24 March 2013

A case for a new regional doctrine


APAgents of progress: India should support civil society groups that stand for positive change.

India must draw inspiration from its own founding principles to actively support friendly, peaceful and secular forces in the region

Various developments in our region challenge us to think about a regional doctrine to replace the abandoned “Indira doctrine” and “Gujral doctrine.” We can take a cue from the strengths and weakness of these doctrines and apply them to the changing strategic environment.

What should the geographical reach of such a regional doctrine be? That depends on the degree to which developments in the country/region can either benefit or harm us. There is general agreement that developments in South Asia (Afghanistan to Myanmar, Nepal to Sri Lanka) have this potential. Whether the Maldives in the Arabian Sea has this potential is less clear. What about other more distant island nations in the Indian Ocean? This depends partly on the amount of resources we are able to commit to the overall task and our strategic reach and also on the presence of larger, stronger potentially hostile external powers operating in the Indian Ocean (a circumscribed version of the “Indira doctrine”). By these criteria, the Maldives could be included within the region of operation of the doctrine, while other islands may be added over time as capabilities and potential threats grow.

Our own culture, secular traditions and democratic principles must form the bedrock of any external doctrine. The basic thrust of the doctrine must be to actively support friendly, peaceful, secular, democratic forces in the region. This would include civil society organisations, political forces and parties that believe in a peaceful democratic future for their own country and for peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations with neighbouring countries (including India). One operational consequence would be for Indian elites, the media, and public to clearly and openly back genuinely pro-peace, political parties in these countries.

On the other hand government per se should not “unabashedly back pro-India political parties” in these countries, as this could be counterproductive in promoting friendly, peace-loving forces in these countries. If and when such friendly parties are in power, the Indian government should however, provide asymmetric inter-governmental benefits to assure them and their supporters of the benefits of their positive approach (a selective version of the Gujral doctrine).

Blood Ties, Religion and Terror

A demonstration by Muslim advocacy groups led by the Raza Academy, a Barelvi faction, in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on 11 August 2012 to protest against the killings of Muslims in Kokrajhar, Assam and the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state of Myanmar had resulted in violent clashes, leaving 2 dead and over 65 injured. Placards abusing “Burma” and “Buddhists” were seen at the rally. The protests subsequently spread to many cities in the country. In Bengaluru there were reports of some students from the Northeast (NE) being targeted by these elements with shouts of “Burma”.

The country in the past has witnessed peaceful and largely symbolic protests and demonstrations on issues not originating or having direct relevance to the country (US invasion of Iraq for example). The significance of the Azad Maidan demonstration and the violence in other cities that followed was not lost on the security establishment, especially since the trigger for the violence, the morphed photos/video clips of the Rohingya violence in Myanmar saw local residents being targeted by the demonstrators. Nor was the fact that the Azad Maidan incident, the clashes in other cities across the country and the resulting exodus of the NE community had the potential to severely impact communal harmony and national unity. Targeting of the NE community by these mobs threatened to undo years of pain staking efforts made to integrate them within the social fabric of rest of the country. Also, this incident in Mumbai saw the first case of attack on women police personnel by male protestors.

A best case analysis of the incident would treat it as two parallel events (one with illegal Rohingya or Bangladeshi immigrants venting their ire on Myanmarese asylum seekers and the second, targeting of Bodos/Assamese in retaliation for Kokrajhar) only connected by the organisation of a common protest. Clubbing all NE residents as Assamese would be incidental. However, when viewed more realistically the event leads to a worrisome conclusion; Indians being targeted by Indians for the Rohingya violence in Myanmar.

The issue had also surfaced when alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives arrested for their role in an aborted attack in Pune last year, were reported to have told their interrogators that they had conducted a recce of the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Bodh Gaya with an intention to carry out a suicide attack on the shrines to avenge atrocities committed on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The thought process of the IM, which wanted to attack the religious shrine of the Buddhist community in India to avenge attacks by the community in another country (Myanmar) points to a thinking where religion trumps blood-ties.

In an article “The Return of Toxic Nationalism,” published in the Wall Street Journal in the last week of Dec 2012, Robert D Kaplan points out that regressive and exclusivist forces — such as nationalism and sectarianism — are reshaping our future. Citing Egypt as an example, he says “Freedom, at least in its initial stages, unleashes not only individual identity but, more crucially, the freedom to identify with a blood-based solidarity group. Beyond that group, feelings of love and humanity do not apply. That is a signal lesson of the Arab Spring.”

An Enveloping Blindness

By Ajai Sahni 
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, ICM & SATP 

India’s capacity for self-deception is extreme, and this constitutes the gravest threat to national security.

It is true that our enemies have weakened – some temporarily, some more permanently; but it would be wrong to believe that we have become significantly stronger. 

                                                                      --" When doing nothing looks like success” 

For the first time since 1994, the year 2012 registered a total number of terrorism and insurgency linked fatalities across India in the three digits – at 804, as against 1,073 in 2011 and a peak of 5,839 in 2001. The trend of sustained decline in such fatalities has been near-unbroken since 2001 (with a marginal reversal in 2008), giving tremendous relief to theatres of persistent violence. The most prominent among these is Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which has been wracked by a Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist movement since 1988, with a resultant total of 43,439 fatalities (till March 10, 2013). J&K recorded 117 fatalities in 2012, down from 183 in 2011; and a peak of 4,507 in 2001. 

Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist attacks outside J&K also registered a remarkable drop, with just one incident – a low intensity blast in Pune (Maharashtra) on August 1, with no fatalities – recorded through 2012. Forty two such fatalities had occurred in four incidents in 2011, , and a recent peak of 364 killed in seven incidents in 2008. 

No incident of suspected Hindutva terrorism has occurred since 2008, though two extremists were arrested in 2012 on charges of involvement in earlier incidents – the 2006 Malegaon bombing which left 40 dead. 

The Maoist insurgency, which had surged after the unification of the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in September 2004, and had come to be regarded as the country’s ‘gravest internal security threat’, has also witnessed a dramatic decline in violence and fatalities. From a peak of 1,080 fatalities recorded in 2010, there was a near-halving, to 602 in 2011, and a further and substantial drop to 367 in 2012. 

Bucking these trends, however, India’s troubled Northeast saw fatalities rising to 317 in 2012, from 246 in 2011. While this is natural cause for concern, it is useful to recall that the region recorded 1,051 fatalities in 2008, and has seen a continuous decline in insurgency-related killings since. The recent reversal in this trend is substantially the result of an escalation in fratricidal killings between various insurgent formations, particularly in Nagaland and Manipur . Of the 61 fatalities recorded in Nagaland, 55 were of insurgent cadres of various formations, all killed in internecine violence. The remaining six killed were civilians. No Security Force (SF) fatalities have been recorded in Nagaland since 2008. In Manipur, 74 of 111 fatalities in 2012 are of insurgent cadres, of which 25 were killed in fratricidal conflicts, and the remaining 49 by SFs. Twelve SF personnel and 25 civilians also lost their lives. Meghalaya also saw a surge in militant activities, with 48 killed in 2012 – including 19 insurgents, 27 civilians and two SF personnel – up from 29 killed in 2011, including eight insurgents, 11 civilians and 10 SF personnel. 

Nevertheless, the broadly declining trends in a preponderance of the theatres of chronic violence in India have brought succour to many, and encouraged others to believe that the worst is over, and that the state, finally, has got its act together. Clearly, if all the insurgencies in the country – including those that have long enjoyed external state support – are now crashing into (apparently) imminent oblivion, the Government must have done something right. 

Lankan Roulette

T E Narasimhan & Veenu Sandhu, Business Standard
March 22, 2013

An international airport, a strategic port, communication satellites, road and railway links - China is spreading its web in the island nation. India has to take decisive steps or else the tide could.....

In June 2009, when Sri Lanka officially celebrated the defeat of the LTTE after a bloody war that lasted 25 years, the victory parade, which included tanks, fighter jets and artillery pieces, made India sit up: most of the military hardware on display was of Chinese make. China had played a key role in making that victory possible, and the Mahinda Rajapaksa govt made no attempts to hide its gratitude. India has since watched with increasing concern, and some helplessness, China's growing presence in the island nation which sits barely 31 km across the Palk Strait from the southern tip of India. The wave of protests in Tamil Nadu against the Sri Lanka govt's alleged atrocities on Tamils and India's vote in favour of the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday is further working towards China's advantage.

The sentiment is not limited to the country's leaders, who obviously know that gains can be made by playing one country against the other; it now runs deep. An assessment report of a political analyst to a company with business interests in Sri Lanka, which Business Standard has accessed, points that Lankan society is now vehemently arguing that it should lean towards China - a "friendly nation" - and not rely on India, particularly on the economic front. The speculation that India played a key role in watering down the resolution hasn't allayed the disgruntled sections of Lankan society, the report says.

Thus, Sri Lankan Airlines has cut its flights to Chennai by half, to 14, following the attacks on Sri Lankan tourists, including two monks. There are reports that Sri Lanka has decided to partially take over a strategic oil storage depot in Trincomalee from Indian Oil Corporation's Sri Lankan arm, Lanka IOC. India has denied the reports. A day before this news broke, Lanka IOC Chairman Makrand Nene had said that there was no competition from China "but we have no plans to expand in Sri Lanka at the moment."

Recent events show how close China and Sri Lanka have become. A few days ago, Rajapaksa inaugurated the country's second international airport, the $206-million Rajapaksa International Airport in Mattala built with money from China's Export-Import Bank. Some Chinese officials were present at the function. Some 40 km to the south is the China-funded $1 billion Hambantota Port. Why not India? "It's not that China is getting preference; it was always India first. We invited India first to build our ports, including the Hambantota port, but it rejected it saying it's not viable, so we invited China," Rajapaksa had said earlier. A senior official from the shipping industry in India says the port project "is really a great miss and India will regret it on all fronts, be it security or trade".

The Hambantota Port is located on a key shipping route which sees around 300 ships, mostly oil tankers, passing through every day. Ironically, when the deep-water port formally opened for international shipping in June last year, the first consignment it moved was 1,000 Hyundai cars from Chennai, outbound for Algeria. If you look at it from the commercial point of view, then the port is meant to provide docking and refuelling facilities to the thousands of ships that ferry oil and raw materials from Africa and the Persian Gulf to China every year. But, this also happens to be a geo-strategically convenient location. It is a crucial link in the "string of pearls" which China is building in the region through a network of ports to consolidate its economic and military influence in the Indian Ocean: Sittwe in Myanmar, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan and Marao in the Maldives.

Chinese money is pouring into Sri Lanka. From 2007 to 2011, while India extended aid of $298.1 million to Sri Lanka, China gave $2.126 billion to become the largest foreign aid provider to the country. While Indian aid has been for "soft" purposes like healthcare and education, the Chinese have funded highly-visible infrastructure projects. As on today, reports say, China has pledged more than $3 billion for infrastructure development in Sri Lanka. Some industry watchers have expressed concern that China might even be getting contracts for mega projects by bypassing tender procedures.

Anti-Lanka vote was a bad idea

Kanwal Sibal

India has ended up looking opportunistic and unprincipled, a victim of its internal political wranglings, with a government in New Delhi not fully in control of foreign policy.

INDIA has once again joined the US and other western countries to censure Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on the Tamil issue. This is objectionable on many counts.For many years we have fought our own battles with the earlier incarnation of the UNHRC on the issue of human rights violations of the Kashmiris at the instance of Pakistan. Organisations like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the very same that are exposing Sri Lanka to ignominy at Geneva, targeted us relentlessly in the past as delinquents. The US played an encouraging role in this, with the State Department bruising us in its own rights annual reports. We should not have forgotten our own experience so quickly and made common cause with these countries and organisations so readily.

We have all along opposed using human rights as a political instrument to "name and shame" those countries considered adversaries and shield friendly countries with a deplorable rights record from denigration. We have favoured dealing with such sensitive issues bilaterally, with a dialogue oriented rather than a denunciatory approach. We have therefore voted against country-specific resolutions as a matter of principle — until last year when we voted against Sri Lanka.

Protesters outside the Indian High Commission in Colombo. Reuters

Our stakes in Sri Lanka are far higher than those of the US. The latter's human rights activism in our neighbourhood is problematic, especially as it reduces our diplomatic room for manoeuvre and forces us to adopt positions that we may not consider opportune because, more than the US, we have a balance a whole host of complex factors and challenges. Such extra-regional initiatives only generate policy tensions for us. Our strategic partnership with the US requires that it defers to our priorities and interests in our neighbourhood, rather than force us into uncomfortable positioning. India should have an independent policy, at least in our neighbourhood, rather than be forced to follow the US lead.

This does not mean that we have to condone Sri Lanka's failure on reconciliation and accountability issues, implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and conducting an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law. But we should deal with these issues bilaterally with Sri Lanka, and as forcefully as required. We should not outsource such responsibility to others, acknowledging in the process the limitations of our clout with our neighbours. We will count even less with our neighbours if we do that.

Five myths about Chinese hackers

Challenging everything you think you know
By James Andrew Lewis, Published: March 22

James Andrew Lewis is a senior fellow and director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

If you work in Washington — on the Hill or on K Street, at a law firm or at a think tank — you’ve probably been hacked. If you work at a major American company, you’ve probably been hacked, too. The penetration of U.S. computer networks by Chinese hackers has been going on for more than three decades. It’s good that it is finally getting attention, but with that spotlight have come exaggeration and myths that need to be discarded.

1. We are in a cyber cold war with China.

We are not in a war — cold, cool or hot — with China in cyberspace. There have been none of the threats, denouncements or proxy conflicts that characterize a cold war. In fact, the administration appears to have omitted any mention of the Chinese military in recent high-profile speeches on Chinese hacking. After Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met recently with top Chinese officials in Beijing, he told reporters there that cyberattacks and cyber-espionage are a “very serious threat to our economic interests.”

“Cyberattack” is one of the most misused terms in the discussion of Chinese hackers. With very few exceptions, China has not used force against the United States in cyberspace. What it has been doing is spying. And spying, cyber or otherwise, is not an attack or grounds for war, even if military units are the spies. Spying isn’t even a crime under international law, and it wouldn’t be in Washington’s interest to make it so.

If we don’t want to be like the Iranians and get Stuxnetted, take these 4 steps

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks 
March 20, 2013

By John Scott

Best Defense guest columnist

It's Wednesday, and that means another story about the looming threat of cyberattack, how vulnerable the United States and its infrastructure is, how bad the Chinese are, how to retaliate, etc. But what seems to be left out of the discussion is what can practically be done about it (beyond scolding bad people). 

The first thing that should be done is to shrink surface area for attack. What does this mean? Right now the U.S. government and industry runs a pretty homogenous set of operating systems and applications that have shown to be a big part of the problem; specifically, Microsoft and Adobe are two companies whose wares have become amazing attack vectors. Why? For a few reasons: 1) if you want to create a virus/exploit weapon you tailor one for largest adoption, 2) attack large morphing code bases that give rise to known-unknown software vulnerabilities, and 3) updates don't always filter out in time once new vulnerabilities are detected and patched.

A great example is how Stuxnet is reported to have entered the Iranian nuclear program: 

The mother of all misjudgements

Raj Chengappa

The US-led coalition forces came up with no evidence of the cache of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was the supposed cause of the war. Yet, they have left the country in no better condition than when they invaded it.

First there was the big lie. Ten years ago, on March 17, then US President George Bush warned the world and issued an ultimatum to then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, stating, “The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfil their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.... Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations — and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defence, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.” The year was 2003, just two years after 9/11, and much of the world, including India, was willing to believe Bush.

All of us who had covered the Afghanistan war in 2001 knew that Bush meant business. To reach Iraq, I flew into Kuwait where US-led coalition troops had gathered in large numbers to begin the assault from there. We all underwent a course on how to protect ourselves from a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) attack, conducted by helpful British shoulders. I even purchased an expensive gas mask and as we heard news about Iraqis launching a couple of missiles at Kuwait we scurried for cover along with the rest of the population. People were stocking up food for weeks in case they were forced to be holed up in the event of an NBC attack. I even did a course on how to walk in a mine infested area as we waited for the war to begin.

Firdaus Square in Baghdad, where a statue of Saddam Hussein was brought down in 2003. AFP

Europe's Latest Export: Jihadists

"I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed, while British jihadists -- young men with south London accents -- shot to kill. And not a Syrian in sight. This wasn't what I had expected." - John Cantlie, British photographer

More than 1,000 Muslims from across Europe are currently active as Islamic jihadists, or holy warriors, in Syria, which has replaced Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia as the main destination for militant Islamists seeking to obtain immediate combat experience with little or no official scrutiny.

As the number of European jihadists in Syria grows, European officials are beginning to express concerns about the threat these "enemies within" will pose when they return to Europe.

In Britain, for example, Foreign Secretary William Hague recently said, "Syria is now the number one destination for jihadists anywhere in the world today. This includes a number of individuals connected with the United Kingdomand other European countries. They may not pose a threat to us when they first go to Syria, but if they survive, some may return ideologically hardened and with experience of weapons and explosives."

British authorities believe that more than 100 British Muslims have gone to fight in Syria in the hope of overthrowing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and replacing it with an Islamic state.

Many of the British Muslims in Syria have joined extremist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the most dangerous and effective Sunni jihadist group fighting against the Assad regime. Jabhat al-Nusra, linked to al-Qaeda, was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. Due to a steady flow of money and arms from backers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni Muslim countries, the group has grown in size and influence.

According to the British newspaper The Independent, most of the British Muslims participating in the fight against Assad "are not deemed to be doing anything illegal" and are thus able to reenter Britain without any problems. The paper reports that only a small number of those who have returned to Britain from the fighting in Syria have been arrested, but all for one specific offense: their alleged role in the July 2012 kidnapping of a British freelance photographer, John Cantlie, after he crossed into Syria.


Sunday, 24 March 2013 | Pioneer

It is estimated that 95 per cent of those who lost weight on a diet, gained it back in no time. Ishi Khosla tells you why diet based on deprivation never works

We know of people who lost weight and kept it permanently. Yet, we know of many more who went on a diet, lost weight and regained more than what they had started with, ending up depressed and frustrated. It is estimated that 95 per cent of all those who lost weight on a diet, gained it back. This is because most diets are based on deprivation. That is why they mostly fail — fail, not in losing weight but in keeping it that way. Why is it that despite knowing the basics we continue to fall off the wagon — eat wrong or overeat? Scientific findings from researches in psychology and marketing have provided some insights into eating behaviour. The identification of individual behaviours, perceptions and beliefs associated with eating is key to improving the efficacy of dietary treatment.

Before embarking on an altered lifestyle programme, it is important to know what you are going through. Body image and health are the two most compelling issues. Secondly, are you open to change? Finally, are you ready for what is called “mindful eating”? Awareness about your diet and principles of healthy eating is all that it takes to get where you want. But remember — set realistic goals.

Many of us would have indulged in mindless eating at some point in our lives. Eating without hunger because of external or environmental cues, simply for pleasure or for comfort, is something we all do, no matter how literate we are about diets and nutrition facts. External cues are often hidden and are known to influence our appetite and have very little to do with hunger. These include family, friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colours and candles, shapes and smell, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers. Visual cues are very powerful drivers to eating and determine how much we eat. Most of us don’t stop eating even when we are full.

Understanding why you eat the way you do, you can eat a little less, healthier and enjoy a lot more. Here are some tips which can help keep you eat right:

Stop eating when you are “no longer hungry”, not when you are “full.” The adage that you must stop eating when you have still have hunger for one more chapati or until you are just 80 per cent full helps. Put your spoon or fork down between each bite. Ask yourself whether you are hungry or wanting to be full. The “not hungry” situation happens earlier and that’s when you stop.

Don’t eat with your eyes, eat according to your hunger. Take control of subtle influences in your environment that can persuade you to eat or overeat. Eat slowly and don’t worry about plate waste, think about your waist. The need to finish all that is on the plate from our childhood and the dislike of waste drives you to eating regardless of our hunger.

Learn to say “no” politely but firmly. Avoid the “just one more” request. If you don’t wish to eat, don’t succumb to pressure. You may request for an appropriate choice for yourself.