22 July 2013

The core issue in Kashmir ****

By INI Broad Mind on July 21, 2013
By Saurabh Chandra

Enforcing the writ of the constitution in Kashmir is the paramount duty of the Indian Republic. This can lead to some sporadic incidents of unrest in the short term. 

The current disturbance in Kashmir after the BSF firing in Ramban killed 4 people in a violent mob have again brought forth the conundrum of Kashmir. This is not the kind of unrest we were used to seeing in the heydays of militancy. However, this has not been uncommon in the past. With the militancy in definite decline, we are in pre-1989 territory again. Now that India has won the proxy war with Pakistan, it is time to face the real issue at hand.

Most outrage on social media on this issue highlights an armed state versus the citizens narrative. The occasion also brings back the argument that solving the Kashmir dispute is the only lasting solution. Both these responses side-step the key issue in Kashmir today. Without being politically correct, the issue at the heart of the problem is: how does a democratic Republic handle the desire of a very small section of its population to create an Islamic state. The situation is obviously not helped by the geography when that state borders a hostile, fundamentalist neighbour whose army officially vows to defend the ‘ideological frontiers of Islam’. Or that the Indo-Pak war of 1947 resulted in a bloody partition of the state. Today in 2013, no one can make a serious case for reversing a partition which happened 66 years ago. De factoborders which have stayed the same after multiple wars have a natural legitimacy.

Are there non-Islamist Kashmiris who want to secede from India? The non-Islamist Kashmiris would probably pronounce Maqbool Sherwani a hero, who delayed invaders in Baramulla in 1947 giving Indian army the chance to land in Srinagar. The Islamists have of course labelled him a traitor. Maqbool was crucified. The non-Islamist Kashmiri would have not pushed Pandits out of Kashmir, banned women from singing or enforced dress codes. Even if non-Islamist Kashmiris did think of independence at some time in the past, today they can’t afford to be at the mercy of Islamists without a supra-power such as the Indian state around to protect them. Outside of Kashmir we can paint the broad swath of the word Kashmiri but it is just a convenience afforded by distance. Zooming in, the word is synonymous with just one of the many identities claiming the state. The response of person like me with a Mirpuri ancestry to being called a Kashmiri would be the same as of a Coorgi being called a Kannadiga. Then there are the Poonchis, Laddakhis, Gujjars, Dogras and many others ethnicities. Kashmir is in that sense not at all unique. Such diversity is totally par for the course in the rest of India.

Coming to our core issue, how does a liberal, democratic Republic handle Islamists in Kashmir? There are only two ways for any region to secede from the Republic of India: One, convince two-thirds of the country’s elected representatives; and two, by force. To put it mildly, both of them are unlikely. It means that for the foreseeable future, we—we, as in the constituents of the Republic who believe in strengthening it—and the Islamists of Kashmir have to find a way to peacefully co-exist. As members of a liberal Republic, the citizens residing in Kashmir have a right to dissent. They, however, don’t have a right to inflict violence on other people, nor can they create an Islamic state under the current dispensation. This is non-negotiable. The idea of India is a plurality of people who have joined hands into a nation. At the heart of the idea is diversity, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Kashmir, with the diversity of language, faith and ethnicity in it, is a microcosm of India. To enforce the writ of the constitution and the Republic in Kashmir is the paramount duty of the Indian State.

While the objective of the Indian State is clear, the means to achieve it and resources deployed for the same are not so clear. The best use of force is when it doesn’t come into play. Non-fatal mob control, promotion of diversity, actively countering Islamist thought and greater economic linkages is what will achieve the objective in smarter ways. The more equipped the state government is in achieving these objectives, the better it is. For it will also mean a reduced role for the army. These measures will however show results only in the medium- and long-term. In the short term, we will continue to face challenges and witness some tragedies, such as the current one. Each such tragedy should pain every concerned citizen of India. But it should also remind us that forging a liberal Republic is not always peaceful. Or easy.

Saurabh Chandra is a Bangalore based technology entrepreneur with an interest in public policy.

Our problem is not spiritual but social *****

By Nitin Pai on 19th July 2013 

Rabindranath Tagore’s diagnosis of India’s problem

In this letter to a New York lawyer, Tagore accurately pinpoints the big problem—parochialism based on identity—and its unhappy consequences. It comes up again, in verse, in Where the Mind is Without Fear: “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments/By narrow domestic walls”. This letter was perhaps written around the same time (Gitanjali was published in 1912) and elaborates on the argument in high prose.

Letter to Myron H. Phelps (New York)
16 December 1911

In every age the spiritual ideal has found its highest expression in a few specially gifted individuals. Such are to be found in India even today, often in the most unlikely places—among the apparently sophisticated, as well as among the unlettered and outwardly uncultured—startling us with the wonderful depth of their spiritual perception and insight. I do not feel that India has lost her spiritual heritage, for it is clear to me that her highest thought and activity is still spiritual. In the old days, however, the simpler environment—the comparative freedom from so many diverse and conflicting interests—permitted of the easy permeation of this ideal, emanate though it did from a few isolated altitudes, through and through the lower strata—with the result that Truth was recognized and realized not only intellectually but also in the details of everyday life.

A distinguishing characteristic of this spiritual civilization, as I have explained in my former letter, was its inclusiveness, its all-comprehensiveness. Aliens were assimilated into the synthesis; their widely differing modes of thought and life and worship being given their due places in the scheme by a marvellous interpretative process. But while the evolution of the spirit thus proceeded upon highly complex lines, the growth of the material body went on in a simple unorganized fashion, so that the time arrived when the mesages of the spirit could no longer find their way unimpeded throughout, resulting in differences of spiritual intensity, and consequent compromises and aberrations in the character of its manifestations. That is why high thinking and degenerate living are seen side by side; ideals are converted into superstitions: and the finest of inspirations reduced to grossness in action, wherever the vitalizing spiritual stream is deprived of its freedom of onward movement.

The problem of India therefore does not seem to be that of re-establishing its lost ideals, but rather of reforming its overgrown body so as to harmonise with and give free and fitting expression to its ever-living soul. In other words our problem is not spiritual but social—that of reviving, by organizing and adapting to its more complex environment, our fast disintegrating social system. It is our disorganized society which prevents our ideas and activities from being broad, the narrower self from being merged into or sacrificed for the sake of the greater—and our national experiences are being dissipated and wasted for want of a storing and coordinating centre. The workings of the spirit are seen as flashes but cannot be utilised as a steady flame.

In the west the situation seems to bejust the opposite. There we see a highly organized body, as it were, of which the soul is dormant, or at least, not fully conscious. While our soul is in search of an adequate body for want of which it cannot give its inspirations effective shape, and succeeds only in displaying to the outside world various incongruities clothed in phantastic forms, we find the west deploring its lack of spirituality. But surely spirituality cannot be lacking where the larger self is finding such noble expression in comfort-scorning striving, in death-defying heroism. On what can this living for ideas be based if not on spirituality? As for the want of consciousness, does not that tend more and more to be remedied by the very activities to which so efficient an organism finds itself increasingly impelled?

It is only where life is petty and scattered, and society partitioned into mutually exclusive sects that the vision of the Great is lost—it is only there that the mental horizon becomes narrow, aspirations fail to soar high, and the spirit remains steeped in a perpetual despondency. Here and there some greater soul may succeed, like a cloud-topping peak, in rising into the serene atmosphere above; but the multitudes wallowing in the slough below are as devoid of material consolations as of clarity of spiritual perception, and an unmeaning repetition of ritual is the only lifelike response of which they seem capable.

If the spiritual genius of India is not to prove futile for the purposes of humanity then it needs must seek to acquire the art of body-building. May it not be possible, in that quest, to avail ourselves of the assistance of the West without treading that slippery path of imitation which leads only to self-destruction?

Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya ***

Their Common Threads
Growth vs development, Bhagwati vs Sen. Both are right, say experts.

“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.”

—Amartya Sen, Telegraph

“You must ask Professor Sen, not me, why he will not engage in a debate with me…. After all, he is the one who used the phrase ‘argumentative Indian’ to describe Indians.”

—Jagdish Bhagwati, Economic Times

“Ours is not a growth story. They (Bhagwati and Panagariya) argue that growth matters, we absolutely agree. We’d like to go much further than that.”

—Amartya Sen, Telegraph

“The truth of the matter is that Mr Sen has belatedly learned to give lip service to growth, which he has long excoriated as a fetish.”

—Jagdish Bhagwati, Economist

“It is a bit exasperating that critics jump to cry ‘unaffordable’ only when the beneficiaries are the poor and the hungry, rather than the well-fed users of subsidised electricity, subsidised diesel, subsidised cooking gas, artificially cheapened fertilisers, or import-duty free gold from abroad.”

—Amartya Sen, Tehelka

“”I would say Prof Sen is relying on estimates that are on such shaky ground that every serious analyst should at least question rather than regurgitate them.”

—Arvind Panagariya, Economic Times

I don’t think Narendra Modi is fit to be the prime minister of India

—Amartya Sen, Outlook

“That Gujarat has done extremely well on growth and, more important, on changes in social indicators, is undoubtedly true. Narendra Modi is known for his integrity.”

—Jagdish Bhagwati, Tehelka

Typically, a neat term in economics—regrettable necessities, or things we need, but can actually do without—would best describe the headline-grabbing import of two senior and globally influential economists slugging it out in the public domain. It all sounds important, but you’d hardly expect a debate about India’s growth versus its development between Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and globalisation guru Jagdish Bhagwati to set the Yamuna on fire.

Haven’t Profs Sen and Bhagwati (along with his colleague Arvind Panagariya) been sniping at each other on this very topic for over three years? More importantly, don’t they both have new books to sell? True. But surprise, surprise, the spat between them is playing out in the public domain. Given the backdrop of a plunging rupee and elections around the corner, their cut and thrust has become part of the raging debate over India embarking on the Food Security Bill to ensure food at nominal cost to around two-thirds of the population.

‘The state needs to provide resources, safety nets, like jobs for the poor, else the development mode is flawed.’Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary-general, CUTS Intl 

The positions are evident in the titles of their new books. In April, Bhagwati and Panagariya released Why Growth Mat­ters, where they push for more reforms to fuel India’s (currently) flagging growth engine and in the process pull out more people from poverty. More recently Sen, along with co-author Jean Dreze, has launched An Uncertain Glory, where they argue that economic growth is a pointless goal if not dovetailed with a plan to have state-supported social inve­s­tments to help millions of India’s poor.

The politics comes from the fact that though both economists are close to PM Man­mohan Singh, Sen is weighing in clearly in favour of the UPA—recently def­­ending the UPA’s decision to opt for the ordinance route for the food security bill. This has upset many economists arg­uing against the bill. As journalist Tav­leen Singh, a critic of the government, tweeted, “Sad that the PM decided to listen to his friend Amartya Sen and not his other friend Jagdish Bha­gwati!”

There’s an added political edge—if Sen has praised the Kerala and Bihar model of state-led development, Bhagwati has upheld the Gujarat model of entreprene­urial- and market economy-led development. Bhagwati and Panagariya have openly admired the BJP’s Narendra Modi, thus drawing support from vocal right-wing critics of Sen.

Indian Politicians: Pakistan's Proxy Soldiers


Col. Purohit of the Military Intelligence was implicated for his association with ‘Abhinav Bharat’, an organization labelled by the authorities as progenitor of so-called ‘Hindu Terror’. It is another matter that more than 50 officers of the Army in the Court of Inquiry have vouched for the fact that he had kept all the relevant authorities in loop regarding his infiltration into the said organization. The officer also had very successfully infiltrated the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and was regularly invited by the Maharashtra ATS to conduct lectures on IM and LeT. 

A fortnight before 26/11, Col Purohit was arrested. As a consequence the Military Intelligence of India was intimidated and paralyzed. Was it to facilitate the attack on Mumbai by the LeT?

Now there is an attack on the core of internal security, i.e. Intelligence Bureau of India. Its sin being that it provided ‘specific intelligence’ with regard to the plans by an itinerate module comprising four LeT terrorists, two Pakistanis and also an Indian woman Ishrat Jahan to kill the Chief Minister of a state of Union of India.

It is another matter that this Chief Minister happens to be Narendra Modi.The dispensation in Delhi seems to convey ‘death to Modi, long live LeT’.The love or fear of LeT has impelled the quarters to consciously wreck the internal security apparatus of the country.

Even as the embers of the targeting of the IB fly in and outside the country, an Inspector of Punjab Police, Surjit Singh, has claimed that he has carried out 83 fake encounters at the behest of his bosses during the ‘Sikh Freedom Movement’. The timing of the smote on the conscience and the moral churning process of this Inspector clearly indicates the identity of his benefactors. The ISI’s desperate bid to revive militancy in Punjab through its strategic arm LeT has been widely reported in the media. This seems to be yet another attempt by the ISI and LeT to destroy the security apparatus in Punjab so as to make uncontested in-roads. 

The targets have been carefully selected i.e the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the state police forces, which includes the Gujarat Police, where nearly a dozen officers have been hounded and intimidated by the Center.

The only officer who has found favour of the Center was the one demanding a Black Berry phone from a political party to settle political scores.

The common enemy of these agencies is the LeT. It is the same LeT (Markaz-e-Taiba), which has received Rs. 61 million from the Punjab government in Pakistan as grant-in-aid in the current fiscal. The tragedy is that it is not only Pakistan establishment which grovels to the head of LeT, Hafiz Saeed, but the Indian establishment as well.

The love or fear of LeT has impelled the quarters to consciously wreck the internal security apparatus of the country.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19 year old girl from Mumbai was killed with LeT terrorists in Ahmedabad in an encounter on 15 June 2004. The family members in hindsight allege that Ishrat was ‘abducted’ by the IB. It is queer that once she went missing her family members did not deem it fit to lodge an FIR with the Mumbai Police. Their inaction and silence on the issue can also be construed that the links with LeT run much deeper and wider.

The dispensation by attacking the Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Rajendra Kumar, has attacked the core of India’s internal security intelligence. All for whom, but the LeT!

Mr Rajendra Kumar’s failing has been his being professional and conscientious. In that, he acquired intelligence from ‘sources’, informed the higher-ups in Delhi, which includes his seniors and in-turn the Ministry of Home Affairs. His main failing however was that, in the process, he was not saving a Chief Minister but Narendra Modi. If he had acted in the same manner to save the life of some privileged ‘democratic-monarchs’ of the country, he would have been awarded Padma Vibhushan and in the case of highest monarch a ‘ Bharat Ratna.’ After all the same dispensation rewarded Mr Brajesh Mishra with Padma Vibushan for his Boston rescue operation of the ‘Yuvraj’. Readers with little research can know the truth.

Never before in the history of India, an IB or R&AW official was asked to submit before the CBI for interrogation on professional matters. Is it a ploy to unravel the entire intelligence framework of the country?

This author who served with R&AW would have preferred to kill himself rather than submit to the CBI for interrogation of sensitive matters that are vital to Indian security interests. If this author were the head of the IB, the Special Director would report to the CBI over his dead body. The CBI has absolutely no competence to interrogate an IB and R&AW official on matters of internal and external security. By sheer level of politicization, the mediocre content of the job of the CBI, it is ill-equipped to deal with IB and R&AW officials.

If the CBI cannot be trusted with Arushi murder case or the Nithari case pertaining to Moninder Singh Pandher, what is its credibility! The whole world knows the truth in these cases sans the CBI. Can the Prime Minister at the current stage of his life cross his heart and vouch that he does not know the truth in these two cases? How has suddenly the CBI become the repository of the national conscience, which includes the IB and the R&AW?

THIEVING GALORE- The highs and lows of corruption in India

Commentarao
S.L. Rao

In past scams, few have been caught, returned the moneys or been punished. Here are some past scams: Krishna Menon in the jeep scandal in 1948; S.A. Venkataraman, a senior ICS officer, jailed in import licensing scam for cycles in 1952; the Chagla Commission on the Mundra deal, and resignation of the then finance minister, T.T. Krishnamachari; Dharma Teja fled the country in 1981 when accused of misdeeds; in 1982, A.R. Antulay, then chief minister of Maharashtra, lost his job for profiting from businesses to which he gave licenses; and Bofors in 1987, leading to the diminution of Rajiv Gandhi and his subsequent defeat at the polls.

Unlike in the West, our corruption is at all levels. Many commission agents have prospered in defense imports, including a former chief of the navy. India deserves a rule forbidding former civilian and military officials in defense from becoming import agents. Corrupt practices in government procurement and spending benefit politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. Big earnings are from large defense purchases. A cause or effect of defense imports is the poor quality and delivery of our defense research. Purchases of planes for Air India and big public-sector purchases of machinery and equipment earn money for ministers, bureaucrats and agents. The decline of the public sector and little expansion have reduced these opportunities. With competition, the private sector is unable to take similar cuts on purchases as before.

Commissions on big purchases are invariably paid abroad. Politicians and bureaucrats have therefore perpetuated facilitating mechanisms. Exempting investments from Mauritius and some other countries from capital gains tax is a money-laundering mechanism. Similarly, ‘participatory notes’ enable anonymous investments by banks overseas. Both these require a well-oiled and protected havala mechanism to send money abroad illegally.

National resources — telecom spectrum, captive coal mines, buying planes, giving away airline routes and seat entitlements and so on — have become a major source of illegal earnings by government officials and agents. An example is the unwanted purchase of expensive planes by Air India (when it was seeking massive bailout funds) without any plans for utilization. Unsurprisingly, no government wants to give up ownership of Air India, despite the big drain on the budget. Selling nationally owned natural resources as a good way to make money for bureaucrats and politicians has become difficult. Constitutional authorities like the CAG are uncovering such scams, as in telecom and coal.

The largest domestic source of corruption is from social welfare expenditure; on the rural employment guarantee scheme, public distribution system, subsidized kerosene, rural health mission and so on. These spend hundreds of thousands of crores. Government judges success by the spending, not its effects. Their implementation enables the generation of vast amounts of illegal moneys for low-level government and public-sector employees as well as those higher up, and local politicians.

The Food Corporation of India was once — till Coal India took the position — considered the most corrupt organization in India. It is responsible for procuring, transporting, storing and again transporting to other depots for distribution to retailers and then to consumers. Handling millions of tonnes of (primarily) rice and wheat provides opportunities for FCI employees to cheat. One obvious way is to pay for A-grade grain and accept B. There must be considerable collusion at other levels to do this successfully. The creation of bogus ration cards adds more corruption. Half the rationed quantities are said to be diverted to the trade. Beyond this, there is money to be made in issuing ration cards even to those entitled to them and more when they are not entitled. Much more is earned by issuing cards in bogus names, usually to traders, and sometimes to hoteliers, who use or re-sell the rations in the open market. In addition, there are the distortions in agriculture as farmers are encouraged to grow cereals the demand for which is declining.

Big Brother India?

By Rohan Joshi on July 16, 2013

Why the Central Monitoring System (CMS) is not India’s PRISM.

Read almost any article on India’s soon to be implemented Central Monitoring System (CMS), and you’ll see references and attempts to draw parallels between the CMS and the (until recently) secret U.S. surveillance and data-collection program, PRISM. Some articles have drawn comparisons between the two programs in an attempt to amplify threat perceptions, while other equations, curiously, seem to have been drawn with a sense of national pride.

Except the CMS is not India’s PRISM. The only similarity between the two programs appears to be the objective — an apparent attempt to implement a program for the legal interception of data. But that’s where all comparisons should end. Both programs differ on general approach, operate under very different legal environments, and are dissimilar in terms of checks-and-balances and technical capabilities.

Interestingly, while the Indian government publicly announced its intention to establish a program for the legal interception of citizens’ data, it did not put into place any of the checks-and-balances needed (that we know of, anyway) for such an intrusive program. Electronic data under the CMS, for example, can be legally intercepted by dozens of government agencies without the knowledge or cooperation of telecommunications and Internet service providers. Indian citizens know little else about the program, apart from the fact that it apparently exists.

On the other hand, although the establishment of PRISM was a much more clandestine affair, the U.S. put into place mechanisms to regulate surveillance and circumscribed Executive authority. Surveillance without the acquiescence of service providers was made difficult. Only the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence could authorize surveillance through a formal order obtained through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court; service providers were provided the ability to challenge the order to grant access to surveillance in a FISA court.

The legal environment matters too. Strong privacy and data retention regulation in the U.S. have allowed groups to sue U.S. government agencies involved in PRISM on the grounds that it violated the rights of citizens to “reasonable expectations of privacy.” Similar laws do not exist in India and it is unclear as to what recourse an Indian citizen would have vs. the Government of India should his or her privacy be unreasonably breached (or personal data disclosed) through electronic surveillance.

But perhaps most importantly, the differences are stark with regard to technical capabilities. For all intents and purposes, the Internet as we know it today is a culmination of research conducted by the U.S.’s armed forces and educational institutions. Mechanisms to secure data, in storage and in transit, were also developed by institutions in the U.S. The AES encryption algorithm (in its various avatars) for instance, is now widely used to encrypt data worldwide.

The AES itself owes its mass acceptance to a detailed assessment and approval by a body of the U.S. government. Which one? Oh, a tiny little agency known as the NSA. Indeed, the same NSA in charge of PRISM. How many countries and agencies would you suppose understand the intricacies and vulnerabilities of the AES algorithm better than the NSA?

India, on the other hand, benefits from no such advantages. Its public and private institutions are not net-contributors to mass acceptance Internet and telecommunications technologies. Most services consumed by Internet users in India (e.g., Google, Gmail, Facebook) are not physically based in India and employ encryption technologies that the Indian government cannot breach (at least, not without the active assistance of foreign governments). Thus, even with the CMS, the Indian government will be at the mercy of foreign service providers to gain access to data published on popular and secure Internet platforms.

The Indian government could, of course, intercept land-based and mobile communication. Indeed, the recent announcement by Research in Motion (the makers of BlackBerry mobile devices) means that the Indian government will have the ability to intercept voice and data communicated through all non-Corporate BlackBerry devices in India. These capabilities, will no doubt, be rolled into the CMS. But the use of open-source mobile operating systems coupled with encryption technology could still frustrate attempts to intercept mobile communication.

Effectively, this means that the Indian government is attempting to build a program whose extensive Executive mandate does not match its limited and imbalanced technical capabilities. Such a system will, I fear, be inept or worse, vulnerable to misuse.

Ultimately, the Indian government must engage its citizens in a dialog on the need for a system for legal surveillance, and build trust among its citizens. Ordinary, law-abiding citizens are not the only mass consumers of Internet and telecommunications technologies; terrorists and enemies of the state are too. You could make a fairly solid argument, particularly given the challenges India continues to face with regard to national security, in favor of a system for legal surveillance. Unfortunately, the Indian government has chosen silence instead of dialog. This is no way to assuage the anxieties of citizens in a liberal democracy such as ours.
Read the Takshashila Institution‘s discussion document on the Central Monitoring System where we argue that:

[S]uch an inherently pervasive and intrusive program cannot be deployed in a liberal democracy without an adequate level of trust between the government and its citizens and an appropriate framework of checks-and-balances to ensure that entrusted agencies do not overstep their jurisdiction.

Thus, it is imperative that the Indian government take its citizens into confidence on the necessity for such a program, evolve an appropriate framework of laws, including those pertaining to privacy and data retention, and establish a system of checks-and-balances to ensure against systemic overreach prior to the implementation of the CMS. [Takshashila Institution]

Why are there riots in India?

Sun Jul 21 2013

There was a presentation of a new book on the Partition of Punjab last week in one of the committee rooms at the House of Lords. We still don't know how many millions died in Partition. Even so, stories are always told of incredible hospitality when an Indian or Pakistani crosses the border and visits the other country.

Partition and its memories are at the root of Hindu-Muslim communal riots in India. We have still not written the true history of why Partition happened. It is convenient for the Congress, which signed up for Partition, to blame it all on Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In Pakistan, they blame Lord Mountbatten. The Indian attitude after Partition has been of denial. Jinnah, we are told, espoused the two-nation theory, which the Congress never believed in. India is a single, syncretic nation which the Congress fought to protect.

This may be a desirable line to adopt as a device to maintain peace and harmony. It has not worked. But as a piece of history, it is tosh. Pakistan was demanded, not as a separate nation state, but as an autonomous sub-federation in independent India by Jinnah and, agreed to by all parties in July 1946. Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru were in London negotiating in December 1946. It was Liaquat Ali Khan's radical budget, taxing businessmen (most of whom were Hindu) who made wartime profits, which ended the truce between the Congress and the Muslim League in March 1947. The cabinet could not function any longer and Mountbatten dealt with the two sides separately. By April, Mountbatten had swung Nehru and Patel in favour of Partition. By June 1947, the Congress had agreed and Mountbatten announced it. It took all of one month for Partition to be negotiated and agreed upon. The division of Bengal and Punjab came from the votes in their respective assemblies later, with Congress members voting for the break-up of both states. Boundaries were not fixed till after August 15, 1947. Carnage followed.

Partition was a failure of all sides—Congress, Muslim League and the British. They all went into it with their eyes open. Their reasons may have been different. They were getting old and impatient as Nehru said. Or they knew they were dying as was the case with Jinnah. It was not built on any principle, only haste and expediency.

But that is the past. One thing which emerged clearly in the House of Lords' discussion is that mass violence can occur and persist only if authorities stand back, out of connivance or incompetence. That is one clear guideline through all the post-Independence riots in India. While Nehru was PM, for 17 years, no riots were allowed to flare up. Immediately upon some incident, police moved in and stopped further violence. One year after he died, riots resumed and have not stopped for the 48 years since.

Think of all the major episodes. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were carried out by Congress workers with police connivance. Three thousand Sikhs died because, as was said, 'When a great tree falls, the Earth shakes'. The demolition of Babri Masjid was foretold and promised. Then PM Narasimha Rao chose not to deploy the Army or any other force, staying in puja on December 6, 1992, no doubt praying that the BJP pays for their folly. In effect, the Congress has alienated Muslim votes in UP and Bihar for 10 years at least.

The 1993 Bombay riots were similar, as the Srikrishna report has shown. Again, passivity from police and connivance of the cabinet. No Maharashtra chief minister has apologised for what happened and Bal Thackeray was given a State funeral. Narendra Modi presided over riots which followed the burning down of a railway carriage carrying 59 Hindu karsevaks. Swift police action, even on the second day of the riots, would have stopped it. It was later that the Army took control. No one has apologised.

The first law of Indian riots is that it needs a conniving executive to make them happen. The second law is that the prime minister/chief minister in-charge never apologises.

Narayana Murthy tightens grip over Infosys

July 15, 2013

N R Narayana Murthy, who returned to Infosys last month, has now taken over the driver's seat at the Bangalore-based company. 

After assuming charge as the executive chairman, Murthy has returned to the same office, in the company's corporate headquarters in building number one, from where he unassumingly controlled its direction for many years.

Soon after his retirement from all executive roles in August 2006, Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys, had withdrawn himself to building number 10, known as the heritage building and which used to be the corporate headquarters of company during its infancy.


To accommodate him in the corporate block, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director S D Shibulal, who was co-sharing the corner office with vice-chairman (earlier co-chairman) S Gopalakrishnan, has now shifted to a place on the second floor of the building that used to be his office when he was heading the operations as the chief operating officer. 

According to employees, ever since Murthy assumed the new role, he has confined himself to the crux of the company affairs and is busy formulating action plans to be rolled out in phases, without creating much flutter. 

This is expected to result in some changes in management, especially at the mid-level.


In an interview with Business Standard after taking over as executive chairman last month, Murthy had said he would soon identify areas where the company had not done well. 

"After studying the situation and after collecting data, certainly I would participate in discussions on what has worked and what has not worked, and what needs to be changed," Murthy had said.

Earlier this week, Basab Pradhan, a company veteran heading the global sales and marketing, quit. Sources said Pradhan's exit could have been because of the course correction and some tweaks in the organisational structure Infosys is expected to kick-start under the leadership of Murthy.

In a regime of fear, he was fearless

Fali S. Nariman

In a tribute to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harold Laski had said that to be a great Judge one must first be a great man. In the reckoning of the Bar, and of all who knew him, Justice H.R. Khanna fulfilled that pre-eminent requirement.

OVER five years ago at a prayer meeting held at the Panchsheel Club on February, 28th 2008 – just three days after the passing away of Justice H.R. Khanna, I was asked to say a few words about the great judge – this was because since his premature resignation as a Supreme Court Judge (in 1977) he had by then also become a personal friend.

At that time I had said that we were paying homage to one who never became Chief Justice of India because (and only because) he had refused to bow to insolent might; because, that in a regime of fear, he was the one Judge who was fearless.

A view of the Supreme Court. Justice Khanna's dissenting judgement in the ADM Jabalpur vs Shivkant Shukla case cost him the Chief Justiceship of India

During the internal Emergency imposed on June 26, 1975, which lasted till 21 March 1977, personal liberties were taken away by the dreaded MISA, (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) resulting in excessive harassment and oppression of innocent citizens; they were left with no legal recourse, only because the Fundamental Right under Article 21 had been suspended – a suspension then permissible under the Emergency provision of our Constitution (Article 359(1)).

At that time it was believed – a belief prompted by the assertions of a majority of four of the senior Justices of the Supreme Court – that Article 21 was the sole repository of the right to life and liberty – hence, whenever Article 21 was suspended during the period of an Emergency, no person could have recourse to any form of legal redress in courts. This was said by a majority of four of the five seniormost judges in that now notorious – and yet not overruled -- case titled ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla, the judgment in which was delivered in April 1976 during the subsistence of the internal Emergency.

Chief Justice A. N. Ray (who delivered the main judgment in ADM Jabalpur) attempted a juristic justification for the majority view when he glibly said:

“Liberty is itself the gift of the law and may by the law be forfeited or abridged.”

Justice H. R. Khanna (the seniormost Judge on the bench next to Chief Justice A. N. Ray) did not agree. He refused to consider Ray’s formulation as an acceptable proposition of the constitutional law. In his now famous dissent Khanna said:

“I am unable to subscribe to the view that when the right to enforce the fundamental right under Article 21 is suspended, the result would be that there would be no remedy against deprivation of a person’s life and liberty by the State even though such deprivation is without the authority of law or even in flagrant violation of the provisions of law.”

Giving his reason for this view Justice Khanna bespoke the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (to which India was a signatory). He said:

“The right not to be deprived of one’s life or liberty without the authority of law was not the creation of our Constitution – it existed before the Constitution came into force”.

For this proposition Khanna relied on the twin principles of universal inherence and inalienability which are the foundation of modern human rights law, viz. that every human being has certain rights capable of being enumerated and defined which are not conferred on him by any ruler or government, rights which inhere in him by virtue, of his humanity alone; and that he could not be deprived of such rights by the act of any king or ruler or (in a democracy) even by the will of a majority of the sovereign people.

Justice Khanna was the first of all our Indian Judges who gave recognition to primacy of place of human rights in a country avowedly governed by the rule of law. In ADM Jabalpur the influence of his dissenting judgment has been profound – an influence transcending the limits usually assigned to judicial utterances. It is his dissenting judgement that was the inspiration, post-Emergency, for the amendment to Article 359 – an amendment that stipulated that Article 21 could not be suspended even during an Emergency.

In Seervai’s great book on Constitutional Law of India the author has severely criticised the majority judgment in ADM Jabalpur. And as to Khanna’s dissent this is what Seervai has to say:

“If .........the dissenting judgment of Justice Khanna has not been considered in detail it is not for lack of admiration for the judgment or the courage which he showed in delivering it regardless of the cost and consequences to himself. It cost him the Chief Justiceship of India. But it gained for him universal esteem not only for his courage but also for his inflexible judicial independence…. The conclusion which Justice Khanna has reached on the effect of the suspension of Article 21 is absolutely correct”.

It is now acknowledged by all that the majority view of the Supreme Court (4:1) in ADM Jabalpur overruling the judgments of nine High Courts in the country which took a contrary view stands today as the lowest watermark in Indian human rights jurisprudence.

In a book written some years ago by a famous broadcaster, Alistair Cooke, titled “Six Men” the author has referred to Edward, Duke of Windsor – the man who abdicated England’s throne to marry Wallace Simpson -- in rather disparaging terms. Alistair Cooke said that the Duke of Windsor “was always at his best when the going was good”. Justice HR Khanna showed to the people of India, with his dissent in ADM Jabalpur, that as a Judge he was at his best not when the going was good – but when the going was rough -- as it undoubtedly was during the internal Emergency of June 1975.

Finish what you started

Mon Jul 22 2013

US Vice President Biden's visit could be an occasion for the political leadership in Delhi and Washington to emphasise the importance of completing the ambitious agenda unveiled in 2005

It is not often that American vice presidents show up in India. In any case, vice presidential visits abroad don't get too much attention either in the United States, or the host country. But there are good reasons to take US Vice President Joe Biden's visit this week to Delhi and Mumbai, seriously. US vice presidents are no longer inconsequential in the making of American domestic and foreign policies. Biden's two predecessors, Dick Cheney and Al Gore, had considerable influence in defining the national agenda

during the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations respectively.

Biden enjoys the full confidence of President Barack Obama, who has cut much political space for his vice president. Biden played a key role in contributing to Obama's victory in both the presidential campaigns. Folksy and combative, Biden was a valuable foil to Obama, who tends to be professorial and finds it difficult to connect with ordinary people. Biden's vast international experience has often come in handy for Obama in coping with the major foreign policy challenges that he inherited from Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden's pragmatism has helped cut through the arguments of the ideologues on the left and right, who tend to dominate the foreign policy discourse in Washington.

One hopes Biden will bring the same common sense to bear upon India-US relations, widely perceived to be in a trough. Biden was among the key people in Washington who helped transform the India-US relationship over the last decade. The Democratic Party's foreign policy establishment reacted vehemently against the historic civil nuclear initiative unveiled by former President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh eight years ago this month. Hillary Clinton, then in the race for the presidency, chose to stay quiet. Obama, a freshman senator who was finding a niche for himself, was critical of the deal and demanded changes. In contrast, Biden eagerly embraced the civil nuclear initiative, helped reduce the suspicions among the Democrats and ensured its passage in the US Congress twice over. Few political leaders in the Democratic Party can claim ownership of the civil nuclear initiative in the manner that Biden can. The vice president, however, comes to India at a time when there is a sense of drift in India-US relations. His principal task would be to find ways to impart new momentum to them.

Although the India-US engagement has expanded and deepened beyond anyone's imagination over the last decade, there is no hiding the disappointments on both sides. Some would say India and the US are simply moving from an extended honeymoon to the challenges of making a marriage work. The romance has inevitably yielded to a tiresome routine. Staying with the metaphor of marriage, Biden and his Indian interlocutors must focus on five guidelines to make the relationship robust and enduring.

First, renew the political vows. Former President Bush and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were not just animated by a narrow strategic calculus when they chose to define a new direction for bilateral relations. They were moved by a strong conviction that after five wasted decades, Washington and Delhi could and should be natural partners. The initial vision that drove the partnership has been lost with bureaucracies on both sides slowing the momentum. All partnerships require mutual faith, and restoring it should be at the top of the agenda in the conversations between Biden and the Indian leadership.

Second, remember the shared long-term interests. Delhi and Washington need each other a lot more today than a decade ago, whether it is in accelerating economic growth or promoting national security. America's unipolar moment has passed, and the expectations about India's rapid economic growth have dimmed. Delhi and Washington help themselves by deepening the partnership with the other.

Third, finish what you started. The time has come for the political leadership in both capitals to emphasise the importance of completing the ambitious agenda unveiled in 2005. Delhi and Washington must quickly iron out the remaining wrinkles in the implementation of the civil nuclear initiative, facilitate commercial agreements between American vendors and Indian operators, and intensify the effort to complete India's integration into the global order. On the defence front, Washington must keep its word on liberalising technology transfer. In turn, Delhi must make it easier for US defence and high technology companies to invest in India.

Fourth, don't be too transactional. All good relationships are based on give and take. But they can't be sustained on the basis of constant accounting of what has been delivered by the other side. Exaggerated notions of what one or the other owes, leads to recrimination, bad blood and separation. Delhi and Washington can't allow the India-US partnership to become a nickel and dime operation, with senior figures in both capitals obsessing about the trivia and forgetting the big picture.

Five, intensify strategic cooperation in Asia. During the Cold War, the central problem for India and the US was their conflicting approaches towards Asia. The improvement of the bilateral relationship in the last few years has been rooted in greater convergence of their interests in Asia.

NSA scoffs at Indian Prism, favours cooperation on cyber security

Sandeep Joshi

The Hindu National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon has advocated formulating ground rules for cooperation which would help India succeed in obtaining Internet information from major powers such as the U.S. that control much of cyber space. File photo

Acknowledging that better indigenous snooping capabilities may not be enough to protect India’s cyber security, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon has advocated formulating a set of “standard operating procedures” (SOPs) — ground rules for cooperation which would help India succeed in obtaining Internet information from major powers that control much of cyber space.

In an internal note focusing on the cyber security challenges that India faces today and the way forward, Mr. Menon has said that apart from striving to augment its own capabilities, India needs to counter cyber warfare/terrorism through international cooperation rather than go it alone, particularly when attacks, espionage and anarchy in cyber space would remain a reality for a long time to come.

Stating that international cyber space was today an “anarchic, lawless domain”, Mr. Menon noted: “Instead of chasing a chimera and tying our prestige to it, it would be better to use our cyber security dialogues and international cooperation to achieve practical results…We might press partners for the sharing of data harvested from Indian users and sites, the purposes for which they were used, and the legal basis on which the acquisition was authorised. A practical goal would be to seek SOPs for security cooperation in cyber space with other major IT powers, rather than attempting grand pursuits.”

Noting that the U.S. and U.K. agencies and ISPs were “extremely stingy” in sharing information, Mr. Menon says: “When we seek data about or action against malicious or criminal activity, the US government and ISPs plead inability to respond due to privacy laws, as we found when social media were used to create panic and drive out North-Easterners from south and west India last summer.”

Underlining the difficulties India faces while dealing with cases of cyber crimes, Mr. Menon has said: “The basic infrastructure for telephony and Internet data (including the root servers and Internet service providers or ISPs) is overwhelmingly U.S.-owned and based.”

HOW INDIA IS LEARNING FROM CHINA

Srikanth Kondapalli
Strategicstudyindia : July 19, 2013 

When it came to national security issues, China never hesitated to take a quick decision regardless of the material costs. Nor were the superiority in military strength of the adversary a consideration, Srikanth Kondapalli points out.

After dilly-dallying on the composition, budgetary allocations, role and missions of the service arms and bureaucratic wrangling between the defence and foreign/security establishments, the idea of the Strike Corps -- the fourth such force, but the latest dedicated to mountain warfare -- took concrete shape with the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security.

Expected to cost nearly Rs 89,000 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan and composed of three-division strength, the proposed Corps is expected to take war into Tibet and enhance the costs if the other side ventures into India.

Although doubts were expressed on the need for such a Strike Corps, the contextual reasons strengthened this idea. Firstly, the then Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor stated in late 2009 that the armed forces are gearing up for a two-theatre front under nuclear conditions -- one addressing the Pakistan scenario and the other China -- in addition to considering the nuclear factor of Pakistan and China.

In the light of the continuing Chinese assistance to Pakistan in the nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, such an assessment is hardly out of place. His successor General V K Singh re-iterated this position. However, the above military objectives and intentions were not matched with force levels on ground -- with turf wars coming to the fore between different services and ministries.

Secondly, the mounting asymmetry in military strength between China and India as a result of China's rise is clearly visible in the Indian fears from the northern neighbour which had raised several irredentist claims recently.

This growing asymmetry is reflected in budgetary allocations as well as actual military strength. Thus China spends (officially estimated at $120 billion) more than three times the Indian defence budget.

In the next two decades China is expected to surpass the United States defence spending to over $1 trillion, while Beijing already surpassed every other country in Asia.

Of these figures, it is estimated that China spends nearly one-fourth of such allocations in the borders with India and is reflected in over 30 military exercises conducted in and around Tibet in the last two years, military deployment including recently of J-10 and Su-27 long-range multi-role fighter aircraft and deliberate nuclear deterrence signals by the official press that China's missiles are now land/rail mobile.

Asymmetry in military strength is also reflected in troops's strength -- although both are now gearing for hi-tech local or limited wars in which infantry strength plays marginal role. While India has four Corps -- the 14th, 3rd, 4th and 33rd Corps including 10 Mountain Infantry Divisions of a total strength of nearly 220,000 -- China has four Group Armies in 13th, 14th, 21st, 47th with a total strength of about 400,000 troops in the Chengdu and Lanzhou military regions with operational jurisdiction bordering India.

The Sichuan-based 149th Airborne Division is seen frequently deployed in Tibet for rapid troops transport, augmented also by the rail and road networks in the region. These resulted in the Indian armed forces raising threat levels vis-a-vis China from 'low' to 'medium' levels in the last decade.

With the additional 50,000 troops as a part of the Strike Corps formation, India could partly mitigate this asymmetry in strength. More significantly it provides for a psychological boost to the Indian armed forces.

Thirdly, since the Indian nuclear tests in 1998, there has been a visible increase in the transgressions of the Line of Actual Control by the border patrols. Thus on an average there is an estimated three-digit figure of such transgressions in the eastern and western sectors of the border.

While both sides certified that there existed 'peace and tranquility' on the border areas, the situation on the ground indicated to intense jockeying for space.

Transgressions like the April 15 to May 5 Depsung Plains and recently at Chumar punctured this position. An exasperated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated in his press briefing, during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Delhi in May, that since 1988 the basic understanding between the two countries is to maintain peace and tranquility so that they could explore relations in the diplomatic and economic spheres.

A grave unfolding crisis

Threat to Afghanistan's integrity itself
by Lt Gen Kamal Davar (retd)

THE region of the historical Great Games, the land of the Hindu Kush, totters once again, with a grave crisis unfolding, portending a bleak future importantly for Afghanistan's integrity itself. Continually reeling with political instability and senseless Taliban perpetrated violence notwithstanding, more than a decade of a formidable US and International Security Forces' (ISAF) military presence in Afghanistan, the hapless fratricidal conflicts- afflicted country faces stormy times with the impending, perhaps hastily ill-timed, withdrawal of the US and the ISAF next year.

For years, the principal player in this region, the US, essentially having not achieved its strategic objective of effectively cleansing this region of the Al Qaida and other fundamentalist Islamic terror conglomerates, is looking eagerly to vacate Afghanistan, leaving behind a volatile restive nation to its fate. It does not, at all, speak highly of the world's sole super power, notwithstanding the military fatigue and financial burden the US has undergone in its 12 years of presence in this violent expanse. Nevertheless, the US can take comfort for what it achieved in the early part of the decade when it had ousted the fundamentalist Taliban regime from Kabul in 2001 and later eliminating Al Qaida supremo Osama bin Laden in 2011 who was holed up in Pakistan clandestinely by the Pakistani establishment since 2005. That the US endeavoured, rather unsuccessfully, to usher in stable democracy and peace in Afghanistan, before its proposed inglorious exit, will remain historically one of America's grave failures like Vietnam in the mid-sixties and recently Iraq.

With the draw-down of the US troops and the ISAF next year from Afghanistan, perhaps leaving a small training team and some air effort, teams to operate US drones, a security detail and some logistics and maintenance detachments, the US forces will be in no position to provide any worthwhile security to the Karzai regime or any governmental civil or military installations. Thus the situation will be ripe for the formidable Pakistani-supported Taliban, Pashtun warlords like Gulbuddin Hekayatmar, the Haqqani network and remnants of Al Qaida foot soldiers to create mayhem in Kabul, especially the eastern and southern portions of Afghanistan to fill in the political and security vacuum created by President Hamid Karzai's relinquishing his Presidential post and the US withdrawal respectively. Thus surmising that Pakistan and its Talibani cohorts are eagerly awaiting the US forces' departure will be an understatement.

It is indeed paradoxical that most nations that have a stake in Afghanistan's future have, by and large, conflicting objectives. The US now only wish for a near trouble free exit with their heavy equipment and minimum 'bodybags', the Russians looking for some enhanced military sales to any future dispensation in Kabul, the Chinese in their unending quest for resources the world over, currently are eyeing the huge mineral deposits of Afghanistan, while the Iranians plan to restore their Shia influence in Afghanistan. However, the Pakistanis unabashedly are looking ahead to planting an absolutely pliant regime in Kabul which can acquiesce to Pakistan's eternal 'strategic depth' conundrum and also, importantly, keep India totally out of reckoning, even in development projects in impoverished Afghanistan. That Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to prevent India from even cementing its soft power forays in Afghanistan should be factored in not only by the Indian government but also by the large number of out of reality peaceniks in this nation.

India, a nation respected by a majority of Afghanis, appears, in keeping with its inborn ancient pacifist and reactive inclinations, not showing any signs of a proactive approach in its future Kabul policy post the US withdrawal in 2014. The prospective shape of Afghanistan, post 2014, is going to be a litmus test for India's foreign policy in the immediate future. Afghanistan as a nation is of much strategic significance for India. No personality in recent times has summed up Kabul's importance to India than the Afghan Ambassador in Delhi prior to his President, Hamid Karzai's visit to India in May 2013 stating unreservedly by reminding India that " It is critically important that the two countries…… deepen and talk more substantive issues beyond training and other soft issues. " He further added rather succinctly that "… investment in the security and development in Afghanistan means the safety and security of India."

President Karzai during his May 2013 visit brought a "wish-list" for defence equipment which the Indian government must be pondering over. Nevertheless, it will be in India's interest that whatever it can do to reinforce Kabul's security must be done speedily and effectively within the frame-work of the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Treaty 2011. Without dispatching any 'boots on the ground', India must sell/donate some lethal arms and equipment like helicopters, T 72 tanks, BMP infantry combat vehicles, heavy machine guns,105mm light artillery, light bridging, mines and mine clearing equipment, heavy machine guns etc to bolster the much-needed combat capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). In actual fact, it is the ANSF's capabilities that will be the centre of gravity for Afghanistan's survival.

As India continues with its humanitarian and economic uplift endeavours in Afghanistan, it needs to beef up the security of its development and infrastructure projects by dispatching additional para-military units for guarding them as they are constantly under threat from Pakistani sabotage.

In addition, though newly elected Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif may not be able to immediately pursue a peaceful and reconciliatory policy towards Afghanistan and India owing to strong pressure from the Pakistani Army and the fundamentalist 'tanzeems' in Pakistan, India should endeavour to balance both bilateral and trilateral relationships between these three nations which have a common stake in fostering peace and stability in the region.

Time is now running out for Afghanistan, and India, as the leading regional power, has to take the initiative to stabilise this violent, albeit strategic, expanse. Afghanistan must not be allowed to be engulfed into a civil war, which some strategic analysts fear. With President Karzai's cooperation and consent, India must vigorously keep open its communication channels with the Pashtuns of diverse hues and revive its old linkages with the erstwhile Northern Alliance, the Uzbeks and the Hazaras.

Notwithstanding Pakistan's likely machinations to establish a pro-Islamabad fundamentalist regime in Kabul, India must move with determination and alacrity on a multitude of fronts embracing the diplomatic, economic and military to help ensure a peaceful and smooth transition in Kabul, post Karzai's and the US departure from Afghanistan in 2014.