more bitterness on both sides though India has won the case of its right to divert the waters for production of Hydro power. 

It has been my contention that Pakistan has more to lose when the Indus Water Treaty is implemented by the letter and not by the spirit by which the treaty was envisaged and implemented. A few points that need to be kept in mind are 

1. Pakistan is totally dependent on the one river -the Indus that flows through it and India is not that dependent.

2. By allowing the Jihadis and the fundamentalists to raise the pitch, it has only ruined its case. Now it is a case of Punjabis claiming the waters of Indus depriving the downstream Sind of its due share. Their accusation that India is stealing their waters has been refuted by their own engineers! 

A Nation and it’s Toothless Nuclear Doctrine

Issue Courtesy: The Telegraph | Date : 05 Mar , 2013 

Even as the celebrations at our joining the ‘nuclear club’ start to ebb, contrary information from across the Atlantic is getting shriller. The Ministry of External Affairs now accepts that there are differing perceptions of the 123 Agreement between India and the United States of America. When such issues become the bone of contention, there is no prize for guessing who will be at the receiving end. Clearly Tarapur has not taught us any lessons. 

Throughout this debate, there has at least been unanimity on the need for India to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. In spite of this, one is disappointed that the subject of testing has been treated in such a cavalier fashion. There has also been deafening silence, from the one community that, at the end of the day, is responsible to the executive to ensure that, should the moment of reckoning ever come, our nuclear weapon systems will deliver on what our nuclear doctrine professes, namely ‘to credibly deter, and, should this fail, then punitively retaliate’. The reasons are not far to seek. The armed forces have been left out of the nuclear policymaking, research and development and testing loops altogether for reasons best known to successive governments. Not surprisingly, the retired uniformed fraternity has nothing to say, thus depriving the debate of a vital techno-operational viewpoint. 


According to the website of the Federation of American Scientists, of the five nuclear weapon states, the US has conducted 1,054 nuclear tests, the former Soviet Union 715, France 210, UK 45 and China 45. 

To achieve successful weaponization quite apart from demonstrating the technology itself, the nuclear devices need to be miniaturized, designs need to be ruggedized, mechanical and electronic arming and safing systems need to be installed to prevent unauthorized or accidental detonations, and all these need to be tested for high reliability individually and system wise, both under static and dynamic conditions. After integration to delivery platforms, the entire weapon system needs to be thoroughly tested through development, field and user trials (except for actual warheads which need their own individual testing) to shake out design/engineering bugs. It is important to highlight that institutionalized procedures regarding weapon standards, quality, testing and certification exist and must not be given the go-by, just because we are dealing with a nuclear weapon system. Unfortunately, this is precisely what has happened. 

Role of Indian Navy in Maintaining Peace in Indian Ocean Region


March 5, 2013
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral D K Joshi, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, NM, VSM, ADC

1. Admiral PS Das, Dr Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA, senior serving and retired officers, members from the strategic community, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning.

2. It is indeed a privilege to be addressing such a distinguished audience, on a topic of immediate significance. At the outset, let me thank the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses for providing me this opportunity. Since inception, IDSA has performed yeoman service as one of India’s premier think tanks, influencing the country’s strategic thought for over four decades. It goes without saying that the Armed Forces too benefit immensely from IDSA’s endeavours. 

3. To discuss challenges to peace and stability, an examination of the historical and contemporary significance of the Indian Ocean would be in order. 

4. The Indian Ocean has probably affected humanity more profoundly than any other ocean. Through the continuum of history, this region has been significant in geo-politics and in the evolution of mankind. 

5. Some of the world’s oldest civilizations germinated here and for several millennia, flourished in the region’s abundant natural wealth. Major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam etc. originated here and fanned out to rest of the world, mostly through sea routes, making the IOR a melting pot of myriad societies. Hindered by natural barriers on the continental landmass, the interaction between cultures took place over the sea, predominantly through benign expeditions and trade. 

6. The region’s economic potential thus attracted extra-regional players. Initial ventures, driven by pure mercantile interests, then gave way to colonisation of most of the region. The Industrial Revolution further escalated the region’s significance with the colonies doubling up as sources for raw materials, cheap labour and as captive markets for imperial Europe’s industrial output. The colonial period also influenced geo-strategy of the region in an unprecedented manner. The IOR, thus, became an arena for military competition, with European blue water navies vying for control of its waters. This, in a way, led to evolution of IOR as a common geo-strategic entity. 

7. Although imperialism ended after World War II, extra-regional interest in the region continued to grow, due to competition for resources, most notably hydrocarbons, and for domination of vast markets. Through the Cold War, extra-regional powers competed to expand their influence in the IOR, leading to many proxy wars. 

8. The end of the Cold War was a watershed in geo-politics, with a paradigm shift in how nations view peace, security and national power. Concepts such as comprehensive security have displaced a hitherto narrow military-centric approach. 

9. ‘Peace’, in a comprehensive security framework, goes beyond the mere absence of conflict, and encompasses military, economic, societal, energy and environmental security among other factors. For instance, the National Security Index, envisages a combination of many diverse, yet inter-related factors, centred on economic prosperity, which in turn provides the wherewithal for all national endeavours. 

Safeguarding Nasheed

India needs to make it clear to Maldives that should anything happen to former President Mohammad Nasheed, it would act in an appropriate manner.


India has a moral obligation to see that former President Mohammad Nasheed, who was arrested by Maldivian Commandoes on March 5, 2013, in alleged response to a court order to face trial in a case pending against him, remains alive and is not shown by the Maldivian government of President Mohammad Waheed as killed in an encounter while trying to escape from custody.

Even though he might have been arrested ostensibly in pursuance of a court order, his arrest is a breach of faith on the part of the Waheed government. He left the Indian High Commission, where he had taken sanctuary, in response to assurances regarding his safety and security. India, which played a role in the negotiations that led to his leaving his safe sanctuary in the High Commission, is a guarantor of the assurances given by the Waheed government regarding his safety and security.

India should immediately make it clear to former President Abdul Gayoom, who has allegedly been playing an active behind-the-scene role in advising the government of Waheed, that it will hold him and Waheed personally and morally responsible for the safety and security of Nasheed and that should anything untoward happen to him while in custody India would act in the appropriate manner to ensure that solemn assurances given to India by the government are not violated with impunity.

To underline the seriousness of the government of India’s concerns, some ships of our Navy should take up position near the Maldivian capital so that they can mount an economic blockade should anything happen to Nasheed. 

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. 


The War’s Old-New Theatre

Jharkhand overtakes Chhattisgarh as Maoists ratchet up their strikes here

A State Of Unrest Of 409 Maoist killings in 2012 (296 civilians, 113 securitymen), Jharkhand accounted for 160 
This was way above 107 in Chhattisgarh, 45 in Orissa, 43 in Bihar, 41 in Maharashtra or 13 in AP 
Not just mainline CPI (Maoist) but splinter groups are in overdrive

Proximity to other Maoist-affected states, tribal exploitation, political instability make the state fertile ground for Maoist recruitment and activity. 

***

No sooner had the Union home ministry identified Jharkhand as the state worst affected by left-wing extremism in 2012 than Maoists gunned down 11 policemen in the Katiya forest of Latehar district. It was almost as if the January 7 massacre of 10 CRPF and one Jharkhand Jaguar jawan was expressly meant to underscore the government’s admission of the sharp ascendancy in the trajectory of Maoist violence in the mineral-rich state. 

The clouds of war—civil war to be precise—indeed hang low over Jhar–khand. One needn’t venture deep into the countryside; the siege within is evident virtually at the doorsteps of urban zones like Ranchi, Dhanbad, Jam­sh­ed­pur, Daltonganj, Chaibasa, Gomoh and Giridih. On a road journey through these areas, Outlook witnessed surreal scenes straight out of a war movie: searchlights revolving menacingly atop fortified CRPF camps; monstrously ugly mine-protected vehicles or MPVs, desig­ned to coolly withstand a 21-kilo (TNT) blast; sniffer dogs straining at the leash; helicopters ready for takeoff at the bark of a command, and boots pounding the ground like there’s no tomorrow. 

Indeed, Jharkhand witnessed more killings by Maoists last year than even Chhattisgarh, whose forested Bastar region is regarded as the epicentre of left-wing extremism in India. Out of 409 Maoist killings in 2012 (296 civilian and 113 security personnel), Jharkhand accounted for as many as 160; ahead of Chhatti­sgarh (107), Orissa (45), Bihar (43), Maharashtra (41) and And­hra Pra­desh (13) by a huge margin. 

The unacceptably high death toll in Jharkhand’s killing fields last year was capped, as 2013 dawned, by the Katiya bloodbath—unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry after Maoists confessed to pla­nting explosives in the belly of a slain jawan to maximise casualties. And on its heels came a landmine blast in Bokaro’s Jhumra Hills, which left a dozen CRPF jawans severely wounded during combing operations. All this is igniting fears in the security establishment that Jharkhand, along with Bihar’s contiguous Gaya and Aur­ang­abad districts, will upstage the iconic Abujmarh as the bloodiest and biggest theatre of red revolt against New Delhi. 

Why India's regional influence is fading

March 02, 2013


India [ Images ]’s regional policy has fallen between the two stools of pragmatism and principle. It’s time India revisited and rectified its approach. Relations with neighbours deserve nothing less, says Praful Bidwai. 

India’s neighbourhood is in great turmoil, but New Delhi [ Images ] seems unable to fashion a coherent, balanced, mature and self-confident response to it. In particular, India has dealt with Sri Lanka [ Images ], Bangladesh, Maldives [ Images ], Myanmar and Nepal in confused and indecisive, if not wholly inept, ways. This has eroded India’s influence and legitimacy in the 'Gujral Doctrine' countries, comprising South Asia without Pakistan, with whom India pledged to establish close relations by “going the extra mile” without demanding reciprocity. 

Take Sri Lanka, where the Mahinda Rajapakse government, in a show of belligerent Sinhala chauvinism, has turned its face against the Tamil minority’s wholly legitimate demand for regional autonomy and devolution of power -- which India has supported and articulated for long years. Still gloating over its May 2009 victory in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Rajapakse regime is riding roughshod over human rights and press freedom. 

It stands acutely embarrassed by photographs just released by Britain’s Channel 4 Television, which suggest that LTTE [ Images ] chief V Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran was killed in cold blood by the Sri Lankan military. Two photographs show the boy sitting in a bunker and eating a snack, seemingly in the custody of the security forces. The third one shows his dead body with unmistakable bullet wounds in the chest. 

The disclosure will cause the Sri Lankan government great discomfiture when it comes up for a likely reprimand at the UN Human Rights Council. The government’s dismissal of the photographs as “lies, half-truths and speculations” calculated to corner it at the council just won’t wash. Channel 4 claims it has consulted experts who say the three pictures were taken with the same camera. It candidly admits that its motive in releasing them, and also a documentary film later, is to make the Sri Lanka government accountable for civilian deaths in the final weeks of the anti-LTTE war. 

For more than three years, the Rajapakse government asserted parrot-like that there were “zero civilian casualties” in the war, which decisively defeated the LTTE. It has since begun to accept that some civilians did die, but claims they mostly died in crossfire. The number and circumstances of the killings are hotly disputed. But there’s no dispute that killing civilians is impermissible and illegal. 

Independent investigations have established that thousands, probably well over 10,000, Tamil civilians were brutally killed in the war’s final phase, some of them with their hands tied at the back. The killings sharply increased after September 2008, when the United Nations was forced to quit the war zone and the Sri Lankan military jettisoned all rules of engagement and targeted civilians. This is impermissible even in war, and must be unequivocally condemned and punished. 

The Balachandran photos prima facie show cold-blooded custodial murder, which is all the more revolting because he was a juvenile. It should be easy for the government to identify the chain of command involved in keeping the boy in a sandbagged bunker and killing him. It’s imperative that the culprits be tried and given exemplary punishment. That indeed was one of the objectives of the 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission', which the Sri Lankan government set up at the HRC’s goading in 2012. But it’s dragging its feet on this. 

India in Transition

India in the Global ICT Game

Andrew B. Kennedy

02/25/2013

If globalization is a game, India would seem to be one of its winners. The past decade has seen India record impressive economic growth and move into fast-moving high tech sectors. Nowhere is this transition more apparent than in information and communication technology (ICT). While China has made a name for itself making ICT hardware, India is known for its prowess in software. Multinational corporations from Microsoft to Adobe have set up R&D centers in India, while home-grown firms like Infosys and Wipro have taken advantage of the outsourcing boom to become global players. 

Is India emerging as an ICT power? Not yet. In 1990, the U.S. and Japan accounted for 51 percent of global value added in ICT, according to figures published by the U.S. National Science Foundation last year. By 2010, that figure had fallen to 38 percent. Yet, India wasn’t the reason for this fall; China was. Whereas China’s share increased from 1.7 percent to 12 percent, India’s share barely budged, rising from 0.6 percent to 1.5 percent. Even in computer programming – India’s strong suit – the country’s share remained just 1.7 percent. 

These figures are likely missing some of India’s contribution to the global ICT value chain. Multinationals (MNCs) have set up more than eight hundred captive R&D units in India, and these often work closely with R&D centers in other countries. With emails and ideas moving back and forth, how does one capture the full contribution that these Indian units are making to their enterprise’s bottom line? Even so, a more accurate tally would probably not radically alter the picture painted above. In 2011, total MNC spending on R&D units in India – across all industries – was about $7.0-7.5 billion USD, according to the Indian consulting firm Zinnov. Yet, the gap between China and India’s value added in ICT alone was about $300 billion USD in 2010. 

Moreover, some of India’s work in ICT is vulnerable to changing business strategies. Cliff Justice, who leads KPMG’s outsourcing practice, recently authored a report bearing the ominous title, “The Death of Outsourcing.” Overstated, to be sure, but a warning nonetheless. Over the past decade, the wage gap between skilled software programmers in India and those in less expensive American locales has fallen significantly. In the meantime, companies are discovering that outsourcing information technology work can carry unanticipated costs as they lose touch with key parts of their business. To attract ICT investment in the future, India will have to offer more than cheap labor. 

China is hardly a perfect model for India. As Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow, Adam Segal puts it, China excels in the “hardware” of technological innovation – money, technicians, and equipment – but it still needs much better “software” – legal protections, risk-tolerance, and connections between enterprises and universities. Moreover, China’s Internet controls not only limit information, but also competition from foreign firms. Facebook, Twitter, and some Google services – among other things – are blocked in China. Such open-ended protection (whether intended or not) risks creating a cohort of firms that are less innovative and less competitive. 

Will Pakistan Collapse?

Dated 5-Mar-2013 

By Bhaskar Roy 

The fact that a civilian government in Pakistan is completing a full five-year tenure is a hopeful sign. There is another fact, which is worrying. Army Chief Gen. Parvez Asfaq Kayani recently stated that the army will back peaceful elections and a civilian government. 

Why is an assurance and support necessary to hold elections and civilian rule? Simply because real power still lies with the army. The army adopted a low profile after a couple of sensitive military installations were attacked by terrorists. The main blow was the discovery of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad last year, when American seals took him out in a striking operation. It was clear to the world that Osama was under the protection of the Pakistani army. The west, however, did not press this point very much. They had other strategic interests with the Pak army. 

Among the people, however, the army has lost its shining armour. The army and its intelligence service, the ISI, are active. They still decide on strategic issues and relations with neighbours like India, Afghanistan, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations created and nurtured by them. 

Gen. Kayani is on record having said that the terrorist organizations are the army’s assets. At a conference in Brussels in 2008, Gen. Kayani is reported to have said that Pakistan had nothing in common with India – culturally, historically, linguistically etc. This revealed the mind set of prosecuting a 100 years war with India. 

Almost from its birth, Pakistani leaders tried to take the country out of South Asia and make it a part of the Gulf and Middle East. Although Pakistanis are not accepted as Arabs for obvious reasons, the Pakistanis did not give up. Obviously, this causes what one can call a historical and social schizophrenia. 

A report on a new Pakistani military doctrine said that the main threat to the country was internal, leading many Pakistanis and Indians to hail the Pak army’s reasonable position. Soon afterwards the army clarified that India remained the main threat. 

It is the “Military Inc”, (title of Ayesha Siddiqa’s book) that rules the roost. The Pak army is privileged, and this position should remain. To do this, they need to create external threats. Incidentally, the largest chunk of the budget goes to the armed forces. This includes parts of foreign assistance for development. 

In 1965, Pakistan’s economy was better than India’s. Today, it is behind most South Asian countries. The manner in which the country is going does not inspire any confidence for a quick recovery. 

Former ace counter-terrorism expert of the US, Bruce Ridel, who is now with a Washington think tank, has a very pessimistic view of Pakistan. He has written, with internal government inputs that Pakistan will collapse in or by 2030. This writer feels that the collapse could come sooner, but hopes it will not happen. 

The existential threat to Pakistan comes from poverty, disease and ignorance and not from India

by Sarah Farooqui — February 22, 2013

Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka (1992-1993) and the United States of America (2008-2011), Husain Haqqani is currently Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute. Ambassador Haqqani is also the Director of the Center of International Relations, and Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University. He is the author of Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. In this interview to Sarah Farooqui of Pragati, Ambassador Haqqani talked about the contemporary situation in Pakistan, America’s relationship with Pakistan and India’s role towards Pakistan. 

Pragati: How do you look at the current situation in Pakistan? Is there something that gives you hope? Or is it all despair? 

Ambassador Haqqani: I don’t think one should ever have a situation over which one should have all despair. Hope is not just a feeling but it is also something you work on and create. My view on Pakistan is that the fact that Pakistan has been resilient, or Pakistanis have been resilient, and we still have a democratic system after five years, gives us an opportunity to continue a debate in Pakistan that has never taken place — which is, what is the best interest in Pakistan and how do we make Pakistan a prosperous nation that cares for its people? And that debate has just started. 

Pragati: In your book, you had spoken of the alliance between the Mosque and the Military. Now it seems to be between the Maulana, the Mujahid and the Military. How will this nexus be broken? What is the way out? 

Ambassador Haqqani: The problem with all alliances is that they are based on some shared interest. They always end only when those interests end. I think that Pakistan has come to great harm as a result of the alliance between our state apparatus and religious extremists and the realisation on the part of a vast majority of Pakistanis that this alliance is harmful is the only way that this alliance is going to come to an end. 

Pragati: You have advocated that the best way in which the United States of America can help Pakistan is by divorcing Pakistan. That seems unlikely in the short-term. But what would you advice India to do to help Pakistan? Rather, is there something that India can do to help Pakistan? 

Ambassador Haqqani: First let me say that I have never advocated that the United States should divorce Pakistan but rather that both should consider divorcing each other. Because it is not in Pakistan’s interest to develop a culture of total dependence on a foreign power like the United States and it is certainly not in America’s interest to encourage Pakistan to continue to be dominated by military concerns alone. Only when the United States stops being the external patron, will Pakistan be able to focus on its internal issues and in an honest manner. 

Brothers at war

From the Newspaper | Irfan Husain

FOR two sects united by their belief in one Maker, one Book and one Prophet, the amount of blood spilt in the name of their respective faiths by Shias and Sunnis is truly staggering. This is specially so when one considers the tiny differences that define and divide them. 

Since the earliest days of Islam in the 7th century when the schism first tore the young Muslim community apart, the two sects have been warring incessantly. Untold thousands have been killed over the years, and this internecine war continues to devastate communities and nations. 

I am not qualified to go into the rights and wrongs of this old conflict. However, as a student of history, I can think of no other single cause of disunity among Muslims as this corrosive, centuries-old struggle. Other religions have gone through periods of sectarian violence: witness the bloody religious wars that Catholics and Protestants fought in Europe. 

But while these tensions have mostly died down with the slaking of religious passions among most Christians, Muslims continue to fight over whose version is the true Islam. Indeed, much of Islamic history is written in the bloodshed either over succession, or in sectarian wars. 

First, Ottoman rule across large parts of the Arab world held Shia-Sunni violence in check, even though in many provinces, Shias were subjected to discrimination. But as this vast area was controlled from Constantinople, open warfare was rare. Then, in the post-Ottoman, colonial era in the last century, European powers largely prevented Shia-Sunni tensions from breaking into hostility. 

In the last half of the 20th century, after the departure of colonial forces, many Muslim countries were ruled by secular dictators who, for all their many faults, kept the lid on these ancient sectarian tensions. From Saddam Hussein of Iraq, to Muammar Qadhafi of Libya, to the Assads of Syria, and to Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, violence between the sects was kept at a minimum. 

Nevertheless, the ruling sect did marginalise the other: thus, the majority Shias under the Sunni Saddam fared badly. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it is the minority Sunnis under the Shia heel. In Syria, the minority Alewites have ruled since the Seventies. In Sunni Saudi Arabia, the Shias are marginalised. 

The list goes on, but one thing is clear: both sects harbour deep distrust of each other. Indeed, in a recent Pew Institute survey on attitudes in the Muslim world, only 53 per cent of those surveyed in Pakistan considered Shias to be Muslims. This figure is even lower in several other Muslim countries. 

There is similar doubt on the other side, with many Shias casting doubt on Sunni beliefs. So clearly, time has only sharpened this schism, rather than healing old wounds.
But while more often than not, these tensions are limited to neighbourhoods and nations, the emergence of a Shia theocracy in Iran has taken these differences to a new level.

The Curious Case of China’s GDP Figures

By Eve Cary
March 5, 2013

Early this year, China found a missing province, one doing very well for itself. The total GDP for 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, was 51.9 trillion yuan. The total GDP figures of China’s 31 provinces for 2012 added up to 57.6 trillion yuan, giving the phantom 32nd province an annual GDP of 5.7 trillion yuan. For many economists, this was just a shining example of what they have believed for years: that China’s GDP numbers are questionable at best, and often exaggerate China’s growth, largely for political reasons. 

In fact, in 2007, Li Keqiang, then-party secretary of Liaoning and now soon-to-be premier, said that GDP statistics were “for reference only” and “man-made,” and that for his purposes, he preferred to look at electricity consumption, rail cargo volume, and loan disbursements. He did not say this publically–rather, his statements (reflecting what many officials surely believe) came to light in 2010 in a U.S. government cable released by Wikileaks. 

There are a number of reasons for doubts about the accuracy of China’s GDP. To begin, there are structural political disincentives to reporting accurate GDP figures at the local level. Local officials are promoted almost entirely on the basis of their locality’s growth rates, giving them a huge incentive to report increasing GDP figures, no matter if they are or not. Environmental concerns have also created an incentive for officials to lie: higher growth rates, when paired with the amount of coal burned, give the province an appearance of greater energy efficiency. 

At the central level, it is politically imperative that GDP continues to rise, primarily because the central government has erected a system on the promise of economic success, and fears instability should growth decline and unemployment rise. At this point in time, with a leadership transition in process, it is particularly crucial that growth continue. 

There are also questions about the mechanics of compiling and calculating the GDP figures, including how much inflation is accounted for. The Wall Street Journal recently quoted Standard Chartered economist Stephen Green as saying that he believes that China’s 2012 GDP was closer to 5.5%, as opposed to the official figure of 7.8%. He uses a different measure of service sector inflation, which is higher than the official deflator (the figure that subtracts inflation from growth to come up with GDP). 

Economists also doubt China’s GDP numbers because they seem to be compiled unnaturally fast: the NBS takes 2 weeks to collect its data, compared to 6 weeks for the much, much smaller Hong Kong, and 8 weeks for the United States. This year, 2012 GDP figures were published on January 18th. 

CHINA OIL

Wed Mar 06 2013

In what could turn out to be a tectonic shift in global energy markets, China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest importer of oil. 

According to preliminary data on world petroleum trade in December 2012, China's net oil imports surged to 6.12 million barrels per day (Mbd) while America's net imports declined to 5.98 Mbd, the lowest figure since 1992. 

Although these numbers could flip back in favour of the US during the winter months, there is no mistaking the trend line. China is all set to replace the US as the world's largest importer of oil either this year or the next. 

As America's domestic oil production grows amidst the shale-gas boom, the US is closer than ever before to reducing its massive dependence on energy imports from the OPEC countries. 

The use of new technologies — most notably hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and horizontal drilling — have opened up massive hydrocarbon resources in America. 

The US oil production has surged by more than 8,00,000 barrels per day in 2012. It is said to be the biggest annual increase in oil production since the hydrocarbon era began in the US in the late 19th century. 

According to the International Energy Agency's latest report, America will overtake Saudi Arabia as the leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030. 

Energy independence is a popular political goal in the US and the White House recently claimed that America's dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office. As part of his strategy to increase safe, responsible oil production in the US, Obama has freed millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration. 

TRADING PLACES 

As China replaces the US as the largest importer of oil, might Beijing step into American shoes as the principal security guarantor of the oil-rich Persian Gulf? 

Beijing is unlikely to become the gendarme of the Gulf in the near future. But the logic of its growing dependence on the region's resources is bound to compel China to seek a more decisive role in shaping Persian Gulf security. 

Meanwhile, Washington might want to reconsider its longstanding role as the guarantor of regional security. If greater oil production at home and more imports from the Western hemisphere reduce the incentive for a strong American role in the Gulf, the pressures on the US defence budget have begun to constrain its military presence in the region. 

The Pentagon has been operating two aircraft carriers for many years in the Persian Gulf for many years. The current squeeze on spending in Washington has meant cuts of nearly $85 billion in the US defence budget. This has forced the Pentagon to cancel the deployment of one carrier to the region this year. 

EAST OF SUEZ 

The British Raj policed the Gulf for nearly two centuries, thanks to the massive resource base of the undivided subcontinent and its unrivalled naval primacy in the Indian Ocean. 

With its power ebbing rapidly after World War II, Great Britain announced in 1968 the withdrawal of its military presence "East of Suez". Since then, it has been the burden of the US to police the waters of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Is the US on the verge of an East of Suez moment of its own? Not really; for it is rather easy to overstate the nature of America's relative decline. 

Yet, at a time of fiscal austerity, there will be much political questioning in Washington of the logic of a significant American military presence in the Gulf. 

There are many in Washington who are asking why China, Japan, India and other big oil importers should have a free ride at the expense of America, which pays for the securing of the critical sea lines of communication between the Persian Gulf and the rest of Asia. 

This US domestic debate will take a while to sort itself out. It might be sensible, however, for New Delhi to focus its attention on the potential consequences of a reduced American military presence in the Arabian Sea and a Chinese pivot to the Persian Gulf. 

PLUNDER FOR THE MOTHERLAND

March 2, 2013: 

China has sent more battalions of infantry, and support units, to the Burmese border. Burma’s decades old war with tribal militias in sparsely populated northern Burma is threatening to spill over. Some of the tribes are ethnically Chinese and have long operated on both sides of the border. In effect, the tribal militias use China as a base area and occasionally shells and bullets land on the Chinese side. More tribal refugees are coming into China. China wants the tribes to calm down and may use force to make that happen. The additional Chinese troops are there to give the Chinese government more options. 

A retired Chinese army officer (a general) has caused an unpleasant situation for the military leadership by going public with details of corruption in the army. Many such details (like the unexplained wealth of many army officers) are not hard to spot but the government controlled media stays away from it, and there are so many other forms of corruption that directly impact Chinese that no one else bothers with the misbehaving officers either. But the general’s Internet posts provide details on how the thefts cripple the ability of the troops to fight, or even operate, effectively. Historically, this is old news, as is the usually very poor performance of the Chinese military in the opening stages of a war. China is a large country, so wars usually lasted long enough for the corruption to be quashed and more competent leadership to set things right. But this costs a lot in terms of lives and money and the new, improved army is not supposed to following the bad old ways. But as the general points out, in the army the past prospers, at least for corrupt officers. The navy and air force have a way to fight corruption that the army lacks. The government can provide more money to have ships at sea and aircraft in the air more often. You can’t fake that and the best training for sailors and pilots (and their maintenance crews) is constant use of their expensive equipment. The army leaders can more easily steal and they are doing so more frequently. 

China's Cyber War activities are getting more publicity. The government does not want this kind of attention but Chinese hackers are getting cocky and careless and are increasingly detected and identified. For example, internet security researchers find identical bits of code (the human readable text that programmers create and then turn into smaller binary code for computers to use) and techniques for using it in hacking software popular with Chinese groups that sneak into military, government, and corporate networks in the West. The hackers are often traced back to China and increasingly to Chinese military and government facilities. The best hackers hide their tracks better than this. It's also been noted that Chinese behavior is distinctly different from that encountered among East European hacking operations. The East European hackers are more disciplined and go in like commandos and get out quickly once they have what they were looking for. Some Chinese operate like that, but a lot of them go after more targets with less skillful attacks and stick around longer than they should. That's how so many hackers are tracked back to China, often to specific servers known to be owned by the Chinese military or government research institutes. 

The East Europeans have been at this longer and most of these hackers work for criminal gangs, who enforce discipline, select targets, and protect their hackers from local and foreign police. The East European hacker groups are harder to detect (when they are breaking in) and much more difficult to track down. Thus the East Europeans go after more difficult (and lucrative) targets. The Chinese hackers are a more diverse group. Some work for the government, many more are contractors, and even more are independents, who often slip over to the dark side and scam Chinese. This is forbidden by the government and these hackers are sometimes caught and punished, or simply disappear. The Chinese hackers are, compared to the East Europeans, less skilled and disciplined. There are some very, very good Chinese hackers but they often lack adult supervision (or some Ukrainian gangster ready to put a bullet in their head is they don't follow orders exactly). 

For Chinese hackers that behave (don't do cybercrimes against Chinese targets) the rewards are great. Large bounties are paid for sensitive military and government data taken from the West. This encourages some unqualified hackers to take on targets they can't handle. This is seen when these hackers are detected trying to get into a high-security network like the U.S. White House network that deals with emergency communications with the military and nuclear forces. China doesn’t want to discourage this sort of ambition and will likely tolerate it. China believes that no matter how angry the West gets, they won’t go to war over this massive theft of government secrets and, more importantly, commercial data that is worth trillions of dollars to the Chinese economy. China complains that it is hacked as well, but for the moment China has a lot less to steal and its more important for China to keep plundering the West. 

The government has to worry about a more mundane form of hacking closer to home. The growing number of surveillance cameras in China catches criminals as well government officials misbehaving. People with access (legal or otherwise) to these videos increasingly release onto the Internet vids showing misbehavior by government officials. Despite government efforts to censor this kind of publicity, it usually leads to the official being fired or prosecuted. The officials are definitely shamed and losing face like that causes much mental anguish in East Asia. Policing all that video has provided the police with an impossible task, so far. 

The growing number of arrests and prosecutions of smugglers obtaining illegal weapons components for Iran have revealed a pattern of preferring Chinese suppliers and shippers to get it done. The Chinese government denies any approval of this sort of behavior. But corruption being what it is in China, enough cash can get you past whatever official prohibitions there are against helping arm Iran. The Iranians are willing to pay the extra charges. 

The toll from Tibetans burning themselves to death recently reached 101. A growing number of Tibetans are questioning this practice because the Chinese government appears immune to local or international criticism for its harsh tactics in Tibet. 

February 28, 2013: The government announced the success of another police crackdown on Internet pornography. This time over 300 web sites were shut down, along with at least 30,000 blogs and microblog accounts (Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter, which is banned in China). While porn was the main target, the police also went after pirated material, unsanctioned online gaming, and the politically incorrect. Operations like this serve to remind Chinese that they do live in a police state. 

February 27, 2013: The first of many new 1,400 ton Type 056 corvettes entered service. Four or more will do so this year, as at least twenty are under construction. This is part of a massive naval construction program. In part, this was to help out Chinese shipyards suffering from a five year global depression in the ship building industry. This program also replaces hundreds of older Russian designs with new, more Western type ships. New technology makes these ships cheaper to run. The Type 056, for example, has a crew of only 60, which is a third of what ships of this size previously had. The growth in new patrol ships, which is what the Type 056 is, makes it easier to constantly cruise the disputed waters of the South China Sea and intimidate those who might intrude into waters claimed by China.