11 November 2013

** The war’s forgotten

Nov 11 2013
By Penny Brook

Rediscovering the importance of Indian soldiers' contribution during World War I.

As 2014 approaches, Britain is preparing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I and those who served in it, including over a million volunteers from India. These soldiers served in almost all the campaigns and theatres of the war, including northern France, Belgium, East Africa, the Middle East and Gallipoli. The wounded from the Indian Corps serving in France and Flanders established their base hospital at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and to this day, there are memorials in Brighton to the Indian soldiers who were treated there and to those who sadly succumbed to their injuries. Thanks to the detailed information in the India Office Records and photograph collections preserved and cataloged at the British Library in London, it has been possible to go back in time and rediscover the importance of the Indian soldiers' contribution to the war effort.

At the British Library, we believe that the best way for us to commemorate World War I is by making the raw materials of research, namely the archives and photographs, freely available online, enabling future historians to take account of stories such as those of the Indian soldiers. Through the Europeana Collections 1914-18 digitisation project, we are providing free online access to a selection of India Office Records and photographs relating to the war in Europe and the Middle East, including files about the treatment of British and Indian prisoners of war in Germany and India's memorial at Neuve Chapelle in France, where there were heavy casualties among Indian soldiers. The online resources include a file relating to the "Appreciation of assistance rendered to the Australian Medical corps by Indian ambulance men in Gallipoli, 1915", reminding us of how much the Commonwealth contributed during this terrible conflict. The online resources also include files on the Mesopotamia Campaign, where almost 7,00,000 Indian soldiers served during the war as part of Indian Expeditionary Force D. The files cover military operations in Mesopotamia, the battle and siege of Kut-al-Amarah, and the treatment of British and Indian prisoners of war in Turkey. Among the online resources is a list of recipients of the Victoria Cross, highlighting the bravery of the Indian soldiers.

The jewel is the collection of censored Indian mails. This is a rare case where we hear the Indian voice describing the experiences of World War I, albeit constrained by the risk of censorship. All letters from the front line were subject to censorship as the government was concerned about the risk of military intelligence leaking to their enemies. One letter written by an Indian soldier from Barton Hospital on the south coast of England vividly conveys the horrors of the war. "I cannot write it, for over the whole earth and ground between the trenches bodies were lying on bodies like stones in heaps, which no words can be found to describe or relate. This is nothing but the anger of the Almighty and it is his will. When a man dies in the world, I and you think it a great event. But here in this war, corpses are piled upon one another so that they cannot be counted." Indian soldiers also recorded their impressions of Britain, complaining about the weather and high prices, but marvelling at the sights they saw in London.

In 1971, a Genocide Took Place. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger Did Nothing. Intentionally ***


*** BOOKS NOVEMBER 9, 2013

In 1971, a Genocide Took Place. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger Did Nothing. Intentionally. The lost history of one of our lowest moments


Among the many bizarre White House conversations between President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger that Gary Bass cites in his devastating account of America’s role in the creation of Bangladesh, a particularly wrenching one took place in April 1971, a little over two weeks into an onslaught by the Pakistani military upon its own citizens.

Sparking the Nixon-Kissinger exchange was an indignant diplomat named Archer Blood, the U. S. consul general in Dacca, the capital of Pakistan’s eastern half. For a fortnight, Blood had been cabling Washington details, meticulously gathered by his staff, of massacres and expulsions that had left the Bengali city “a ghost town.” Kissinger had downplayed the details of these reports to the president, and made clear to his aides that they should ignore the dispatches, even as three fourths of Dacca’s population fled for their lives.

On April 6, disgusted by Washington’s silence, Blood and his staff transmitted to their superiors in Washington a collectively authored telegram registering official disagreement with American policy: the “Blood telegram” of Bass’s title. It used the word “genocide” to describe the killings in Bengal, which were targeting the Bengalis—and specifically the Hindus among them—of East Pakistan. It was, Bass writes, “as scorching a cable as could be imagined” and “probably the most blistering denunciation of U. S. foreign policy ever sent by its own diplomats.” The five-page cable catalogued the “moral bankruptcy” of America’s Pakistan policy in failing to denounce the atrocities, in condoning the suppression of democracy, and in continuing to support and to arm the fast-dissolving country’s military leader.

Less than a week later, Nixon and Kissinger met in the Oval Office to try to convince themselves of the rightness of their dedication to that military leader, General Yahya Khan. He was a Sandhurst-trained officer straight out of central casting, complete with swagger stick, strut, and slick-backed hair. Nixon admired him and considered him a friend. Kissinger privately judged him a moron, but saw in him a supremely useful instrument to pursue America’s geopolitical interests. Now, as Yahya pressed his American-equipped army into service against Pakistan’s Bengali population, he was becoming an awkward problem for his Washington backers. The contents of Blood’s denunciatory cable had spread fast, winning supporters within the State Department and reaching the press and Democratic leaders. (Blood had taken care to give the telegram a low classification—merely “Confidential.”)

Infuriated by Blood’s insubordination and anxious that his message could derail their Pakistan policy, Nixon and Kissinger stiffened their commitment to Yahya. Biafra, Nixon suggested to Kissinger, had been worse than what was happening in East Pakistan—but the United States had not intervened there. Would it not be moral hypocrisy to intervene in Bengal? Or was Biafra’s neglect justified because it had fewer people? And for that matter, Nixon mused (maybe forgetting that his adviser’s own family had fled Nazi Germany), could it be said that because “there weren’t very many Jews in Germany” perhaps it was “therefore not immoral for Hitler to kill them?”

Even the most morally impaired politicians may sometimes strain toward ethical epiphanies. Through the fog of his geopolitical ambition, Nixon could see that what was happening in East Pakistan bore comparison with Biafra and the Holocaust. Unfortunately his moment of clarity was fleeting. It is the usual, sad fate of most chroniclers of political lives to chart the downward slope from moral perspective and insight into the arid plain of expediency and “realism.” And so the Nixonian moral flicker was quickly extinguished by Kissinger, ever a scourge to inexpedient thoughts. There was no way the United States should put a squeeze on Yahya, Kissinger urged: it would result in leftist extremists coming to rule in Bengal, and weaken the fight against Soviet communism. And there were other, still secret, strategic calculations having to do with China to be factored in. Besides, he argued of intervention, “[i]t’s a disaster. No one else is doing it.” Nixon was already convinced. “I think that if we get in the middle of all this,” he said, “it’s a hell of a mistake.”

India braces for increase in Kashmir militancy as US winds down presence in Afghanistan


By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, November 9,

SRINAGAR, India — India is bracing for more militancy in the battle-scarred region of Kashmir, believing that fighters now focused on resisting U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan will shift toward the Himalayan flashpoint with Pakistan.

Some say increased violence recently along India’s heavily militarized border with Pakistan proves that shift is already underway.

As a result, India is increasing use of drones, thermal sensors and foot patrols as it tries to catch out any battle-hardened militants moving through the forested mountains near the frontier. At the same time, Indian troops have increasingly been engaging in skirmishes with Pakistan’s military.

Rebels “are testing us. They’re making their presence felt by launching audacious attacks,” an Indian army commander in Kashmir said on condition of anonymity, in line with army policy. “They have started recruiting young people into their folds. They are training some of these boys locally.”

U.S. officials and experts acknowledge there are valid concerns, though the U.S. government has not discussed such a risk publicly. The chief of its forces in the Pacific says the U.S. is increasingly discussing terrorist movements with countries in the region.

“We are thinking about it more and more each day, and this includes dialogue with our partners in India and Pakistan,” Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters in Washington this week.

India has long accused Pakistan of arming and training militants who fight in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan vehemently denies. Pakistan has consistently said it gives the rebels only moral and diplomatic support.

The two countries regularly blame each other for starting skirmishes, but they agree the violence has escalated to its highest level — killing dozens of troops and civilians on both sides — since a 2003 cease-fire agreement. In August, the countries’ troops engaged in fierce fighting almost daily after India said 20 militants along with Pakistani soldiers crossed the border and killed five Indian soldiers. Pakistan denied that, saying instead that Indian shelling killed two of its civilians.

Some Pakistani analysts believe the country’s army leaders have little interest in rocking the boat now, raising the worrying possibility that the recent violence was sparked by militants who have gone rogue or are operating in cooperation with lower-level officials sympathetic to their cause.

“We need to be vigilant, we need to be prepared and we need to be alert for any such eventuality,” Indian army Northern Commander Lt. Gen. Sanjiv Chachra said in a TV interview recently broadcast in India. “I think the drawdown (of U.S. forces in the region) will definitely have effect. As a professional army we are keeping a tag of it.”

The nuclear-armed countries’ contentious border — including a 740-kilometer (460-mile) disputed and heavily militarized stretch called the Line of Control — has long drawn fire from both sides as each claims the entire territory of Kashmir as its own. Two wars have been fought over those claims. Vast areas pockmarked by watch towers and razor wire keep villagers from traveling freely.

WHERE INDIA IS HEADED

- The troubled present is obscuring India’s possibilities
Commentarao: S.L. Rao
Rarely heard

In spite of all of India’s problems, I share the optimism about India’s long-term prospects of many like Raghuram Rajan: demographics give us huge human energy, our diversity makes us good at coping with different difficult environments, and obedience to precepts and interpretations of the Constitution are foundations for achieving our potential. The doubts are about the present.

Our governments have been passive with neighbours and underestimated the threats posed by them. Jawaharlal Nehru trusted the United Nations to be just, and believed that Panchsheel would help keep up good relations with China; Indira Gandhi trusted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s word, and later governments, in spite of three victories over the Pakistan army and the throwing back of countless intrusions, could not assuage the hostility. We have not countered China’s aggressions with, for example, stapling visas for their nationals from Tibet or other volatile regions, or hedging our support for Tibet as a Chinese province. Our leaders must have clarity and courage.

The judiciary and constitutional bodies have begun reforms. Among these are electoral and administrative reforms to curb criminals in politics; ensuring transparency in political finances, and letting administrators function without fear. Some pending reforms include expanding the judiciary and enabling quick trials, allowing investigating agencies freedom to work without interference, introducing severe penalties for all crimes including white collar and financial crimes.

For a decade we have rarely seen and heard our leaders, the prime minister or the Congress president. Bumptious, recently-minted political ‘leaders’, instead, expound on or defend government policies. Corruption on a humongous scale has become rampant. The investigative and judicial systems were misused to avoid punishment to the accused, especially politicians. Poorly conceived social welfare schemes offer charity (subsidies, employment guarantees and so on) instead of building people’s capabilities. Vast sums are stolen and claimed to have been spent on these schemes. There is no understanding of their adverse effects on prices, growth and employment. None of the numerous reports on reforms is heeded. With the court preventing criminals from legislating, the first step to improve the quality of legislators has begun. We can expect more cleaning.

Growth has decelerated — with high inflation hurting the poor. The stability of the external value of the rupee is uncertain, with a decline in savings, followed by that in investment, foreign investment, employment and industrial production. We have fallen from the world’s pedestal. People are harassed, afraid and uncertain. But no foreign investor or lender expects India to fail; indeed they expect a revival soon. A new Congress president or a new government will bring rationality in public expenditures, and revival.

A concerned honest civil servant wonders now

by Balaraman — October 25, 2013

The biggest governance challenge for a new government will be re-creating the legitimate space for executive action.

This Mint article is an interesting portrayal of the situation in the country today. I would strongly commend to you the paragraphs of the article on the Supreme Court, the CBI and the bureaucracy.

The recent CBI decision to prosecute the former coal secretary for corruption without any specific allegation of bribery, quid pro quo or benefit and simply based on a decision on file and some innuendo is but the latest example in a recent trend. Without knowing the specifics of the case (I am not giving the officer a certificate–I do not know him) it has been a chilling experience for honest officers.

In all other democratic countries with rule of law, this mere suspicion with no specific evidence on bribes would not be sufficient to begin a corruption prosecution. This basis for prosecution is reminiscent of prosecutions in the Soviet Union and China. Increasingly the enforcement agencies, in response to media and judicial pressure, have resorted to ‘criminal prosecution by file reading’ instead of doing painstaking investigative and forensic work of the kind that got Wall Street bankers convicted in New York. Such shoddy prosecutions will result in acquittal but that may take 20 years! Plus, in cases where the Supreme Court is directing the investigation, will a lower court later easily acquit the persons charged even if they are innocent?

The problem with file-based imputations of misconduct is that the actions of a corrupt officer helping a firm and an honest officer taking a bold decision in public interest, may look identical on file. The former will not be deterred because the gains of corruption will compensate for the risk; but the bold and honest officer will become a timid nay-sayer because for him there is no personal reward whereas there is now great personal risk if he disagrees with anything said by a subordinate. This is transferring power to the lowest (and possibly less knowledgeable or more venal) level officials who put up the initial proposals, because any disagreement with the lower level is a possible source of allegations of corruption against the higher level.

In the coal case, can we be sure that more coal would be mined by the public sector NLC than by Hindalco? Could there not be a plausible case for the allocation to Hindalco? (Of course, a good officer would have recorded those reasons–but what is not clear is whether that would have deterred the CBI from naming him.) It is possible that the decision was wrong—but bad decisions are not criminal offences. It is indeed possible the decision was corrupt–BUT THEN THE INVESTIGATION SHOULD TRACE THAT. Not having a coal allocation policy is not a criminal offence (and the officer in question did separately argue for a transparent policy.)

The lesson many are drawing is that the safe course is to take those decisions which appear honest–always give to public sector, refuse all liberalising changes, never say yes to any request from any private party, never do anything which–even if innocent–might potentially look guilty. The current situation is actually driving out and scaring the good civil servants. Of course, the image of the civil service has sunk so low because of the large number of corrupt officers, that even making this argument may get many people to think the person arguing so is also corrupt or is a camp follower of the current government.

Paradiplomacy: A New Way for Indian Foreign Policy?

Paradiplomacy: A New Way for Indian Foreign Policy?
November 10, 2013
By Tanvi Ratna

Narendra Modi calls for a greater role for the states in India’s economic diplomacy. The idea has merit.

As Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wound up his much-touted state visits to Russia and China – replete with diplomatic pomp and high-powered dialogue – in a corner of Washington D.C. a very different approach to foreign policy was being given considerable impetus. The setting was the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, a U.S. government initiative to promote trade and investment partnerships directly between foreign investors and state, regional and local governments. 

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in the city of Chennai, a similar approach was being espoused by a key figure in next year’s Indian general elections. Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party, was calling for a greater role for states in India’s economic diplomacy. A seemingly maverick concept for a country with a highly centralized foreign policy, but when juxtaposed with the worrying decline in foreign direct investment (FDI), economic growth and jobs, the idea of harnessing the ability of states to promote trade and investment is not without merit.

Paradiplomacy: A Proven Model

The concept Modi was describing in his talk, far from fantastical, enjoys strong academic and practical support. Termed “constituent diplomacy” or “paradiplomacy,” it was first proposed in 1990 by the American scholar John Kincaid, who outlined a foreign policy role for local and regional governments within a democratic federal system. Considerable academic attention has since been devoted to paradiplomacy, with potential applications as wide-ranging as addressing the euro crisis to managing American interests in the Middle East. Economic paradiplomacy related to trade and investment in particular has become an institutionalized practice across the world – in federal states like the United States, Canada and Belgium, quasi-federal states like Spain, non-federal states like Japan and even non-democratic states like the People’s Republic of China. A few distinct models of paradiplomacy are practiced around the world, all successful at FDI promotion.

Canada is a textbook example of paradiplomacy, with provinces like Quebec and British Columbia constitutionally empowered to drive their economic diplomacy independently. In 1969, the province of British Columbia merged its trade and foreign ministries into a single provincial foreign affairs department that in the famous words of then Trade and Commerce Minister Waldo McTavish Skillings had an emphasis on “salesmanship rather than diplomacy.” Starting with three trade mission offices in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles, British Columbia now runs 11 missions on three continents, coordinated by a large global office in Vancouver.

Shared goals draw India and Russia closer

By Zorawar Daulet Singh 

For the Indian strategic community, the United States and China are the two dominant forces in foreign policy. Of the major bilateral visits this year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Russia was relatively understated. Yet both from a global and regional security perspective, the Russia factor can no longer be ignored. 

Russia and world order

The Syrian crisis has been a turning point. Most observers have been surprised at the resilience of Russia's Syria policy. Many expected Moscow to ultimately buckle in the face of a Western

onslaught. Yet, nimble diplomacy and a simultaneous maritime buildup in the eastern Mediterranean were able to steer the evolution of the crisis. 

In September, the Russian Navy stated its Mediterranean deployments "can have a serious impact on the current military situation" around Syria. To be sure, the Obama administration did not appear inclined towards taking part in an escalatory game that could have spilled over onto its regional allies and undermined America's regional position. Diplomacy became logical and the Russians persuaded the Syrians to concede to international oversight of their chemical weapons in return for security and sovereignty. 

At a larger level, this is the restoration of a global order regulated by Westphalian norms with the UN Charter as the fulcrum of international relations that makes this geopolitical event more important. An October 21 India-Russia joint statement reaffirmed these principles. 

Countering radicalism

The other convergence between Moscow and Delhi that found expression in their joint statement is a similar position on radical ideologies. Both states continue to confront the spillover effects of radical ideologies that are sustained outside Indian and Russian frontiers. 

As Russian President Vladimir Putin recently remarked, "Some political forces use Islam, the radical currents within it ... to weaken our state and create conflicts on Russian soil that can be managed from abroad." 

The prospect of a failing and contested Afghanistan suggests a replay of recent history. During the 1990s, India and Russia along with Iran closely cooperated in shoring up the Northern Alliance as a bulwark against the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban. After 2001, India adapted its Afghanistan policy by explicitly supporting the Western intervention in the hope that this would transform South Asia's geopolitical problems. 

The Western strategy, however, could never overcome its internal contradictions: supporting an Afghan state-building effort, and, simultaneously relying on the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence, a covert sponsor of the Taliban, to pursue a counter-insurgency campaign across the Durand Line. The conflict of interests proved insurmountable, and, Afghanistan and its neighbors are bearing the consequences. 

The enemy as an enigma

by Bibhu Prasad Routray
November 1, 2013

The inexplicable knowledge gap about the Indian Mujahideen continues to facilitate the group’s interminable violent campaign and contributes to its near unassailability.

Terrorist attacks serve a variety of purposes – avenging perceived injustices, sending out messages, and serving as reminders to the adversaries that the threat has not disappeared. They also underline the incomplete knowledge of the state about the dynamism of the terrorist movements. Apart from the usual blame game about intelligence failure, lack of preparedness among the police, and political opportunism, the Patna blasts on 27 October demonstrated that our insight into the world of Indian Mujahideen (IM)– the outfit responsible for at least 18 episodes of explosions in 14 Indian cities since 2005, accounting for hundreds of deaths– is elementary, if not pretentious. It is this acute and inexplicable knowledge gap, which continues to facilitate the group’s interminable violent campaign and contributes to its near unassailability.

Lets try to answer the following five questions, on the basis of what is known about the outfit.

First, what are the IM’s aims and objectives, which by all means remain extremely fluid, expanding and contracting as per its convenience? The first ever ‘manifesto’ of the group released in 2007, after the bombings of court complexes in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, claimed that the blasts are intended to “punish local lawyers who had attacked suspects held for an abortive Jaish-e-Muhammad kidnap plot.” Two other manifestos, released after the 2008 blasts in Delhi and the 2010 explosions in Varanasi, blamed “the Supreme Court, the high courts, the lower courts and all the commissions” for failing the Muslims. The focus from the judiciary has since shifted and in fact has become more mysterious with the outfit discontinuing the practice of mailing its manifesto following each attack, forcing the agencies to depend upon the interrogation of arrested cadres to unravel the intentions behind the explosions.

As per such interrogation reports, the Pune explosions of August 2012 were intended to avenge the killing of its cadre Qateel Siddique in Yerawada Jail. Blasts targeting the Buddhist shrine in Bodhgaya in July 2013 were supposed to avenge the attacks on the Rohingyas in Myanmar. The 27 October explosions in Patna were reportedly carried out to protest against the Muzaffarnagar riots. Does that make IM purely an ideology-based organisation with both local as well as global aspirations or an organisation that is controlled by external forces? Or is it an outfit that is willing to carry out attacks evoking almost any concern that suits its convenience? Since no answers are available to these questions, little can be predicted about the outfit’s plan of action.

Governance in India: Corruption

Author: Beina Xu, Online Writer/Editor
November 8, 2013

Introduction

With a booming economy throughout the 2000s, India was touted as one of the most promising major emerging markets. But that breakneck growth sputtered to a decade low in 2012, with many observers pointing to the corrosive effect of endemic corruption—including a spate of scandals under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—as a culprit. Perhaps more than India's weak currency and rising inflation, the graft problem has undermined institutions and thwarted efforts to reduce poverty and catalyze sustainable growth in the world's largest democracy. Public revelations of corruption, including major scandals in the telecommunications and coal industry, have galvanized a rising middle class with increased demands for better governance. The tide has spurred new political movements, and forced Prime Minister Singh's Congress Party to address transparency and marshal reforms. As the country enters a busy political season, culminating in the 2014 general elections, corruption is expected be a cornerstone issue—and one with big implications for India's development.

The Roots of Corruption

Corruption in India can be traced back the country's colonial past, analysts say. The "British Raj" period, beginning in 1858, excluded Indian citizens from political participation by dividing the country into districts with provincial governments controlled by a commissioner. The 1923 Official Secrets Act made it an offense for officials to reveal information to citizens, ostensibly to protect military and government intelligence.

An anti-corruption protester hoists a portrait of activist Anna Hazare during a demonstration in New Delhi in 2011. (Photo: Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

After India gained independence in 1947, the new regime implemented heavy economic regulations intended to develop domestic markets; the 1951 Industries Act, for instance, required all new industrial operations to obtain a license from the central government. The policy limited foreign investment and stifled competition, and bribery became part and parcel to doing business. The period up to 1991 was dubbed the "License Raj" as a result of the government's excessive oversight of the economy. The poor often suffered most from the widespread corruption, which diverted large amounts of public revenue intended for public works, aid, and social welfare programs.

"Historically, the roots of India's corruption came from the proliferation of licenses," says CFR Senior Fellow for International Economics Jagdish Bhagwati. "The idea was to ensure economical use of resources, so you would not waste foreign exchanges. To this day, this is what Indians have been very aware of: that the institution of licenses and permits was responsible for creating corruption on a massive scale."

The first major law to combat government malfeasance was the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) of 1947, enacted to prevent officials from cashing in on post-war reconstruction funding. Parliament also established the Anticorruption Bureau in 1961 to investigate violations of the PCA, which has since been amended twice (last in 1988). The latest revision was a direct response to the late-1980s Bofors scandal, in which then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and other politicians were accused of receiving large kickbacks in a weapons bid from Swedish arms company Bofors. Many observers considered the scandal to be a main reason the Gandhi-led Congress Party was voted out of power in 1989.

Why Nehru invites more ire than praise today

October 31, 2013 

To remember Jawaharlal Nehru only for his mistakes on Kashmir or China is unfair. A democratic and secular India is in no small measure the awesome legacy of India’s first prime minister, says Amberish K Diwanji

At a recent event in Gujarat, prime minister-in-waiting Narendra Modi claimed that (Sardar Vallabhbhai) Patel deserved to be India’s first prime minister. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also present on the dais, retorted and praised Jawaharlal Nehru and his legacy.

Modi’s claim about Patel vis-à-vis Nehru was made for political purposes, yet there are millions of Indians, including those who hold Nehru in high esteem, who believe that perhaps India would have been better off if Patel had become PM instead.

There are also millions who hold Nehru responsible for many of the problems we face today. Nehru today invites more ire than praise from scores of people, which is just a tad unfair to him.

One reason for this could be that while Nehru’s success is taken for granted (and thus forgotten), his failures continue to cast a shadow over India today.

For instance, that India remains democratic, secular, and where the rule of the law prevails is in no small measure the awesome legacy of Nehru. For the last 63 years, elections, with one notable exception, have been always held on time. Compare this with not just our neighbours but even other new democracies, where elections were invariably dispensed to suit the ruling class.

Even (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi’s attempts to do away with elections foundered; she could only delay the elections, and when she lost, she demitted office, thus keeping intact Nehru’s legacy of democracy.

Similarly, India remains secular. This seed was sown by Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, and Patel, and to Nehru’s eternal credit, he nurtured it. Even a glance at India’s history shows that whenever religious zeal took precedence, the State withered soon thereafter (Asoka, Aurangzeb, and the later Peshwas).

Indian secularism isn't perfect, but at least it exists.

But for all of Nehru’s amazing success, unfortunately his failures continue to loom large in India’s polity, giving sufficient reason to blame him for all that is wrong with the country today. Kashmir remains a sore point, a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. His mistakes with China are too well known to bear repetition, leading to stapled visas, non-ending talks, and regular incursions.

'26/11 could happen again, even bigger and worse'

Last updated on: March 6, 2013 


'Can India forever respond with restraint to attacks like Mumbai, the attack on the Indian Parliament? Maybe. But I wouldn't bet the future of the world on that,' former CIA veteran Bruce Riedel tells Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa.

In Part I of his exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa, former CIA veteran Bruce Riedel felt India needs to think clearly about what kind of future it wants with a Pakistan that has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, and more terrorists per square mile than any other place in the world.


Rewinding to what permeated your previous book Deadly Embrace and has been discussed both in classified and unclassified briefings by the US military and other administration officials, in that Pakistan continues to play both sides in the war on terror.

Do you foresee any fundamental shift in Pakistan, or will it now be carte blanche once the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete?

The manner in which the United States and the NATO alliance leave Afghanistan will be very important.

If there is a precipitous withdrawal leading to the collapse of the Afghanistan State, it will be a resounding victory for the jihadist terrorist forces in South Asia.

They will trumpet it as a big victory, if not bigger than the defeat of the Soviet Union (who left Afghanistan in 1988).

We know what happened then -- we got Laskhar-e-Tayiba, we got Jaish-e-Muhammad, we got a whole phalanx of new terrorist groups and they turned to Kashmir.

If the American transition in Afghanistan is orderly and there is a residual NATO-American presence, and the Afghan State holds together, you will have a different outcome.

We know as Americans, what happens when we cut and run from Afghanistan. We cannot afford to make that mistake again.

India’s bridge to the Lusophone world

November 8, 2013

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Pentagon report shows spike in Afghan troop deaths

By LOLITA C. BALDOR 
Associated Press 
Published: November 9, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Afghan national security troops killed in combat shot up almost 80 percent during this summer's fighting season, compared with the same time in 2012, as Afghans take the lead in the fight across the country.

A Pentagon report says that U.S. and coalition deaths, meanwhile, dropped by almost 60 percent during the same six-month period. The Defense Department refused to release numbers to explain the percentages, but U.S. military leaders have said that the number of Afghans killed each week had spiked to more than 100 earlier this year.

The high number of casualties and the Afghans' limited ability to evacuate their wounded, "adversely affects morale, retention and recruiting," according to the report, which the Defense Department released Friday.

A senior U.S. military official, when asked about the casualty rate, said late last month that as the fighting season begins to wind down, the Afghan deaths had also started to decline. In one recent week, about 50 were killed in action, said the official, who spoke to reporters at a recent NATO meeting and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly under NATO rules.

The Pentagon report covers the time period from April 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2013, before snow and cold temperatures begin to make travel difficult.

The drop in U.S. and coalition casualties reflects the Afghans' increased role taking the lead of combat operations as well as the ongoing decrease in the number of international forces in the country. As of this week, there are about 48,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of slightly more than 100,000 in 2010.

According to the report, Afghan forces now conduct 95 percent of conventional operations and 98 percent of special operations in Afghanistan. Coalition forces continue to provide training and assistance but are still needed for air support, security, route clearance for roadside bombs, air lift for wounded or dead troops and counterterror operations.

Under the current plan, coalition combat forces will leave Afghanistan at the end of next year. Negotiations between the U.S. and the Afghan government are continuing to determine whether a small U.S. force will remain after 2014, and, if so, how many. U.S. and coalition officials have outlined plans to leave between 8,000-12,000 troops there to train and advise the Afghans, but any decision depends on whether the two sides can finalize a security agreement. The U.S. is expected to provide no more than 8,000, but the number could be substantially fewer depending on the agreement reached.

Ominous Signs

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Hakimullah Mehsud, the ‘chief’ of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had a USD five million US Government bounty on his head, was killed along with four other TTP cadres in a US drone strike in the Dandy Darpakhel area, five kilometres north of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on November 1, 2013. Intelligence officials said Hakimullah and his associated were leaving from a meeting at a mosque when the drone targeted their vehicle. Those killed included Abdullah Bahar Mehsud and Tariq Mehsud, both key ‘commanders’ and close aides of the TTP chief. 

Hakimullah Mehsud had been declared dead earlier as well, once on January 14, 2010, and again on January 12, 2012, only to resurface on both occasions. This time his death was confirmed by the TTP itself, which had denied his demise in the earlier incidents. Meshud was buried at an unknown location in NWA on November 2, 2013.

Hakimullah Mehsud had succeeded his mentor and clansman, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike on August 5, 2009. Significantly, the TTP had been formed under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud in December 2007. Since then, the group has emerged as the deadliest of all terrorist formations operating within Pakistan.

Since TTP’s formation in December 2007, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, Pakistan has recorded at least 43,264 fatalities, out of which 5916 have been claimed by TTP. Of the 2952 major attacks (each resulting in three or more fatalities), 797 have been claimed by the TTP. 86 suicide attacks have also been claimed by TTP out of a total of 301 over the same period. In one of the worst of these attacks, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Yakka Ghund tehsil of Mohmand Agency in FATA, killing at least 108 persons and injuring another 69 on July 9, 2010. The most recent high fatality attack for which TTP has claimed responsibility was at Parachinar in the Kurram Agency of FATA on July 26, 2013, in which at least 62 persons were killed and another 180 were injured.

TTP also repeatedly targeted International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops operating in Afghanistan. In a major attack on December 30, 2009, TTP militants executed a suicide attack on CIA facilities in Camp Chapman in Afghanistan, in which nine persons were killed and another six were injured. Seven of the dead were Americans working for the CIA. TTP has also claimed responsibility for the failed bombing of Times Square in New York on May 1, 2010.

This is the second significant blow to the TTP within a month, following the capture of senior ‘commander’ Latif Mehsud by US forces in Afghanistan on October 11, 2013. Latif Mehsud had served as a trusted confidante of Hakimullah Mehsud.

Since 2007, several top TTP leaders have been eliminated, the most prominent among them including:

January 3, 2013: Maulvi Nazir, a top ranking TTP ‘commander’, was killed along with 10 other TTP terrorists in a US drone strike in the Sarkundi area of Birmal tehsil (revenue unit) in the South Waziristan Agency (SWA).

May 29, 2013: Waliur Rehman, 'deputy chief' and number two in TTP, was killed along with at least five other TTP terrorists in a US drone strike at Chashma village near Miranshah town of NWA.

Xi’s new moves

Minxin Pei : Mon Nov 11 2013
But the US is underwhelmed by his call for a new great power relationship

As the Communist Party of China holds its central committee plenum meeting to unveil an economic reform package, the attention of the international community is focused on the domestic agenda of China's new leader, Xi Jinping, who ascended to the top spot a year ago. Obviously, Xi's political fortunes will be largely determined by whether his administration can revamp the Chinese economy through market-oriented reforms. For him, the ongoing plenum meeting is a make-or-break moment.

Less noticed by the international community, however, is Xi's foreign policy strategy. In the year since he assumed office, Xi has been seen as more assertive on foreign policy than his predecessor. Rhetorically, he seems to have embraced a more nationalist tone. His rallying cry for the average Chinese is the "revival of the great Chinese nation" — the "China Dream", in short. He has maintained a hard line on the territorial disputes with Japan, even though Beijing recently started to repair relations with Southeast Asian countries. Ties had been strained over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Of Xi's foreign policy moves, most notable is his attempt to redefine US-China relations. Given the importance of the US to China's security and economic well-being, Xi's focus on Sino-American ties is evidently sensible. However, his initiative to construct what he calls a "new great power relationship" with the US seems to have got off to a slow, even unpromising, start.
Xi has personally offered three principles for a new Sino-American relationship — "no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and cooperation for mutual benefits". His chief foreign policy advisor, the state councillor in charge of external affairs, Yang Jiechi, has elaborated Xi's three principles in writing. According to Yang, "no conflict or confrontation" means that both sides must "objectively and rationally see each other's strategic intentions and properly handle their disagreements through dialogue and cooperation". As for "mutual respect", it implies respect for the social (political) system and the development path each side has chosen, and for each other's core interests and critical concerns". "Cooperation for mutual benefits" demands "rejection of the zero-sum mindset."

At first glance, such principles, as stated, may appear quite attractive. Unfortunately for Xi, this trial balloon did not fly when he attempted to convince American President Barack Obama to share his vision for a new US-China relationship during their first summit in California, early June this year. According to Chinese sources, Xi mentioned the phrase "a new great power relationship" six or seven times in their conversation, but got no response from Obama.

One might blame Obama's failure to embrace this new concept as a logistical oversight. There was a slight chance that his foreign policy advisors did not forewarn him that his Chinese guest was going to surprise him with a bold new vision for US-China relations. But to the extent that summits are highly scripted affairs, this oversight is unlikely. In any case, in the five months since the US-China summit, Washington has not picked up the ball, even as Beijing continues to insist that it is hoping to building a "new great power relationship" with the US. This fact can only mean one thing: the US has not been moved by Xi's call for such a relationship.

There are good reasons for Washington to be cautious about Xi's grand vision. Generally speaking, the Americans, unlike the Chinese, are deeply averse to high-sounding principles that are poorly defined and can prove to be traps. In this case, the "mutual respect" principle raises a bright red flag. What does "respecting each other's social/political system" mean? Does it mean that the US will implicitly acknowledge the legitimacy of one-party rule in China? Will accepting such a principle curtail American criticisms of human rights abuses in China? "Respecting each other's core interests" is even more worrying. How are such core interests defined? If China's ever-expanding list of core interests should include areas involving American security commitments to its allies, will accepting this principle imply American abandonment of its allies?

Does China Accept America’s Mastery of the Seas?

By James R. Holmes
November 9, 2013

Today I was the Knight Who Says Ni Conference.

The Naval Diplomat took part in a conference! A conference in a fair city where people appeared to be having a good time!!! (Click here to sample the Monty Python-esque flavor of official policy toward conferences.)

These are sad times when passing ruffians can say conference within earshot of meek U.S. government officials. But fear not, brave folk: no taxpayer dollars went to fund the iniquities of international-relations scholars. Nor did I enjoy myself.

On to serious matters. I chaired a panel on International Cooperation composed of a trio of bright Ph.D. candidates from places like Oxford and Toronto. Good stuff. Later I presented a paper titled "The Death and Life of Surface Fleets," basically an amalgam of arguments familiar to Naval Diplomat readers (see here and here for a recap). Underlying the nuts-and-bolts of naval development and strategy, though, is a fundamental question: does China accept the U.S.-led order of liberal trade and commerce, or would it prefer to see that system abridged or overthrown?

This is one of those times when real-world affairs draw close to international-relations theory – specifically "public-goods" theory. The concept is simple: if a strong power supplies public goods like maritime security, which benefit all seafaring states, then those states should accept – or at least refrain from trying to scuttle – the leading state's rule of the waves. Makes sense, doesn't it? If someone else insists on guaranteeing your security out of its own resources, why argue?

This is not a new idea, although the highfalutin' political-science label is. One historical case strategists commonly reach for is diplomat Eyre Crowe's famous 1907 memorandum explaining why rival powers and third parties reconciled themselves to British maritime supremacy. They might not like Pax Britannica, opined Crowe, but Great Britain was the least objectionable of any potential nautical hegemon. The Royal Navy earned legitimacy by policing the sea lanes in the common interest. Provide public goods, ameliorate suspicions.

Does Crowe's logic still apply today, and if so, does it apply to the Western Pacific, the theater where American sea power may encounter its stiffest challenge? Will China subscribe to public-goods logic? Those who invoke the Crowe Memorandum, myself included, tend to see the answer as self-evident: Yes! Or at least it ought to.

Upon further review, however, I'm not so sure. If Beijing reads its World War I history – and it does – it will remember that Britain withdrew its stewardship of the seas following the outbreak of war. The oceans became another battleground between the Allied and Central powers, with each side doing its best to choke off the other's seaborne trade. America would scarcely safeguard Chinese merchantmen should some an Asian dispute – Taiwan, the Senkakus, whatever – bring on a shooting war in the Western Pacific. Just the opposite. And indeed, Western strategists have taken to debating the merits of a distant blockade of Chinese commercial shipping.

The U.S.-China path to mutual prosperity

By Robert Rubin, Saturday
November 9

Robert Rubin is co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

President Obama’s plans to travel to Southeast Asia last month were, regrettably, tabled amid the government shutdown. But that missed opportunity does not diminish the importance of his pivot toward Asia.

A constructive relationship between China and the United States is critically in our mutual interest. The relationship, however, is highly controversial in both countries. Although geopolitical issues are of great substantive importance, economic issues are closer to most people’s lives and play a significant role in public attitudes toward the other country. And with each country claiming harm from the other’s economic policies, the discourse between our countries consists largely of a dialogue of the deaf.

The United States criticizes Chinese interest-rate, land and other subsidies that support investment and exports, including a managed exchange rate (though that has less effect, for now, because China’s current-account surplus has declined substantially). U.S. officials also fault significant shortfalls in China’s protection of intellectual property rights, including cyber-appropriation.

China has long expressed strong concern that U.S. fiscal deficits could lead to unduly high interest rates, a U.S. or global financial destabilization or, alternatively, serious inflation. China often complains about U.S. political opposition to Chinese infrastructure investment. China has also criticized U.S. export laws, perhaps in part to counter U.S. criticism of Chinese trade policies.

The list could go on and on.

A far more sensible framework for this dialogue would support better policy in each country and would turn the economic arena into a constructive influence in our relationship. That framework would be built on two guiding principles: Each country will do what is in its long-term economic self-interest, and each country acting in its own, wisely determined economic self-interest will serve the best interests of both countries.

America’s economic problem is not China but getting its own policy house in order; similarly, China’s future depends not on issues with respect to the United States but on meeting its own challenges. The United States has enormous long-term strengths, including a dynamic and entrepreneurial culture, the rule of law, flexible labor and capital markets, vast natural resources and favorable demographics. But to realize our potential, we need a sound fiscal regime; robust public investment in infrastructure, basic research and so much else; and reform in economically vital areas, such as immigration and K-12 education. (A deficit-reduction program should be enacted now, but with deferral for a limited period and a moderate upfront stimulus to help our fragile economic recovery.)

The United States has vast infrastructure needs and a paucity of public capital. A welcoming environment for Chinese investment in infrastructure projects would create jobs and improve our long-term competitiveness.

Meeting these requisites for success raises our nation’s most fundamental challenge: We need an effective legislative process in which leaders are willing to reach principled compromises.