22 October 2013

Ten truths about the 1962 War

IssueNet Edition| Date : 22 Oct , 2013

Mules carrying ammunition over a mountain pass during 1962 War

Here are some truths about the 1962 China’s War which are not often mentioned in history books or Reports from the Government.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive.

1. The precise location of the border

In the Army HQ in Delhi as well as locally in the NEFA, nobody was really sure where exactly the border (the famous McMahon Line) was. It is the reason why the famous Henderson-Brooks report has been kept out of the eyes of the Indian public for fifty years. Till the fateful day of October 20, 1962, the Army bosses in Delhi were unable to tell the local commanders where the border in Tawang sector precisely was?

2. There was no map

Lt. Gen. Niranjan Prasad, GOC 4 Infantry Division wrote in his memoirs (The Fall of Towang): “It is hard to understand how any purposeful negotiation could have been conducted with Communist China [in 1960] when even such elementary details as accurate maps were not produced; or, if they were in existence, they were certainly not made available to the Army, who had been given the responsibility for ensuring the security of the border.”

…when Lt. Gen. Kaul was evacuated from the Namkha chu on October 8, having fallen sick due to the altitude, he was carried pick-a-back by ‘local’ porters. It was later discovered that one of them was a Chinese interpreter in a PoW camp in Tibet. The secrets were out!

The Army had no map.

There is the story of Capt. H.S. Talwar of the elite 17 Parachute Field Regiment who was asked to reinforce Tsangle, an advance post, north of the Namkha chu on October 16. Without map, he and his men roamed around for 2 days in the snow; they finally landed a few kilometers east at a 2 Rajputs camp (and were eventually taken PoWs to Tibet with Brig. John Dalvi on October 21).

3. Some troops fought extremely well

Take the example of the 2 Rajputs under the command of Lt. Col. Maha Singh Rikh who moved to the banks of the Namka chu river by October 10 as a part of 7 Infantry Brigade. The brigade was stretched out along nearly 20 kilometers front beside the river. It was a five-day march to walk from an end to the other (the confluence with the Namjiang chu). Not a single man from the Rajputs was awarded any gallantry medal, because there was no one left to write the citations; all the officers or JCOs who were not killed or seriously wounded were taken POWs. Out of 513 all ranks on the banks of the river, the 2 Rajput lost 282 men, 81 were wounded and captured, while 90 others were taken prisoners. Only 60 other ranks, mostly from the administrative elements got back.

Major B.K. Pant of 2 Rajput displayed exemplary heroism while wounded in the stomach and legs. Though his Company suffered heavy casualties, he continued to lead and inspire his men, exhorting them to fight till the last man. When the Chinese finally managed to kill him, his last words were “Men of the Rajput Regiment, you were born to die for your country. God has selected this small river for which you must die. Stand up and fight like true Rajputs.” Ditto for 4 Rajputs under Lt. Col. B. Avasthi in the Sela-Bomdila sector

1962: The Nehruvian Blunder

IssueVol. 27.4 Oct-Dec 2012| Date : 21 Oct , 2013

Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru being shown Zojila by Lt Col Sukhdev Singh, CO 1st Patiala

In any future conflict, New Delhi’s political will and the capabilities of the Indian military should be such that China and Pakistan are hard-pressed to defend Tibet and Lahore respectively instead of threatening Arunachal and Kashmir.

This is the foremost lesson of the humiliating defeat in 1962.

The oft-repeated rhetoric that ‘We will not allow 1962 to repeat itself,’ is a defeatist refrain revealing a sense of acute anxiety. Indian history is witness to the fact that defensive warfare is a loser’s game. We continue to hide behind the fortress mentality of the past. And therefore, in the event of conflict in the future, despite the rhetoric, India is doomed to face another humiliating debacle.

…if we generate offensive capabilities and flaunt it with an aim-plus to liberate large areas of Tibet, China will stand deterred.

In the last fifty years, the government did not build infrastructure in the Northeast or alternatively provide aerial wherewithal to enhance the mobility of the troops. Chinese, therefore will score goals by over running a fair amount of Indian Territory, simply bypassing major Indian defenses. However, if we generate offensive capabilities and flaunt it with an aim-plus to liberate large areas of Tibet, China will stand deterred. In the Indian Ocean, the message by the Indian Navy should be similar on transit.

To win, one must always take the war to the enemy on multiple fronts by military, economic and diplomatic means. Also, the threat can be minimised by creation of alliances based on the Principle of ‘an enemy’s enemy is a friend’. Exploit the opportunity as the national interests of India and the USA in this respect coincide – both need to contain China. The Western Alliance, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and countries such as Vietnam boast of similar synergy of purpose.

New Delhi will also need political leadership made of sterner stuff, with feet planted on terra firma and who refuse to blink, unlike Nehru. This possibly is the most difficult proposition in the current Indian environment!

“It is not the business of the C-in-C to tell the PM who is going to attack us where. In fact the Chinese will defend our NEFA Frontier. You mind only Kashmir and Pakistan.”

When apprised by General Cariappa of the Chinese threat, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru flared up and said, “It is not the business of the C-in-C to tell the PM who is going to attack us where. In fact the Chinese will defend our NEFA Frontier. You mind only Kashmir and Pakistan.”

Using commonsense, if Nehru had made three discerning observations, he would have patted his C-in-C on the back with promises to spruce up military capability immediately. First, Mao’s claims based on 1946 Chinese maps that Tibet was the palm of a hand and its five fingers were Ladakh, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and NEFA and all were Chinese territories that needed to be liberated, was adequate to alert even a mediocre political leadership of the looming threat. Second, by slaughtering millions of innocents to take over the reins of China, Mao displayed unusual ruthlessness. South Block should have felt the heat of such a brutal adversary, who also claimed large chunks of the Indian territory. Third, despite assurances, Tibet was invaded and forcibly occupied by the PLA. This trait of deception and falsehood is unusually high amongst the Chinese and Pakistani leadership.

Why Mao attacked India in 1962

IssueVol. 26.3July - Sept 2011 | Date : 20 Oct , 2013

There is an angle of the 1962 Sino-Indian that conflict has been insufficiently studied. What were Beijing’s motivations to go to war? Who decided to inflict the worst possible humiliation on India?

Historical sources are still sparse, but going through some available documents, one can get a fairly good idea of the Chinese motivations or more exactly the ‘political’ compulsions which pushed the Great Helmsman into this venture.

Mao Temporarily Leaves the Stage

It is fashionable to speak of crimes against humanity. One of the greatest, known as the ‘Great Leap Forward’, began in China in February 1958 and resulted in the largest man-made starvation period in human history. By initiating his Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s objective was to surpass Great Britain in industrial production within 15 years. For the purpose, every Chinese had to start producing steel at home, with a backyard furnace. In agriculture, Mao thought that very large communes would achieve manifold increase in the cereal production, turning China into a heaven of abundance. Introduced and managed with frantic fanaticism, it was not long before the program collapsed.

At the beginning of 1962, as tension was increasing on the Indian border, did Nehru realize that China was a starving nation? Very few knew that, by the end of 1961 Mao was practically out of power.
One man tried to raise his voice against the general madness and sycophancy. This was Peng Denhai, the Defence Minister and old companion of Mao during the Long March. Marshal Peng, who was a simple, honest and straightforward soldier, wrote a long personal letter to Mao on what he had seen in the countryside and the misery of the people. Mao immediately ‘purged’ old Peng; the Great Leap Forward however continued till 1961/1962. Today it is estimated that between 40 and 50 million people died of hunger in China during these three years.

At the beginning of 1962, as tension was increasing on the Indian border, did Nehru realize that China was a starving nation? Very few knew that, by the end of 1961 Mao was practically out of power.

Dr Zhisui Li, Mao’s personal physician recounts how in 1961 Mao was: “…depressed over the agricultural crisis and angry with the party elite, upon whom he was less able now to work his will, Mao was in temporary eclipse, spending most of his time in bed.”

At the beginning of the fateful year 1962, Mao’s situation had not improved. Dr Li noted: “1962 was a political turning point for Mao. In January, when he convened another expanded Central Committee work conference to discuss the continuing disaster, his support within the party was at its lowest.”

Weaponisation of Space

IssueVol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013| Date : 19 Oct , 2013

The International Space Station

Weaponisation of space would include space control and space-based systems that could destroy targets on the earth’s surface. Space control involves protecting own systems in orbit, attacking enemy assets in space and denying the enemy access to space. The means of achieving these objectives would be to prevent the enemy from launching satellites and destroying or degrading enemy satellites in space. It is akin to control over the air or the sea which would involve denying access to the air or to the sea to the enemy while ensuring access to own or friendly forces. Attacking terrestrial targets from satellites in space would limit reaction time available to the enemy and increase the element of surprise while reducing own losses.

The UN General Assembly recognized the threat from uncontrolled military expansion into space…

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great ancient Epics of India. These Epics, especially the Mahabharata, pick up the thread of the tale of devastation and destruction. Atlantis rather displeased at the humiliating defeat, decided that they were no longer interested in subjugating the Rama Empire (an Indian empire) and decided instead to annihilate the major cities using weapons of mass destruction. Sanskrit scholars could not comprehend what was being described in the Epics until the dropping by the United States of America of the first atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. There are authentic verses from the Indian Epics as under:

“Gurkha, flying a swift and powerful Vimana (fast aircraft) hurled a single projectile (rocket) charged with the power of the universe (nuclear device). An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as ten thousand suns, rose with all its splendour. It was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. The corpses were burned beyond recognition. Hair and nails fell out, pottery shattered without apparent cause and the birds turned white. After a few hours all foodstuff was infected. To escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves into streams of water to wash themselves and their equipment.”

There are descriptions of other weapons. The ‘Brahmadanda’, the most powerful weapon in the universe, belonged to Brahma. The ‘Pashupatastra’ was the weapon of Mahakali, the consort of Mahadeva. This was granted to Arjuna by Shiva and was among the most destructive and foreboding weapons. The ‘Brahmastra’, which contained the mystical force of Brahma, released millions of missiles creating great fires and it had the destructive potential of extinguishing all creation. ‘Vajra’ was the thunderbolt weapon of Indra.

All these weapons raining death and destruction have been described in great detail in the Epics written thousands and thousands of years ago. The fertile imagination of great Indian minds had envisaged the exploitation of space and energy as weapons of war a long time ago. The story is somewhat different today.

Diamer Bhasha Dam: Pakistan’s new Achilles heel

October 21, 2013

In mid-August 2013, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan refused to share relending and repayments liability of loans with regard to two upcoming hydropower projects in Gilgit Baltistan, citing the region’s autonomous status under Empowerment and self-governance order 2009. Acting on a request for exemption from the region, which is financially dependent on Islamabad, and does not have a revenue generation system in terms of taxation etc., the ECC stated that the Gilgit Baltistan government should be able to repay the loans by itself, given the fact that it would harness the proceeds from the hydropower projects in the region. The ECC’s decision has come as a dampener for several hydropower projects in the region seeking foreign assistance. Significant among them is the Diamer Bhasha Dam (DBD), a multibillion dollar project proposed to be constructed on the Indus River in Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan.

The DBD was conceived back in July 2001, presented as part of Wapda’s (Water and Power Development Authority) Water Vision 2025. Designed primarily to fulfill the energy requirements in Pakistan, the dam was also projected to facilitate irrigation for the agricultural sector, generate employment for locals and act as a silt-trap for the Tarbela dam located further downstream. As per the plans, a huge reservoir was to be built in the Diamer district whereas the two power houses, was to be located in Kohistan in the neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). With an expected capacity of 4500 MW, the proposed roller compact concrete (RCC) dam was to be one of the largest in the world. The dam structure would stand 922 feet high making it the tallest in the RCC category. The revised cost of the project currently stands at approximately $ 14 billion.

Since its inception, the DBD project has been afflicted by controversies. There are fundamental complications regarding the location of the dam in a disputed region. Moreover, there are other problems too — of unresolved boundary issues between the disputed Gilgit Baltistan and the Pakistani province of KP, which have led to contesting claims over their share in the royalty from the dam. The ecological impact of the project site being situated in a high seismic zone, which is prone to landslides and floods are added concerns. The region has witnessed colossal calamities in the past including the earthquake in 2005, the Attabad landslide in 2010 that created an artificial lake wiping out an entire village, and more recently the Gyari avalanche tragedy in April 2012.

The DBD project has featured regularly in media reports in Pakistan. Apart from other factors, continuing deficit of required funds has been cited as the main reason for which the dam has remained in limbo so far. According to Wapda, the current funding status of the Diamer Bhasha project is that the "acquisition of land and construction of infrastructure are being implemented through funds by GoP [Government of Pakistan]. The ADB [Asian Development Bank] has shown interest in financing the project. Response from USAID, ADB and other donor agencies are also encouraging. The GoP has requested FoDP [Friends of Democratic Pakistan] for financing of the project and their participation is also expected.”1 The idea of an ambitious project such as the DBD rests primarily on external funding, sourced from international financial institutions (IFIs) and other willing donor states. The World Bank and the ADB have been approached by Pakistan for funds for the project. Other financial institutions include the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED). The massive project cost can be administered only through a consortium as a single source/donor will not suffice.

Prime Minister’s Visit to Moscow: Need to Revitalise the India-Russia Partnership

October 21, 2013

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting Moscow for the 14th India-Russia Summit from October 21. Historically, India has shared a multidimensional and strong partnership with Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union). Its contribution in building India’s national capabilities and being a ‘reliable’ partner is well documented. India has often referred to ties with Russia as a “key pillar of its foreign policy” and the two countries share a common vision on a number of regional and international issues.

The importance of this visit needs to be analysed within the context of a rapidly changing international environment. As a result, the priorities of both India and Russia have changed, wherein ideology has been replaced by an emphasis on promoting national interests through a multi-vectored foreign policy. This has seen India strengthen ties with the US while Russia is now more frequently engaging Pakistan. The India-Russian strategic partnership, which may not reflect the glory days of the past, continues to move forward, albeit sluggish. The challenge lies in reinvigorating this relationship.

On the foreign policy front, developments in Syria do highlight the contours of global geopolitics. By sticking to its position and through deft diplomatic manoeuvring, Russia has re-emerged as one of the principal actors. The perceived US military and economic decline and its indecisiveness in taking concrete action will in the near future highlight what Russia has been striving for all along; emergence of a multipolar world. Russia has positioned itself as a key global actor in such a scenario.

Already a number of Russian initiatives have gained traction. As the Chair of recently held G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia called for and suggested ways to tackle global economic slowdown, combat tax evasion and undertake reform of international financial institutions. Russia’s active membership of several other multilateral organisations; be it the G-8, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Russia-India-China (RIC), high table of United Nations Security Council apart from a strong military power base offers it the unique advantage of being a pole in global diplomacy.

Multilateralism also blends in with India’s independent foreign policy discourse. Therefore, India and Russia can explore common synergies in their endeavour to create a multi-polar world order and reforming global governance structures.

Moreover, both India and Russia share apprehensions about China’s rise and assertiveness, despite significantly improving their bilateral ties with it. China’s growing economic engagement with Central Asian Republics has ramifications for the entire Eurasian region. Therefore, India and Russia can look to engage China in SCO and RIC meetings.

Similarly, developments in Afghanistan remain a matter of concern for both the partners. They can work together to implement the common goal of ensuring stability and economic prosperity in the country. The role of SCO becomes important since it provides a platform to all the stakeholders to work on Afghanistan in the backdrop of post 2014 withdrawal of American forces.

Russia is a Eurasian country and has pushed for building ties with the growing economies of South-East Asia. This policy is often congruent with India’s own ‘Look East’ policy. At a time when China’s maritime disputes have risen and US ‘pivot’ remains a work in progress, India and Russia can look to form synergies on their policies towards this geopolitically evolving region.

The reminder of violent Naxal movement in Bihar

Posted:Oct 20, 2013 
By Gaurav Kumar

The Patna High Court on Oct 9 suspended conviction of the 26 accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre on the ground of lack of evidence. The trial court had convicted all the 26 accused and sentenced 10 to life imprisonment and handed down capital punishment to 16 people on April 7, 2010. 

The gruesome massacre was committed on Dec 1, 1997 in Laxmanpur Bathe village in south Bihar where 58 people, including 27 women and 16 children, belonging to Dalit caste (Paswans, Chamars, Mallahs and Machuwara community) were killed by the now-disbanded anti-Naxal upper caste militia Ranvir Sena. The division bench of justice V.N. Sinha and justice A.K. Lal gave the benefit of doubt to the accused on the ground that there were discrepancies in the statement of prosecution witnesses and the prosecution had not produced any evidence to guarantee any punishment. This is the third incidence of acquittal in the cases of Dalit massacre by the Patna High Court in 2013. In two cases earlier, Patna High Court division bench on July 3, 2013 had acquitted nine of 10 accused in the Miyapur massacre where 32 Dalits were allegedly killed by the Ranvir Sena on June 16, 2000. Similarly, in the Nagari Bazar carnage case, the high court released 11 convicts, where 11 Dalits were killed by the same group.

Naxalite movement in south Bihar

The majority of these massacres and violence under the umbrella of anti-Naxal forces was during the second phase of Naxal movement in Bihar. Bela Bhatia in her article Naxalite Movement in Central Bihar has classified Naxal movement in two phases - Formative phase from 1967-1977 and the second phase from 1977 onwards. Undivided central Bihar saw unprecedented level of violence during the second phase of Naxalite movement. This phase was also marked by alteration of power equation, which was now tilted towards the labour and the oppressed class as opposed to the landlord or upper class segment of current southern Bihar. 

The second phase also witnessed new political alignments and rise of new Naxalite groups. An excessive growth of Naxalism and change of power equation brought with itself concomitant problems. There was huge retaliation by the upper caste landlords, creating their own militias. The most prominent among them was Ranvir Sena, which was formed in 1994. The available literature shows a ghastly phae of massacres and counter massacres following the formation of Ranvir Sena in order to counter the growing influence of Naxal-backed peasant resistance and violence. The then changing political landscape in Bihar drove the government to allow the violence to increase and even begin to appear more and more normal. The phase witnessed numerous massacres during 1990s.

The Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project


In contemporary times, most dam construction has shifted from the developed to the developing world, with some countries such as China and India implementing large dam construction programmes. The Northeastern region has been identified as India’s ‘future powerhouse’[i] where about 168 large hydroelectric projects have been proposed. These include 22 projects having potential of 15,191 MW in the Subansiri River Basin.[ii] The 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, proposed to come up at Gerukamukh on Assam-Arunachal border is the first large hydroelectric project to be constructed in the Subansiri River Basin which in turn is a major part of Brahmaputra River Basin. The large number of projects in the region have the potential to majorly alter the rivers’ patterns and the landscape along it. Therefore, large dams are emerging as a major issue of conflict in Northeast India.[iii]

The Northeast, especially the state of Arunachal Pradesh, where the majority of the dams are due to be built, is a biodiversity hotspot, ecologically sensitive and prone to earthquakes. It is classed as a seismic Zone V – “most dangerous” – by India’s seismologists.[iv]Similar dam projects have already provoked controversy. For example, the 405 MW Ranganadi Hydro Electric Project built by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) in Arunachal Pradesh caused heavy floods during 2004, 2008, and 2011 in downstream Assam which resulted in loss of agricultural land thereby leading to displacement of residents. There is also a perception among the local inhabitants that the benefits of the projects will not be shared with them though they will be subjected to threats to their livelihoods, environment and culture. This has provoled controversy and is a potential source of future conflict.

The issues of dam proliferation in Northeast India started way back in 2001 when Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in its preliminary ranking study of the nation-wide potential for hydroelectricity gave the highest marks to the Brahmaputra River Basin. The Brahmaputra River System includes Barak and other south flowing rivers like Teesta, Subansiri, Kameng, Kalang, Dihang, Dibang and Lohit. The Brahmaputra is one of the world’s largest rivers, with a river basin of 5,80,000 sq.km of which 33 percent is in India.[v]

As far as the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project is concerned, after completing 50 percent of the work, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is in a dilemma over the project. In the past seven years, at least six expert committees have raised alarm on the dam’s safety and its possible impact on downstream areas. The latest is a technical experts’ committee of the Planning Commission, set up in January 2011. The committee, comprising former bureaucrats with the Ministry of Water Resource is of the opinion that the project is not scientifically and technologically viable and calls for a major overhaul in the design. Construction remains stalled at the project since May 2012 due to frequent protests and strikes.

Defence E Mall: A One Stop Shop

As a part of its Revolution in Military Logistics (RML) and logistic transformation, USA’s Department of Defence has harnessed the power of IT enabled logistics by adopting E- commerce for most of its inventory functions. One of the game changing initiatives has been the establishment of an Electronic Mall (E-Mall) which is a web based online ordering, platform built to provide a secure full service e-Commerce site for its military customers. The E-Mall offers over 65 million items, delivering a streamlined and cost effective mechanism to search for and order products and supplies online. It is offered as a service of the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) and is often referred to as "The First Choice Support for the War fighter". It is the one-stop shopping, enterprise-wide e-Commerce site for the US Defence Logistics Agency and has 40,000 active users.

The defence E-Mall is the single entry point for all defence establishments to find and acquire off-the-shelf, finished goods items from commercial marketplace at one place. The E-Mall offers cross-store shopping for the purpose of comparison pricing and best value decision-making. To enhance security, all vendors registered on the mall meet the US Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defence Federal Acquisition Regulation (DFAR) requirements besides statutory requirements. The E-Mall also provides a one-stop visibility of online real time order status. The mall runs on a distributed architecture that allows the vendor to maintain the data, ensuring that it is current and accurate. This allows it to support a large number of products from multiple vendors and eliminates the need for the government to replicate data already maintained by the vendor. The E-Mall provides the benefits of reduced logistics response time and improved visibility of both government and commercial sources of supply. It is now the defence customer's first choice to search, find, compare and buy commercial and military products and services. The customer views the catalogue product information as if it was coming from a single unified source and makes an informed choice.

Managed by the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA), the E-Mall allows authorised government purchasers access to a wide variety of qualified vendors and catalogues. It is available around the clock worldwide, and offers a variety of payment options for its stores. The customer can use their Government Purchase Card or a Military Fund Code to buy any of the items from Government Stock or vendor catalogues. The E-Mall makes it easy to support a large group of people with their acquisition needs from procurement of office supplies to weapon system parts. In case any establishment has a single purchase cardholder and many personnel with purchasing needs but not the authorisation to purchase, the E-Mall can support the entire staff by registering all personnel as shoppers. All shoppers will thus have the ability to complete all their shopping, but not the ability to purchase. Staff members without purchasing power can still build a virtual cart filled with the items that they want, but instead of completing the order, these Shoppers simply send their virtual cart to the office purchase cardholder. The purchase cardholder has the ability to merge multiple shopping carts together to consolidate buys while still retaining the individual details of the orders. This way, when the order comes in, they can easily sort out who ordered what. This is thus a very convenient way to support all the needs of an entire establishment/unit. Army stations/units can also outsource routine maintenance services like garbage collection, lawn mowing and minor repairs using the E-Mall. This service has reduced average service times from two weeks to 3 days in the US Army. Customers can also track the status of their orders online thus enabling real time tracking. Besides military service personnel, Central / State governments can also order services using E-Mall.

When patents, not patients, matter more

Narayan Lakshman

Neither the long-term health of their clientele, nor the affordability or true effectiveness of a drug matches profit-making as a motivator for drug companies.

AP Downward spiral.

Although nations frequently clash over intellectual property rights, at the individual level nothing drives home the practical implications patent systems abuse like the manipulation drug production by some companies, which directly affects one’s own health or the health of a friend or family member.

A close friend was recently at the receiving end of what appears to be deliberate malfeasance within the U.S. drug patents system, and the facts of his case supply context to the battles that have played out over the last few years in the India-U.S. bilateral space.

Bilateral minefield

Notwithstanding steady progress in other areas of bilateral cooperation such as defence, the sphere of intellectual property rights has become a veritable minefield for the India-U.S. relations.
Although disputes have existed for years now, notably including the Basmati-Jasmati-Texmati brouhaha of the late 1990s, recent landmark decisions by the Supreme Court of India rejecting drug patent applications made by major foreign pharmaceutical companies have stirred the pot again.

In turn, this has raised deep questions about the rules of the game.

One relevant ruling by the highest court in the land came in April in response to an application by Swiss drug maker Novartis, which sought patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec.

The Indian Supreme Court refused grant a patent for the drug arguing that the drug was merely an extension of existing medications, not a ground-breaking advancement. This is also known in the industry as “ever-greening,” for obvious reasons.

Although the Court’s ruling raised a cacophony of partisan voices in the West, fearful that India’s commitment to affordable generics for life-saving drugs could hit their bottom line, Indian officials patiently went about explaining the Supreme Court’s decision and why India had not flouted international patent laws enshrined in the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement of the World Trade Organisation.

For example India’s Ambassador to the U.S. argued in The Hill’s Congress blog that during 2005-11 more than 4,000 patents for pharmaceutical inventions were issued by the Indian Patent Office and among those “20-30 per cent were awarded to U.S.-based companies each year, and more than 85 per cent were owned by foreign companies in India.”

Ms. Rao went on to note, “Compulsory licensing has been an integral part of the patent regime of many countries for years. Fifteen countries, both developed and developing countries alike, have issued more than 35 compulsory licences.”

In another well-argued article Shamnad Basheer pointed out in The Hindu that the U.S. “routinely issues such licences… through their courts which refuse to grant patent injunctions on grounds of public interest,” and thus it forces foreign drug manufacturers to drop their drug prices.

Madhya Pradesh Stampede and the Indian Police

October 21, 2013
By Kiran Nazish

A tragedy appears to have been made worse by the callous and inept actions of Indian police.

A stampede in the Datia district of Madhya Pradesh last week killed about 115 worshipers. Many were devotees visiting the temple on the eve of Dussehra, an important Hindu festival, caught up in the stampede that occurred on the bridge crossing the river Sindh. The tragedy, which left more than 100 pilgrims injured, occurred during the Navratri festivities near the Ratangarh Temple in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Dozens of people were crushed, injured or pushed into the river. Eyewitnesses report that the majority were women and children. Prakash Yadav – a local journalist reporting from the area – told The Diplomat: “The initial statements released by government officials to Indian media said the situation was under control, until the situation got so out of control that many more deaths and injuries consequently occurred.”

It is clear that the Indian police lost control of the situation. According to eyewitnesses, dozens of dead women and children were thrown into the river. Several accounts say it was the police throwing corpses into the river, with one person present telling me that it was an “endeavor to mask the death toll.”

I later spoke to some of the survivors, who painted a horrible picture of the way Indian police officers treated civilian worshipers in the chaos. One witness told me, “We were pushed and shoved to the ground, toppling onto each other, when I saw some police throwing people still alive off the bridge, as if they were wheat sacks being discarded into a dump. These people were alive, not dead. Many of them were children and mothers, wailing and injured. “

Another survivor, Vikram, still in disbelief, recalled, “When an officer in a wardi (uniform) and badge tried throwing my 12-year-old daughter into the river, I grabbed her arm and stopped him, but he kept at it. He tried to scare me and told me he will throw me and others in as well. We screamed at each other, while my daughter screamed in pain.” The police officer did finally throw both of them into the river, but unlike many others, Vikram knew how to swim and was able to save himself and his daughter.

As the police continued to throw people off the bridge, angry devotees reportedly pelted them with stones. At least six police officers were reported injured.

Ginesh, a school teacher who was also there, told The Diplomat, “I would like to urge the media to call for an investigation into the body throwing to if there are any bodies left in the river.”

The curious case of seizure of MV Seamanguard off Tamil Nadu Coast:

Paper No. 5585 Dated 21-Oct-2013
Guest Column by Commodore R. S. Vasan (Retd.)

From the time of the arrest of the US owned Sierra Leanne flagged vessel Seaman Guard on Friday, 12th October many theories have surfaced about the incident and its repercussions for coastal and maritime security.

While all the crew members and the armed guards numbering 33 except two crew members (who were allowed to remain on the vessel for maintenance) were arrested on 18th morning (after detailed investigation by the Q branch of Tamil Nadu Police) thus bringing the first chapter of this episode to a logical conclusion.

With the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks just a month away there are indeed serious concerns about the omissions and commissions both on the vessel and also on the security/intelligence agencies involved. It may also be recalled that there was a terror threat along the Tamil Nadu coast in the month of August which suggested that some key places in Tamil Nadu could be attacked by the sea routes. This paper seeks to examine the related issues and many questions that have not been answered.

Facts. With substantial research using open sources, some inputs from American friends in the maritime sector and with the reporting by the media, the following has been established beyond doubt:-
  • The vessel is owned by a Virginia based US security company Advan Fort but registered in Sierra lone a West African country. The procedure of registering vessels in any convenient country resulted in the designation of such ships as Flags of Convenience (FoC) Ships. Essentially, the company that chooses a FoC country does so to minimize its expenditure and also to avoid stringent laws in US and other maritime countries that regulate the activities of the vessel during its commissioned life.
  • The vessel was registered as a Fisheries protection vessel in Japan prior to being bought by the American company who chose to register the vessel in Sierra Leone. The vessel was deployed for Maritime Security duties by providing security services to ships plying the High Risk Area.
  • The vessel is nearly thirty years old and was carrying ten crew members and twenty five armed guards when detained in the port of Tuticorin. It also possessed automatic and semi-automatic weapons with over 5700 rounds.
  • The ship had visited Kochi for bunkering from 23rd to 26th August and was inspected by the Coast Guard and cleared as it did not carry weapons at that time.
  • The vessel indulged in illegal purchase of diesel through a Dubai based agent and an Indian citizen from Thoothukodi enabled the transfer of fuel to the ship. The police have since traced the concerned individual.
  • The ship did not make the mandatory Pre Arrival Notification for Security (PANS) prior to entering Indian waters.
  • The Coast Guard ship Naiki Devi based in Tuticorin apprehended the vessel. The Master indicated that all the documents would be provided with in an hour but failed to produce necessary certificates or licenses.
  • The crew consisted of two Ukranians and eight Indians. The Armed guards also included four Indian nationals besides other nationals working as security guards for anti-piracy missions.
  • The company Advent Fort in a release tried to mislead the readers with an excuse of the typhoon Phalinin saying that they thank India for allowing the vessel to take shelter and be provided with turn round facilities etc., which was fallacious to say the least. First of all, the storm did not affect the Tamil Nadu coast near Tuticorin as it crossed the Orissa coast some 2000 kilometers away. One of the company partners (who cannot be named) who contacted me was not aware of the inputs from India and was furious when the facts were made known. He intimated that they would be reviewing their relations with the company on this count. The company is indulging in a lot of media exercise instead of providing the necessary documents to the Indian authorities.
The Coastal Police have framed charges in various sections of the IPC for violation of the arms act, the essential commodities act etc., 

Analysis. It is well known that acts of piracy increased manifold between 2006 and 2011 particularly off the coast of Somalia. Commencing 2008, where in even India and China sent warships for anti-piracy missions; the efforts were intensified to combat this menace. The additional forces included the Combined Maritime Force, NATO forces, EU forces and many other navies of the world. The International Maritime Bureau prescribed the Best Management Practices (BMP) for vessel hardening prior to entering the High Risk Areas (HRA). The deployment of armed guards (Privately Contracted Maritime Security Personnel) was allowed for transit through the HRAs. The combination of international action, application of the BMPs and the carriage of armed guards has made a noticeable difference to the number of vessels hijacked. In fact, the whole of 2012 and the past ten months have been extremely good for sea farers as no ships have been hijacked though there have been attempts by desperate pirates to take over ships.

Today’s Complex Data Can Help Predict the Future’s War Zones


Map: Joshua Stevens

For much of the past decade, Afghanistan’s remote Faizabad district remained out of the Taliban’s reach. But the northeastern region has become a target for violence—and according to a new predictive model, Faizabad could get dicey by mid-2014.

Led by Penn State political scientist Philip Schrodt, a team of researchers developed the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone to scrape news from the Internet—the BBC, yes, but also hyperlocal sources around the world—and catalog events from village elections to genocide. Then data scientists can mine it to produce forecasts, based on short- and long-term trends, that could potentially be used by aid agencies to prepare for crises.

The map below, based on data analysis by Schrodt’s colleagues Jay Yonamine and John Beieler, forecasts conflict levels in Afghanistan for June 2014.

When the Best and Brightest Leave India and China

By Pankaj Mishra - Oct 20, 2013

In the 1970s, long before the word “globalization” achieved common currency, the buzzword in India was “brain drain” -- an apparent problem that almost everyone in my family and circle of friends wanted to be part of.

Many young men and women educated at highly subsidized public institutions started leaving the country in the 1960s to deepen or monetize their skills in First World countries. Unlike short-term contract workers servicing the construction boom in the Persian Gulf and SoutheastAsia, these expensively educated seekers of greener grass, many of whom ended up as prominent bankers, entrepreneurs, innovators and scholars abroad, seemed unlikely to return to a slow-growth economy.

The loss of the best and brightest may have diminished the growth prospects of what was then a very poor postcolonial country. But in the 1990s, as news spread of a fresh economic bonanza in India, some of these long-departed brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces began to return. In many ways, the achievements as well as the illusions of “rising” India in the last two decades are largely due to this repatriating Indian diaspora, which brought fresh energy, capital, information, networks and ideas to the motherland.

Broader Flight

Disillusionment with India’s political dysfunction and seemingly ineradicable corruption and inefficiency has made many of them -- such as the former chief executive at a major software company I met recently in Singapore -- want to go back to relatively low-growth but less challenging and more secure economic environments.

This is part of a broader flight. India’s biggest corporate beneficiaries of economic liberalization --names like Tata, Mahindra, Birla -- areputting the bulk of their investments abroad. Escaping rapidly declining educational institutes at home, more Indian students than ever before -- the number has risen 256 percent in the last decade to almost 200,000 -- have gone abroad, to Spain and China as well as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. Young technology professionals and bright undergraduates are moving to Singapore, Australia and Silicon Valley. An influx of wealthy businessmen and financiers has made Indians the highest-income ethnic group in Singapore.

A similar quest for more congenial climes is apparent among China’s privileged classes. The country’s rapid economic growth was actually triggered in the late 1970s and 1980s by its far-flung and patriotic diaspora. But the New China they enabled is now a place -- environmentally challenged, and politically and economically unstable -- that many of its wealthy inhabitants hope to leave. A recent report by Bain & Co. revealed that an astonishing 60 percent of Chinese it surveyed with a net worth of $1.5 million or more wanted to emigrate, and a third of them already have investments abroad.

China to give Pakistan two more nuclear reactors, India protests

Posted:Oct 15, 2013 
Pranab Dhal Samanta

China is well on track to firm up the sale of two more nuclear reactors to Pakistan, raising serious concern in India which has conveyed its objections at both the political and official levels in China, as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group in the last few months.

The deal in question will constitute the first foreign sale of China's indigenous 1,100 MW nuclear reactor series called ACP 1000 which is set to be a major technological advance for Beijing.

The project, which is to be located off Karachi (KANNUP 2 and 3), is valued at about $9.6 billion. Although there has been talk of this in the past year, concern levels rose in new Delhi after reports that the China National Nuclear Corporation Ltd had signed some initial commercial contracts with Pakistani authorities.

It is reliably learnt that India raised the matter with China in the last few months at high-level official meetings and even escalated it to a political level, pointing out to the incongruity of this prospective sale with China's own international commitments as a NPT member as well as within the NSG.

Further, sources said, India has made it known to the Chinese side that any deepening of China's nuclear cooperation with Pakistan has security implications for India given that Islamabad is not committed to separate its civilian programme from the military.

Before taking it up with Beijing, sources said, New Delhi first red flagged the issue to its NSG interlocutors last year when nascent signs of such a conversation between China and Pakistan first emerged. However, it was only at this year's NSG at Prague on June 13-14 that some of the members are learnt to have raised objections to China proceeding with another project with Pakistan.

Matters did pick up pace on the Indian side in the following months as New Delhi brought it up in its official-level conversation with the US ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington and then took it up at back-to-back meetings with China.

Even as preparations are afoot for the PM's visit to China later this month, expectations from Beijing on this issue remain minimal. The Chinese argument, sources said, continue to hover around the point that all this cooperation falls within the Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation agreement which precedes Chinese accession to the NSG.

Despite the fact that this position has been fiercely contested within the NSG, the Chinese side successfully went ahead with its commitment on building two more reactors at Chashma. To avoid being caught up in a debate with the NSG, the Chinese side circulated the notification of this sale at the International Atomic Energy Agency, surprising all member states as that has never been the convention.

The key problem with China's growing nuclear cooperation with Pakistan is that the NSG guidelines make it mandatory for supplier nations to sell nuclear fuel and technology to only those countries which have their entire programme under IAEA safeguards except for five declared nuclear weapons power. The only exception that the NSG has granted is to India under the 2008 nuclear deal.

PM’s Visit to Russia and China: Need for Smart Diplomacy

October 21, 2013

It is for the first time in living memory that an Indian prime minister will visit Russia and China during the same trip, beginning 21 October. The prime minister’s visit to the two countries comes in the back drop of his recent visits to the US, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand. Taken together these visits signal a transformation of Indian foreign policy through greater engagement with countries across the world.

Undoubtedly, Russia and China occupy a special place in India’s foreign policy. With Russia, India has a long standing and time tested friendship. The “privileged partnership” between the two countries has slowly but steadily expanded despite some hiccups. The future of bilateral ties is bright provided both sides carefully invest in it.

China is India’s neighbour. The bilateral ties have expanded considerably but this has not reduced the deep mistrust between the two. The long standing, unresolved border dispute, Indian suspicions about Sino-Pak nexus and China’s growing assertiveness are a matter of concern for India. The two sides, to their credit, have successfully managed their complex and difficult relations and not allowed their differences to escalate. But, in the long run, India needs to tread with caution as Chinese continue to surprise India with actions which undermine India’s security.

Russia’s importance for India’s security and energy needs cannot be overestimated. It remains the main supplier of defence equipment to India. Later this year the Russian made aircraft carrier, christened Vikrmaditya, will join the Indian navy after years of delays. INS Trikand, a Russian made frigate, has already been inducted. The two sides are now co-producing high-tech equipment like the Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles. India-Russia cooperation in nuclear energy and hydrocarbons is proceeding well and will expand in the future. Presently, the trade is a mere $11 billion per annum, much below the Sino-Indian trade of over $70 billion. Russian investments in India are minuscule. The low level of trade and economic ties remains a matter of concern but in the forthcoming visit some innovative ideas like the co-production of a passenger aircraft may help break the shackles.

The summit will be the fourteenth in thirteen years of unbroken summitry. This indicates continuing high level commitment to India-Russia relations. This is not surprising considering that both the countries share congruence of views on many issues. But, the relative decline in the people-to-people contacts between the Russians and Indians is a matter of concern. The visa regime needs to be overhauled. In contrast, people to people contacts between India and China are increasing despite difficult relations. Over 10,000 Indian students are studying in China. Over half a million Indians visit China every year. China is also trying to increase its investments in India despite reservations on the Indian side.

This summit between the two countries leaders takes place in the backdrop of the revised foreign policy concept which Russia came out with in February this year.

Russia is for a polycentric world, a world in which regime change is not a norm and intervention for humanitarian reasons should be in accordance with UN decisions. The Russian and the Western world views are poles apart on this issue. Russia has repeatedly proposed a Euro-Atlantic common security and humanitarian space. But, Russia’s relations with the west are fraught. Russia will be assessing how far India can go in supporting its views. The summit will give an opportunity to see whether Russian and Indian world views and prescriptions for a new order coincide.

The Navy Is Building a Stealth Battleship Strike Force

Posted By David Axe, War is Boring 
October 21, 2013

The Navy's newest warships are hard to detect on radar, heavily armed with super-accurate guns and missiles ... and gigantic. Six hundred feet long and displacing 15,000 tons of water, the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class ships are designated as destroyers but are actually as big as some World War I battleships.

The lead ship in the class is slated to launch any day now -- a milestone briefly delayed by the recent government shutdown. The Navy is building three of the Zumwalts over the next five years and deploying them to the Pacific to counter China's fast-improving military.

That's assuming the $7-billion-apiece Zumwalts don't simply capsize the first time a powerful wave strikes them from behind. The high-tech battleships feature a novel, downward-sloping "tumblehome" hull that's optimized for stealth not stability -- and lacks the wave-resisting qualities of traditional ships with upward-flaring hulls.

"On the DDG-1000, with the waves coming at you from behind, when a ship pitches down, it can lose transverse stability as the stern comes out of the water-and basically roll over," naval architect Ken Brower told Defense News.

Even if they don't sink in heavy seas, the Zumwalts are controversial vessels. Besides being by far the biggest and most expensive surface combatants in memory, the Zumwalts are actually inferior to older, smaller ships in certain key stats, in particular radar performance and missile capacity.

But what they lack in weapons and sensors, the new battleships make up for with other enhancements, including space for their own robotic air forces plus massive electrical output that, in the near future, could support powerful laser weapons.

American Debt, Chinese Anxiety

Published: October 20, 2013

Madison, Wisconson — Last week, the United States once again walked up to the precipice of a debt default, and once again the world wonders why any country, much less the world’s largest economy, would endanger its financial reputation and thus its ability to borrow.

Though a potential global financial crisis was averted at the last minute, one notable development has been a string of warnings by Chinese officials. Prime Minister Li Keqiang told Secretary of State John Kerry that he was “highly concerned” about a possible default. Yi Gang, deputy governor of China’s central bank, warned that America “should have the wisdom to solve this problem as soon as possible.” An opinion essay in Xinhua, the state-run media agency, called “ for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

These statements, unusually blunt coming from the Chinese, show that repeated, avoidable crises threaten the privileged position of the U.S. as issuer of the world’s main reserve currency and (until now) risk-free debt.

It is unlikely that China would provoke a sudden, international financial calamity — for instance, by unloading U.S. Treasury securities and other government debt. Nonetheless, the process of repeated crises and temporary reprieves will only solidify the Chinese government’s determination to diversify its holdings away from dollar-denominated assets. Moreover, these crises provide ammunition to advocates within the Chinese government for expanding the role of the renminbi in international markets. Both of these trends will erode the ability of the United States to issue debt at super-low interest rates, and accelerate the ascent of China’s currency.

Foreign entities — governments, companies and individuals — hold nearly half of the publicly held debt owed by the United States. Of China’s $3.6 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, about 60 percent is estimated to be held in U.S. government securities.

As foreign exchange reserves have soared over the last decade, Chinese monetary authorities have attempted to diversify away from dollar-denominated assets, with limited success. The motivation for diversification is understandable: Since July 2005, the Chinese currency has been appreciating against the U.S. dollar, so that in terms of local purchasing power, dollar-denominated holdings have been losing value.

In addition, the fiscal battles in Washington have made the Chinese authorities more anxious. The overarching problem is that over the longer term, U.S. government finances are not sustainable, in the absence of enhanced tax revenues and restrained spending.

However, Chinese policy makers have fairly limited room for maneuver. First, they are locked into a development model that relies heavily on exports as a source of growth. It’s well recognized that adjustment to a new, more domestically oriented growth model is required. But that process will take a long time, and progress thus far has been halting. Hence, it’s likely that China will continue to accumulate large foreign exchange reserves.

Second, most of the earnings received by Chinese exporters are in dollars, so that currency is what the People’s Bank of China accumulates. In principle, the dollars could be exchanged for other convertible currencies, like the euro or the Swiss franc. But any move to sell dollars in large-enough amounts to make a dent in dollar-denominated holdings would likely drive down the value of the dollar in such a way as to diminish the value of the securities held by the central bank.

Third, even if the Chinese could diversify their holdings away from dollars without realizing capital losses, the question would be — as always — what is the alternative? Government bonds issued by Germany, Switzerland and Britain are safe, but there just aren’t sufficiently large amounts of those securities available for purchase.