Tag Archives: national security

Op-eds and Articles

Diplomacy cracks China in Ladakh

That India doesn’t officially know the Chinese version of the LAC lies at the heart of the problem. Despite repeated requests from New Delhi since December 1981, when the first round of boundary talks took place, China has refused to spell out its perception of the LAC. This has allowed China to increase its territorial claims while frequently changing its patrolling patterns. India has to emphasise Article 10 of the 1996 agreement on ‘CBMs in the Military Field along the LAC’, where “the two sides agree(d) to speed up the process of clarification and confirmation of the Line of Actual Control.” To prevent another Depchang like crisis, India must ensure both countries exchange maps duly marked with their respective versions of the LAC.

Op-eds and Articles

http://www.mid-day.com/columnists/2013/may/070513-diplomacy-cracks-china-in-ladakh.htm

That India doesn’t officially know the Chinese version of the LAC lies at the heart of the problem. Despite repeated requests from New Delhi since December 1981, when the first round of boundary talks took place, China has refused to spell out its perception of the LAC. This has allowed China to increase its territorial claims while frequently changing its patrolling patterns. India has to emphasise Article 10 of the 1996 agreement on ‘CBMs in the Military Field along the LAC’, where “the two sides agree(d) to speed up the process of clarification and confirmation of the Line of Actual Control.” To prevent another Depchang like crisis, India must ensure both countries exchange maps duly marked with their respective versions of the LAC.

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Components of India's power

Finally, economic power. India’s growth and rise on the global stage were directly linked to its strong economic performance. The double-digit growth rates are history now and so is the global attention on India. Economic growth underpins everything else in the modern world. It is easy to do diplomacy when every country wants a share of your market or wants to trade with you. It is also easy to develop militarily – buy equipment, hire more people – when you have the money. With economic growth, even politics becomes easier: states focus on the politics of aspiration and not on an emotional politics of grievance. And informational power is a natural byproduct of your economic heft.

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Our challenges of internal security

That doesn’t mean politics doesn’t have a role in these regions. Its role is not to impose some magical solution (remember the fate of Assam Accord and the Punjab Accord signed by Rajiv Gandhi) but to have a continuous process, where it engages with all sections of society, bridges ethnic gaps and amicably resolves differences. The government can help by bringing the fruits of development to these areas. But neither development nor the political process can happen if people can’t undertake routine social and economic activity with normality. Ensuring the Rule of Law and a climate of security is thus the essential, though not sufficient condition to successfully overcome our internal security challenges. Let us never forget that.

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If India did an Argo

Finally, the complete Tehran rescue mission was underpinned on starting a ‘real’ Hollywood company in double quick time. That is something not possible in India. As per World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report, India is ranked 173 (out of 185 countries) in starting a business. It takes 27 days just to register a firm in India. That duration goes up to 30 days in Mumbai. In the US, the same procedure takes six days. And unlike the Hollywood firm winding up in a day of the mission, its Indian counterpart would perhaps still be under a revival plan of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.

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Look beyond the pockets of protests

This should put into perspective the areas in Kashmir Valley where we witness protests. These areas were, are and will probably remain strongholds of the separatists. These people are the irreconcilables. They won’t be won over by any step India takes, short of allowing the Valley to merge with Pakistan. An incessant media focus on these pockets of orchestrated trouble after every incident creates a distorted picture about the overall situation in the state. A majority of people in the state want to lead peaceful lives. They want jobs, they want tourism to flourish, they want more economic opportunities. Since the last troubled summer in Kashmir in 2010, people have shown their yearning for normality by consistently rejecting calls by separatists for protests, shutdowns and boycotts. That the security forces have been able to suppress the jehadi violence to its lowest levels since 1989 has allowed this yearning to be expressed freely.

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The apology that never was

In her 2010 book Churchill’s Secret War, Madhusree Mukherjee details how Churchill was responsible for one of the worst famines in history. It started with large-scale export of food from India for use in the war theatres and consumption in Britain. Then the wheat from Australia was made to bypass India and transported to British troops in the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Even worse, Churchill actually turned down offers of food from Canada and the US. He also pushed a scorched earth policy in coastal Bengal, where the British feared the Japanese army would soon enter. Churchill’s only reply to a telegram from the British colonial authorities in Delhi about the rising toll of famine deaths was to ask “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.” Later at a War Cabinet meeting, Churchill blamed the Indians themselves for the famine, saying that they “breed like rabbits.”

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The dubious debate over Afzal Guru's hanging

But the shrillest opposition to Afzal Guru’s hanging has come from those who believe that justice was not served in this case and all the instruments of the Indian state (including the Supreme Court) connived to target an ‘innocent’ Kashmiri Muslim. The subtle message being conveyed is that Afzal Guru was hanged by a communal Indian state because he was a Kashmiri and a Muslim. The message is being lapped up in Pakistan whose existential identity as a country rests on portraying India as anti-Muslim. It is also being abetted by that section of Indian intelligentsia which, to use Christopher Hitchens’ words, believes that if the Indian state “was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.” However unpalatable this might be to many of us, it actually showcases India’s vibrant liberal credentials unlike China or Pakistan that those vehemently attacking the Indian state are prominently featured in our media.

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Closer to credible nuclear deterrence

Nuclear deterrence is not a function of the exchange ratio of the damages inflicted by both sides. The crux of nuclear deterrence is survival of the retaliatory force and the adequacy of the survived force to inflict unacceptable punishment.

As the man who drafted the nuclear doctrine, the late K Subrahmanyam explained: “In India’s case, it would mean that the ability of the country to retaliate against a nuclear attack on it by either of its two nuclear neighbours, should be credible to the potential adversary. In other words, the retaliation should result in unacceptable damage in terms of population and property. So long as India has a survivable retaliatory force, the punishment is certain.”

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The other true story from Kashmir

Because of its association with certain political and ideological organisations, speaking about Kashmiri Pandits and their exodus has been unfashionable among Indian intellectual circles. By anchoring an emotional personal journey with his journalistic nous, Pandita brings a much-needed credibility to this unacknowledged episode of our recent history. His book should redress the balance in the one-sided media narrative on Kashmir.

Pandita often sounds angry and bitter in the book. But then I am reminded of what Gandhi said about Ambedkar: “He has every right to be bitter. That he does not break our heads is an act of self-restraint on his part.”