6 August 2013

Maoists Link in Odisha: Case of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh

August 5, 2013

The mass surrender of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) (Association of Peasants, Bonded Labours and the Tribal) members, in Koraput district in Odisha virtually every week has been making headlines in both the local as well as national news papers for the last several months. The important reason being, according to media reports, more than 1600 members of the CMAS (all of them from different villages of Narayanpatna Block of Koraput district) have surrendered since January 2013. Earlier the CMAS, led by Nachika Linga, was in news when the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), Maoist-in short, demanded the release of some 25 members of the CMAS as a condition to release Jhina Hikoka, (Member of Legislative Assembly), who was abducted by them on March 24, 2012 from Toyaaput village of Koraput district. This time around, while the police are taking all credits for these surrenders, there is a general feeling that the mass surrender is because the Maoists are loosing ground in one of their strong holds in the state.

The issue of surrenders as well as arrests of CMAS members is perplexing given the fact that the CMAS is not a banned organisation in Odisha. The Police maintain that the CMAS is a frontal organisation of the Maoists and it is through the CMAS that the Maoists are carrying out their activities in Koraput, Malkanagiri and some parts of Rayagada districts. The president of the CMAS, Nachika Linga, who is absconding, refutes Police allegation and claims that they do not have any links with the Maoists.1

Against these backdrops it is important to explore whether the CMAS is an independent organisation working for the betterment of the tribal, peasants and bonded laborers or does it has some links with the Maoists.

CMAS: Genesis

The origin of the CMAS goes to the Rythu Coolie Sangham (RCS), an Andhra Pradesh based peasants organisation which was founded by pro-Maoist peasant leaders in the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. A branch of the RCS was opened in Odisha by Bhaskar Rao alias Basa in Almonda of Bandhugaon block of Koraput district in 1995. The RCS, once established in Koraput, was successful in garnering support of the local tribal, peasants and the bonded laborers, mainly from Bandhugaon and Narayanpatna blocks of Koraput. There has been a close association between the RCS branch of Odhisha and its parent organisation in Andhra Pradesh. Some of the important leaders of Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) such as Gananatha Patra were actively involved in the activities of the RCS (both in Andhra Pradesh and Koraput). Some members of the RCS-Koraput had also participated during the Anti-Arak (local liquor) movement2 of 1990s in Andhra Pradesh. The Anti-Arak movement influenced the activities of the RCS in Koraput as well. Kondagiri Paidamma from Bada Bankidi village spearheaded an anti-liquor movement in Koraput in 1995. She was arrested by the police as she was alleged to be involved in violent activities through the mass movements but later released in 1997 due to lack of evidence.

The RCS-Koraput with active support of the CPI-ML leaders such as Gananath Patra, Brahmananda Muli, Srikanta Mohanty and Bhaskar Rao, organised mass rallies demanding land to the tribal, peasants and landless; ban on consumption and selling of liquor; and effective administration in their areas. By 2001, Kondagiri Paidamma had emerged as the leader of the RCS-Koraput with some active members such as Nachika Linga, Arjun Kendruka, Nachika Chamara, Wadeka Singana and Gananath Patra as their advisor. The RCS-Koraput intensified its activities arguing that Jal, Jamin and Jungle (Water, Land and Forest) belong to the tribal and the peasants.

The RCS was banned in Andhra Pradesh on August 17, 2005 following a ban on the CPI-Maoist and its frontal organisations.3 In anticipation of a similar ban by the Odisha government, the RCS-Koraput changed its name to Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh in 2006. The first ever rally under the banner of the CMAS was organised on October 10, 2006 demanding registration of land in names of the tribal and release of ‘their members’ (some of the tribal and local individuals) arrested by the police. The activities of the CMAS, however, were not all that altruistic and peaceful. There had been reports that the CMAS activists were engaging in violent activities during the rally. From 2006 to 2008 the members of the CMAS were allegedly involved in grabbing lands from non-tribal owners; organising rallies against liquor consumption; giving veiled threat to the ‘corrupt government officers’; and mobilizing people to join the CMAS. The activities of the CMAS were mainly limited to Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks of Koraput.

Faction in CMAS:

By 2008, the CMAS acquired substantial presence in both Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks. Kondagiri Paidama, once the leader of the CMAS was sidelined by Arjun Kendruka of Bandhugaon and Nachika Linga of Narayan patna. Incidentally the elevation of Arjun Kendruka and Nachika Linga as top leaders also resulted in formation of two groups within the CMAS. Overtime, serious differences started emerging between these two groups over a number of issues. For instance, while Arjun Kendruka believed in requesting donation of land from the big land owners, Nachika Linga went on to forcibly grab land from the landlords, locally known as the sahukars. Nachika Linga tried to mobilize people in an extremist manner with the slogan Jami Mukti, Mada Mukti and Goti Mukti, which means capturing land from the land lords, freedom from liquor and freedom from bonded labor. Difference of opinion between the two leaders also cropped up over the utilization of the CMAS funds. Major differences in opinion between the two leaders emerged when Arjun Kendruka preferred the parliamentary democracy and expressed his willingness to participate in the Assembly election of Odisha in April 2009. Nachika Linga, however, opposed Kendruka’s decision because of two reasons. One, as many believe, he was influenced by the Maoist ideas against Indian democracy. Two, he was aspiring for a ticket from the CPI-ML to contest from Laxmipur constituency of Koraput. Instead, Arjun Kendruka was given the ticket from the CPI-ML. According to the local sources4 Nachika Linga campaigned against Arjun Kendruka and supported Jhina Hikoka, a candidate contesting from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ticket. Arjun Kendruka lost to Jhina Hikoka in the election. The post Assembly election witnessed increasing violent activities by the CMAS-N activists against the Sahukars and the non-tribal.

Feud between the two leaders resulted in the split in the CMAS. One faction was led by Arjun Kendruka and the other by Nachika Linga. Incidentally, senior leaders of the Sangh (organisation) also took sides. For example, while Kondagiri Paidama chose to be with Arjun Kendruka, Gananath Patra supported the Nachika Linga faction. These difference of opinions also resulted in hardening of positions which culminated into clashes between the two groups. As both the groups clashed with each other, Gopinath Kardasia from Narayanpatna set up the Nagarik Suraksha Committee, which demanded a ban on the CMAS led by Nachika Linga. However, the committee failed to make an impact as its members also got involved in violent clashes with the CMAS-N. The CMAS-N members went on blocking roads, grabbing lands, felling trees in order to check the movement of the Police, targeting non CMAS-N members.

Defence Offset Guidelines – A Languorous Journey So Far

August 5, 2013

The Defence Offset Guidelines complete one year of being in force on August 1, 2013. Looking back, the journey so far has been quite impassive with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) remaining indifferent to the numerous demands made on it to modify the guidelines and to clarify some of the provisions. In fact, the only development since the promulgation of the guidelines has been temporary suspension of the ‘services’, including software development, as a valid avenue for discharge of the offset obligations.

Several issues have been raised in the last one year. Some of these issues would warrant tweaking of the policy underlying the guidelines. One such issue concerns the need for amending the policy to enable the MoD to demand offsets in specific area(s) rather than being driven by the vendors. This is necessary to channelize the offsets into manufacturing and such other areas as might be critical to promotion of indigenous capabilities in research, design and development. Another important policy issue concerns introduction of the provision for offset trading, which could complement the already existing provision for offset banking. The MoD can resolve these, and other similar issues, entirely on its own. It is inexplicable why it did not do so in the past one year.

A greater cause for concern is the fact that there are many other policy issues that cannot be resolved by the MoD by itself. These issues relate to industrial licensing, taxation, foreign direct investment, formation of joint ventures, incentives for indigenous production, permission to export, etc. It is true that these issues did not arise suddenly after the promulgation of the offset guidelines last year. Nor are these related exclusively to discharge of the offset obligations. However, these issues are crucial for the Indian defence companies, whether acting as the prime vendors or as the Indian Offset Partners (IOPs). The clamour for resolving these issues has been gaining momentum with renewed vigour since the announcement of the offset guidelines last year.

A year’s time was perhaps not enough to resolve these issues but it was certainly sufficient to set the ball rolling. Some steps have indeed been taken, such as notification of the list of the defence items by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The issues regarding deemed export status for certain defence projects and rationalization of tax and duty structures have also been taken up by the MoD with the Ministry of Finance. This was announced by the MoD through its Press Release of April 20, 2013. However, these sporadic steps do not cover the entire gamut of issues that must necessarily be resolved to create the kind of eco-system required by the domestic defence industry to flourish.

While the lack of any visible progress on these issues is somewhat disappointing, it would be unfair to pillory the MoD for it. Resolution of the policy issues, regardless of whether they are within the remit of the MoD or they require consultation with other ministries and departments, does take a long time. The MoD has at least taken some initiative in this regard. What is dismaying, however, is that in the past one year, MoD has not taken the simplest step of offering clarification on any of the several issues relating to existing policy that are being raised at various forums. The MoD could have marked the first anniversary of the 2012 guidelines by providing those clarifications. Be that as it may, it is never too late to do that. What are these issues?

The first set of issues relates to industrial licensing. The prime movers in the business of offsets are the foreign vendors, along with their sub-vendors who are also now permitted to discharge a part of the offset obligation. They need to tie up with the Indian companies, either in anticipation of getting a contract or in the context of a specific acquisition programme. The guidelines provide that any Indian enterprise, institution or establishment engaged in manufacture of eligible products and/or provision of eligible services (presently held in abeyance), including the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), could be an IOP. A foreign vendor is free to select any IOP as long as the latter is not barred from doing business by the MoD. By and large, this part of the guidelines is quite clear, though it would have added to the clarity in the policy had the terms ‘enterprise’, ‘institution’ and ‘establishment’ been defined in the guidelines.

The problem, however, arises from the stipulation that, besides any other regulations in force, the IOP should also comply with the guidelines/licensing requirements stipulated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). This would clearly imply that an Indian company with more than 26 per cent foreign direct investment (the present cap on investment in the defence sector), including a wholly-owned subsidiary (WOS), which might be operating in the sectors where more than 26 per cent FDI is permitted, such as the civil aerospace and software development (presently the latter is under abeyance), can act as an IOP. It may be recalled that the existing policy permits discharge of the offset obligation through these sectors. But there are widespread misgivings about acceptability of this interpretation by the MoD.

China’s plans to stem brain drain may hold lessons for India

August 6, 2013
Ananth Krishnan

As China grapples with what officials say is a severe “brain drain” problem taking away top scientific talent, the government has launched a multi-pronged push to woo back some of the country’s best and brightest minds.

The initiative, which may offer lessons to India which is facing a similar challenge, includes offering hundreds of millions of Yuan in seed-funding for returning entrepreneurs; annual government-sponsored “root-seeking” camps reaching out to younger Chinese; and assurances from state-run enterprises and government academies of support in pursuing research in science and technology rather than bogging them down in bureaucracy — a common concern among returnees, both in China and India.

Renewed concern

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) official People’s Daily newspaper in a recent report said 87 per cent of top specialists in science and engineering who went overseas had “no plans to return”.

The newspaper obtained the figures from the CPC’s Coordination Group on Specialists, an inter-agency office that includes the Party Organisation Department — the top body for personnel appointments — and several government ministries.

The Coordination Group is spearheading an accelerated effort to bring back top talent. In 2010, the government launched a ten-year development plan to bring back 2,000 top Chinese specialists in the fields of information technology, aerospace and biotechnology.

The Ministry of Education has also set up a 600-million-Yuan ($97.5 million approx.) seed fund for 20,000 returnees to carry out research in the sciences, according to the official China Daily.

In addition, the State-run Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), a top research body, has put in place a programme offering two million Yuan ($325,000 approx.) to returnees for research. The programme has appeared to have some success — according to the newspaper, the CAS had brought back 1,568 scientists in the ten years.

Last month, Zhan Wenlong, Vice-President of the CAS, outlined at a conference in Beijing some steps his academy had taken to woo talent. Besides the two million Yuan research grant, the academy would also “guarantee that four-fifths of a researcher’s time will be spent in research” rather than handling administrative or bureaucratic matters.

The government has also started reaching out to younger overseas Chinese students. It has launched “root-seeking” summer camps, funding as many as 30,000 Chinese residing in 55 countries to travel to China every year in an attempt to make them “more familiar with their Ethnicity”.

Whether or not the moves will help stem the drain of China’s talent remains to be seen.

Many overseas Chinese remain wary of working for the state, either in government or in state-run enterprises, where the CPC still wields tight control even in matters of scientific and technological research. According to a survey conducted by the Beijing-based Institute of International Education, 46 per cent of returnees sought work in “foreign-funded” and “joint venture” firms in China, which are seen as more professionally-run and independent.

The downturn in the West may, however, boost the government’s efforts. Last year, while 399,600 students from China went overseas — more than in any other country — 272,900 students returned to the country, a rise of 46 per cent from the previous year, according to official figures.


Crude and not sweet at all

August 6, 2013
Sudha Mahalingam

The Hindu
Far from being automatic, the energy security from India’s overseas oil assets is only as good as the contracts and joint ventures that govern them

For some years now, energy insecurity has come to dominate the collective national psyche. Every pundit and observer has her own set of nostrums and homilies to deal with the country’s energy vulnerability. A range of solutions is being touted and tried. None, however, has captured the public imagination as the acquisition of overseas oil equity in pursuit of energy security. That China has embarked on an aggressive acquisition spree of hydrocarbon assets in every corner of our planet seems to have convinced us that this is indeed the way to go and that we must ‘catch up’ with China if we are to be energy secure.

Misplaced perception

In the public perception, it is almost axiomatic that overseas oil assets constitute energy security. It assumes that ownership confers rights of unqualified access. There is a belief that if you own hydrocarbon assets in any corner of the world, it automatically and ineluctably entitles you to physically access those resources as and when you need them; in fact, especially when you need them in the event of a sudden disruption in global oil supply arising from natural disasters, terror strikes or political disturbances.

That may not be true, except under specific conditions and circumstances. It is instructive to note that neither ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) nor its Chinese counterpart actually brings any significant quantities of oil from any of its overseas assets. Most of OVL’s overseas oil production is sold in the local or international markets and the company is compensated in cash payments. As for gas, OVL does not bring to India even a molecule of gas produced in its own fields in Sakhalin, Vietnam or Myanmar although China fares better in this regard, primarily because it has had the foresight to build transnational gas pipelines.

While India does not have a single transnational gas pipeline yet and therefore cannot access its own equity gas, what about oil which is fungible and can be brought in tankers from anywhere? Why are we not bringing our own oil from our overseas acreages? Does mere ownership confer any degree of energy security on the country?

Many necessary and sufficient conditions must be satisfied before equity oil of our national oil companies translates into energy security. Firstly, not all assets in which OVL has invested are producing assets. Exploratory acreages can contribute to India’s energy security only if and when there is an exploitable, viable discovery of hydrocarbons.

Secondly, even in the case of producing fields, equity participation is subject to certain contractual terms with the host government. Additionally, if you share your equity with other partners as in a consortium or joint venture, you would also be subject to the terms of the consortium or joint venture agreement or the operating agreement between parties. Both these must contain provisions that allow you to take your share of production in kind.

Types of participation

Let me explain this point further. There are many types of participation in overseas oil fields: production sharing agreements, service contracts, production leases, concessions and so on. Not every type of contract envisages equity oil to be taken in kind. Service contracts, for instance, envisage only a pre-determined fee, not a share in production. Only production sharing contracts usually have an express provision with the host government wherein the foreign investor can take his share of production in kind. Even so, ownership of the mineral — in this case oil or gas —vests with the host government, except in the U.S. What this implies is that the host government can, and often does, in its national interest, impose Domestic Market Obligations where the operator is required to sell part or all the production to the local market. Sometimes, the domestic market has prior claim and only surpluses can be exported.

We in India know little about the type of overseas engagement of our oil companies. Even the company websites are vague in disclosing the exact type of engagement. Except for one or two assets, our companies are partners in a consortia of international oil companies or in a Joint Venture with the host country national oil company. Yet, we know absolutely nothing about their terms of engagement with other consortium or JV partners anywhere in the world.

Dangerous Gambit

Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

In a suicide attack intended to target the Indian Consulate at Jalalabad, the capital of the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan, nine Afghans, including at least eight children, were killed, and another 24 were wounded on August 3, 2013. The three attackers were also killed. All Indian officials in the Consulate were safe. Nangarhar Province Police Chief General Sharifullah Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the blast.

According to reports, when Afghan Security Forces (SFs) intercepted the attackers’ red Toyota Corolla at the first checkpoint leading to the Consulate, at a distance of about 15 to 20 metres, two terrorists wearing suicide jackets got off and opened fire on them. While one of the attackers was killed by the SFs, the second detonated his suicide jacket. Simultaneously, the third militant detonated the explosive-packed car. Deputy Police Chief of Nangarhar Province Masum Khan Hashimi disclosed, "It was a very heavy car bomb that totally destroyed the nearby market." Reports also said that the explosion was followed by gunfire which lasted for at least an hour.

This was the second attack on the Consulate at Jalalabad. On December 15, 2007, two bombs were lobbed into the Consulate. There was, however, no casualty or damage on that occasion. India has three other Consulates in Afghanistan – at Kandahar, Heart, and Mazar-e-Sharif.

The Consulate attacks fall into a larger pattern. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database, a range of Indian interests in Afghanistan have been systematically targeted, including the Embassy in Kabul, other Consulates, and numerous developmental projects as well as people involved in these. Partial data indicates at least 13 such attacks, resulting in 103 fatalities since 2003. In the worst such attack, on July 7, 2008, a suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul killed 66 persons. Five Indian Embassy personnel, including two senior diplomats – Political Counsellor V. Venkateswara Rao and Defence Adviser Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta – and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) staffers Ajai Pathaniya and Roop Singh, were killed in the attack.

The last attack on Indians in Afghanistan had taken place on October 11, 2010, when two Indian nationals were killed in a missile strike launched by Taliban terrorists on an Indian NGO's office in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

Though no group has taken responsibility for the latest (August 3) attack, direct involvement of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligent (ISI) as well as ISI-backed terrorist groups, primarily the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network is suspected. Both the LeT and the Haqqani Network operate out of Pakistan and have a strong presence in the eastern region of Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan and where the city of Jalalabad is situated. Though the Afghan Taliban, in a text message, denied its role in the attack, involvement of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), its Pakistan affiliate, has not been ruled out too. TTP also has significant presence in the region. However, past experiences as well as recent reports indicate the strongest possibility of the involvement of the Haqqani Network, the LeT, or both. 

ISI’s direct role in this latest attack is suggested in prior disclosures by the Afghanistan National Intelligence Agency spokesperson Lutfullah Mashal, on May 10, 2011, who had revealed that the ISI had hired two persons, identified as Sher Zamin and Khan Zamin, to kill the Indian Consul General of Jalalabad. The ISI’s role in the July 7, 2008, attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul had also been confirmed by former Afghan intelligence Director Amrullah Saleh, who, in a media interview published on January 17, 2011, disclosed: “We had sufficient evidence that it was ISI's plan. We knew they were trying to do something against the Indian Embassy.” Referring to ISI’s role in the Kabul attack, Mike Waltzin, a US official, had stated, in a TV interview, released on November 2, 2011, "The question was how high in the Pakistani state this went. And the answer was pretty high." An Indian news report, on August 3, 2013, the day of the Jalalabad attack, quoting official sources, had claimed that intercepts confirmed that the ISI paid half a million rupees to two Haqqani Network terrorists in Afghanistan to attack the Indian Envoy in Kabul, Amar Sinha, two weeks earlier. Indeed, security officials from India had visited the Kabul Embassy and the four Consulates thereafter to check preparedness. Significantly, Nangarhar Province Police Chief General Sharifullah Amin admitted that Police in Jalalabad were on an alert for such an attack.

A Pakistani security official has argued "why would we do such a thing when we are trying to improve economic ties with India." Nevertheless, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin observed:

Striking the right note, finally

Aug 06, 2013


The announcement of a Mountain Strike Corps carries its own weight and can be exploited to refurbish the image of a government pilloried as weak and recast it in a macho, muscular avatar

Speak softly, but carry a big stick.
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States (1901-1909)

W hat’s in a name? Plenty, provided one makes an effort to look for it. India’s recent decision to raise a new “strike corps” for the mountains raises just such an issue because “strike corps” are equated with offensive operations, in this case in mountainous terrain, where the parameters of warfare in terms of organisations, tactics and equipment are quite different from those required elsewhere.

For India, a Mountain Strike Corps would, thus, obviously be intended for employment on the Himalayan border with China and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. But the larger and more important geo-political signal conveyed by the intended strike corps would be an apparent paradigm shift in India’s strategic perceptions that would require shedding some of its traditional diffidence and adopting a more assertive approach to China — a tentative step towards coming out of the shadows of 1962, which still loom over India’s political psyche, no matter how vehemently this fact is dismissed or denied.

This shift is certainly welcome because hitherto successive Indian governments have been extremely cautious about any action that might be construed as an offensive orientation towards China.

But now, almost out of the blue as it were, comes a proposal conspicuously out of character with the usual tremulous approach to China by India’s political leadership. What could have prompted such a radical reorientation in the country’s politico-strategic outlook?

In a country and culture where politics reigns supreme in all issues, could it be that even the purely military issue of a Mountain Strike Corps might actually be a pre-electoral attempt by the government to proclaim itself as being tough on matters of national defence?

Too far-fetched? Well, given the depths of opportunism that politics has sunk to in this country, even such utterly cynical perceptions carry some degree of credibility.

The government’s butter-fingered handling of the beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistani intruders at Mendhar in Jammu, and Chinese patrols intruding into the Daulat Beg Oldi region of Ladakh, are worrying and requires damage control by all available means. It is in this context that the announcement of a Mountain Strike Corps carries its own weight and can be exploited to refurbish the image of a government generally pilloried as weak, fumbling and sunk in corruption, and recast it in a macho, muscular avatar.

In India, TB kills 750 people every day. With drug-resistant TB on the rise, everything from diagnostic tests to the use of new TB drugs needs strict monitoring to control this killer bacterium

Formidable killer: drug-resistant tuberculosis
Madhukar Pai

With over 2 million TB cases reported per year, the disease continues to be one of the leading cause of death in India. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

FROM the Wall Street Journal to the TIME magazine, India has been in the international news. The spotlight is on drug resistant tuberculosis (TB), a form of TB that is very difficult to diagnose and treat. Not only is India battling severe forms of TB, the country is also struggling to procure sufficient quantities of basic anti-tuberculosis drugs, despite being the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs. Insufficient budgets and poor commitment from politicians and bureaucracy is threatening to undo all the gains made over the past decade.

The aam aadmi in India probably thinks that TB is an old disease with little or no relevance to them in 2013. The reality, actually, is scary. India has the world's highest burden of TB. TB kills one person every two minutes in India and 750 people every day. Even today, India reports over 2 million TB cases per year. TB continues to be one of the leading causes of death in India. The disease severely affects economically productive young adults, and thus has a big impact on the country's economy.

Who is at risk


TB IS CURABLE, YET…

  • India has the world's highest burden of TB.
  • TB kills one person every two minutes in India - we report 2 million cases of TB per year.
  • While TB can affect many organs, lungs are often the most important site of this disease.
  • Drug resistant tuberculosis is a form of TB that is very difficult to diagnose and treat.
  • The most common form of drug-resistant TB in India is multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), which is resistant to Isoniazid and Rifampicin, two most important first-line antibiotics.
  • Hospitals in Mumbai have reported even worse forms of drug-resistance — 'totally drug-resistant tuberculosis' (TDR-TB).
  • About 50% of patients with drug-resistant TB die because it needs prolonged and expensive treatment, the second-line TB drugs are costly.
  • Another reason behind high casualty is, use of spurious drugs. About 10% of Isoniazid and Rifampicin drug samples failed basic quality testing this year.
The worrisome truth is that everyone is at risk of — all ages and people from all walks of life. Poor people are disproportionately affected and are especially vulnerable because of poor nutrition, overcrowding, and poor living conditions. Smoking, HIV infection, indoor air pollution, and diabetes are other major risk factors that increase the risk of developing TB.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While TB can affect many organs, lungs are often the most important site of this disease. TB is spread when infected people cough and spit out sputum, releasing millions of TB bacteria in the air. In a crowded country, this means everyone can be exposed to TB. And because there is no good vaccine against TB, nobody is protected. TB anywhere is TB everywhere!

The good news is that TB is curable, if diagnosed early and treated completely. Ensuring early diagnosis and complete adherence to treatment is therefore a critical goal for all TB control programmes.

The Future of Pakistan: What to Expect from Nawaz Sharif's New Government

July 31, 2013
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, June 2013 (Reuters)




EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report examines the policies, statements and makeup of the recently elected Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party in Pakistan in order to determine its likely future direction and to gauge the impact of its policies on Pakistan, the region, and its relations with the U.S.

The PML-N government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was elected to power on May 11, 2013. The new government faces a number of serious challenges to national stability, ranging from an energy and economic crisis to a persistent and lethal Taliban insurgency. Sharif's government has so far shown enthusiasm for addressing only a subset of the country's major issues. 

Nawaz Sharif's political agenda can be broken down into three overarching sections: the economy, encompassing the country's energy crisis, macroeconomic stability and foreign energy imports; foreign relations, encompassing rapprochement with India and engaging with the U.S. and Afghanistan; and domestic security, encompassing Pakistan's Taliban insurgency and civil-military relations.

The PML-N government has so far focused, and continues to focus, primarily on energy and economic issues, almost to the exclusion of all others. It sees progress on this front as the source of its political legitimacy and the primary yardstick for judging its own success. 

The PML-N government's primary focus has been to shorten the duration of lengthy, often nationwide, power shortages that are cutting into productivity; secure a fresh bailout package from the International Monetary Fund to prevent a national default on foreign debt; and to restructure and privatize loss-generating and overly subsidized state-owned enterprises and power producers.

The government is looking to import foreign sources of energy but, despite public pronouncements to the contrary, is unlikely to continue pursuing the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that it inherited from the previous government due to fears over U.S. sanctions and the program's own unfeasibility.

The Sharif government plans on vastly expanding ties with India. It sees improved relations with India not only as a ready source of additional revenue, but also as a means to assert itself in the realm of foreign policy that has thus far been dominated by Pakistan's military establishment. 

Despite loud protestations against U.S. drone strikes, the government aims to adopt a pragmatic approach to engaging with the U.S. on bilateral issues and on matters relating to the future of Afghanistan. It will struggle to shape policy vis-à-vis the U.S. and Afghanistan, however, given that Pakistan's army continues to dominate the decision-making process on that front.

The PML-N's near-complete focus on economic and energy issues is reflective of an unwillingness to comprehensively address domestic militancy, primarily militancy carried out by Pakistan's main insurgent group, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The government has issued contradictory signals, indicating both a willingness to talk to the TTP and to formulate a new national security policy that is tough on terrorism. It has made no decisive efforts in either direction despite numerous deadly attacks by the TTP and its allies across the country since the government took power. 

While the Pakistani military has indicated an unwillingness to negotiate with the TTP, and a desire to take on the group militarily, concerns over entangling friendly militant proxies in Pakistan's tribal areas during any such operation means it is not likely to take serious action until some sort of peace agreement is reached in Afghanistan.

The Sharif government is looking to correct Pakistan's historic imbalance in civil-military relations. To this end, Sharif has structured his government in order to prevent Pakistan's powerful army from playing senior civilian leaders off of each other. While Sharif is not looking to openly oppose the army, he will try to chip away at the army's hold on power by opposing it on policy issues on which the government enjoys popular support, such as engagement with India.

Cleansing Pakistan of Minorities

by Farahnaz Ispahani
Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pakistan’s religious minorities are widely viewed as embattled or under attack. This paper undertakes a comprehensive analysis of Pakistan’s policies towards its religious minority populations, both Muslim as well as non-Muslim. It is not only Pakistan where Muslim as well as non-Muslim minorities are under attack. Rather, this is a phenomenon which is prevalent in a number of Muslim-majority countries. In the context of a Muslim world comprising 1.4 billion people, with an extremely young population, not only is it important to recognize how Pakistan treats its minority populations but it is equally critical to note the role of stateless actors or extremist groups in all Muslim countries.

When Pakistan was founded in 1947, its secular founding fathers wanted to create a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims, not an Islamic state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, recognized as Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader), clearly declared that non-Muslims would be equal citizens in the new country. But Pakistan’s trajectory after independence has been very different.

At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 percent of Pakistan’s population was comprised of non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately 3 percent. The distinctions among Muslim denominations have also become far more accentuated over the years. Muslim groups such as the Shias who account for approximately 20-25 percent of Pakistan’s Muslim population, Ahmadis who have been declared non-Muslim by the writ of the state, and non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have been the targets of suicide bomb attacks on their neighborhoods, had community members converted to Islam against their will, and had their houses of worship attacked and bombed even while they were inhabited by worshipers.

Even the graveyards of Christians and Ahmadis have not been spared. Regular reports of graves being excavated and vandalized appear in the press and via community reports. In Sindh and Balochistan provinces, well-to-do Hindus have been the primary targets of the ransom kidnappings. The numbers of minority Muslims and non-Muslims subjected to these purposeful attacks have increased significantly and the crimes committed have become more heinous. Those accused of “blasphemy” have sometimes been burnt alive outside police stations with no culprits identified or punished.

The origins of Pakistan were different. Reflecting his secular views, Mr. Jinnah nominated a Hindu, several Shias (of whom he was one) and an Ahmadi to Pakistan’s first cabinet. Now, however, non-Muslim representation at the Cabinet level is limited to symbolic appointments while Shias and Ahmadis face smear campaigns from Sunni Muslims that declare them non-Muslims.

Mr. Jinnah’s secular views were demonstrated not only during the struggle for independence but in his famous speech of August 11, 1947, in which he stated that in order to make Pakistan “happy and prosperous,” every person living in the country was a citizen “first, second and last,” irrespective of his or her community, caste, color or creed. His speech advanced the case for a secular, albeit Muslim-majority, Pakistan:

Debating the United States' Role in Afghanistan After 2014


The South Asia Center and the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security hosted a panel of experts to discuss the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, and what role, if any, should the United States play in shaping the future of Afghanistan. The discussion focused on four key areas: the interests, missions, forces, and roles for the United States in Afghanistan during and after the drawdown. The panel consisted of David Sedney, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, US Department of Defense; Shuja Nawaz, director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; and Joshua Foust, freelance journalist.Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center introduced the topic and moderated the discussion.


Overall, the panelists agreed that the United States’ principal interest in Afghanistan is to leave behind a politically stable and legitimate government in Kabul capable of assuring against a Taliban takeover or the emergence of a significant international terrorist threat. Between now and the end of 2014, the US aim should, therefore, be to help improve the political processes, strengthen government institutions, and focus on continuing to improve the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The need for domestic stability was largely folded into the larger interest of a successful Afghan government. There was some debate among the panelists on the forces needed as well as the success of the efforts to date.

All three emphasized the importance of improving the political systems and processes in Afghanistan, rather than continue the focus on the military capabilities. They primarily focused their discussion on next year’s presidential election in Afghanistan. Mr. Sedney and Mr. Nawaz both argued for a temporary surge of American troops and civilians around the time of the elections, to ensure that they actually take place, and that they are relatively free and fair. Mr. Foust agreed the success of the elections would be crucial to the future of Afghanistan, although he disagreed with the need for a troop surge, and argued instead for a greater funding to support the political system and establishment and growth of political parties.

The future role of the United States in Afghanistan, aside from encouraging successful elections, was the focus of much debate. Mr. Sedney advocated maintaining a strong commitment to Afghanistan, as he considered it vital to ensuring that the Taliban do not return as the ruling faction in Afghanistan, and for the United States’ credibility as a friend and partner in the region. Mr. Foust took the opposite position and argued for a minimal security role, while increasing the civilian roles and empowering those organizations in Afghanistan. Mr. Nawaz took a regional approach to Afghanistan, and suggested that the US role is less important to success in Afghanistan than that of regional countries, most importantly India, but also Iran, Pakistan, and the Central Asian republics. None of the panelists advocated the “zero option”, and noted that the US State Department and USAID will continue to operate in Afghanistan, although Mr. Foust argued that it should be realistically examined, as the “zero option” is a potential worst-case scenario. He cited the case of Iraq, where negotiations collapsed and the US left rapidly, leaving behind a chaotic situation. Mr. Nawaz suggested that the best and longest lasting solutions would emerge out of Afghanistan itself and cautioned against over involvement of near neighbors and distant friends of Afghanistan.

Recurrent Audacity

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

In a daring attack, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists stormed the Central Prison at Dera Ismail Khan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province on July 29, 2013, and freed around 253 prisoners, including 45 top terrorists. 24 persons, including 12 Policemen, five terrorists, four prisoners, and three civilians, were killed in the attack and the counter attack by Security Forces (SFs). On July 31, 2013, Police rearrested 47 of the absconding prisoners.

Claiming responsibility for the attack, the TTP’s newly appointed ‘central spokesman’ Shahidullah Shahid declared, “Some 150 Taliban, including 60 suicide bombers, attacked the Central Prison and managed to free about 300 prisoners. They were looking in particular for two ‘commanders’ – Sufi Mohammad and Shaikh Abdul Hakim. The TTP has achieved its targets and their operation was successful.” Sufi Mohammad and Shaikh Abdul Hakim were ‘commanders’ of the TTP Swat Chapter. A TTP ‘commander’ further claimed that the ‘operation’ was codenamed Freedom from Death, cost PKR 11.5 million, and took six months to plan.

Confirming TTP’s claim of success, Mushtaq Jadoon, the Commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan Town, disclosed, on August 1, 2013, that more than 30 known terrorists, including TTP ‘commanders’ Shaikh Abdul Hakim, Abdur Rasheed, Haji Ilyas and Mamoor, who managed to escape from the Prison, had been involved in terrorist attacks, sectarian violence and kidnappings for ransom. Another terrorist, identified as Walid Akbar, who was allegedly involved in the bombings that targeted the Ashura (Shia festival of mourning) procession in Dera Ismail Khan Town on November 24, 2012, when 25 persons were killed, also escaped in the prison breakout. The Commissioner noted that among the escaped prisoners, 127 had been convicted and another 126 were facing trial.

This is the second major jail break engineered by terrorists that Pakistan has witnessed. Hundreds of TTP terrorists had stormed the Central Prison at Bannu in the Bannu District of KP and had freed nearly 384 inmates on April 15, 2012. Adnan Rasheed, who had masterminded the December 14, 2003, assassination attempt on then President General Pervez Musharraf, was one of the inmates who had then managed to escape. According to reports, of the 384 escaped inmates, 21 were facing death sentences, 94 were charged with murder, 30 were charged in narcotics cases, and another 145 were under trial. Information about the remaining 94 prisoners is not available. KP Home Secretary Azam Khan stated, on April 22, 2012, that, out of 384 prisoners who had fled the prison, 108 had voluntarily returned while 35 others had been arrested by the law enforcement agencies. There is no further information about the 141 other escapees.

Both these incidents have many similarities. Intelligence agency had warned the Government three months prior to the Bannu attack with specific information regarding the impending threat. Similarly, on July 27, 2013, a letter, addressed to the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Inspector General of Police, District Police Officer and the Superintendent of Dera Ismail Khan Central Jail, marked “secret” and “most immediate” by intelligence agencies, had stated, “It has been reliably learnt that miscreants namely Umer Khitab and his associates affiliated with Gandapur Group/TTP are planning to carry out terrorist attack against Central Jail – Dera Ismail Khan on the pattern similar to Bannu jailbreak in near future. According to information, miscreants are in possession of sketch/map of Jail and have reached in the vicinity of Dera Ismail Khan for this purpose.”

The warning was followed by another alert to the KP Government, on July 28, 2013, reiterating the danger of an attack by the group led by Umer Khitab. To underline the urgency of the matter, officers were again warned through text messages on July 28 to take appropriate security measures. As a consequence, civil and military officers visited the prison to work out a ‘security plan’. The KP Home Secretary followed up and, on July 29, 2013, just hours before the attack, the Commissioner held a meeting of all law-enforcement agencies and the civil administration to discuss the issue. Over 100 jail guards and 75 personnel of the Frontier Reserve Force were made available, backed by the Elite Police Force and armoured personnel carriers.

Xinjiang: Reassessing the Recent Violence

August 04, 2013
By Liam Powers

Western and Chinese media have their own narratives in reporting on the unrest. Both may be wrong.

After a brutal attack on a police station in Lukqun left 35 people dead, Xinjiang and the Uyghurs have once again made the headlines. This massive chunk of land (one-sixth of China’s total territory) and this regionally, linguistically, and religiously complexminzu (ethno-national) group are back in the spotlight following an explosive episode of violence. And both Chinese and Western news outlets, respectively framing the event as an “act of terror” or as part of a continuous struggle against an oppressive regime, have once again oversimplified their narratives.

Perhaps because Lukqun, unlike Kashgar, Hotan, and Turpan, was never a major post on the famed Silk Road or perhaps owing to its sheer remoteness, analyses of the event have overlooked some critical “local” details.

What do we know about the June 26 violence in Lukqun? Reports circulated by Chinese and US news agencies agree on the basics. Just before 6 AM, a group of Uyghur men armed with knives attacked a local police station killing 24 individuals. Police then opened fire on the attackers, killing 11.

Predictably, the similarities in reporting end here.

News outlets operating within China’s massive state-run media quickly labeled the event a “terrorist” attack. An article posted by The Global Times that has caught the eye of several foreign observers claims that nearly 100 Uyghurs have received crash courses in military techniques in remote areas of Syria and some have even fought alongside Syrian rebels. The connection drawn between the Uyghurs and Syrian rebels implies a direct link between the acts of violence committed in Xinjiang and global terror networks – specifically Al-Qaeda.

A report from Xinhua’s Chinese language website makes similar use of the “global terrorism” theme. According to Xinhua’s account of the events leading up to the June 26 violence, Ahmetniyaz Sidiq (Ch. Aihemaitineyazi Sidike) and Ali Ahmetniyaz (Ch. Aili Aihemaitineyazi), began convening an illegal religious organization in Lukqun in January. The seventeen members of this organization regularly viewed and listened to “jihadist” (Ch. shengzhan) propaganda distributed by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group the U.S. has identified as an international terrorist organization, and “other” terrorists groups. These activities, the article asserts, “gradually engendered religious extremism” among the group’s followers.

The two reports stick closely to almost every official explanation of any violence in Xinjiang. That is, malicious foreign groups have infiltrated Xinjiang and have influenced a very small (and misguided) segment of Uyghur society to commit heinous acts of violence (or terrorism) in an attempt to disrupt social order. In other words, the problem originates from the outside and in no way reflects broader grievances the Uyghurs hold against the government. 

Western observers have meanwhile clung to their own scripts. After the most recent episodes of violence, Western commentaries have once again reminded readers that Uyghurs have yet to benefit from China’s economic boom; they cannot compete with the growing number Han Chinese who are flooding the job market in Xinjiang; and they are victims of religious repression. While these issues are prevalent in many regions of Xinjiang and can certainly breed mistrust between some Uyghurs and the CCP, this narrative may not adequately explain the violence in Lukqun.

Why Europe Won’t Get Tough On China

August 6, 2013 

The European Union (EU) announcement on the July 27th that the imposition of tariffs on solar panels from Chinese manufacturers was not going ahead was widely interpreted as a climb down. In his formal statement released on 29th July, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht stated that the deal reached with the Chinese was “amicable,” “targeted and innovative,” and that the threatened steep rise in tariffs this week was off. But he also recognized that critics might say the EU had capitulated. In many ways, it had.

The clue to why this dispute had to be resolved with the Chinese was contained in de Grucht’s statement that “solar panel deployment is important to Europe’s ambition to reduce CO2 emissions.” Chinese panels now make up 80 percent of those used in Europe. They are way more competitive than those sourced domestically or elsewhere. The EU had managed to put itself in a position of threatening to cut off voluntarily its own best supply source. This was illogical. For this reason, De Grucht, despite the false words of resolve he uttered during negotiations on this issue over the last few months, has always been struck between and rock and hard place.

The solar panel case illustrates the great weakness of the EU when it tries to speak to China. While the trade commissioner was trying to maintain a firm position towards the Chinese on his threat to impose a huge hike of up to 46 percent on imports, the German Chancellor criticized this approach when she met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May. Once the leader of the most powerful nation in the EU had spoken, de Grucht was politically exposed. The trend lines were already set towards a resolution, come what may.

The EU has been given “face” saving offer by a merciful China, who at least had the grace not to cheer too loudly about what was clear victory. The simple fact is that both in the 2005 trade dispute over textiles, and now this one, China has managed to achieve what it wanted. Is the EU simply choosing the wrong cases to get tough on, or is it permanently doomed to fail in the moments when it tries to negotiate on trade issues with China?

With markets, growth rates and supply chains so closely linked with each other, the EU and China, which together constitute more than a third of global GDP, can talk about trade wars as much as they like. The reality is that a EU-China trade would be an economic version of mutually assured destruction, and therefore will not come to pass.

Sun Tzu Would Disapprove of China's Strategy

August 3, 2013

The ghosts of history continue to imperil the promise of an “Asian Century.” The latest in a troubling chain of events was the visit to Beijing recently by Japanese vice minister Akitaka Saiki aimed at mending frayed relations with China. Saiki had barely disembarked from his flight when the official Chinese media ruled out a summit proposed by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Misunderstood intent of Tokyo’s actions to purchase the Senkakus from private owners and jaw-dropping reinterpretations of history by Japanese officials have helped stoke anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Over the past year, China has stepped up activities designed to underscore its claim to sovereignty over disputed islands, (called the Senkakus by Japan, Diaoyu by China), barren rocks under Japan’s administrative control inhabited only by some 150 goats. In late July, four ships from China’s newly unified paramilitary Coast Guard arrived to patrol waters near the disputed islands. At the same time, China sent a Y-8 turboprop early-warning aircraft into international airspace near Okinawa.

More than the immediate issue of disputed territory with Japan, China’s increasingly expansive definition of its “core interests” appears emblematic of an irredentist approach to Asia writ large. How to explain, for example recent articles in People’s Daily and Global Times raising the question of whether Okinawa—home to U.S. military bases and 1.3 million Japanese—and other islands in the Ryukyu chain should belong to China? Some might take it a step further and suggest Beijing may be in the process of seeking to revise the Asian order. That remains an open question.

In any case, subtle as a sledgehammer, the message seems clear: after a couple of bad centuries, the Middle Kingdom is back. China’s recent paramilitary posturing is part of an ongoing effort to declare its sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets. For more than a year, China has been trying to make it impossible for Japan to maintain administrative control over the Senkakus through coercive paramilitary actions. This has been a part of a larger pattern of Chinese assertiveness: Beijing has also pursued activities “creating facts” to assert its claims to disputed islets in the South China Sea claimed by multiple nations. These claims are based on a “nine-dashed-line” Chinese map of the area, the basis of which is unclear and which is wholly incompatible with the UN Law of the Sea, which Beijing has ratified.

Regardless of the legitimacy of its historical claims, the intriguing question is: what is the endgame?

Where does China think this is going?

Washington has made clear that the U.S.-Japan security alliance applies to all territory administered by Japan. Japan does not even acknowledge the Senkakus/Diaoyu is disputed territory.

What Would Sun Tzu think?

It’s not the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but it is these sorts of accumulating altercations and rival nationalisms bumping up against each other that start wars. The timing of China’s assertiveness is particularly puzzling. Beijing’s new leadership under Xi Jinping faces daunting domestic challenges: environmental disaster, growing wealth inequality, an aging population and an economic growth model that no longer works. China’s political elite is well aware of all this and is trying to fashion sweeping economic reforms to move from investment-led, export-growth to consumer-led growth, expansion of services and more innovation. This is the principal challenge that will consume China over the coming decade.

The Price of ‘Made in China’

By PETER NAVARRO
Published: August 4, 2013

HERE is a symbol of China’s assault on the American economy: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island. This landmark, which opened in 1964, is North America’s longest suspension bridge. It’s also in urgent need of renovation. Unfortunately, $34 million in steel production and fabrication work has been outsourced to China.

How did this happen? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says a Chinese fabricator was picked because the two American companies approached for the project lacked the manufacturing space, special equipment and financial capacity to do the job. But the United Steelworkers claims it quickly found two other American bridge fabricators, within 100 miles of New York City, that could do the job.

The real problem with this deal is that it doesn’t take into account all of the additional costs that buying “Made in China” brings to the American table. In fact, this failure to consider all costs is the same problem we as consumers face every time we choose a Chinese-made product on price alone — a price that is invariably cheaper.

Consider the safety issue: a scary one, indeed, because China has a very well-deserved reputation for producing inferior and often dangerous products. Such products are as diverse as lead-filled toys, sulfurous drywall, pet food spiked with melamine and heparin tainted with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate.

In the specific case of bridges, six have collapsed across China since July 2011. The official Xinhua news agency has acknowledged that shoddy construction and inferior building materials were contributing factors. There is also a cautionary tale much closer to home.

When California bought Chinese steel to renovate and expand the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, for a project that began in 2002, problems like faulty welds by a Chinese steel fabricator delayed the project for months and led to huge cost overruns. Those delays eroded much of the savings California was banking on when it opted for the “cheap” Chinese steel.

There is a second reason not to buy “Made in China” products: jobs. The abiding fact is that steel production is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. These subsidies range from the massive benefits of a manipulated and undervalued currency to the underwriting of the costs of energy, land, loans and water.

Because of China’s subsidies — most of which are arguably illegal under international trade agreements — its producers are able to dump steel products into America at or below the actual cost of production. This problem is particularly acute now as China is saddled with massive overcapacity in its steel industry.

Of course, every job China gains by dumping steel into American markets is an American job lost. Each steelworker’s job in America generates additional jobs in the economy, along with increased tax revenues. With over 20 million Americans now unable to find decent work, we could certainly use those jobs as we repair the Verrazano Bridge.

The M.T.A. has ignored not only the social costs but also the broader impact on the environment and human rights. Chinese steel plants emit significantly more pollution and greenhouse gases per ton of steel produced than plants in the United States. This not only contributes to global warming but also has a direct negative impact on American soil, since an increasing amount of China’s pollution is crossing the Pacific Ocean on the jet stream.