30 October 2013

North-East India: Its place in the National Security Calculus

IssueVol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013| Date : 29 Oct , 2013

There has been no major change in the military architecture in India’s Northeast region since 1962. In a strategic sense, India has remained more in a defensive posture all along the sensitive borders. The Northeast region has more than one persona. Traditionally, it has been associated with ethnic insurgency that has been aided and abetted by inimical forces operating from sanctuaries in India’s neighborhood. A bulk of India’s security and other strategic assets are heavily deployed to address twin threats to national security. Time is therefore opportune for national defence planners to consider bifurcation of the existing arrangements in this region into new sectoral responsibilities especially with a view to the future.

Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture…

Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture. It is not only India’s land bridge to Myanmar but also a gateway to Southeast Asia and beyond. The Northeast region is endowed with human and a variety of natural resources such as uranium, coal, hydro-power, forests, oil and gas. Gifted with highly fertile land, the Northeast region is the world’s largest producer of tea as well. It sits right in the hub of a geographical space which is home to nearly a billion people comprising the population of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Southwestern China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The strategic location and natural resources makes it a potential powerhouse of India for development and progress as also being a vibrant source of energy, oil, natural gas and limestone supplemented by the perennial water systems of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The fertile Brahmaputra Valley has huge potential for export of a variety of agro products – while its flora and fauna, natural scenic beauty, varied cuisine and remarkable local handicrafts and performing arts can act as a magnet for promotion of international tourism for neighboring as well the Western countries. Its proximity to international markets to both Southwestern China and Southeast Asia, makes this region a potentially important base for foreign and domestic investors and in tandem with the ‘Look East Policy’, can give the region the ability to tap into markets of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Regional groupings such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technology and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the ASEAN can all act as catalysts for promoting wide-ranging economic cooperation for both bilateral and multilateral trade and commerce. This can be buttressed by free movement of goods along the India-Myanmar border. Building up of the necessary infrastructure to connect the ports of Chittagong, Sittwe and Haldia with the region, can provide a big boost to the entire region. This will enable the landlocked Northeast region access to the Bay of Bengal. There is also the growing network of airlines that will give fresh impetus to cross-border travel but also another form of regional integration in addition to existing arrangements.

From Gen. Giap, doctrine for India

Oct 29, 2013

Gen. Giap emphasises the importance of ideological motivation in preparing soldiers for combat, reinforcing Napoleon’s timeless aphorism, that ‘in war, the physical is to the moral, as three is to one’

General of the People’s Army of Vietnam, Vo Ngyuen Giap, passed away on October 12. He was 102.

Vietnam, formerly Indochina, was part of the French Empire in the Far East, subsequently overrun and occupied by Japan in the Second World War. Gen. Giap’s passing has revived contemporary interest in the First Indochina War (1946-1954) — Vietnam’s War of Independence against both, the Japanese occupiers as well as the returning colonial masters.
Gen. Giap was an iconic home-grown, self-taught military genius whose epochal victory against French forces in the War of Liberation in Indochina signalled the beginning of the end for the European colonial presence in the East.

His memoirs, People’s War, Peoples Army, has become a classic and could be found on the curriculum of military institutions the world over, including the Defence Services Staff College in India.

Gen. Giap, a military hero of almost mythological dimensions, is highly regarded in India. This country paid formal tribute to him when defence minister A.K. Antony called on the Vietnamese embassy in India to convey the Indian government’s condolences.

History records that after the Japanese defeat in the Second World War, the victorious allies attempted to re-establish France to its former position of colonial domain in Indochina. Vietnam’s War of Independence was a politico-military uprising against this attempt under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap.

Ho Chi Minh’s iron resolve and utter personal humanity gave him the epither “Uncle Ho”, and made some refer to him as the “Gandhi with a Rifle”. Gen. Giap was a hardened veteran of prolonged guerrilla warfare since the 1930s, during which he suffered grievous personal tragedy when his wife died in prison. He raised the Viet Minh in 1941, an army of local partisans armed with whatever they could lay their hands on. Gen. Giap launched a protracted guerrilla war against both, the Japanese who were then the occupiers, as well as the in-country French colonial government.

Hostilities commenced in December 1946, after French Navy warships entered and bombarded the Haiphong Port. The conflict subsequently escalated into a running ulcer, which ultimately bled the French to a standstill. It ended with the Geneva Accords in 1954 and the bifurcation of erstwhile French Indochina along the 17th parallel of latitude into two independent entities — communist North Vietnam supported by China and non-communist South Vietnam supported by the West.

It was a major military and ideological victory for the Ho Chi Minh-Giap team, but an equally major human tragedy as well in terms of refugees and “boat people” crossing from North to South and vice versa.

In People’s War, People’s Army, Gen. Giap constantly emphasises the military importance of ideological motivation in preparing soldiers for combat, reinforcing yet again the timeless aphorism attributed to Napoleon — that “in war, the physical is to the moral, as three is to one”. This is somewhat ironic considering that Gen. Giap’s “People’s War” was directed against Napoleon’s successors.

Panchsheel myths

C. Raja Mohan Posted online: Wed Oct 30 2013

During his visit to Beijing last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed with Chinese leaders to appropriately celebrate next year as the 60th anniversary of the Panchsheel declaration signed in 1954. The Panchsheel is often held up in New Delhi as a great contribution of India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, to the evolution of modern international relations. A closer look, however, suggests that its significance is overrated. The fact that Panchsheel is repeatedly invoked reveals India’s habit of worshipping words, elevating written text above political context and refusing to see what these words mean for China. Diplomatic history says Nehru did not invent Panchsheel. It was Zhou Enlai who wanted the five principles of peaceful coexistence put into the preamble of an agreement on trade relations between India and Tibet in 1954. Nehru simply went along.

The rather anodyne principles call for mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. When Krishna Menon, who was a close associate of Nehru and a formidable wordsmith, complained about the poor drafting of the preamble, Nehru downplayed the significance of the text. Menon later recollected that Nehru told him, “How does it matter; it isn’t a treaty or anything, it is a preface to this Tibetan business”.

Nehru’s advice not to read too much into Panchsheel might surprise contemporary Nehruvians. Menon was irritated by the efforts, after Nehru’s death, to elevate Panchsheel into some kind of a diplomatic doctrine. He insisted that Panchsheel “was not a revelation. It was not a creed or part of a formulation of our foreign policy”. The tragedy, of course, was that China and India would respect Panchsheel more in breach rather than observance in the decades of tension after 1954. Beijing accused Delhi of intervening in Tibet. Delhi was angry at Mao’s support to Indian insurgents in the Northeast and the Naxalite movement in the heartland.


As they prepare to mark, yet again, the signing of Panchsheel, Delhi and Beijing are nowhere near separating their territorial sovereignties in the Great Himalayas. If your territorial claims overlap, how do you respect each other’s sovereignty and integrity?

India is angry that China issues stapled visas to Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh and does not recognise India’s sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir. Beijing in turn is bitter about India giving shelter to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan “government in exile”. For China, Panchsheel was and is all about affirming Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibet. When the Chinese emphasised respect for territorial sovereignty and non-intervention, they were asking India to lay its hands off Tibet.

BDCA with China and its Implications for India


October 29, 2013

The Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing and dialogues with Chinese leadership indicated a sense of optimism for the future of bilateral relations. Some of that optimism may be due to the more amiable persona of the new Chinese leadership. A scrupulous display of assertion and adjustment on key issues plus ably managing media-induced negativity by our mandarins were among hallmarks of the visit.

Significant among the nine agreements were CBMs in the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) including cooperation on Trans-border Rivers. The BDCA is a positive move but should be assessed for its implications for India. The proposal was first put forward by China, with some sense of hurry, in March 2013 ahead of Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India. Li seemed sure when he said “we hope that the seeds we have sowed today in spring will be harvested in autumn”.

New Delhi may have responded after great scrutiny. Confusing as it may have been for the Indian mandarins to decide whether to view BDCA as a sign of sincerity and intent by the new Chinese leadership or as yet another deception and denial tactic to stretch India along the LAC, the draft, followed by Depsang incursion in April, did not create a favourable first impression.

The new architecture admittedly is a rehash of previously signed (1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012) de-escalatory measures to thwart military face-offs along the LAC. Most of the Clauses outline mechanisms for exchanging information, consultations about military activities and enhancing communications between border personnel and headquarters. Of the nine, only Article VI (not to tail each others' patrols along the disputed borders) may actually become relevant in tackling real-time incidents. Equally significant is Article II addressing impending issues like the movement of nomadic herders (relevant to the Changpas on both sides.) Components enshrined in the previous pacts failed to avert PLA’s bellicose misadventure along the LAC.

While the nuances of the BDCA are yet to be fully understood, the intent may be to serve as new template to boost military interface and resolve incidents locally. It is unlikely that the pact will prevent new incidents. The past CBMs only served China consolidating in disputed areas. PLA intrusions, on an average, have been 250-300 times annually. The Government admitted 500 Chinese transgressions in previous two years - 90 percent occur in Ladakh. The present spin is that they are not intrusions but cases of transgression due to differing interpretation of ‘border’. In reality, incursions occur due to China’s never ending clamour for fresh claims i.e. in Chumur, Pangong and DBO-Depsang tracks in addition to two traditionally known disputed and in eight areas having differing perceptions. In a chilling revelation Shyam Saran report in August noted ‘area denial’ set by PLA patrolling – now de facto LAC 2- resulting in considerable shrink of Indian territory (640 sq km) in Eastern Ladakh. This negates claim of troops’ patrolling along our perceptions of the LAC.

In Chumur, China probably wants a straight border from PT 4925 to PT 5318 to bring Tible Mane area under its control. PLA has built 4.5 km long road in Pangong’s Sirijap area covering 83 sq km. Incursions in Trig Height area (972 sq km) occur with impunity. Burtse could also become a serious flashpoint. Similarly, in Arunachal Pradesh too the frequency of incursion has been on the rise. Serious face-off situations were reported across Hadigra pass near Chaglagam in Anjaw district.

ERP - Implementation Challenges in Defence


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are commercial off the shelf (COTS) solutions with modular design that provides comprehensive yet integrated solutions for all aspects of a business enterprise. As the name suggests the ERPs are meant for large organisations. As early as 2001, more than 60% of the Fortune 1000 companies had ERPs installed or were in the process of implementing ERP packages to support their back-end business activities[i]. The trend has only improved over the years. Closer home companies like Dabur India, Bajaj Auto, Lanco Industries, Larsen and Toubro, Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) exploit ERP solutions. Recent successful implementation of System Application Product (SAP) based ERP in Malabar Cements prompted the Industries department to call for Expression of Interest (EOI) in June this year, to extend its implementation to 39 public sector enterprises (PSEs) in Kerala.[ii]

The fact that the US Department of Defence has invested $6.65 billion[iii] on ERP implementations as of December 2011 and that the net quantum of investment would become fourfold in the coming four years , is to a great degree, reflection of the value that can be derived from these systems. On the other hand the fact that the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), a major ERP program of the United States Air Force, had to be shelved, post an expenditure of close to $1 billion[iv] on its development over a period of seven years from 2007 to 2012, highlights the necessity of planning and executing ERP implementation with utmost care.

Organisations choose to implement ERP to attain numerous benefits. Multiple conflicting representations of the same data become a single version of truth. Many standalone packages become a single integrated system, ensuring seamless integration across and between processes. The implementation not only brings in transactional traceability and referential integrity but also provides the senior management with absolute visibility with regard to business operations. ERPs contain a bouquet of best practices which have been tested in large number of organisations and proven across thousands of implementations. The business processes of the ERPs are configurable such that these can be suitably altered by addition/deletion/modification of steps to suit peculiar requirements. Configuring requires good knowledge of the organisation’s processes and those being offered by the ERP, and an understanding of the difference between the two. Where the differences between user expectations and what is being offered by the ERP becomes intolerable, customisation is restored to by writing of additional programming code, through RICE (Reports, Interface, Conversion and Enhancement) objects.

Implementations in the industry have made it apparent, that in order to successfully use COTS solutions, organizations have to accept minimal customization of the software. However, at the same time, customisation is not easy to avoid. In the first place, the ERPs were designed for the corporate. A business company and a defence enterprise are not much similar in terms of goals, organisational structure and business functions. A commercial enterprise strives to make profit, remain solvent, limits risk/liability, and evolves implicit tax strategies (valuation and depreciation), all of which is not relevant to a defence enterprise. Further, the Ministry of Defence and the Service Headquarters are not designed for business efficiency. They are organized and optimized for execution of their respective military missions. Secondly, the defence enterprise has a structurally fragmented architecture, which brings in insurmountable difficulty in ERP implementation. ERP software typically organises transactions into end to end processes across multiple business units and supporting organizations within an enterprise. Some of the typical ERP processes are:
  • Acquire to Retire.
  • Budget to Report.
  • Procure to Pay.
  • Order to Cash.
Configuring and mapping these processes is a big challenge in the corporate world, and in a defence enterprise it entails that these processes spread across to organisations outside the control of Service Headquarters, to include the likes of Defence Accounts Department, Defence Finance and the Directorate General of Quality Assurance. Further, for most of the processes, particularly when seen end to end, there is no single authority/process owner that can be held accountable for overall process efficiency and effectiveness. Complex cross-organizational interdependencies, and the varied organisational culture, service ethos of these organisations at the macro level and their distinctly diverse work flows at the functional level pose a big challenge to cross-organisation ERP implementation.

Unfriendly portals,dwindling options

Published: October 30, 2013
Parvathi Menon

Through different historical phases of the Britain-India encounter, Indian students have sought out high-quality education in the United Kingdom. Factors such as a common language, overlapping histories, and, in more recent times, an enterprising British-Indian migrant presence added to the appeal that world-class U.K. universities and colleges exerted on aspiring Indian students.

The post-Independence decades saw an acceleration in the flow of students from India to U.K. campuses, with ever-larger numbers seeking work, and a good number of them citizenship in the country.

Therefore, the sudden and significant drop in the numbers of Indian students — almost 10,000 between 2010-11 and 2011-12 — negates a historical trend that points to the emergence of new push factors in the educational and political environment in the U.K. that are discouraging students from coming.

Indian students constitute the second largest body of overseas students in higher education in the U.K., next only to Chinese students. Together they account for over 35 per cent of all non-EU domicile students in the U.K., and their numbers have dropped by almost 25 percentage points in one year (see table).

With admissions to colleges and universities for this year over, all indications are that the drop in numbers will continue. The new rules envisaged in the Immigration Bill, introduced this month by Home Secretary Theresa May, is predicted to make studying in the U.K. even more difficult for overseas students.

A vote for the social sciences

Published: October 30, 2013
Yogesh Atal

The HinduSEA CHANGE: The social sciences have for long shied away from investigating the terrain of political behaviour. This has changed. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

The subject and its research tools have come a long way from being a grey area to occupying a role in the political landscape.

Although the elections are still some time away, a different political climate is being created by various stakeholders. The tone was set with Anna Hazare’s and the nationwide stir against growing corruption in high places and the demand for the setting up of an independent body at the apex to examine cases of money laundering and the misuse of public money. New voices were added to the Opposition and people from different walks of life joined the campaign. Election 2014 is going to be different with the involvement of party-less campaigners against the ruling party, and the emergence of new political outfits with a clean, new and committed leadership.

Middle class as catalyst

With the onslaught of information technology, there is now considerable use of the social media by the rising, educated middle class. They are shedding their indifference to politics and demonstrating their commitment to root out corruption and dethrone the corrupt. Many are coming forward to contest elections and try honest means to seek voter support. It seems the stage of Power Shift predicted by Toffler is ready to replace money and muscle power.

The social sciences have for long shied away from investigating the terrain of political behaviour. Neither have they had adequate theoretical backup, nor dependable tools to participate meaningfully in the analysis of the emerging political culture. Political studies by political scientists and sociologists initially either focused on the functioning of the local-self government or factional politics at the village level. When compared to the study of political behaviour, more scholarship was invested in the study of political philosophy or the comparative study of the constitutions. The year 1967 saw a series of studies on the Indian elections by sociologists, political scientists and psychologists using techniques of survey research. But these studies shied away from making predictions about the result. Since that was still the time of a one-party-dominant system, the outcome was predictable. Of course, the outcome of the elections in 1967 falsified this notion when the ruling party was swept out of power.

Exit polls

In later years, interest in the kind of studies that we did relative to voting behaviour dwindled. Social scientists were expected to predict the outcome of elections. In response to such expectations, some agencies sprung up which recorded huge samples from different parts of the country and analysed responses to answer simple questions. These agencies and institutions vied with each other to make accurate predictions. The technique of exit polls was evolved for the purpose.

Not all predictions came true. It was partly due to the fact that predictions relative to human behaviour are governed by the manner in which people respond. For one thing, people’s responses to the questionnaire may be false — there can be a difference between what people feel, what they say and what they actually do. There can also be distortion caused by the investigator — he may ask the same question to different people in different ways and thus get different responses; or he may wrongly record the response; or, worse, he may himself supply the response without interviewing the respondents in the sample — which is not uncommon. All these influence the reliability of data.

Emotions and journalism

Published: October 28, 2013
A. S. Panneerselvan

The Hindu A. S. Panneerselvan

My earlier columns — “A framework for accountability” (October 7, 2013), “The bandwagon effect” (September 16, 2013) and “Unbranding ourselves” (October 1, 2012) looked at how the idea of justice constitutes the bedrock of good journalism. I drew from the philosophical explorations of Amartya Sen and John Rawls. Elsewhere, I looked at the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s idea of Public Sphere and argued that in the Indian case, with its plurality and diversity, there cannot be a single public sphere but multiple public spheres that often coexist, sometimes complementing and other times challenging one another.

Martha C. Nussbaum, one of the finest theorists on law and ethics, has expanded these ideas further. In her latest book, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013), she makes a case for love. The book’s jacket succinctly captures her quest for social justice while exploring the nature of human emotions: “Amid fears, resentments, and competitive concerns that are endemic even to good societies, public emotions rooted in love — in intense attachment to things outside our control — can foster commitment to shared goals and keep at bay the forces of disgust and envy.”

Nussbaum is a familiar name to the readers of this newspaper and is one of the advisers of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy. There are many elements in her book that can help journalists tackle competitive chauvinism and jingoism in this election year. Her journey is a tour de force that travels through Greek and Indian epics, the music of Mozart in ‘The marriage of Figaro’, the poems of Rabindranath Tagore and Walt Whitman, the rhetorical speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the writings of John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, B.R. Ambedkar, Auguste Comte and John Rawls to make a case for establishing just societies by foregrounding emotions that can be developed through critical reasoning.

Her postulates for mature citizens are primary lessons for being a good reporter as well. She wants citizens to learn to be both tragic and comic spectators of varied predicaments of life. Her argument: “the tragic perspective gives insight into shared vulnerabilities; the comic perspective (or a comic perspective of a particular sort) embraces the unevenness of human existence with flexibility and mercy, rather than hatred.” Then she, with incisive brilliance, investigates three emotions that pose special problems for compassionate citizenship: fear, envy and shame and also explain that some societies instead of combating them make the situation worse.

Ideal and real

One of the boldest departures in the book is her attempt to pre-empt the cynical view by exploring the relationship between the ideal and the real. She argues that this dichotomy between ideal and real is over simple and misleading because ideals are real. “Constitutions are ideal documents in the sense that they are not always perfectly implemented all the time, and also in the sense that they typically embody a nation’s deepest aspirations. But they are also real, supplying the basis for legal action when the rights they guarantee are not delivered to a particular individual or group.”

She rightly points out that the “freedom of speech,” the “free exercise of religion,” and the “equal protection of the laws” are all lofty ideals, yet they provide the basis for action and adjudication in the real world, for the education of real people, and for progress towards the amelioration of vexing social questions. My empathy — as a journalist and as an ombudsman for a newspaper — with Martha Nussbaum comes from her belief that the demand for love for people and their democratic aspirations are neither a tall order nor unrealistic. It is nearly impossible to reject her readings when she poses the following questions: “the objector presumably thinks that nations need technical calculation: economic thought, military thought, good use of computer science and technology. So, nations need those things, but they do not need the heart? They need expertise, but do not need the sort of daily emotion, the sympathy, tears, and laughter, that we require of ourselves as parents, lovers, and friends, or the wonder with which we contemplate beauty? If that’s what nations are like, one might well want to live elsewhere.”

To me, good journalism is a judicious mix of the ideal and real; head and heart; empathy and empowerment. Apart from the geniuses Nussbaum had meticulously studied in her magnum opus, I can see the same spirit getting displayed in everyday journalism. The desire to point out economic and social injustice and, the unrelenting desire to hold various institutions accountable to their own charters, to recognise kindred spirits, to aspire for just societies and to provide vital information tools to realise the inalienable rights of every man, woman and child are the mandate of good journalism.


Printable version | Oct 30, 2013 9:45:13 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/Readers-Editor/emotions-and-journalism/article5278631.ece

© The Hindu

Wrestling with the rural economy

Published: October 30, 2013
P. Sainath

Special ArrangementKUSHTI CARNIVAL: The mega-event at Kundal in September 2013, as the new season started. Old hands think this crowd was ‘below normal’ because people have still not recovered from a bad season last time.

Special ArrangementKUSHTI CARNIVAL: The mega-event at Kundal in September 2013, as the new season started. Old hands think this crowd was ‘below normal’ because people have still not recovered from a bad season last time.

Special ArrangementKUSHTI CARNIVAL: The mega-event at Kundal in September 2013, as the new season started. Old hands think this crowd was ‘below normal’ because people have still not recovered from a bad season last time.

Kushti is located at the intersection of sports, politics and culture and is deeply embedded in the agrarian economy. If farming tanks, so does Maharashtra’s greatest spectator sport.

You’d think it was the turnout for Sachin Tendulkar’s final test. Anyone might — seeing close to two lakh people showing up five hours before start of play, despite a nagging drizzle. But this is “below normal” for Kundal town, which hosts a prime event in Maharashtra’s greatest spectator sport every year. And it ain’t cricket — it’s wrestling. Few sports are more deeply embedded in the State’s rural economy, especially in farming in western Maharashtra. So much so that last year’s water crisis saw even the Kundal event called off.

“Imagine organising water for three lakh people during the drought,” says an event organiser.

Kushti is located at the intersection of sports, politics, culture and economy in the rural regions of this State. Wrestling exists in urban areas, but the wrestlers are from the villages. And mostly from poor farming families, as The Hindu’s visit to many academies across the region found.


Maharashtra’s ongoing agrarian crisis has hurt the sport for some years now. Last year’s drought, and the water crisis early this year, made it worse. “The sookha devastated us,” says Appasaheb Kadam, one of the sport’s greats in this State, at the taleem or wrestling academy he runs in Kolhapur town. “Most local tournaments were cancelled.” In the rest, prize money shrank. “Many students dropped out, hurting their families’ investment in them.” And this season, excessive rains may have triggered a similar process.

A tractor can be the first prize at smaller tournaments here. Sure, a private company can put up a purse, say Balasaheb Lad and Aruna Lad, organisers of the Kundal mega-event in Sangli district. “But Rs.15 lakh out of every Rs.25 lakh comes from the ordinary shetkari (farmer). If they’re doing badly, wrestling does badly.”

Ticket to a better life

Kushti is a route out of poverty, a striving for status, for the rural poor. “Nearly 90 per cent of them are from poor farming families,” says Kadam in Kolhapur. “The rest are the children of landless labourers, carpenters, and so on. None are from the educated classes. Wrestling is also a passion. Barely five per cent of pehelwans make it to higher levels.”

China backs Pak on terror issue amid renewed focus

Published: October 30, 2013
Ananth Krishnan

China on Tuesday strongly backed Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, even as Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held talks with top Chinese internal security officials here.

The issue has come under renewed focus with Chinese officials saying they were searching for "suspects" from Xinjiang, hours after five people were killed in Tiananmen Square when a car drove into a crowd and burst into flames.

China has, in the recent past, pointed the finger at Pakistan-based terror groups for fomenting violent attacks in its far-western Xinjiang region, which borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Besides meeting with Chinese military leadership, General Kayani – unusually for a visiting Army chief – also met with the Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, who is responsible for internal security matters.

Asked if the issue figured in this week’s talks, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Tuesday only expressed China's strong backing to Pakistan on the issue, saying the government here was of the view that Pakistan “has made enormous efforts in cracking down on terrorism”.

“China supports Pakistan in making counterterrorism strategies based on its own national conditions. We are ready to work with Pakistan and other countries to strengthen cooperation in this area,” she said.

Huang Xilian, a Counsellor in the Foreign Ministry’s Asia Department and a top official in charge of South Asia policy, in a separate briefing with Indian journalists on Tuesday also backed Pakistan on the terror issue, saying the country “is a victim of terrorism”.

“All countries in this region should work together to tackle the menace of terrorism,” he said. As for Monday’s incident in Tiananmen Square, he would only say that the government was, as yet, “not sure of what nature it is”.

Printable version | Oct 30, 2013 9:35:10 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-backs-pak-on-terror-issue-amid-renewed-focus/article5287892.ece

© The Hindu

A nuanced approach

Published: October 30, 2013

Entirely in line with market expectations, the Reserve Bank of India in its second quarter review of monetary policy has hiked the policy repo rate by 0.25 percentage points to 7.75 per cent and reduced the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate by an identical margin to 8.75 per cent. While the cash reserve ratio (CRR) has been left unchanged, the Bank has addressed liquidity concerns by doubling the quantum of funds through term repos of 7 days and 14 days tenor. This facility has been introduced very recently and has been seen as a big step forward in the evolution of the short-term money market. The difference between the repo rate and MSF rate has been brought down to one percentage point and this marks the attainment of one of the important stages in the normalisation of monetary policy. As part of the extraordinary measures introduced in July to arrest the rupee’s decline the MSF was hiked and made the reference point for short-term interest rates. With the rupee now stabilising, the RBI has thought it fit to revert to its traditional monetary policy stance of targeting inflation without compromising on genuine credit needs of industry, relying primarily on the short-term policy rate. The hike in the repo rate indicates the Bank’s concerns over the persistently high inflation as reflected in both the WPI and CPI. Inflation expectations remain high partly due to the ongoing adjustment in fuel prices. Quite significantly, retail inflation is expected to remain “around or even over 9 per cent” having risen sharply across food and non-food items including services. This could indicate further rate hikes in the near future.

The central bank had downgraded its growth projection for 2013-14 to 5 per cent from 5.5 per cent. Even this is higher than practically all other forecasts, by both private and multilateral agencies including the IMF. Economic growth during the first quarter (April-June) has been just 4.4 per cent. Both the government and the RBI hope that the second half of the year will be much better on the back of good monsoons. The external economy which has been under stress has received some good news more recently. Exports have improved over the last two months — to a large extent reaping the benefits of rupee depreciation — and along with a contraction in non-oil import demand helped in narrowing the merchandise trade deficit. This has very favourable implications for the current account deficit which is expected to be much lower than feared until recently. Among the important non-monetary measures announced, the proposal to introduce retail inflation indexed securities is a welcome development. If properly designed, it should help in mobilising household savings for productive investment.

© The Hindu

Al-Qaeda in Xinjiang Autonomous Region?

By Zachary Keck
October 30, 2013

On Monday an SUV carrying three individuals drove through Tiananmen Square, killing themselves and two others while injuring scores more.

It was initially unclear whether the incident was an accident or a deliberate attack. Although China has kept tight-lipped about the incident,Reuters is reporting, citing unnamed Chinese officials, that Beijing now believes that it was a suicide attack. Reuters asserts that Chinese authorities believe the assailants were from China’s restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and they are currently searching for two Uyghurs in connection with the attack.

Although violence has long plagued the ethnic conflict, there are a number of reasons why Beijing is especially worried about this purported attack. First, the incident occurred in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the capital. Although there were major bombing attacks in Beijing in the 1990s that the Chinese government attributed to Muslim separatist groups, according to Reuters this was the first major suicide attack on Beijing. Some terrorism scholars, notably Robert Pape, claim that suicide bombing campaigns are a particularly effective method of terrorism. 

Second, the attack took place just weeks before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convenes its third plenum. This is significant because it means the attackers had to contend with increased state security. Furthermore, some observers are wondering whether this attack was an isolated event or foreshadows a larger campaign meant to coincide with the third plenum. If additional attacks are successfully carried out, they could prove extremely embarrassing for the CCP.

Third, and most importantly, anxious leaders in Beijing are likely asking themselves whether this attack was linked to al-Qaeda.

Inspire Magazine is an English-language publication by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s Yemen branch. The publication seeks to inspire Muslims in English-speaking countries to carry out lone wolf or small cell attacks against the countries in which they live. The magazine contains stories glorifying Jihad as well as ready-made instructions for carrying out attacks.

For some time now, the authors of Inspire Magazine have been encouraging readers to carry out vehicle-borne attacks. For example, the second edition of the magazine encourages prospective terrorists to turn a pickup truck into a human lawn mower by placing large steel blades on the vehicles.

Pakistan’s Sharif is Under Siege

By Zachary Keck
October 29, 2013

It’s been less than five months since Nawaz Sharif began his third term as Pakistan’s prime minister, but his honeymoon period is long since over. In fact, PM Sharif finds himself increasingly under siege from all sides, being challenged internally by Pakistan’s security services and the Pakistani Taliban, and externally by the United States, India, Afghanistan and possibly Iran.

One of the central themes of Sharif’s current term has been a desire to improve relations with India. “We want to move toward better relations with India, to resolve the remaining issues through peaceful means, including that of Kashmir,” Sharif said shortly after taking office.

One of the central challenges in realizing this goal was always going to be getting Pakistan’s military and intelligence service on board. Recent weeks have made it abundantly clear that Sharif lacks this support as cross border raids by Pakistani militants into India have skyrocketed. According to some estimates, there have been 150 violations of the Indo-Pakistan ceasefire agreement since 2003. 40 of these have taken place this month alone. The attacks and infiltrations are also affecting areas that have been relatively stable in recent years, such as the southern part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir State. These attacks are almost certainly taking place with the passive and most likely active assistance of the Pakistani military and border patrol.

These attacks couldn’t come at a worse time as India enters into campaign mode ahead of the 2014 general election in that country. The prospect of a crushing defeat for his party by the nationalist BJP at the polls next year leaves Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with little room to maneuver. Although Singh probably genuinely wants to improve relations with Pakistan, he has been forced to take a hardline against these attacks, even singling out Sharif personally for criticism.

Sharif has also hoped to bring some internal stability to Pakistan. As part of his efforts to achieve this, Sharif has made a number of overtures to the Pakistani Taliban. Not surprisingly, Sharif’s efforts to reach out to the militant group have once again only emboldened it. Although the group rhetorically responded positively to Sharif’s call for talks, the last few months have witnessed the Pakistani Taliban increase its assassinations of Pakistani political leaders. The group has also renewed attacks against polio campaign workers, and continues to promise that it will free Pakistan from its anti-Islamic democratic system and impose Sharia law. This leaves little common ground between Islamabad and the militant group.

China Is Now the OPEC of Rare Earths

October 29, 2013

A funny thing happened last week on the way to world government: The U.S. registered a win in the World Trade Organization (WTO) tribunal, which ruled that China's rare earths export policies violate the international trade regime.

Good news for those worried by China's near-total dominance of global supply for these critical metals, essential for high-tech, green-tech and advanced military applications -- right?

Wrong. The WTO win is far more likely to distract U.S. policymakers from the larger challenge of developing a strategic resource policy -- and prolong U.S. resource dependencies to the detriment of our economic strength and national security.

China's WTO loss masks a strong position for Beijing, which has at least three paths forward that will result in no compelled changes whatsoever in China's rare earths export policy.

Put simply, China will win on appeal, case closed. Or it will lose -- and thereupon make modest changes to its rare earths regulatory and export regime, changing the fact-pattern and leaving the U.S. and its fellow complainants Japan and the European Union to bring a new WTO action.

Or China will simply ignore the WTO altogether.

Whether it's Column A, B or C, the user-nations will fail in their attempt to compel China to feed their earths addiction.

To see how even the worst case for China -- a WTO ruling condemning China's resource export policies -- won't help the U.S., consider the OPEC parallel. A two-thirds majority of the OPEC oil cartel's membership -- eight nations -- belongs to the WTO. So why hasn't there been a WTO action against OPEC for oil price collusion? Because it's clear that OPEC would ignore any WTO cease-and-desist order, and there is no WTO enforcement division -- armed with weapons or subpoenas -- that could make OPEC decide otherwise.

China’s Venezuela Exposure

By James Parker
October 29, 2013

The visit of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to China last month was, on the face of it, a cause for quite a bit of relief for Beijing. After all, strong Beijing ally Hugo Chavez had only passed away in March, and there was some concern about how stable Venezuela would be following the death of such a personality-oriented, individual leader. Whilst the visit was marked by the usual fanfare about deals, cooperation and even conspiracy theories (as usual centered on the U.S.) the cheer actually masked what is rapidly becoming a dire economic situation in the Latin-American country as decades of populism come home to roost. Even the conspiracy theories represent political strains in Caracas. China should be wary.

Chinese investment and support for Venezuela continued unabated both before and during Maduro’s visit in late September. Indeed, $28 billion of Chinese investment in Venezuelan oil production was announcedbefore Maduro even set foot in Beijing. These numbers are large, but cumulative Chinese exposure to Venezuela is much higher, with China Development bank alone having a third of its overseas lending as of late 2012 in the country according to the book China’s Superbank. Much of China’s investment in Venezuela, like the recent $28 billion, is focused on the oil industry. Other lending to Venezuela from China, like another $5 billion loan agreed during the visit, is often contracted to be at least partially repaid in oil. The same applies for a separate $20 billion credit line from China that is soon due to be renewed.

Venezuela is going to need such Chinese help as much as ever over the coming months and years, as the troubled Latin-American country faces up to years of populist economic mismanagement, which may have made Chavez a hero to his people, but threaten to be much less kind to the current and any future government as they are handed the bill. Problems include a looming currency crisis, stagnating production at the vital yet mismanaged government petroleum company PDVSA (which has been used to back populist social spending), massive inflation and mounting corruption problems that are complicating efforts to clean things up.

The mismanagement at PDVSA is a root cause of many of the problems, even if it results directly from nationalization policies (which drove away much foreign investment and more importantly technology in the oil industry), and the failure to allow the company to retain enough of its income to invest in future production, or for that matter in an ability to refine petroleum products for the home market. The result: Venezuela only exported roughly 1.7 million barrels per day of oil in 2012, down from 3.1 million barrels per day in 1997. Meanwhile, imports of refined products (from the U.S.) have jumped from an annual total of $568.9 million in 2011 up to $3.3 billion in 2012.

China’s Pivot West

October 29, 2013
China has begun “Marching Westwards” in Asia. The consequences could be huge.

Here at The Diplomat, we’ve devoted extensive attention to covering China’s many sources of friction in the Asia-Pacific region, ranging from Japan, to the Philippines and, of course, to India. Fortunately, it may have been the case that booming trade and economic promise have been the glue keeping the Asia-Pacific largely peaceful for so long despite the rise of China: an often-assertive superpower.

Nonetheless, experts hardly manage to get through a conversation on China’s relationship with Japan, South Korea, ASEAN or India without referring to what these countries might be doing to “hedge” against a potential downturn in relations with China. On the contrary, China’s “hedge” in the region is less well understood and it is best captured in its “Marching Westwards” policy – its very own pivot to Eurasia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is fond of the Silk Road; he was born in Shaanxi province, its easternmost node. In his October 3 speech before ASEAN leaders, Xi spoke of the “seaway that bridges China and foreign countries” as being as “prestigious as the Silk Road that connects East and West.” This speech came a month after he visited the actual old Silk Road during a four-country tour of Central Asia. He opened a crucial energy pipeline with Kazakh President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev that will feed Caspian gas into China’s coastal cities in the future, traversing Turkmenistan where it will feed into another jointly developed pipeline.

Unfortunately for China, geography has been unkind to it in a way that it never was to the United States with its vastly unconstrained oceanic access. China's strategic access to the east – into the Pacific Ocean – does not leave it among unwavering friends and allies. With the exception of North Korea, and perhaps Myanmar, China can count few states among its all-weather strategic friends along its vast southeastern rimland: from the north-easternmost point of Manchuria to Tibet and Aksai Chin, China’s rise has not been perceived as unthreatening or as an overwhelmingly positive development for regional stability and security.

One of China’s greatest strengths when it comes to foreign policy and business is its willingness to go everywhere and do almost anything. It has become a formidable “all-weather” partner to many countries. China does this best when messy topics like Asian history, nuclear weapons, and territorial disputes are left out of the equation. This is where the flip side of China’s vast geography is of interest. The regional outlook to China’s west might not offer the same level of economic sophistication as its east, but it does offer massive strategic prizes that will grow increasingly important in the 21st century.

China has given its Eurasian strategy the rather-assertive moniker “Marching Westwards” – a phrase that might keep American China hawks awake at night until they realize that this westward march halts at the Caspian Sea. None of this is a hushed secret, but it is underappreciated, particularly among Euro-American strategic analysts that may privilege naval power in the footsteps of men like Alfred Thayer Mahan and Nicholas John Spykman. It is prudent not to understate China’s attempt to modernize its navy, but this is more a response to its threat environment than anything else.

China Can’t Talk Its Way Out of Slowing Growth

By William Pesek - Oct 28, 2013

If imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, Shinzo Abe should be thrilled the Chinese are copying his “Abenomics” strategy to excite investors. The rest of the world shouldn’t be.

China isn’t cribbing the Japanese prime minister’s actual blueprint, but his formula of spin and hype that has convinced the world something that doesn’t yet exist is real. The key to a great ad campaign is attracting customers and keeping them, something Abe has done with a brilliance that could teach the Edelman public-relations firm a thing or two.

Abe’s campaign has gone as follows. Introduce a three-part revival plan. Then, roll out the first two segments, the easy ones, right away with great fanfare and to spectacular effect. Abe’s huge monetary and fiscal stimulus did just that, driving equities higher and foreign investors wild. Finally, use that euphoria as a smoke screen to delay the third part, the really hard one that involves controversial steps to deregulate the economy and take on a bewildering number of vested interests.

Eyeing the Nikkei 225 Stock Average’s 38 percent surge this year, it’s easy to forget that Abe hasn’t implemented a single structural change. Ten months into his premiership, has Abe lowered any trade barriers? No. Loosened labor markets? Nope. Increased female labor participation? Hardly. Encouraged private investment, improved corporate governance, liberalized energy markets or tweaked taxes to empower entrepreneurship? Sadly not. Yet investment banks and the news media treat Abenomics as if it’s already generating the self-reinforcing recovery that’s eluded Japan for decades.
Daunting Challenge

Enter Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier facing the most daunting economic reform challenge since the days of Deng Xiaoping. Li must reduce the role of state-owned enterprises, modernize the financial and fiscal systems, overhaul land and household registration rules, reduce the economy’s reliance on exports and cap pollution so that China’s 1.3 billion people don’t choke on their economic success. Getting any of these reforms past corrupt Communist Party bigwigs profiting from the status quo requires a level of political will that neither Li nor President Xi Jinping has so far displayed.

And so, Li and Xi are pulling an Abe. Both talk about their “comprehensive reforms” ad nauseam, so much so that economists and investors have come to believe something is actually going on. Just like Abenomics, China’s new leaders bamboozled the masses with a pair of grand gestures -- neither of which worked as intended -- to deflect attention from the third. The first was a credit clampdown in June; the second was the proclamation that a brake was being applied to growth in the name of preventing the economy from overheating.

Closing the credit spigot traumatized markets so much that officials backed off. There’s loads of credit being extended around the nation today that will go bad when China experiences trouble, as every industrializing nation invariably does. The broadest measure of money supply, or M2, has exceeded the official goal of 13 percent every month this year, rising at a 14.2 percent rate in September. Some clampdown.