17 April 2016

Catastrophic cyber attack on U.S. grid possible, but not likely


Anything is possible in the cat-and-mouse game of probing and protecting the online weaknesses of the nation’s critical infrastructure. But security experts say the U.S. grid is resilient enough to make a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” highly unlikely
Taylor Armerding  Apr 15, 2016
Warnings about U.S. critical infrastructure’s vulnerabilities to a catastrophic cyber attack – a cyber “Pearl Harbor” or “9/11” – began more than 25 years ago. But they have become more insistent and frequent over the past decade.
They have also expanded from within the security industry to the mass media. It was almost a decade ago, in 2007, that the Idaho National Laboratory demonstrated that a cyber attack could destroy an enormous diesel power generator – an event featured in a 2009 segment on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.”MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: 26 crazy and scary things the TSA has found on travelers

Late last year, retired “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel warned in his book "Lights Out" of possible catastrophe – thousands of deaths – if the U.S. grid is ever taken down by a major cyber attack.
And just this month, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a national campaign to warn U.S. utilities and the public about the danger from cyber attacks like the one last December that took down part of Ukraine’s power grid.
The worst-case scenario, according to some experts and officials, is that major portions of the grid could go down for months, or even a year.
Yet, nothing close to that has happened yet – the damage over the past decade from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes has been much more significant than any cyber events.
All of which raise the obvious question: Why? If a hostile nation state like Iran could deal the “Great Satan” a crippling blow, why wouldn’t it?

**** Jointness, Reorganization and Indian Armed Forces

“Separate ground, sea and air warfare is gone forever. If ever again we should be involved in war, we will fight it in all elements, with all services, as one single concentrated effort.”
           Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D Eisenhower after the end of Second World    War
More than 70 years have passed since the end of second World War. Who does not know in modern times without jointness no war can be fought. Every modern armed forces of the world have changed accordingly. Even the Chinese is going in for integrated commands in a big way. The most honourable exception is Indian Armed forces. Second largest Army, fourth largest Air Force and sixth largest Navy of the world refuse to change! They still want to fight the war service wise from their own service centric Operations Rooms. Led by a Committee. In 21st century. All Command HQs of all the three services are located at different places! Not a single one is co located. For example in a conflict with China Eastern Army will fight from Kolkata, Eastern Navy from Vizag and Eastern Air Force from Shillong.
Post Kargil, Group Of Ministers Report recommended jointness. HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was established. It is at best a half baked interim measure without any teeth. How can a service Chief go against his own service HQ view as Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee. One Commandant of US Marine Corps very succinctly summed up the problem of chairman of such committee : "Being loyal to your own service as well as the joint services is like being loyal to your wife and mistress at the same time." In 2002-3 when I was undergoing LDMC Course at College of Defence Management in a seminar on Jointness ( a very popular subject, plethora of such seminars happen every year) I asked a question quoting this. A former Naval C in C who was chairing the session tongue in check told me that in hoi polloi of Delhi some of them manage to do both! That was two yug,14 years back. I wonder they can still do it. If you don't believe ask Gen Petraeus! It will continue to remain so till some “shove” comes from political masters. This is the reason any major decision cannot be taken where any of the services HQ has some reservations. Can you tell me which are the critical operational issues where the three services HQs will be unanimous. It is not that HQ IDS does not do much. In fact, in spite of many systematic problems it has slowly made its presence felt and taken a number of initiatives which would have never been done without its existence. At least purple colour has been propagated to all and sundry.
Whenever the issue of lack of jointness comes up at the highest levels, one often hears, it has to come from top meaning political leadership. I have never heard more ‘daft’ reasoning. You know the problem, you know the solution. But won’t do anything, pass the buck to political leaders, sit back, relax and play golf. Typical of No Action Talk Only (NATO) forces. I often wonder is it too much for the political leadership to kick the butt of some people responsible and get a road map moving. Of course, they have to be clear in mind what they want to do with jointness.
How Does Reorganisation Happen, Some Examples
Future of the Army
In recent times two key issues which were bugging Pentagon on US Army. US Congress ordered a study to answer these questions: What should the size of the future Army be? And how should the Amy apportion its aviation fleet between the regular Army and the Army National Guard? National Commission on the Future of the Army came out with a report in one year flat. The hyper link would get you the report of 9 MB. Since I have been blocked by US Army to access any document I requested my Naval chela to send me the document which he sent me pronto with his comments. I have a fair idea how many in Indian Army's Think Tank are reading these reports. Of course there are observation / criticism. Conrad C Crane has raised the following seven Issues the Future of the Army Commission should Have Spent More Time On :
a) Once cut, the Army is not easily expansible
b) Deeper analysis on options to better integrate the active and reserve components
c) A more thorough discussion of deficiencies in force structure and capabilities
d) Expanded discussion of stability operations and counterinsurgency
e) Explicit analysis of force size and structure recommendations
f) A real discussion of risk
g) Contractors on the battlefield
Maj Gen Robert H. Scales (Retd) ex Commandant Army War College writes :
And I was pleasantly surprised. The document is good. The commission members were faithful to their congressional charter. Fifteen years of continuous warfare have changed the Army’s culture. Decades of regular–National Guard mutual commitment have co-joined the services into a joint fighting force unparalleled on the planet. One cannot find a serving senior soldier who fails to appreciate the amplifying power of “jointness.” Experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has compelled the Army to discover new dimensions of war by embracing the role of the interagency, so called “whole-of-government” contributions to wars fought in the gray regions of conflict.... Virtually hidden in the report are a few additional jewels that should raise awareness among our political leaders. The commissioners write about capability “gaps” and the consequences for “risk.” In essence, the commission is warning that the fighting abilities of the nation are being impeded by several very serious shortcomings that have grown and festered during our recent wars. The first is air defense. In Ukraine and Syria, the Russians have clearly shown that they understand our “gaps” in air defense and have worked effectively to exploit them. In both places, the Russians have created an enormously complex, layered array of integrated air defenses that, in the hands of a Russian or Russian surrogate force, might deny our air forces access to the close fight. If the air forces are late to the battle, the Army will be unable to shoot down attacking aircraft and drones because it has virtually no low- and medium-altitude air defenses. This is a serious shortcoming. The Army must field a robust air defense capability immediately. ..... The second critical commission observation deals with a painful self-inflicted wound: neglect of our artillery force. The Russians have rediscovered artillery. In 2014, Russian multi-battalion artillery “fire strikes” virtually destroyed a Ukrainian tank unit within minutes. The “Little Green Men” employed sophisticated electronic means to locate the Ukrainians and followed their movements using layers of orbiting drones.

*** Those Who Are (and Are Not) Sheltered From the Panama Papers

Analysis April 8, 2016 |
On April 3, the Panama Papers hit media outlets around the world, and the fallout was swift. A prime minister lost his job, and other global leaders are under mounting pressure to account for their actions. But the effects of the leaks are not evenly spread; the documents contained far more information about the offshore activities of individuals in the developing world than in the developed world. Whatever the reasons for the imbalance, it will likely limit the papers' impact. In the developing world, long histories of corruption have dulled the public's sensitivity to scandal, and repressive governments leave little room for popular backlash.
So although less information was released on Western leaders, it is already doing more damage. Iceland's leader has left his post, and relatively minor revelations have had a disporportionately large impact in the United Kingdom and France. Meanwhile, in the developing world, the Panama Papers' effects have been most strongly felt in the former Soviet Union, a region in which political tensions were already high. The leaks' results have been more mixed in China, where they have provided new targets for the anti-corruption drive already underway but have also implicated figures close to the administration's upper ranks.

This is only the beginning. The Panama Papers are the largest information dump of their kind, and the information that has been released so far appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. They are also the latest in a string of public leaks that seem to be happening more and more frequently. As revelations continue to surface, calls for greater global transparency will only get louder.
Former Soviet Union
Latin America
Middle East and North Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Asia
Former Soviet Union

The publication of the Panama Papers has drawn leaders and elites from five former Soviet states into corruption scandals. In Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan, politicians — or their family members or friends — have been accused of having ties to offshore accounts or corruption. This will be worse news for some leaders than for others.
As in Russia and Kazakhstan, corruption charges are a perennial feature of Azerbaijani politics. President Ilham Aliyev, the son of Azerbaijan's third president, and his wife, Mehriban, both come from influential families with extensive business connections at home and abroad. Several members of the president's family, including his wife, children and sister, have now been linked to secret offshore companies.
Nonetheless, little will come of the reports in Azerbaijan. The political opposition is too weak to challenge the Aliyevs, and the media have already begun to spin the accusations as Western propaganda. Given the country's poor economic conditions, the scandal could spark protests, which Baku can quickly quell.

Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's foreign business dealings are also included in the Panama Papers. Allegations of corruption have plagued Ivanishvili ever since he threw his hat into the political arena in 2011. But until now, the accusations had centered on his activities in Russia.
Ivanishvili's power in Georgia has been steady for the past four years. In Tbilisi, he remains a kingmaker, planting his followers in all the country's top positions. His Georgian Dream coalition is fracturing, however, holding only a slight majority in the legislature. With parliamentary elections set for this fall, accusations are already flying between Georgia's various political parties. Although most of the country's population has ignored the news so far, the Panama Papers will fuel the opposition's politicking. Moreover, if it gains more traction among the people, the scandal could erode Ivanishvili's influence at a time when his ruling coalition is already falling apart.

Allegations of corruption, particularly concerning President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his family and friends, are constant and widespread in Kazakhstan. But because the country is on the verge of both economic recession and a succession of power, the fresh accusations could have greater impact than usual.
Nazarbayev's grandson Nurali Aliyev is accused of ties to offshore accounts. Just two weeks ago, Aliyev stepped down as deputy mayor of Astana to return to business, inviting speculation within the Kazakh media over his motives. Aliyev has long been considered a possible eventual successor to the presidency, although he is still too young to take a top government position.
On the other hand, his mother, Dariga, is a viable successor and already one of the most powerful figures in Kazakh politics. Following the March 20 parliamentary elections, she unexpectedly did not take a position in the legislature. This has led to speculation that she is jockeying for a more influential position before the formal succession commences. As the power struggle in Kazakhstan begins in earnest, rival political elites could use corruption charges provided by the Panama Papers against Aliyev or his mother.
In Russia, the loudest corruption allegations concern President Vladimir Putin. Although the president's name does not appear in any of the 11.5 million documents published, those of three of his closest friends — Sergei Roldugin, Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg — do.
Longtime intermediaries for Putin's business, the Rotenberg brothers are unsurprising inclusions in the Panama Papers. Among Russia's elite, the brothers are not decision-makers. Nonetheless, they are considered to be some of the country's highest-ranked loyalists, trusted to handle Putin's furtive financial and business affairs. Roldugin, a cellist, is also outside of Russian politics. But he, too, is a loyalist and one of Putin's trusted associates; in fact, he is godfather to Putin's eldest daughter. Following the Panama Papers leaks, Roldugin stands accused of moving more than $2 billion for the president.

The Kremlin's reaction to the Panama Papers actually anticipated their release. Nearly two weeks ago, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned journalists that a Western "information attack" on Putin was forthcoming but that it would not be factually accurate. On April 5, two days after the release, Peskov went a step further, denouncing the Panama Papers as a demonstration of "Putinphobia" and claiming that the journalists' allegations were nothing new. Indeed, corruption charges against Putin and his close friends predate the president's rise to power. By now, they have been assimilated into the Russian people's mindset.
Peskov also called the papers an attempt to undermine Russia before its elections in September. In this, too, there is a hint of truth. Putin's administration has been concerned about the possibility of protests after the elections, on a scale comparable to — or perhaps worse than — the mass demonstrations that followed the 2011 parliamentary elections. In the 2011 protests, corruption in the Kremlin was a central theme. Renewed corruption accusations could compound public resentment over the weak economy in Russia, fueling larger protests.
To reduce the risk of protest, the Kremlin is trying to turn the Panama Papers into a rallying point. Russian media and the government continually highlight this as another attack on the country and its president. After the West imposed sanctions on Russia, similar rhetoric was used successfully, reviving nationalism across the country.

Of all the former Soviet states, Ukraine will likely see the greatest fallout from the Panama Papers, which allege that President Petro Poroshenko holds accounts offshore. In response to the revelations, Ukrainian politicians are already calling for an investigation into Poroshenko's hidden funds. The head of the Radical Party has even pushed for the president's impeachment. But Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General said the papers contain no evidence that Poroshenko committed any crimes. For his part, Poroshenko has gone on the defensive. In a string of tweets, the president called himself the first of Ukraine's leaders to take corruption seriously. At the same time, he has skirted the issue of his culpability, claiming that he handed management of his assets over to a consulting firm upon taking office.
The papers' publication came at an inconvenient time for Poroshenko. Over the past week, the president had been close to a deal on a parliamentary coalition between his party, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's People's Front and a group of independent lawmakers. In light of the scandal, Poroshenko's faction now believes the deal may not come through after all. Poroshenko had been lobbying for the new government, a prerequisite for Ukraine to receive its next tranche of money from the International Monetary Fund and increased financial assistance from the United States. Poroshenko's mention in the Panama Papers could not only further destabilize the fragile government, but it may also weaken the president's rule.


* Book Review by Mohan Guruswamy

At the crux of India-China conflict or rivalry is the larger question of the national identities of the two nations and when and how they evolved. The Imperial India of the Mughals spanned from Afghanistan to Bengal but did not go very much below the Godavari in the south or Brahmaputra in the east. The Imperial India of the British incorporated all of today’s India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but had not Afghanistan, not for want of trying.

Despite the Simla Agreement of 1913, it was only in 1935, at the insistence of Sir Olaf Caroe ICS, then Deputy Secretary in the Foreign Department, the McMahon Line was notified. There was a hiatus again for it was only in 1944 that JP Mills ICS established British Indian administration in NEFA, but excluding Tawang. Tawang continued to be administered by the Lhasa appointed head lama at Tawang despite the fact that it lay well below the McMahon Line. This was largely because Henry Twynam, the Governor of Assam lost his nerve and did not want to provoke the Tibetans. In 1947 the Dalai Lama (the same gentleman who is now in Dharamsala) sent the newly independent India a note laying claim to some districts in NEFA/Arunachal, including Tawang.

On October 7, 1950 the Chinese attacked the Tibetans at seven places on their frontier and made known their intention of reasserting control over all of Tibet. As if in response, on February 16, 1951 Major Relangnao ‘Bob’ Khating IFAS raised the Indian tricolor in Tawang and took over the administration of the tract.

The point of this narration is to bring home the fact that India’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh doesn’t rest on any great historical tradition or cultural affinity. We are there because the British went there. But then the Chinese have no basis whatsoever to stake a claim, besides a few dreamy cartographic enlargements of the notion of China among some of the hangers-on in the Qing emperor’s court.

After independence the relationship between the US and India was cold and often thorny due to the USA’s Containment policy that sought active participation of Communist country neighbors in their ring fencing. Pakistan with its eye on India happily became a length of this ring fence. India-USA relations further soured with India actively and stridently espousing “Non-Alignment.” American officials perceived India's policy of non-alignment negatively. US Ambassador Henry F. Grady told Jawaharlal Nehru that the United States did not consider neutrality to be an acceptable position.

Nehru also rejected American suggestions for resolving the Kashmir crisis. India also rejected the American advice that it not recognize the Communist regime in China. India in the meantime established a warm relationship, or so it thought, with Maoist China. Using that as a footstool India tried to climb up into global diplomacy by acting as an honest broker to help end that war. India was also loud in its advocacy of China’s immediate membership in the United Nations and taking a seat on the Security Council instead of the Kuomintang led Republic of China.

But in 1959, the long festering Sino-Indian border dispute sprang into the open when the Dalai Lama once again sought refuge in India. The Chinese saw it as yet another proof of India’s inimicality towards it. There were other things happening that further convinced the Chinese of this. In 1950 the CIA office in Calcutta established a link with the Dalai Lama’s older brother, Thupten Norbu. The USA was keen to use Tibet to open up another front against China. Which is exactly what they did in 1957.

The CIA began training Khampa warrior tribesmen from Amdo, the home district of the Dalai Lama, in Colorado where the high altitude mimicked Tibetan conditions. The CIA established a forward base for them at the then Pakistani airbase at Kurmitola near Dacca. They then parachuted sticks of them into Tibet to lead the expected insurrection. Very few survived. The USA was also to later use this airbase, as well as the airbase at Peshawar, to launch U-2 flights over China and Russia.

The Chinese believed that the Tibetans were being air dropped by the Indian Air Force and protested several times about “Indian” air incursions. Delhi didn't seem to have a clue about what these protests were about. The Americans were quite happy to make the Chinese believe just that, as it served the added purpose of discomfiting the Nehru government, which had made the Pancha Shila doctrine its cornerstone for foreign policy.

Modi needs to treat Pakistan like a Test, not a T20 game

Modi has been wrong in thinking he can influence people and win friends in Pakistan through his high-octane brand of diplomacy.
That is why his Pakistan policy that started off on the high note of saree-and-shawl diplomacy now threatens to end with a whimper with cloak-and-dagger games, says Rajeev Sharma.
Indian leaders must understand that Pakistan floats like a butterfly, but stings like a bee. This is the key to understand Pakistan and warrants a slow grind approach much in Test cricket, not T20.
The Narendra Modi government faces acute embarrassment over its failed Pakistan policy and has put itself in a position wherein Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit has the temerity of announcing that the India-Pakistan peace process is 'suspended.'
The only way to deal with Pakistan is a two-stage cyclical process which will have to be played out inevitably -- governments after governments and generations after generations till the opportune time of substantive engagement comes.
The two-stage process is to keep Pakistan engaged in the labyrinthine of diplomacy which is high on symbolism and low on actual deliverables.
But that moment of substantive engagement is still a long way off. The Modi government is making the mistake of playing its political matches with Pakistan in the T20 format instead of like in Tests.

Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India for ten years and perceived to be a man of few words, emerges as the go-to man when it comes to the art of engaging with Pakistan. It was during his regime that India suffered its worst ever terror attack, its own 9/11, with the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.
Dr Singh, who led a Congress-led coalition government, refused to engage with Pakistan till such time as it dropped its familiar card of using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy.
So much so that during his two full tenures he did not visit two contiguous neighbours even once -- Pakistan and Nepal -- despite his best and sincere efforts to smoke the peace pipe with Pakistan.
Delhi seems ready to compete with Beijing where it must and cooperate where it can
The UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struggled to overcome many of the traditional weaknesses of India’s China policy
Written by C. Raja Mohan | Updated: April 16, 2016 
The Modi government’s most important departure from the past is in the framing of the China question itself.
As the Indian public discourse on China continues to oscillate between unmitigated romanticism and unreasonable hostility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has settled down to a pragmatic engagement with Beijing. The NDA government’s three-way dialogue with the Chinese leadership next week, involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, is likely to reflect some of this new realism.
The UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struggled to overcome many of the traditional weaknesses of India’s China policy — the temptation to mask real differences, hide deep resentments in soaring rhetoric on friendship, pretend great convergence on global issues, and resist the natural expansion of India’s economic cooperation with China.

Modi has begun to turn this policy on its head. Delhi now acknowledges the enduring contradictions between the interests of the two countries at the bilateral, regional and global level, seeks to manage those responsibly, refuses to limit its relationship with other countries by looking over its shoulder at Beijing, and rolls out the red carpet for Chinese capital.
If the UPA believed a solution was at hand after multiple rounds of negotiations, the NDA government is quite sceptical. Modi is conscious that China’s rise over the last three decades put Beijing in a higher league than Delhi. He is aware that China is under no compulsion to make the kind of territorial concessions that India would need to to make a boundary settlement work.
Delhi also knows there is greater prospect for tension as India begins to match the Chinese modernisation of infrastructure on the long and contested border. Modi is, therefore, building on the mechanisms devised during the UPA years for better management of the border. The frequency and intensity of border incursions appear to have come down since President Xi Jinping visited India in September 2014.

All about the Obama Doctrine

April 16, 2016 M. K. Narayanan
While President Obama’s strategic rebalancing of U.S. interests through the ‘Pivot to Asia’ entails a stronger embrace of India as a counterweight to China, New Delhi must be careful not to conduct its foreign policy through the American prism
The first decade and a half of the 21st century has witnessed a fundamental change in India-U.S. relations unparalleled in the history of the two democracies. President Bill Clinton demonstrated a tilt towards India during his second term, and subsequently the George Bush presidency brought about a transformational shift in the relationship. Relations have been on an upswing ever since, with the Obama presidency proceeding on the same course.
Discerning observers nevertheless see subtle differences in the approach of the Bush and Obama presidencies. Both Presidents have been warm towards India and appreciative of India’s democratic credentials. President Bush, early in his second term, dispelled any notions that the decision to reach out to India had a hidden subtext, viz. strengthening India to function as a counterweight to China. President Barack Obama has been more circumspect, as his world view includes a more accommodative attitude towards China.
The difference, according to strategic analysts, lies in their approach. Mr. Bush acted more on the basis of his instincts — an outstanding example being the manner in which he went out of his way to ensure the successful conclusion of the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal without seeking any quid pro quo. Analysts argue that Mr. Obama is more a practitioner of realpolitik and tends to see most issues through this prism.

Radical shift in priorities
In the light of this, recent references to an “Obama Doctrine” should be of vital interest to Indian policymakers. The so-called doctrine is embedded in a series of interviews that Mr. Obama gave to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine. Compiled into an essay, it takes on the character of a doctrine, though the President himself may be chary of acknowledging it as such.
Mr. Obama is hardly a “Beltway” politician. It was known even before he came to Washington that he held strong views on foreign policy issues. These differed from those of the foreign policy establishment in Washington — including of the powerful think tanks scattered across the city, and forming part of the “revolving door syndrome” familiar to Washington insiders.
That the President, while still being in office, should express his personal opinions in this manner in a series of interviews intended for publication is a surprise of sorts. One would have expected it to form part of his presidential memoirs, but clearly he intended his views to become known while still holding office. Hence, its value and the reference to an “Obama Doctrine”.

A fragile peace in the Valley

April 16, 2016
Amit Baruah
Why managing the post-cricket match tension in Srinagar’s NIT is a litmus test for Jammu and Kashmir’s new government
The ground is wet after the morning rain and policemen are deployed all around. A bunch of bored television reporters are standing outside the entrance of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar. It’s a Monday, a day that should have seen a steady stream of students entering the institute for scheduled internal examinations.
Instead, it’s an exodus of sorts with hundreds of students, some haggling with autorickshaw drivers on how much to pay for their journey out of the campus on their way home to different parts of the country.

The March 31 incident, where local and non-local students clashed on campus over India’s defeat to the West Indies in the semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 championship, exposes the fragile peace of Kashmir, where hordes of tourists have begun to land as part of the summer rush.
Among the students negotiating with the auto drivers is Iqbal, an MTech student from Champaran in Bihar, who had come to see off his friends. He’s planning to leave for home later in the week. Iqbal agrees to show me his hostel room. As we walk towards the hostel, our conversation builds up on the March 31 incident and the encounter with the police on April 5, in which 60 students were injured in a lathi charge.
As we walk, a long line of outstation students can be seen waiting to collect their gate pass to go home since they have been exempted from taking the internal tests. Some are carrying bags, other are pulling their strolleys along as policemen look on. It could have been a mass vacation break, but it’s not.

Neighbourhood First: Navigating Ties under Modi

Edited by Aryaman Bhatnagar and Ritika Passi, this publication brings to focus India’s policy towards its immediate and extended neighbourhood—South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members, Iran, China and Myanmar—under Modi thus far. Each country-specific chapter describes bilateral ties, debates elements of continuity or change since the new government has come to power, and explores future prospects for ties under Modi given existing challenges and opportunities. Thematic chapters also intersperse this publication, which contextualise India’s neighbourhood policy and its bilateral ties in the region.

To download free MOBI (Kindle) and Epub versions of e-book for any e-reader please click here. Or for PDF versions of all GP-ORF series publications please click here.


1. India, India’s Neighbourhood and Modi: Setting the Stage
Ritika Passi and Aryaman Bhatnagar

2. India’s Neighbourhood Policy through the Decades
Ashok Malik

3. Dealing with Pakistan: India’s Policy Options
Radha Kumar

4. India’s Afghanistan Policy: Going beyond the ‘Goodwill’ Factor?
Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

5. India’s Iran Policy in a Changed Dynamic
Kanchi Gupta

6 Why Engage in a Neighbourhood Policy? The Theory behind the Act
Varun Sahni

7 India’s China Policy under Narendra Modi: Continuity and Change
Alka Acharya

8 Modi’s ‘Act East’ Begins in Myanmar
K. Yhome

9 China’s Role in South Asia: An Indian Perspective
T.C.A. Rangachari

10 India-Nepal Relations: On the Threshold
Jayant Prasad

11. Paradigms in India-Bhutan Relations and Pathways for Cooperation
Medha Bisht

12. India-Bangladesh Relations in Modi’s Era
Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

13 The Domestic Elements: States as Stakeholders
Shashi Tharoor

14 India-Sri Lanka Relations under Modi
Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

15 India-Maldives Relations: Solid Base, Shaky Structure
N. Manoharan

16 SAARC at Thirty: Integration by Parts
Sheel Kant Sharma

Carter’s India Visit: The China Factor

Rahul Bhonsle

Apr 14, 2016 

US Defence Secretary Dr. Ashton Carter’s indefatigable energy brought him to India a second time in as many years and onboard an aircraft carrier on the Western Fleet. He is the only foreign leader to have visited both the fleets – Eastern and Western of the Indian Navy. Thus, there were many expectations from the visit to India from 10 to 13 April (2016) the least of which was signing the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).
This would have been the topping on the icing for a Defence Secretary, who has given a lot of his personal time for the betterment of India-US defence relations. But that was not to be. Amongst other factors, the timing of the signing of an LSA in whatever form was just not right with India’s Defence Minister’s visit to China a week ahead and Carter’s trip to the Philippines to announce the presence of US troops at the Clarks Base in the country.
Clubbing India and Philippines and leaving out a prescheduled visit to China created challenges.

Under the circumstances expecting India to sign even a mild LSA was highly unrealistic, perhaps the intent was not to ink one but only to prepare grounds for the same, we will never know.
Ironically one of the factors for proximate India-US defence connections is supposed to be China; the Dragon has now become an Elephant (sic) in the Room.
But coming to the Carter visit first and the LSA. The joint statement issued by the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi stated that both sides decided, “to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), and to continue working toward other facilitating agreements to enhance military cooperation and technology transfer”.

The so-called LEMOA is expected to allow the United States and India to entrée each other’s logistics facilities without establishing the right to automatic access. So this will be something like a case to case basis plus. Mainly the financials could be covered through the LEMOA with an escrow account taking care of visits by US Navy ships to India.
As to how many Indian ships will be visiting the US bases remains to be seen? Indian Navy mainly operates one or two battleships on port visits outside the primary zone of the Indian Ocean littoral and may not require assistance from the US at least in the near to midterm.
There were, however, many positives during the Carter visit.
Defence Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter outlined some of the priorities in Indo-US defence relations to include, “expanding collaboration under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI); Make in India efforts of Government of India; new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness; military-to-military relations; the knowledge partnership in the field of defence; and regional and international security matters of mutual interest”.

The other take away were in terms of maritime security – a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic, Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare and a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State have been agreed upon.
The joint statement also underlined “ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.” This comes as China and the US are in a spat over the declaration of air defence identification zone over the South China Sea by Beijing. Will India also force through this ADIZ following the US? An unlikely scenario to say the least.

SC’s Constitutional Coup: Ambedkar’s Finely Crafted Balance Of Power Is Gone

R Jagannathan
April 13, 2016,

SC has over-read the constitution to give itself almost dictatorial powers, something the constitution never envisaged.
Over the last few years, and quietly since the 1990s, the Supreme Court has indirectly made out a case for a benevolent and populist dictatorship: itself.
As it intervenes in more and more areas of policy, law-making, policing and regulation (yesterday it wanted to have a go at banks’ bad loans problem), the court has taken on powers never envisaged by our constitution-makers. It has upset the delicate balance of power between executive, legislature and judiciary.
The police and the bureaucracy are accountable to the executive, the executive is accountable to the legislature, and the legislature is accountable to the people, but who is the judiciary accountable to? This is what makes it a “benevolent dictator” of sorts when it takes on roles that go beyond interpreting the law.
A “benevolent” dictator is one who appoints himself to power (it could be through a coup or any other means not prescribed in the law). He rules basically by making out a case that elected politicians are untrustworthy and corrupt, that the whole system is dysfunctional, that an impartial (but unelected) ombudsman can do the right things instead of being guided by vested interests, as he can appoint competent people to jobs without fear or favour, etc, etc.
All populist dictatorships derive their legitimacy from being seen as doing the right things. Pakistan’s army has repeatedly staged military coups using the unpopularity of elected politicians as an excuse. It has often been welcomed by the public for it.

Now consider the case of the Indian Supreme Court.
It is unelected and largely unaccountable to anyone. It appoints its own judges and they can’t be removed easily.
Thanks to Indira Gandhi’s internal emergency, when the government made the judiciary subservient to itself, the Supreme Court - through two judgments in 1993 and 1998, called the second and third judges cases – arrogated to itself the job of appointing upper judiciary judges. Governments could protest, but could do nothing if they didn’t like the judiciary’s choices. The executive’s role has been reduced to that of the typist who composes the appointment letter.
These judgments were in clear violation of the spirit of article 124 of the constitution which says that the President (i.e, the government) shall appoint judges to the higher courts in consultation with the Chief Justice and/or other judges. When the NDA government, with near unanimity in parliament, tried to claw back some of its old powers by enacting the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act 2014, the Supreme Court shot it down. It killed a law where it was itself an interested party when it could have read down the provisions which could have dented its independence.

Nepal’s Divisive New Constitution: An Existential Crisis

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On 20 September 2015, Nepal’s new constitution passed amid deadly protests by Madhesi and Tharu groups across the southern Tarai plains that continued for months, leaving 57 dead. Protesting groups said the statute backtracked on addressing structural discrimination. The protests had deep support in ethnic Madhesi Tarai communities, reflecting a profound, increasing sense of alienation from the state. A 135-day blockade of vital supplies by Madhesi civic and political groups, partially supported by India, has ended, but as no political solution is on the table, the protests are almost certain to resume. To stop violent polarisation and a breakdown of social relations, national parties and protesting groups must urgently agree on how to manage contentious issues, with timelines, guarantees, and a role for civic participation. A sustainable, equitable social contract is necessary for lasting peace and reconciliation.

After the devastating earthquakes in spring 2015, the largest parties in the Constituent Assembly decided, amid controversy, to fast-track a new constitution so as to fulfil a longstanding peace process commitment and enable them to focus on reconstruction. Some administrative and structural reforms mandated by the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), 2007 Interim Constitution and other political agreements are enshrined in the new constitution. But Madhesi, Tharu, janajati, Dalit, religious minorities and women’s groups – all considered historically marginalised – believe the new statute and the process by which it was rushed through diluted commitments to meaningful federalism, redress for historical, structural discrimination based on ethnic and religious identity and gender, and democratic consultation.

There is disagreement over boundaries of new states, electoral representation and affirmative action, constituency delineation and citizenship-related clauses. Supporters of the new constitution feel much has already been achieved and say an excessive focus on identity-based grievances threatens Nepal’s unity, integrity, even sovereignty. The objections of those who demonstrated against it have their roots in long-running social disagreements on what it means to be Nepali and whether a homogenous conception of Nepaliness has led to structural discrimination against groups that do not conform to the behaviour and values of hill-origin, Nepali-speaking, upper caste Hindu communities.

Political Conflict, Extremism and Criminal Justice in Bangladesh

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As the Awami League (AL) government’s political rivalry with the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) reaches new heights, so has its repression. At the same time, a deeply politicised, dysfunctional criminal justice system is undermining rather than buttressing the rule of law. Heavy-handed measures are denting the government’s legitimacy and, by provoking violent counter-responses, benefitting violent party wings and extremist groups alike. The government needs to recognise that it is in its interest to change course, lest it fail to either contain violent extremism or counter political threats. A key part of a more prudent course would be to depoliticise and strengthen all aspects of the criminal justice system, including the judiciary, so it can address the country’s myriad law and order challenges and help stall a democratic collapse.

The political conflict between the AL and BNP has resulted in high levels of violence and a brutal state response. The government’s excesses against political opponents and critics include enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings. Police tasked with targeting the government’s rivals and an overstretched justice system compelled to prosecute opposition leaders and activists now also face a renewed threat from violent extremists. The permissive legal environment, however, is creating opportunities for extremist outfits to regroup, manifested in the killings of secular bloggers and foreigners and attacks on sectarian and religious minorities in 2015. The government’s reaction to rising extremism, including arrest and prosecution of several suspects without due process and transparency, is fuelling alienation that these groups can further exploit.

Reconciling with the opposition and hence stabilising the state requires both political compromises and an end to the repressive use of law enforcement agencies and abuse of the courts. Politicising the police and using elite forces, particularly the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), to silence political dissent, are laying the seeds of future violence. By concentrating on targeting the opposition, the police are failing to curb criminality; the prisons are overburdened by the mass arrests of opposition leaders and activists; and the judiciary, perceived as partisan for trials and sentences based on political grounds, is losing credibility. The result is a justice system that swings between two extremes: woefully slow and dysfunctional for ordinary cases and speedy, undermining due process, in politically charged ones.

** Stratfor: Europe’s Chronic Jihadist Problem

Summary: The pace of attacks suggests Europe’s jihadist problem is growing worse. Here Stratfor explains how and why. Until they learn to grapple with this, the consequences will be severe.
Scott StewartStratfor, 8 April 2016
European authorities have arrested a number of suspects linked to the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, but the arrests address only the immediate threat, not the root of the problem.
Europe’s jihadist threat will continue to be deeper and more complex than North America’s because of differences in their Muslim communities.
Despite recent counterterrorism successes, the threat of attacks in Europe will remain high for years to come.
As long as the ideology of jihadism survives, and as long as Europe’s Muslims remain marginalized and disenfranchised, European security services will not be able to arrest their way out of this problem.

Like the assaults in Paris last year, the March 22 terrorist attacks in Belgium prompted a wave of arrests and energized attempts by European authorities to disrupt the Islamic State and other jihadist operations. But arrests will not solve the intractable problem of radicalized Muslims bent on attacking Europe. Until the underlying issues that help drive radicalization on the Continent are addressed, authorities will be neutralizing only the immediate threat, not countering its root cause. In the meantime, jihadists will continue to pose a threat in Europe and elsewhere.
Police and security forces across Europe arrested dozens of purported Islamic State operatives in the wake of the Brussels bombings. The arrests have not been limited to Belgium and France; they have also taken place in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Though these operations may help to identify and dismantle an Islamic State network (or a network of networks), Europe’s problems run much deeper than this one layer of jihadists.
The Roots of Radicalization

Geopolitics has tightly woven together the European and Muslim worlds since the earliest days of Islam. The entanglements started with the Umayyad invasion of Spain and France in the early 700s and continued through the Crusades, the Ottoman sieges of Vienna in the 1500s and 1600s, and the European colonization of North Africa and South Asia in the 1700s and 1800s. The fall of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I and the European colonization of the Middle East drew the two cultures even closer together.
The proximity of North Africa and Turkey to Southern Europe and European colonization efforts, combined with the desire in the Muslim world to seek education and employment in Europe, has resulted in large populations of Muslims living on the Continent. But this close relationship has not been without friction. Though a large portion of Muslims in Europe come from families who have lived there for four or five generations, many have not integrated into European society, living instead in isolated, Muslim-dominated areas. In a telling example of this isolation, Matthew Levitt, the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, noted in a recent Politico article that only eight of the 114 imams in Brussels speak any of Belgium’s traditional languages.
Moreover, the weak European economy has disproportionately affected the Continent’s Muslim population and has created an alarmingly high unemployment rate among young Muslims. In addition to frequent discrimination in the job market, this has left many Muslims feeling alienated, disenfranchised and resentful. Combined with the European welfare state, in which work is not necessary to survival, these sentiments have created a climate where Muslims who are exposed to radical discourse can more easily be recruited into radical political or even militant activities.
Europe’s immigration and asylum laws, which granted refuge to many jihadist ideologues who were persecuted in their home countries, have exacerbated the situation. High-profile radicals such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza-al Masri and Mullah Krekar, among many others, were allowed to set up shop on the Continent, and Europe’s Muslim areas have provided rich environments for the jihadist preachers seeking to recruit disaffected Muslims to their cause.

Although European countries have taken steps to expel or extradite many of these old-guard jihadist imams in recent years, they have been replaced by a second generation of preachers, including Khalid Zerkani, a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin who was convicted in July 2015 (along with Paris attack mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud) for running Belgium’s largest jihadist recruitment network. Abaaoud, who was tried in absentia, was killed in a police raid in Saint Denis, France, five days after the Paris attacks.
The sheer number of European jihadists who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, and more recently, Libya, demonstrates that the issue of disaffected Muslim populations has only grown in recent years. The refugee crisis, along with incidents such as the French burqa ban and the anti-Islamic rhetoric of politicians such as Geert Wilders, reinforces the narrative put forward by jihadist recruiters that Islam is under attack from Europeans, aiding their recruitment efforts.
A Unique Kind of Threat

Just as the Muslim communities in Europe and the United States differ, so does the nature of the jihadist threat in each. In the United States, where Muslims are more integrated into the whole of society, plotters tend to be more self-radicalized and aspirational. Once they become radicalized — frequently via the internet — it is common for them to be arrested as they seek assistance with their plots from individuals who turn out to be FBI agents or police informants working on sting operations.
But Europe’s concentrated and disenfranchised Muslim population makes it easier for radicalized Muslims there to find confederates who are not police informants. In many cases, European cell members have known one another since childhood, have been in street gangs together, or have been incarcerated at the same time.

King Coal Is Losing His Throne

Peabody Energy joins a growing list of coal miners who are going broke thanks to a perfect storm of cheap natural gas, the slowdown in China, and tougher environmental rules.
Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest privately owned coal mining company, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Wednesday. The company becomes the latest casualty of a coal-market bloodbath that has already pushed other big U.S. miners into insolvency in recent months.
Peabody said in its bankruptcy filing that the challenges facing the coal sector are “unprecedented” and include a slowdown in China, cheap natural gas, and new environmental regulations. The company hopes to use bankruptcy protection to shed debt and improve cash flow, and will keep all mines operating in the meantime. Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow called bankruptcy “the right path forward” in order to “lay the foundation for long-term stability and success in the future.”
In the United States, coal companies’ fortunes have gone south dramatically, and in a hurry. The big four producers — Peabody, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, and Cloud Peak Energy — were worth a combined $34 billion in 2011, according to the Rhodium Group, a consultancy. Today, they are worth about $185 million.

Coal’s challenges seem more fundamental than the cyclical headwinds that periodically hammer U.S. commodities producers. Cheap and abundant natural gas has pushed coal out of its dominant perch in the U.S. power sector. At the same time, the Obama administration has sought to slap coal with tough new environmental regulations. Neither headwind for coal looks set to disappear anytime soon.
“Without a doubt, this is a structural shift,” said Kelly Mitchell, energy campaign director for Greenpeace USA, the environmental group. Rather than tallying up all the challenges the coal sector faces, she said, “it’s easier to try to determine what’s gone right for them. And the answer is, essentially nothing.”
Globally, the outlook for coal is a little different. Natural gas isn’t yet quite as cheap or abundant in many other markets as it is in the United States, leaving more room for coal, especially in Asia.
“The U.S. has a fundamental difference in market conditions, but internationally, I do not think there is a fundamental barrier to a recovery in coal prices,” said Jim Thompson, head of Americas coal research at consultancy IHS Cera.

Can we defeat ISIS by “killing them all”? We’ve learned nothing since 9/11.

Summary: What have we learned from our ways since 9/11? How have we changed since 9/11? The enthusiasm of our presidential candidates, except Trump and Sanders, for more of the Long War suggests we’ve learned nothing. The broad support for torture (63% in a recent poll) suggests that we have become more like the monsters we fight. This interview with noted military experts Ralph Peters shows both these trends, an ominous sign for our future.

“Kill them all; let God sort them out.”
— Loose translation of phrase attributed to Papal legate Arnaud Amalric before the Massacre at Béziers, in France at the start of the Albigensian Crusade.
Another demonstration of America’s failure to learn from our post-9/11 wars

In the 15 years of our post-9/11 wars US forces have fought across the Middle East. We have employed the full trinity of US military methods — popular front militia, massive firepower on civilians (e.g., winning hearts & minds with artillery), plus sweep and destroy missions. Local forces have defeated us in Iraq and Afghanistan by the only metric that counts — they’re still there after we leave. Yet we have learned nothing from this expenditure of America’s blood and money, as we see here.
Ralph Peters (Lt. Colonel, US Army, retired) on Fox News, 22 March 2016

O’REILLY: Do you think the American people have the will to fight ISIS? I mean, the polls show that most favor ground troops, but an entire political party, the Democratic Party is against any kind of meaningful confrontation. What about the folks in general? What do you think?
PETERS: Well, I think the American people certainly could summon the will to defeat ISIS, to destroy ISIS, if properly led. But we are not properly led, and I’m afraid looking at the political landscape we may not be properly led. Because I’m not — generalities won’t defeat ISIS. I’m not hearing the kind of expertise, depth, and strength of character it will take. Worse, Bill, worse, we now have two generations of military officers educated, trained, convinced that it’s more important to prevent casualties and collateral damage than to win. Honestly, I don’t know if our military leaders have the character, the wherewithal to do what it takes to defeat ISIS. It’s not about winning hearts and minds, it’s about splashing their hearts and brains all over the landscape.
Even for Fox News, this is an amazingly ignorant statement to hear in the 15th year of our post-9/11 wars (he said much the same thing in 2014). We’ve learned nothing from our experiences, going back to our attempts to win by “killing them all” in the Vietnam War…
At an early intergovernmental meeting {1962} on the importance of psychological warfare, one of {General} Harkins’ key staffmen, Brigadier General Gerald Kelleher, quickly dismissed that theory. His job, he said, was to kill Vietcong. But the French, responded a political officer named Donald Pike, had killed a lot of Vietcong and they had not won.

We tried to “kill enough”. The US dropped 1,613,000 tons of bombs in Europe during WWII — and almost five times that on Southeast Asia ( 7,662,000). That’s almost 500 pounds of explosive per person, not including the massive use of artillery and napalm {for more information see this study) — and the more retail-level killing (as at Mai Lai, a sadly common event). Nick Turse’s book documents the result: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.
It should be obvious — but obviously isn’t — why mass murder of insurgents by infidel foreigners is unlikely to work. First, there is the difficulty of distinguishing them from the other locals. The following steps are no easier. This has been proven many times by many nations since WWII, as explained in Chapter 6.2 of Martin van Creveld’s The Changing Face of War (2006)…

* Stratfor: Al Qaeda’s North African Franchise Expands to the South

Summary: As I’ve said for years, a key strength of al Qaeda’s comes from its use of western business methods (see links at the end of this post). Here Stratfor looks at their expansion plans, which rely on the powerful tool that built McDonald’s and other great corporations: franchising. It works for terrorists, too.
31 March 2016
A string of unusual attacks by al Qaeda’s North African branch could shed some light on the jihadist group’s latest predicament. Pressure is mounting on al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to counter the Islamic State’s growing encroachment on its territory, resources and pool of recruits. The rise of an effective rival for the helm of global jihadism has forced al Qaeda to step up its game, especially in areas where it has been weakened. Northern Africa — and particularly Mali, where France’s military intervention has significantly degraded AQIM’s capabilities over the past few years — is one such place.
The reversal of AQIM’s fortunes by both the Islamic State and France may be the motive behind the group’s latest spate of attacks against soft targets in African cities. Since the beginning of 2016, AQIM has launched several assaults on hotels located well outside its traditional area of operations, including the Hotel Splendid in Burkina Faso and the Grand Bassam resort in Ivory Coast. As the group strives to remain relevant in the face of numerous threats to its position in the region, it will likely continue to ramp up its attacks against Western targets in countries that lack the security resources to defend them.

The Islamic State’s ideology is gaining traction across North Africa, and the group’s growing popularity has put al Qaeda on the defensive. Needing to present a united front, the leaders of the al Qaeda core have pressed the group’s various branches and affiliates to put aside their differences and join forces against their common enemy.
In December 2015, al-Mourabitoun — a breakaway faction of AQIM led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar — did just that by rejoining the North African branch. The reunion has had a noticeable impact on both the tempo and selected targets of terrorist activity in West Africa ever since. In January, AQIM laid siege to the Hotel Splendid in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, leaving 30 people dead. Two months later, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on the Grand Bassam beach resort near Ivory Coast’s economic hub, Abidjan, that killed 16. The assaults were the first of their kind in both countries.

The groups’ cooperation reflects a key strength of al Qaeda’s broader franchise structure: flexibility. The ability of various al Qaeda nodes to work with one another or on their own gives the group two major advantages over its enemies. First, it enables better funded and more dynamic groups such as Belmokhtar’s al-Mourabitoun to conduct fundraising operations or attacks throughout the region without interfering with the territory of other AQIM cells. Second, it gives AQIM the ability to leverage small, local militant groups with narrow agendas for its own purposes. For example, the Macina Liberation Front, a group with distinctly provincial interests, participated in AQIM’s November 2015 assault against the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. Funneling weapons, training and money to small groups has given AQIM greater knowledge of and control over certain areas of Northern Africa.
Regaining Prestige With Limited Resources

AQIM will need these advantages if it is to rebuild its presence in the region. France’s Operation Serval, launched in 2013 to halt an al Qaeda-led advance southward toward Bamako, was hailed largely as a success. Though it did not completely eradicate Islamist militancy from the Sahel, it did move AQIM even further from its goal of overthrowing North Africa’s “apostate” governments and establishing an Islamic emirate in their place.