16 July 2013

Solution to J & K problem lies in New Delhi...**

Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 Jul , 2013

J&K is an integral part of India. The only problem that can be called J&K Problem is the non- comprehension by India, its people and the government to this ultimate truth of its being the integral part of India and not distinct or separate entity in any way from the other states of India. The problem that would remain to be settled then is the need to free the areas of J&K illegally occupied by Pakistan and China. Once this fact is understood and fully comprehended by us, all else will fall in place.

It is proposed to discuss this very complex and muddled up situation, erroneously called “The Jammu & Kashmir Problem”, as under:
  • Strategic Importance of J&K
  • The Problem and its historic Mishandling
  • Solution
Strategic Importance of J&K 

The illegally occupied part of J&K by Pakistan is in two parts, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (the so called Azad Kashmir by Pakistan) and Gilgit- Baltistan(GB) (earlier called the Northern Areas). China is in possession of Akshai Chin and the Shaksgam valley illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.

J&K forms the head of the Indian sub continent, and has been the traditional trade route of Central and South Asia to the East and Tibet, generally called the ‘Silk Route’. It is bounded by more countries than any other state of India; in the North East with Tibet, and further North with Xinjiang province of China, in the North West with the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, in the West with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and further South with Punjab of Pakistan. This geographic layout is strategically so important that no power of the world wants to remain away from the area, as it gives them access to the sensitive areas of the neighbouring countries.. Its high mountains provide strategic depth and domination over the surrounding area. For hundreds of years in the past, the Russian, Persian, Chinese, Tibetan and the British Indian empires, sought the passes of this region to dominate each other. The region rests along “the ancient axis of Asia” where South, Central and East Asia converge and, since time immemorial, has been the gateway for both India and China to Central Asia.

The maps below show the geo strategic location and its dominating position.

Distorted Pak map: Erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir showing illegal occupation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan by Pakistan and Shaksgam and Akshai Chin by China The map is not accurate for boundaries, particularly the alignment of the line shown to Karakorum pass, leaving Siachin glacier in Pak occupied territory.

The Fall of Maoist Revolution

Issue Net Edition | Date : 15 Jul , 2013

Having murdered the leading Congress party functionaries in Chattisgarh and celebrating that macabre act like the savages do, the Maoists have now elaborated their ‘hit list’ of politicians and police officials whom they plan to murder at the first opportunity. Earlier, they have shown their ‘character’ by booby trapping the dead and injured policemen. Thus in one despicable sweep, a rebellion which had found wide endorsement of its cause if not its methods, has turned itself into a terrorist outfit. For a true revolutionary, there could not have been a morally degenerating ‘fall’ more dismaying. Thus had departed a disillusioned Kanu Sanyal after all, the founder of CPI (ML).

…the present lot of so called Maoists are no better than the unscrupulous lot of exploiters of the have-not’s whom they wish to ‘correct’ or eliminate.

Fall from Revolutionary Grace

Revolutionaries do not depend on hit lists to further their cause. And if they have to assassinate someone, they do not indulge in ‘blood dance’ as the Maoist cadres are reported to have performed after torturing their victims to death. A rebellion, to be seen as distinct from terrorism or downright madness, has to remain within certain bounds of probity even when engaged in acts contrary to social and legal norms.

To succeed to any degree, a rebellion does not allow its moral plank to rot. Conversely, as the history records, intimidation and savagery can not be a harbinger of change. Mao Zedong must be cursing these outlaws for invoking him only to sully his name, for he did not propagate any hit list of personalities; neither did Lenin, Castro or Che Guevara. Such lists are advertised by nihilist groups and mindless fanatics, and such people do not make revolutionaries; their revolutionary pretentions fail in the long run. Therefore by propagating a ‘hit list’ after indulging in celebratory murders, and booby trapping the injured and the dead, the outfit remains neither Maoist nor an ideology based revolution.

The hit list is sought to be justified by the assertion that there are persons somewhat vocal – even if in trepidation – in their opposition to Maoist methods, and therefore are liable to be treated as ‘enemies’ of what is claimed to be a peoples’ revolution. That assertion is of course ludicrous because: firstly, none of the named, indeed none whosoever, has really had shown the heart, in the real sense and in all seriousness, to confront the Maoist rebellion; and secondly, such fellows are no more of enemies of the cause as the Maoists themselves are. Yes, when it comes to anti-social acts, corruption, highhandedness and injustice, the present lot of so called Maoists are no better than the unscrupulous lot of exploiters of the have-not’s whom they wish to ‘correct’ or eliminate.

People living in Maoist influenced areas do not see the Maoist control as an aberration, neither do they long to be released from their rebellious clutch.

By falling prey to diabolic means in contravention to Mao’s teachings, the Maoist rebellion in India has taken its first step towards ignominy and defeat. For those who wish to be rid of this menace, this must come as music to ears. Conversely, for those well meaning part-radicals who wish to see the cleansing of a system so callous, this development must be heart-breaking, for they will have wait indefinitely for the coming of redeeming revolution.

Saviours versus Tormentors

Maoist activities go on unhindered because of two reasons:-

One is that ever since the known past, the affected areas had been administered more in exception than as a rule, be it the days of local rajas, zamindars, head-men or the agents of the government. Even in post-independence period, political opportunists have shown little interest in local affairs due to its short voter lists. Further, what little administrative focus there had been, that was directed, not at elevating the people and their lives, but on exploitation of natural resources. It would therefore not be wrong to view that kind of mechanism as nothing more than a ‘system of brokerage’. Maoists have taken advantage of that void and have assumed the much needed role of dedicated arbitrators of their routine problems. These problems relate to recovery of wages unpaid by ‘outsider’ employers, fixing reasonable wage rates, receipt of due compensation against displacement or share cropping, prevention of extortion from revenue and police officials, working of usually non-functional health centres where existing, enforcement of entitlement schemes like MNERGA against total loot, etc. Resultantly, people living in Maoist influenced areas do not see the Maoist control as an aberration, neither do they long to be released from their rebellious clutch.

Two, to the locals, Maoists are their boys and girls, who live permanently among them, observing the same culture, not adding to but solving some of their difficulties, particularly in securing better economic returns from their trade and safety from official harassment. Conversely, the state is represented just by occasional visitations of the police, patwari and prospectors. The state’s other citizen-dedicated departments have never appeared in any case – earlier because of their ‘right’ not to work, and presently on the excuse of Maoist threat. Further, whenever the state-functionaries did appear, they brought with them trouble – labour unpaid, hospitality forced upon, bribes demanded, chicken eaten, women harassed – before vanishing after having made a nuisance of themselves. Obviously, people are least bothered by the Maoist’s unconstitutional acts – extortion and murder of persons they do not relate to.

The Slowing of Two Economic Giants ***

Published: July 14, 2013 

KOLKATA, India — THE world’s two most populous countries are slowing down. To be sure, China’s output is expected to grow by 7.8 percent this year, and India’s by 5.6 percent — far superior to 2 percent for Japan, 1.7 percent for the United States, 0.9 percent for Britain and a shrinkage (negative 0.6 percent) in the troubled euro zone, the International Monetary Fund projected last week

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But there is no sequel in sight for the 10-percent-plus growth China and India posted in 2010. The West can no longer count on their continued expansion to lift its sagging economies. For 2.5 billion people, the consequences are more dire: in India, less money to strengthen the threadbare social safety net, and in China, possible political instability. What does the slowdown mean for these two giants, and which will come out ahead?

Let’s start with China, the bigger of the two economies. Talk of a global “Beijing consensus” — state-controlled capitalism as an alternative to the “Washington consensus” about how poor countries should develop — has largely disappeared. China’s new leaders are focused on problems at home: battling corruption, reining in the overheated housing market, scaling back the government’s outsize role in the economy, andcracking down on financial speculation.

China may be close to exhausting the possibilities of technological catch-up with the West, particularly in manufacturing. For China to move up the value chain, and become an advanced-manufacturing powerhouse like Germany, it must move beyond off-the-shelf technology and copying rival designs and reap gains from genuine innovation, which can come about only through research and development.

China has amassed huge foreign exchange reserves, partly by keeping the value of its currency low. It now has to rebalance its economy away from the construction boom and financial speculation and toward private consumption and improvements in pensions, health care and other forms of social protection. Crony capitalism has been allowed to misallocate capital toward too-big-to-fail, low-productivity state-owned firms operated by loyal apparatchiks and away from dynamic private small firms.

Concentrated wealth poses problems for both countries. The Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based wealth monitor, estimated last year that the 83 richest delegates to the National People’s Congress and an advisory group, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, had a net worth of over $250 billion. By comparison, the declared assets of all of the roughly 545 members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament, amount to only about $2 billion.

In India, the collusion between Indian billionaires and politicians, while rampant, is somewhat less direct and more subject to political and media scrutiny. In China, collusion between party officials and commercial interests, especially at the local level, has caused widespread popular anger against arbitrary land acquisition and toxic pollution.

The economist and philosopher Amartya Sen recently argued on this page that India has lagged behind China because it had not invested enough in education and health care, which raise living standards and labor productivity.

He rightly emphasizes that deficient social services and the inequality that results are not just a matter of social justice, but of economic growth as well, as the history of much of East Asia shows. But one should not get the impression that progress in social services is by itself sufficient for growth. Exemplary welfare programs in the state of Kerala in India, and in Sri Lanka, have not been matched by spectacular economic performance. The latter also requires improvements in infrastructure, less cumbersome regulations and a culture that fosters entrepreneurial investment.

Mr. Sen raises but does not examine a puzzle: why voters in the world’s largest democracy cannot get politicians to effectively deliver social services. Infant and maternal mortality and poor sanitation are not salient electoral issues. This is partly because India’s fractious society (more heterogenous than China’s) has often emphasized uplifting the dignity of former oppressed social groups over basic good governance.

What of the Chinese model? The history of developing countries shows that authoritarianism is neither necessary nor sufficient for development. The Communist Party will find it increasingly tough to manage a complicated economy (without independent regulators) and political system (without an independent judiciary or effective rule of law).

Without innovation, China cannot sustain high growth, as the artificially low prices of land and capital for politically favored firms become difficult to maintain and the supply of cheap labor dwindles. Unlike in India, a significant slowdown could be regime-threatening for China — today’s young people, with higher expectations than their forebears, will have less tolerance for a shortage of good jobs and affordable housing. China’s leaders may be riding a tiger that will be hard to dismount.

On the other hand, India’s experience, like America’s, shows how partisan fragmentation in a rambunctious democracy can undermine effective governance. In the last few years the headline economic stories in India have been about pervasive corruption: politicized allocation of high-value public resources (land, mineral rights, oil and gas, telecommunications), shady public-private partnerships and the galloping cost of elections financed by the illicit incomes of politicians. India’s administrative system, where promotion has little connection to performance, encourages even more malfeasance than China’s. But India has independent judges, government auditors and a free press — checks on corruption that are absent in China.

As inequalities rise and resentment of official corruption, corporate oligarchy and economic and environmental depredations heats up in India, pressure for short-term populist palliative measures — subsidies, handouts, loan waivers and underpricing of energy and water — will also rise, at the expense of long-term investments in infrastructure, education and public health. China has deflected some of the same frustrations through high-profile construction projects, spectacles like the 2008 Olympic Summer Games and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and carefully orchestrated campaigns of nationalist fervor.

Crosscurrents in India-U.S. ties

Kanwal Sibal

The growing convergence of views on many issues is not enough to iron out the divergence arising from different priorities, as Secretary Kerry’s recent visit proved

Doubts persist both in India and the United States on the substance of their strategic partnership. High-sounding declarations about the partnership being one of the defining ones of the 21st century, or one between “natural allies,” have not erased uncertainties in the two countries about the capacity and willingness of each side to meet the expectations of the other.

Growing India-U.S. convergence on several issues has not eliminated significant divergences emanating from huge disparity in power, different priorities, conflicting regional interests and differing views on structures of global governance. India has moved from distrust to positive engagement and greater acceptance of basic U.S. goodwill towards it. The U.S. is devoting higher attention to India than ever before in recognition of its growing international importance. But this improved atmosphere in bilateral relations is not sufficient for ironing out real differences.

Wide gaps

While there is like-mindedness on issues of democracy, pluralism, human rights, economic liberalisation, terrorism, religious extremism, non-proliferation and the like, their treatment in concrete situations exposes wide gaps in the thinking of the two countries. India notes the selective manner in which “universal values” are promoted, sparing friends who spurn them and sanctioning adversaries for similar repudiation. Even in the case of terrorism, the conduct of some is condoned while that of others invokes steps to bring about regime change.

On Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Climate Change, the Doha Round, sovereignty issues, global governance, etc., India and the U.S. have different perspectives. While differences between the U.S. and some of its allies on important issues do not call into question the basic assumptions about their mutual relationship within an alliance system, in India’s case the “strategic relationship” gets stress-tested in public opinion each time the two countries are in discord.

Our strategic partnership with the U.S. cannot presume identity of views on contentious international issues or adjustment of Indian policies to suit American preferences alone. Yet when India speaks of strategic autonomy, U.S. votaries and Indian champions of a strong India-U.S. friendship decry such thinking as mired in India’s defunct nonaligned credo. If the Indian Parliament passes a nuclear liability law imposing supplier liability on nuclear vendors, particularly after Fukushima, U.S. and Indian strategic affairs specialists become petulant. Similarly, if U.S. companies are excluded from defence contracts, there is interrogation about India’s commitment to a strategic partnership with the U.S. Elements in India characterise genuine policy differences as fence-sitting, reluctance to accept burden-sharing in upholding the international order and free-loading by India on the back of those powers who make hard choices, sometimes at the cost of their own immediate interest, to maintain peace and security.

Recurrent doubts in India about the quality of its U.S. relationship are fuelled by the inconsistency, lack of steadiness and even transparency of U.S. policies. The U.S. can change gears to suit its interests at a particular juncture, shaped by electoral considerations or lobbying. It is adept at giving varying spins to its policies as circumstances demand. The U.S. policy towards Pakistan, despite its terrorist affiliations and disruptive role in Afghanistan, exemplifies this. Washington’s military and economic aid to Islamabad continues despite Pakistan’s complicity in sheltering Osama bin Laden. Notwithstanding Pakistan’s abetment of terrorism in India and the strategic headaches it causes to the U.S., the American tendency to equate India and Pakistan resurfaces from time to time.

On Afghanistan, the U.S. first questioned India’s role there, then supported it and is now disregarding India’s fundamental strategic doubts about politically rehabilitating the Taliban by dialoguing with it. The U.S. now seems open even to the Haqqani network’s participation in the political end-game in Afghanistan. On China, the signals waver, with the declaration of a pivot towards Asia with China’s rise in mind, which is then diluted to “re-balancing” detached from China-related fears and, finally, the wisdom of any beefed-up Asia-Pacific policy is questioned by the would-be U.S. Secretary of State.

Secretary Kerry’s visit in June for the fourth round of the strategic dialogue illustrated these cross-currents moulding the India-U.S. strategic partnership. The joint statement issued on the occasion omits any mention of Pakistan, even in the context of the Mumbai attack. The references to terrorism and “violent extremism” and to dismantling of terrorist safe havens in the region are worded to avoid finger-pointing at Pakistan. There being no risk of any other political force being excluded by design or choice, the reference to “inclusive” Presidential and Provincial elections in Afghanistan in 2014 is puzzling, as it suggests that India too is advocating the “inclusion” of Taliban in these elections. The rhetoric about the reconciliation process being Afghan-led and Afghan-owned sounds hollower with the U.S. decision to talk directly to the Taliban at Doha, as Kabul will not dictate the negotiating script to Washington. The red lines drawn by the international community for any deal with the Taliban have been blurred in the joint statement which speaks in general terms about preserving “the historic political, economic and social progress made over the last decade,” though in Mr. Kerry’s speech at the Habitat Centre these red lines are reiterated. It is not clear how Salman Khurshid could say in his joint press conference with Mr. Kerry that the U.S. “will ensure that none of the concerns of India is overlooked or undermined,” when the very act of talking to the Taliban under General Kayani’s benign oversight subverts India’s interests.

The World Returns to the Barricades

By Pankaj Mishra Jul 15, 2013 

Historians examining our era will marvel at the proliferation of street protests around the world. Blessed with hindsight, they will probably not struggle as much as we do to grasp their broader meaning -- one that goes beyond specific provocations in each case (an increase in bus fares in Brazil, or the destruction of a landmark in Turkey).

On the face of it, protests against the creeping authoritarianism of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have next to nothing in common with demonstrations in India, where a quasi-Gandhian activist proclaimed a “second freedom struggle,” or Egypt’s Tahrir Square, site of a “second revolution” against the elected government of Mohamed Mursi.

Pankaj Mishra is the author of "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond," 

The Turks appear to have even less in common with the tens of thousands of Israelis calling for “social justice” in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese who, after the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, turned out, in their country’s biggest demonstrations since the late 1960s, to protest against an incompetent and mendacious government.

Local grievances and socioeconomic variations must not be suppressed in our eagerness to find broad patterns. Protesters in Greece and Spain live in nations that are being steadily impoverished. Those in India,Israel and Turkey belong to countries that have enjoyed high economic growth in recent years.
Class War

But the conjuncture of the protests cannot be ignored, as is evident in the mini-industry of explanations flourishing around it. The most common claim, from the Economist to Francis Fukuyama in the Wall Street Journal, is that the demonstrations are fueled by the rising expectations of a middle class demanding clean, transparent governance. In this variant on the modernization theory of the 1960s, the protests further advance the liberal democracy that grows in tandem with the worldwide spread of capitalism.

Indeed, “protest,” the Economist claims, “could yet improve democracy in emerging countries -- and even eventually the EU,” adding that “dictatorships lack the institutions through which to channel protesters’ anger.”

Such Candide-like optimism raises the question: What kind of democracy is being improved? Certainly, the protesters seem to have no time for a political system that channels -- only to defuse -- their anger, while leaving their demands largely unmet.

The multiparty political systems and regular elections passed off as democracy have failed to mollify the restless millions -- most vividly in Egypt. Indeed, if there is anything that binds protesters in different socioeconomic contexts, it is their shared frustration at being inadequately represented by elected governments.

For too long, merely formal and procedural aspects of democracy -- elections, legislatures -- have been confused with the thing itself. Not surprisingly, these fail to satisfy increasingly politicized peoples who have come to identify their governments in recent years with business elites, and with “business-friendly” policies rather than public services.

In a previous column, I argued that mass democracy and capitalism, far from being natural partners, are antagonists in the age of globalization. It has become clearer since then that the demands and needs of the majority cannot be fulfilled by the assurances of private wealth-creation. Gross domestic product growth rates, however impressive, have not made up for poor infrastructure, education and health care. And inequality, like corruption and nepotism among the elites, has become more intolerable.

The trickle-down miracle has repeatedly failed to materialize. The Indian Supreme Court is not wrong to blame increasing social violence in the country on the “false promises of ever-increasing spirals of consumption leading to economic growth that will lift everyone.”
Broken Promises

It is not surprising that the protests are particularly intense in nation-states founded on ideas of equality and a shared destiny: Israel, where Zionism was once synonymous with egalitarianism, or India and Brazil, where democracy is linked to promises of social and economic justice.

With its guarantee of prosperity premised upon individual effort, global capitalism in these countries briefly replaced national projects of collective welfare. Having given up on redistribution, the state was supposed to create equality of opportunity for its underprivileged citizens. But this, it seems, has not happened fast enough, if at all; Dilma Rousseff’s promises to invest more in public health and transportation come too late to change the impression of a state retreating from public services.

Social cohesion has frayed everywhere, resulting in a widespread sense of fragmentation and drift. Individuals -- from Indian cotton farmers lethally exposed to fluctuations in international prices to Spanish graduates scanning a bleakly jobless landscape -- find themselves buffeted by national and transnational economic forces as never before.

Their governments, too, are helpless to a certain degree. Incessantly mobile labor and capital have eroded the power of national governments to devise policies aimed at creating an equitable society. Their frantic courting of investors and businessmen helps create the popular conviction that, according to a contributor to the well-known socialist tool Forbes, “the power structure, corporate and government, work together to screw the broad middle class.”

This belief became widespread at the end of a long cycle of high growth when a few people grew very rich and public services -- education, health, security -- were privatized to an unusual degree. For a while, the gated community in large parts of India seemed like a new political unit after the city-state, the nation and the empire. The secessionists or sovereign individuals inside them seemed to have attained the highest stage of liberal democracy: emancipation from politics.

But even the denizens of gated republics, it turns out, need the state to build and maintain roads and airports, supply power, and control rising crime rates.
Dwindling Prospects

As for the rest, who have yet to benefit from global capitalism, the chances of stable employment, or even affordable education, look even more remote against the background of a severe economic crisis. Hence, the classless quality of the protests where the rich and the poor commingle: their rage comes from a shared feeling of being cheated.

Certain glory of Sen’s argument


Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze launch An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, organised by Penguin Books India in association with The Telegraph, at Nandan on Monday evening. Picture by Amit Datta

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen busted a few myths about himself in front of a near full house at Nandan-I on Monday, interspersing discourse with doses of humour to debunk in the process myths about India and its celebrated story of growth.

Myth No. 1: Sen does all the hard work while co-authoring books with development economist Jean Dreze.

We ought to know what the country is like, that includes some success stories but it also includes a lot of non-successes and failures. It includes the society as well as the economy, the public as well as the government and the governing party as well as opposition in Parliament and all the other institutions that go with it, the media, NGOs and so on.

- Amartya Sen

“I am delighted that Jean has done 90 per cent of the work. His memory is faltering because when I first told him that he did 90 per cent of the work and I got 90 per cent of the credit. He protested and said I thought it used to be 95 per cent [laughs], so it’s been downgraded a little from that,” the 79-year-old said.

Dreze had said moments earlier that “Amartyada tends to do most of the work and I get most of the blame!”

Myth No. 2: Sen’s ready stock of B.R. Ambedkar quotes means he likes slogans.

“I am very suspicious of slogans, always.”

Myth No. 3: Sen is a great believer in the “trickle-down” effect of economic growth.

“I have never used that term. I don’t think it sounds good either.”

Myth No. 4: Sen (and Dreze) advocate a return to the culture of subsidies.

“We are basically against subsidies, but for some reason the book has got identified with food subsidy, partly because of Jean’s activism on that subject…. I saw in a newspaper that I was being described as the ‘father of food subsidies’. That seems to me to be the closest thing to a paternity suit that I have ever faced!”

For the most part, the launch of An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, organised by Penguin Books India in association with The Telegraph, alternated between a friendly push and a gentle prod for the audience to realise how growth can be a chimera for a country still far from the cusp of change in terms of public welfare.

Sen and Dreze’s arguments were restrained rather than impassioned, the thought behind the sentence seldom overshadowed by the force of the words spoken. In a way, it mirrored the long, arduous road that two of India’s foremost economists have taken to bring development economics out of the ambit of scholastic pursuit and policy making.

If Dreze described his third collaborative book with Sen as a “wake-up call” for those who had failed to see beyond India’s economic growth over the past decade and more, the Nobel laureate said it was wrong to assume that the book was a challenge to the tangible impact of the economic path that the country had taken.

At its core, Sen said, Uncertain Glory was an effort to engage and tell India how and why it has ended up behind an economically far weaker country like Bangladesh in key human indicators.

“We believe that India is in a very difficult situation now and the glitter of the achievement might well hide that. We do want many, many changes that include reforms, which has made a contribution to India and could make more but it requires not just policy changes, it also requires quite a fundamental change in politics and the political economy of the country.”

I don’t like brawls: Amartya **

- Economist fields a question on another economist

Amartya Sen at the launch of An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, the book he has co-authored with Jean Dreze. The launch was presented by Penguin Books India, in association with The Telegraph, at Nandan 1 on Monday. Picture by Amit Datta n See Metro

Calcutta, July 15: Two books by celebrated economists have set the stage for an absorbing growth battle.

Columbia University professor Jagdish Bhagwati and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen want the same end — a better India — but the means they prescribe sound different.

If Bhagwati prescribes economic growth led by the markets and overseen and encouraged by liberal state policies, Sen believes growth cannot be an end in itself without government effort to build human capabilities. If Bhagwati believes robust economic growth has helped the poor in India, Sen feels that the sorry state of human development overshadows the growth record.

On Monday, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, written by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, was launched in Calcutta. Just before the launch, The Telegraph asked Sen a question on Jagdish N. Bhagwati-Arvind Panagariya’s book (Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries). Suman Ghosh, professor of economics at Florida Atlantic University and National Award-winning filmmaker, had put the question to Sen on behalf of this newspaper.

Suman Ghosh: In April, Jagdish N. Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya’s book Why Growth Matters was released. Now we see Jean Dreze and your book, An Uncertain Glory. In a sense, it’s the Indian growth story that four eminent economists are interpreting. Would it be correct to define this as conflicting interpretations of the same growth story?

Amartya Sen: That would not be the correct way of seeing it. Ours is not a growth story. They are concerned about the role of growth in economic development. To the extent that they argue that growth matters, we entirely agree, of course it matters. The question is does growth make enough of a difference so that we can leave it in the hands of growth. Or whether you have to do much more. Secondly, not only why growth matters but how growth happens.

The entire story of growth at a high level as well as an inclusive level stems from a social initiative. The roots of which go back to Japan at the time of the Meiji restoration… the Japanese decided what they want to do most of all is to have 100 per cent literacy at breakneck speed. And I think one of the commentators quoted here… (Kido) Takayoshi said that “we are no different from the Americans and Europeans, the only difference in their being more productive and more achieving than we are is because they’re educated and we’re not”.

And later they went to health care.

The idea is that in order to have sustained high growth rate that’s inclusive, what we need is a shared education. And shared health care. Led by governmental initiative. That is the Asian economic model which Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore followed. Now China had a different history because of its communist past. Some of the things, mainly basic education forms and shared education, they had done for other reasons anyway. But when that was combined after the economic reform with use of the market, they were able to have a high growth rate based on market, a sustained high growth rate on the foundations of that change.

Our concern is not really about growth. It’s mainly that growth happens in a kind of economy where the thing to look at is not the smartness or commercial policy but the largeness of the vision of the society in which growth is going to take place. That is the theme.

So the book isn’t on the same subject as Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya’s book; to the extent that they argue that growth matters, we absolutely agree. We’d like to go much further than that and so, on one side is the question how to use the fruits of growth, how to use them to further expand education, health care and so on. The other side is to sustain growth by a social change. Which I think people have to talk about is not just to get hold of smart concessions for business communities…. We have got 60 pages of tables about the conditions of the people and so on…. And that’s not what their subject matter is.

One aspect of their growth story is that it isn’t that they are not concerned with matters of education, literacy but it’s a means of how it will be achieved…

Is that the way the Japanese did? Did they go for 100 per cent literacy between 1868 and 1908 by first becoming growth or is it the case that educational expansion set their rate of growth. Is that the way the Koreans did in 1948 when the massive education and then public health care rendered very little growth, and then they became rich. Which came first? Is that why Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are among the richest Indian states? When we were arguing for going for education, health care early we were arguing that it’s not only good for people but also good for economic growth. And indeed they are. Now to say that they can afford it because they’re rich completely confuses the story.

I’m not attributing any of this to Jagdish…. I don’t want to get into an argument, I don’t like brawls. There are people who like it, I do not.

But Bhagwati has always said…

Can I not talk about Bhagwati, please? I don’t like talking about Bhagwati. He loves talking about me, I do not like talking about him (laughs).

Myths and reality of the Food Security Bill

July 15, 2013

All those who have been dismayed by the food security ordinance should thank Manmohan Singh and his colleagues for a neat optical trick, says T N Ninan.

Back in the 1980s, the government distributed an average of nearly 16 million tonnes of foodgrain each year through the public distribution system (PDS). 

The 1990s saw an increase in the PDS throughput to just over 17 million tonnes. The striking change came in the decade of the “noughties”, which saw the annual figure climbing to around 20 million tonnes, then 30 million tonnes, and in the final years of the decade more than 40 million tonnes. 

Now the figure is closer to 50 million tonnes. On a per capita basis, the grain made available through the PDS has doubled, from 20 kg per year in the 1990s to 40 kg now.

If the government supplying more grain to people were the solution to malnutrition, supposedly more widespread in India than in even sub-Saharan Africa, then we should have made a significant dent in the problem over the last decade. 

Sadly, the Global Hunger Index report says that India was one of just three countries where hunger actually increased between 1996 and 2011. 

Every third malnourished child lives in India; and we have far more under-weight and stunted children than any other country. 

So if you are looking for a positive correlation between the amount of grain supplied through the PDS and the extent of malnutrition and associated problems, there ain’t any.

That may be because much of the grain isn’t reaching the malnourished, as past government studies have discovered. Or the malnourishment problem is not fundamentally related to cereal intake, and the roots of the problem lie elsewhere (waterborne diseases, perhaps, or an unbalanced diet that does not have enough of vitamins, proteins and micronutrients).

But if you stayed with the cereal argument, and assumed that half the 118 million cultivator families in the country would not buy PDS grain because they grow enough of their own, and the richest one-third of urban families don’t go anywhere near the PDS anyway, then the per capita availability of PDS grain for those belonging to the rest of the families would already be about 60 kg per year, or 5 kg per month. 

Magically, that is no different from what the “food security” ordinance has given us: the promise of 5 kg of grain per head to two-thirds of the country’s population.

Why this should be considered a radical measure that will garner votes for the Congress is hard to figure out, especially since many states already offer grain at prices lower than what the ordinance stipulates.

In fact, all those who have been dismayed by the food security ordinance, because they worry about its fiscal cost as well as the damage it could do to India’s agriculture, should thank Manmohan Singh and his colleagues for a neat optical trick. 

Unusually for the prime minister, he stonewalled Sonia Gandhi and her advisers for many months, refusing to allow what they wanted: 7 kg of grain per head per month, for 1,200 million people (not 5 kg for 800 million). 

In effect, the new law restricts the grain on offer to under a half of what the maximalists wanted; indeed, the total procurement required to sustain the proposed programme is only three-quarters of the already existing procurement levels.

There may even be a positive pay-off: the intense debate generated in the run-up to the ordinance has focused attention on the many deficiencies of the PDS, with states like Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu having put substantial improvements in place. Others may follow. 

There is even a new state-wise enumeration under way to decide who actually is poor. 

For all one knows, therefore, better targeting and proper grain distribution might even improve nutrition levels!

Ishrat case: 'CBI versus IB has national security implications' ***

July 15, 2013 

Ajit Doval, former chief of Intelligence Bureau, is a highly respected and decorated sleuth. Doval and his team contributed in a big way in the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram and Punjab.

Currently, as head of Vivekanada International Foundation he continues to contribute to the public debate. In this two-part interview to rediff.com’s Sheela Bhatt, Doval furiously argues against any kind of Central Bureau of Investigation action against his former colleague Rajinder Kumar in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case of 2004. The CBI's allegation is that Kumar, IB in charge of Gujarat when the Ishrat Jahan encounter took place in Ahmedabad, was actively involved in the extra-judicial killing of Ishrat and three others.

Doval claims that the CBI has a pre-conceived notion that Kumar was actively involved and is ‘fixing’ evidence to suit its theory. 

It seems a kind of education of India is going on. What is happening in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case is educating us on policing and investigation issues. When the CBI is doing its job in this case, why should the IB come in its way? The matter is as simple as that. Why is the CBI not allowed to do its job without any pressure from outside?

You are very correct. I agree the law of the land should be upheld by everyone. The CBI is supposed to be the investigative agency which has got credibility to collect the right facts and then come to conclusion on basis of those facts. But when the CBI works in a way that raises the suspicion that, probably, it has got a pre-conceived conclusion and now it is collecting evidence in support of that conclusion, then that raises doubt.

Any evidence that comes contrary to that is brushed aside as inconsequential. Very remote and non-corroborative evidence is accepted by them. It is worse when reports start percolating that some people are being given inducement, threats to make certain statements which they cannot corroborate on basis of any material evidence.

How do you know that the CBI has a pre-conceived notion? How do you know that statements have come after some inducement? You are well-respected former intelligence officer but you are retired now. How do you know the details?

I am not only talking about the CBI, I am talking about the entire system. This incident happened in 2004. No cognisance was taken for years. In 2009, they appointed a Special Investigative Team which was lead by Karnail Singh, a respected officer who has tremendous amount of professional competence. Within a short time he resigned. Why did he resign? Did anyone go into the depth of it?

It was not a voluntary work. If he decided not to work means there must be something out of the ordinary. Then, they appointed a second man who too refused to do the work. And, then they appointed third man who (Gujarat IPS officer Satish Verma) doesn’t know about terrorism. Who has a son-in-law who is involved in some trouble, who appears to me to be vulnerable. Verma has perpetual enmity with Rajinder Kumar, the IB officer being implicated. There is conflict of interest. Even if he is very good you don’t put that man as an investigative officer in the SIT.

If one is confident, one should let the truth prevail. And insist that the truth must prevail. Let Rajinder Kumar get arrested if the CBI wants. Allow this case to go to its logical conclusion.

Satish Verma is not even a CBI officer. He was outsourced by the CBI. There should be a CBI investigation. The CBI officers should do the investigation and the director of the CBI should supervise it. 

But it is CBI which has conducted the investigation. Some 19 statements have been made before a magistrate and not the CBI or Satish Verma. 

These things will be examined by the court. I don’t know the facts of the case. My take is that an officer who is appointed for the investigation and entrusted the job should not have any conflict of interest. He should have competence. He should not have a background that makes him unsuitable to take up the job.

The impression should not be created that the investigation is not fair, objective and correct. In this case it gives the impression, on basis of some letters that have been exchanged, that there was some amount of personal rivalry.

I don’t know what it was but a serious rivalry existed between Verma and Rajinder Kumar. It’s officially known and there are letters exchanged about it. Even formal complaints have been made.

Can you explain me the command and control system of the IB in a federal structure? Was Rajinder Kumar supposed to Chief Minister Narendra Modi's office regularly?

The IB operates in all states. It’s a central body. The outstation officers report to people in the headquarters. They do not report to anyone in the state governments. The IB officers co-ordinate terrorism and such issues with the state governments. They give information and provide the state police if any help is needed. It’s a part of an IB officer’s duty to call on the chief minister, governor and concerned ministers and appraise them about the security situation.

What we call SIB (Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau) appraises the state of everything. They sensitise state governments on security matters. This is the regular practice. The SIB chief discusses everything with the state government. 

Is Rajinder Kumar’s perceived closeness with the government in Gandhinagar not awkward?

I don’t know if Rajinder Kumar was close or not. He has to remain in close touch with the chief minister, governor, chief secretary, police chief and others. He has to update them. Or else he could be very well be in New Delhi. The chief of SIB is posted there in state capitals because he has to be in touch with them. This is the first time, I am hearing about Rajinder Kumar’s proximity with the CM (Narendra Modi).

I had been SIB chief in many difficult states of India like Kashmir, Sikkim and Mizoram. I was close to the chief ministers of those states. I used to call Dr Farooq Abdullah and ask for his appointment. Even if he was busy he always accommodated me. Calling on the chief minister was a part of my official duty. If we think the state CM has to know something urgently we can always get their audience. Nothing wrong in it. 

Pakistan, China renew ties

Growing dilemma in an 'all-weather' friendship 
by Harsh V. Pant

THERE is something not quite right about an inter-state bilateral relationship when words such as "higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight and sweeter than honey" are used repeatedly to describe it. No other relationship depends so much on flowery language to underscore its significance as that of China and Pakistan does.

Much like his predecessors in recent times, Nawaz Sharif also made his maiden trip as Pakistan's Prime Minister to China where at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sharif said his welcome "reminds me of the saying, our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey". Chinese President Xi Jinping, in response, referred to Sharif as an old friend and a good brother, said strengthening strategic cooperation with Islamabad was a priority for China's diplomacy.

A number of agreements were signed between the two sides during this visit, including a "long-term plan" related to the upgrade of the Karakoram highway as part of a proposed economic corridor between the two countries, and agreements on technology, polio prevention and solar housing. A $44-million project was also agreed to by the two countries to erect a fibre optic cable from the China-Pakistan border to Rawalpindi aimed at giving Pakistan more connectivity to international networks.

Sharif, in particular, lobbied with the Chinese companies to invest in the Pakistani power sector. More interesting was an agreement for cooperation between Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Communist Party of China, underlining how nimble China can be in tilting its foreign policy to the political dispensation of the day.

The Pakistani government has suggested that Sharif's visit will be helpful in transforming traditional foreign policy into economic diplomacy to give new boost to trade and economic relations with neighbours as well as laying a foundation of new strategic economic cooperation between both the countries, benefitting not only the two countries, but also leading to the integration of all economic engines of the region. Whether India is part of this grand thinking, however, remains to be seen.

To show China how seriously it is taken in Islamabad, Sharif has introduced a 'China cell' in his office to speed up development projects in the country. This cell will supervise all development projects to be executed with the cooperation of Chinese companies in Pakistan. This is an attempt to address Chinese concerns about the shoddy state of their investment in Pakistan because of the lackadaisical attitude of the Pakistani government. Meanwhile, Beijing too needs political and military support of the Pakistani government to counter the cross-border movement of the Taliban forces in the border Xinjiang province.

Expected to cost around $18 billion, the "Pak-China economic corridor" will link Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea and Kashghar in Xinjiang in northwest China. India has been left protesting even as China has continued to expand its presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and now with plans to develop a special economic zone in Gwadar, there is a danger that India's marginalisation is only likely to grow.

At a time when Pakistan is under intense scrutiny for its role in fighting extremism and terrorism, the world has been watching with interest to see how China decides to deal with Pakistan. China was the only major power that openly voiced support for Pakistan after bin Laden's assassination. During the visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister, the then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao affirmed that "Pakistan has made huge sacrifices and an important contribution to the international fight against terrorism, that its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity must be respected, and that the international community should understand and support Pakistan's efforts to maintain domestic stability and to realise economic and social development." Wen went on to state that China would like to be an "all-weather strategic partner" and would do its best to help the Pakistani government and people get through their difficulties.

To underscore its commitment, China agreed to immediately provide Pakistan with 50 new JF-17 Thunder multi-role jets under a co-production agreement, even as negotiations continued for more fighter aircraft, including those with stealth technology. Despite this, Pakistan wanted more from China - underscored by its expressed desire to have China take over the operation of Gwadar port. Pakistan had suggested that the port could be upgraded to a naval base for Chinese use.

China, however, immediately rejected this offer, not wanting to antagonise the US and India with the formal establishment of a base in Pakistan though earlier this year, the Chinese government-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Ltd had decided to purchase control of Gwadar port from Singapore's PSA International, which had won the contract in 2007 to operate the port for 40 years.

The Sino-Pakistan relationship remains fundamentally asymmetrical: Pakistan wants more out of its ties with China than China is willing to offer. Today, when Pakistan's domestic problems are gargantuan, China would be very cautious in involving itself even more. Moreover, the closer China gets to Pakistan, the faster India would move in to the American orbit.

Amid worries about the potential destabilising influence of Pakistani militants on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China has taken a harder line against Pakistan. The flow of arms and terrorists from across the border in Pakistan remains a major headache for the Chinese authorities and Pakistan's ability to control the flow of extremists to China at a time of growing domestic turmoil in Pakistan would remain a major variable.

As the Western forces move out of Afghanistan by 2014, Beijing is worried about regional stability and is recognising that close ties with Pakistan will not make it safer as recent troubles in Xinjiang have once again underscored. But officially, the two states will continue to view each other as important partners, especially as India's rise continues to aggravate Islamabad and cause anxiety in Beijing.n

The writer is a Reader in International Relations, Department of Defence Studies, King's College, London


Its Marxist rulers can make tiny Tripura a role model for ethnic reconciliation in India’s troubled Northeast, argues Subir Bhaumik

Pranab Mukherjee speaks during the inauguration of a power project in Palatana, Tripura, June 21, 2013

Tripura’s publicity-shy chief minister, Manik Sarkar, does not brag about his ‘hatrick’, as Assam’s chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, often does. His pragmatism is a contrast to the attitude of his arrogant party cousins in West Bengal. His idea of ‘good news’ is to stay off news and focus on targets he has set out to achieve for his tiny state of 10,491 square kilometres. He has no pretensions of aspiring to a national role, unlike many chief ministers with a poorer record of governance than his. But in his own quiet way, Sarkar is smartly playing into the emerging geopolitics of the region to take his state forward.

He has much to be proud of. His government has, within a decade, all but destroyed a vicious tribal insurgency with a mix of police action, grassroot level economic development and, what is not much known, trans-border effort. The crime rate has drastically fallen and food security has improved. The chief minister has also smartly cultivated ties with neighbouring Bangladesh, which he would once blame for sheltering insurgents. He has managed to implement the Palatana gas-fired power project by using the Chittagong-Ashuganj route to ship heavy equipment, and by quickly making the promise of power from the plant to power-starved Bangladesh. His government is now shipping foodgrain for the state through Bangladesh. When West Bengal is having difficulty getting industrial investment, Tripura is getting investors from Bangladesh to set up fruit processing and tyre-making factories in the state.

Despite allegations from the Opposition of partisanship, corruption and land mafia depredations against Sarkar’s party and government, the electorate has voted for the Marxists continuously since 1993. Even the Planning Commission has commended Tripura highly for development fund utilization, infrastructure expansion and much less corruption as compared to its neighbours in the Northeast.

But Sarkar realizes only too well that there is no room for complacency. The tribal insurgency is crushed but the indigenous tribal-Bengali settler divide is far from being bridged. Tripura continues to be the red rag for indigenous populations across the Northeast and all of them cite the anti-migrant agitations to avoid going the ‘Tripura way’. Tripura, where East Bengali refugees became a decisive majority within two decades after Partition (now they are nearly three-fourth of the total population), is seen in much the same light in the Northeast as Sikkim is in the Himalayas — a victim of the sweeping demographic changes in a neighbouring country with a much larger population base.

Most Northeastern states have been ravaged by vicious ethnic conflict, with insurgency often exacerbating the divide. Many would feel that developing a workable roadmap for ethnic reconciliation is a more pressing need in the Northeast, as important, if not more, as addressing the issues of ‘neglect’ by the Centre, the questions of resource-sharing or taking forward the Look East policy to connect with growing economies in the neighbourhood. The growing Naga-Meitei schism over the National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s persistent push for ‘greater Nagaland’ often leads to long economic blockades of Manipur and its highways, which India intends to use to connect with the Asian trilateral highway that will be the country’s link to the rest of Southeast Asia through Myanmar. The highway system is subjected to similar uncertainties in the upper stretches, especially in the present gateway to the Northeast — Assam’s Bodo heartland, where violence by ethnic groups and retaliation by settlers have frequently scarred the landscape in the recent past. Ethnic reconciliation is crucial to the maintenance of regional peace and stability, without which neither connectivity nor commerce is possible.

It is in this context that tiny Tripura can turn a corner, with some out-of-the-box thinking. If demographic change followed by alienation from land suffered by the tribals are at the root of the militant insurgency and the sharpening of the tribal-settler divide, then the Marxists in Tripura need to address the land question, specially the issue of tribal landlessness, with much more seriousness than their comrades have exhibited in West Bengal. In a state which is just taking the first steps towards industrialization and where land is not merely an economic resource providing livelihood but is also a symbol of the collective, evading the land question will not get the Marxists anywhere. Having said that, it is also true that the restoration of alienated tribal lands — once considered an option by the Marxists and the tribal parties — is an explosive issue that could lead to a conflagration of the kind Tripura faced in 1980.

So where to find the land to settle the tribal landless whose numbers have swelled over the years? Now that Tripura has found huge deposits of natural gas and plans to set up large gas-fired power plants are on the anvil (some have been already commissioned), the state could well consider the decommissioning of its only hydel project, which has become a white elephant and the reservoir of which hardly has any water to facilitate power generation during the dry summer months. This would free a huge tract of very fertile land — thousands of hectares — which has been under water for nearly 40 years now. Reclamation of this land, which was once part of the fertile Raima-Sarma Valley dominated by the tribal peasantry, could be followed by its equitable redistribution among the landless tribal population. By all estimates, a very large percentage of the state’s total population of the tribal landless can be gainfully resettled in this reclaimed Raima-Sarma Valley. Since this area falls under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, where non-tribals cannot own land, the small population of Bengali fishermen around the Dumbur reservoir can be relocated elsewhere in the state.