15 August 2014
Published: August 15, 2014
The HinduINSIGHT: The reason for unemployment could be the lack of employment because of the quality of education or lack of opportunities. Picture shows young workers returning home after sorting coal in Gonda district, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
India must devise a demographic policy to separately meet the requirements of the young, middle-aged and elderly
The Census data released recently show that unemployment in the country, especially among the youth, is very high, averaging nearly 20 per cent for the age group of 15-24 years. In some States like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the unemployment rate is above 25 per cent. Prosperous States like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra have averages that are less than half of the national average. Demographic dividend in the country is not being appropriately used and there is a need to revisit the demographic policy so as to tap benefits from the youth.
Devising a demographic policy
There is also a larger issue of devising a demographic policy to separately meet the requirements of the young, middle-aged and older segment of the population. The reason for unemployment could be the lack of employment because of the quality of education or lack of opportunities. India has more than 71,000 pre-degree colleges and senior secondary schools, 25,938 colleges for professional educational and 436 universities. These are in addition to the nearly 14 lakh schools in the country for a population of 25 crore children in the age group of 5-14 years. Hence, given the number of educational institutions, there is a need to improve the quality of education by ushering in competition, by probably inviting foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
Employment creation is a function of economic growth, capital investment and infrastructure. As the process involves a long gestation period, one practical way could be to train our youth for employment opportunities abroad. India already has a strong outflow of migrants of which two-thirds migrate to the Gulf countries, 13 per cent migrate to North America while Asian countries, other than Persian Gulf, absorb about 10 percent. In contrast, fast-ageing Europe attracts less than 3 per cent of migrants but offers excellent opportunities for high and medium-skilled labour, especially in Italy, Germany, Poland and France. These opportunities need to be availed of the near future by appropriate manpower planning. In recent years, migration to countries like Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the U.K. has increased but not in significant numbers to Germany, France and Poland. In fact, the flow of migrants to countries like Portugal and Austria declined in the last decade. These countries need immigrants as the native population in many of these countries is shrinking, given the low birth rate averaging 1.6 births per woman against the replacement rate of 2.1. In countries like Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland, the birth rate is less than 1.5 births per woman and these countries depend on immigrants. According to official statistics, consequent to ageing, one-third Europeans would be above 65 years of age by 2060. Consequently, migration to Europe is expected to increase significantly by 2020 — 1 million in Germany, 1.1 million in Spain, 1.3 million in Poland, 1.4 million in the U.K., and 2.1 million in France. Further, migration is expected to add up to 60 million people in Europe by 2060.Providing suitable skills
Posted by Strategic Studies at 08:30
India didn’t stop being a nation after the collapse of the Mauryan or Gupta empires. It still endures as a nation state. A shared perspective of history now enables an Indian to view an Ashokan inscription with as much proprietary pride as the Taj Mahal.
In common parlance we use state and nation interchangeably, when that should not be the case. Because they are as different as cheese and chalk. A state is an organised political community living under a government, and it’s a sovereign political entity in public international law.
It’s a society having exclusive domain over a territory. A state, in most contexts, is virtually synonymous with a government whose writ extends over a people and/or a territory.
The term nation is a complex concept that has a variety of definitions. There are two widely accepted explanations of a nation. While the conventional definition of a nation is a large group of people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up, it is not the only explanation. To some, nation refers to a shared cultural experience, such as Islam or Communism, or at one time even Christianity — an organisation with no physical borders yet sharing a common bond because of shared beliefs or ethnicity.
A nation state is a state that coincides with a nation. We all know about failed states. But nations never really fail. They get overtaken or subsumed or recede, but rarely do they disappear. That’s why many prefer the word country. It is more encompassing and generous in applicability. A country is a region identified as a distinct entity in political geography. In common parlance, it refers to a sovereign state.
History is mostly about the rise and fall of great and some not so great states and nation-states. When their borders extended, they were deemed great. When they receded they were deemed as having failed. About a thousand years ago, arguably the greatest nation in Europe was Lithuania. The writ of the Lithuanian rulers extended over much of modern Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Russia and Sweden. Today, it is a tiny newly independent Baltic nation-state. Remember Macedon and Alexander’s all conquering host?
India did not stop being a nation after the collapse of the Mauryan or Gupta or Mughal empires. It still endures as a nation-state now united by a set of values and aspirations, and even shared perspective of history. This shared perspective now enables an Indian to view an Ashokan inscription with as much proprietary pride as the Taj Mahal.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 08:28
August 12, 2014
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Theory and Practice of Jihad
Now that Americans are dropping bombs on the forces of al Baghdadi’s Caliphate, it may be appropriate to examine his warfighting style.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not a formally trained military commander. However, he is not illiterate or a common thug such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who led al Qaeda in Iraq until his death in 2006. Al-Baghdadi holds a doctorate in theology from a theological seminary and appears to be a keen student of American tactics as they were passed on to the Iraqi Army, as well as the military practices of his Syrian Baathist opponents. Whether he is a military prodigy or merely a very talented student and practitioner of military art is irrelevant. To date, he has shown himself to be a very effective commander.
Like the prophet Mohammed from whom he claims descent, al-Baghdadi sees himself as a soldier-Imam and recognizes no difference between fighting, governing, and religion. This allows him to flow seamlessly between mediums. If we write him off as a mere terrorist, we make the mistake of underestimating him. He is generally considered to be a crackpot by serious Islamic scholars, but he controls a tract of land that includes most of al-Anbar province, much of eastern Syria, and Iraq’s second largest city; that makes him a serious player in the region. However, we should also beware of making him out to be ten feet tall. If we are going to deal with him, we need to understand how he fights and governs as well as his strengths and weaknesses.
There is both military art and science behind al-Baghdadi’s recent successes. His approach is different from western military leadership practices, but it is not unique in history. He seems to have borrowed some elements of the warfighting styles of the Prophet Mohammed and Genghis Khan as well as the some political-strategic approaches of Lenin and Hitler. Whether these were adopted from a study of history or the serendipitous outcome of pure talent is somewhat irrelevant. To date, al-Baghdadi has achieved significant results. We can’t fully understand his thought process but we can study his methods and the principles he employs. These are discussed below.
KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR ENEMY. Like the forces of Genghis Khan, al-Baghdadi’s army consists of a small group of professionals; they are largely comprised of veteran foreign fighters. To enhance unit cohesion, al-Baghdadi appears to keep them in national units. This also helps internal communication as the chance of confusion due to dialects is reduced by keeping countrymen together.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:45
Dennis Hayes – The Conversation
Many teachers say they strive to teach their students to be critical thinkers. They even pride themselves on it; after all, who wants children to just take in knowledge passively? But there is a problem with the widespread treatment of critical thinking as a skill to be taught.
The truth is that you can't teach people to be critical unless you are critical yourself. This involves more than asking young people to "look critically" at something, as if criticism was a mechanical task.
As a teacher, you have to have a critical spirit. This does not mean moaning endlessly about education policies you dislike or telling students what they should think. It means first and foremost that you are capable of engaging in deep conversation. This means debate and discussion based on considerable knowledge – something that is almost entirely absent in the educational world. It also has to take place in public, with parents and others who are not teachers, not just in the classroom or staffroom.
The need for teachers to engage in this kind of deep conversation has been forgotten, because they think that being critical is a skill. But the philosopher John Passmore criticised this ideanearly half a century ago:
If being critical consisted simply in the application of a skill then it could in principle be taught by teachers who never engaged in it except as a game or defensive device, somewhat as a crack rifle shot who happened to be a pacifist might nevertheless be able to teach rifle-shooting to soldiers. But in fact being critical can be taught only by men who can themselves freely partake in critical discussion.
The Misuses of 'Criticism'
The misuse of the idea of "criticism" first became clear to me when I gave a talk about critical thinking to a large group of first-year students. One student said that the lecturers she most disliked were the ones who banged on about the importance of being critical. She longed for one of them to assert or say something, so she could learn from them and perhaps challenge what they say.
The idea that critical thinking is a skill is the first of three popular, but false views that all do disservice to the idea of being critical. They also allow many teachers to believe they are critical thinkers when they are the opposite:
"Critical thinking" is a skill. No it is not. At best this view reduces criticism to second-rate or elementary instruction in informal and some formal logic. It is usually second-rate logic and poor philosophy offered in bite-sized nuggets. Seen as a skill, critical thinking can also mean subjection to the conformism of an ideological yoke. If a feminist or Marxist teacher demands a certain perspective be adopted this may seem like it is "criticism" or acquiring a "critical perspective", but it is actually a training in feminism or Marxism which could be done through tick box techniques. It almost acquires the character of a mental drill.
"Critical thinking" means indoctrination. When teachers talk about the need to be "critical" they often mean instead that students must "conform". It is often actually teaching students to be "critical" of their unacceptable ideas and adopt the right ones. Having to support multiculturalism and diversity are the most common of the "correct ideas" that everyone has to adopt. Professional programmes in education, nursing, social work and others often promote this sort of "criticism". It used to be called "indoctrination".
"Critical theories" are "uncritical theories". When some theory has the prefix "critical" it requires the uncritical acceptance of a certain political perspective. Critical theory, critical race theory, critical race philosophy, critical realism, critical reflective practice all explicitly have political aims.
What is Criticism?
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:42
August 12, 2014
Australia and China have been booming together. Australian resources have fueled Chinese infrastructure investment, and Australia has built out its own infrastructure to deal with Chinese demand. But this story of mutual growth may be ending. Many observers believe China’s current 7.5 percent growth target will need to be moved lower, and empty cities underscore the growing concern that China has overbuilt. Australian exports are predominately commodities, and iron ore, coal, natural gas, and gold are all top 5 shipments abroad. This leaves Australia in an awkward economic position. Geographically, however, Australia may be ideally situated to take advantage of the next infrastructure boom—India.
As of May 2014, China consumed more than 35 percent of Australia’s exports, an extreme concentration. Japan, the second most popular destination for Australian exports, consumed 17 percent, and third place Korea took 6 percent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia does not appear to have the same ties to India. In fact, exports to India have fallen by half since the middle of 2010 due in part to a decline in the value of gold exports.
At the start of the 21st Century, trade between China and Australia was around $6 billion annually. Since then, it has exploded by more than 15 times—to $93 billion in 2013. This $88 billion increase constitutes more than half the $151 billion total gain in exports Australia has made so far this century.
Politically, the relationship between Australia and China is not always amicable. The Australian National Broadband Network is the largest infrastructure project to be undertaken in Australia’s history. Huawei, a Chinese technology company, was barred from bidding on the project with the Australian government, which cited security concerns in its decision.
Regardless, Australia and China have become deeply intertwined economically. For Australia, exports have benefited as China embarked on a building spree. But it may be time for Australia to begin planning its next move, before China shows signs of slowing its infrastructure investments.
Australia, in other words, needs another infrastructure boom. And so does India. India’s Twelfth Five Year Plan suggests that about $1 trillion should be spent oninfrastructure over the 2012-2017 timeframe. This would equate to 10 percent of GDP every year being spent on infrastructure. A necessary boost to economic growth in India, where it has stalled for the past couple years. For Australia, having another mega customer would mitigate any weakness in Chinese growth. This transition may not be seamless though.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:39
MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi
‘Each giant power reactor can generate enough waste for up to 40 bombs each year’. Pak army is working on a doctrine of massive first strike, that will incapacitate India before this country has a chance to strike back.
hina is about to operationalise a 1 GigaWatt (GW) nuclear power reactor at Karachi in Pakistan, highly-placed sources within the scientific community warn. Two more are in the pipeline in Karachi and three more in other parts of the country. This represents a quantum leap from the much smaller reactors hitherto supplied by Beijing to Islamabad, and is also the first time that such advanced technology has been demonstrated globally.
The scientists warn that the accounting process for nuclear waste materials is very lax on the Pakistan side, and hence there exists a significant risk that nuclear waste from the plant will not be wholly accounted for. A senior scientist pointed out that the protocols for determining nuclear waste in standard (and much smaller) reactors would not be applicable to the 1 GW reactor, and hence it would be easy for the Pakistan side to siphon off large quantities of nuclear waste for re-processing. "Each giant power reactor can generate enough waste for up to 40 bombs each year", a scientist warned, adding that the Karachi reactor soon to be commissioned was only the first of three such reactors planned there by the Chinese side. Together with three more mega reactors at Chashma, there would be enough spent fuel to load onto to 200 nuclear bombs.
Defence sources say that the Pakistan army has been working on a doctrine of massive first strike, that would incapacitate India before this country has a chance to strike back. Such a devastating first strike would degrade, if not destroy, Delhi's ability to launch a retaliatory second strike. The capacity for such retaliation is what is believed to be responsible for the very few occasions during which the Pakistan army has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against India.
"Should they develop the capacity to launch a devastating first strike, the fear of retaliation would diminish to a level that may encourage the use of nuclear weapons in combat", a senior official warned. He added that unlike the case in India, where nuclear weapons have been kept in civilian hands, "in the case of the Pakistan army, even Corps Commanders have (tactical) nuclear weapons at their disposal and the ability to use them without reference to any civilian authority". Although Beijing claims that the nuclear reactors and assistance supplied to Pakistan are fully safeguarded under IAEA guidelines, the reality is that there have been multiple occasions when that agency has discovered loopholes in the way in which nuclear materials are being handled in Pakistan. Thanks to the protection given by China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, inspectors have not been allowed into key Pakistan nuclear facilities, while inspections have been less than rigorous, in large part because the Pakistan side decides what facilities to show, and when.
The Afghan War and Transition: Updated Report on The Forces Shaping Transition in Afghanistan, 2014-2016
AUG 12, 2014
There are several warnings that Transition in Afghanistan may fail, including the near paralysis of any effort to decide on the outcome of the Afghan presidential election, the killing of an American General, and yet another set of complaints from Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the US use of military force. The most obvious – and pressing – issue is the failure to select a new president to replace Karzai. Current tensions reveal that fallout over the presidential election risks creating new political divisions and further destabilizing Afghanistan’s leadership and governance. At best, the process of resolving the current political struggle and creating a power structure at the top may lag well into the fall of 2014, and postpone the selection of new Ministers and Provincial and District officials until the spring of 2015.
The election, however, is only part of the story. New reporting by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provide grim evidence that the “surge” in US forces in Afghanistan never produced any of the short-term benefits brought about by the surge in Iraq. This data also demonstrates that reporting by the US and ISAF that minimizes or understates Taliban activity and other insurgent threat levels is directly contradicted by a sharp increase in civil casualties on a national and regional level. Afghan forces have so far proved unable to cope with the sharp increase in violence.
These trends and casualty data are a clear warning that President Obama’s decision to limit the size of the US advisory mission immediately after the US combat role ends in December 2014 – and then rapidly cut the US mission to zero during 2015 and 2016 – may well lead to major Afghan government defeats almost regardless of the success or failure of the current political struggles over the outcome of the 2014 election.
Similarly, new reporting by the World Bank, IMF, and SIGAR show that the problems in Afghan governance and the Afghan economy are far worse than is portrayed in reporting by the US State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense. The reporting indicates that Afghanistan will face major civil risks that equal or surpass the tactical outcome of the post-Transition fighting.
By Andrew Windsor
August 12, 2014
Japan’s rising public debt has implications that go beyond its economy.
The magnitude of Japan’s sovereign debt is an anomaly, and the subject of a great deal of debate in recent years. After all, few issues have attracted as much global attention lately as national debt. With many advanced economies possessing a public debt-to-GDP ratio hovering between 75 percent and 110 percent, how solid can Japan’s economic foundations be with its public debt north of 240 percent of GDP? On the face of it, this seems all the more worrying given that Greece, which required two bailout packages to keep from collapsing during the euro crisis, is the country with the next highest debt-to-GDP ratio at 152.5 percent. While certain factors have prevented Japan’s growing debt from wreaking immediate havoc, there are important connections to the greater security and stability of Japan that should encourage a more robust response from its government.
National debt if often cited in international finger pointing, in which it is frequently misconstrued as defining a nation’s immediate solvency and its fiscal responsibility. While these perceptions can have a powerful domestic political effect, the real risk of a nation’s sovereign debt depends on underlying factors that must be examined in context. In Japan, for example, has a yield on Japanese government bonds is stable at near zero. One might reasonably have expected the yield to increase to compensate holders of the bonds for the greater risk presumably associated with the larger debt burden, but this has not been the case. In fact, confidence levels remain relatively high.
One reason Japan’s sovereign debt hasn’t toppled its economy has been that much of it is held by domestic investors. High domestic savings, coupled with a relatively strong tendency towards domestic investment (known as home bias) has cushioned Japan against risks from fluctuations in currency markets. This is not, however, an infallible equilibrium. Overseas investors flocked to Japanese bonds in the wake of the euro crisis and then subsequently dumped them as the yen depreciated over the past year and a half.
In fact, rising national debt and deficits are not necessarily problematic in themselves. Countries responding to market shocks and emerging economies may run up deficits and public debt from influxes of foreign direct investment and government spending on public works. Also, like personal debt, sovereign debt is not likely to be owed all at the same time.
Still, Japan’s debt will eventually present problems if its growth continues unabated. Runaway national debt could trigger destabilizing economic consequences, such as rapid inflation, and could also creep into other areas of national sustainability. As it stands, Japan’s existing debt carries with it significant long-term risk and negative implications for multiple aspects of Japan’s national security.
First, uncertainty drives risk perception. Expectations, predictability and control, on the other hand, are methods policymakers employ to promote and maintain stability. Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is already a historical outlier, even in an era of expanding sovereign debt. Among the only other comparable examples areFrance after the First World War and Israel during the 1970s and 1980s, and these debt levels were driven, in part, by war. Both France and Israel were able to wrestle their crises under control within a decade through economic reform and confidence building measures. Japan, on the other hand, is nursing two decades of rapid debt expansion and is on track to surpass Israel’s unfortunate historical debt record.
Editor’s note: We’ve partnered with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to publish a series of infographics. Each week we’ll release a new set of graphics that depict trends in global terrorism activity. Sign up for the War on the Rocks newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of them!
These graphics were designed by Marcus Boyd.
The “Profiles of Incidents involving CBRN by Non-state actors” database (POICN) is a forthcoming START dataset that has been developed over the past four years to exclusively examine the characteristics of CBRN events. It is restricted to ideologically motivated CBRN incidents occurring anywhere in the world over the period 1990 to 2013. Incidents arising out of criminal or personal/idiosyncratic motives are not included in this dataset (but are included in other START databases). The dataset includes events ranging from actual use of an agent all the way down to plots. We’ve created three graphics that combine to provide a visualization of this data.
The first graphic illustrates the global distribution of CBRN events by agent type. To be highlighted on the map, a country must have been the location of at least one event of the particular agent type. Included events are plots, successful acquisitions, and actual attacks with CBRN agents. The chart breaks out incidents by both agent and event type. Plot/pursuit includes all events ranging from a group discussing the possibility of seeking or using a CBRN agent all the way up to unsuccessful attempts at acquisition. Possession encompasses successful acquisition that did not result in actual use of an agent. Any event entailing use of an agent is listed as an attack and presumes successful completion of the lower activity levels.