Indian democracy and its foreign Policy

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ajtr, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Think Tanks In India's Democracy

    India has the second largest number of think tanks in the world after the United States. This is not surprising given that both countries are democracies and encourage public debate. What do think tanks do or what should they do? Do we need them? Think tanks come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and vary in terms of their roles and functions. A fairly standard view of think tanks is that they are autonomous institutions autonomous from their funding sources, public or private that are tasked to contribute to the making of public policy. In this view, think tanks are part of the structure of governance even though they have no official role.

    It is the dream of think tanks to influence if not shape public policy. The truth is that even in the US, where think tanks are abundant and where some are almost household words (RAND, the Brookings Institution), the relationship of these institutions to policy is difficult to trace in any very conclusive way. In India, think tanks constantly bemoan the fact that South Block does not take them seriously, that it does not share information with them and that it does not involve them in shaping policy. This is largely a futile complaint.

    Why so? For one thing, officials are not predisposed to cede ground to anyone outside their precincts. For another, they are allergic to admitting that they have been or can be influenced by anyone outside the corridors of power. The state is not just the monopoly of legitimate violence; it also aspires to being the monopoly of legitimate public policy ideas! More important, it is a mistake to regard think tanks as being exclusively or even primarily aimed at influencing policymaking in a direct sense.

    Think tanks, in a democratic and open society, like the media, have a dual responsibility: to inform and influence the government but also to inform and influence the public. In shaping the public understanding of social problems and government policy, think tanks are in a position to affect policy indirectly, that is, via public opinion which exerts itself on the government through its representatives, the electoral process and other forms of pressure on officialdom. This latter, democratic function is often forgotten by Indian think tanks which are obsessed with being "relevant" and influencing policy more directly.

    What can think tanks do? We can distinguish between at least six broad functions or roles. The first is to help create policy where there is none. A think tank may direct government and public attention to an emerging or a neglected area of social life which requires policy intervention. A second function is to fundamentally change the direction or nature of existing policy by means of a paradigm shift. It can do so by showing that the original conditions that brought forth a policy intervention have changed or that existing policy is ineffective. Third, think tanks can help modify existing policy for the same kinds of reasons changed conditions and lack of effectiveness. A fourth role is to monitor existing policy to see if it is implemented properly and to bring success and failure to the attention of the authorities and the public.

    Then, think tanks have an information role in respect of the larger public. They may simply disseminate to ordinary citizens, without critical commentary, what the government is doing in various areas of social policy and educate the man on the street the nature of various programmes. Finally, think tanks can incubate ideas for the future. This is a vital role, one that focuses not on immediate policy concerns but rather has a more distant horizon. It is also perhaps a more theoretical function in the sense that the think tank in this role is concerned with constructing a whole new vocabulary and set of conceptions about various areas of social life with perhaps no immediate relevance or application.

    As a progressive and democratic society, India must invest in more and better think tanks. The public good requires the enlargement of expertise and debate. Along with the media, think tanks must continue to flourish and enrich social life.
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Tryst Betrayed: Reflections on Diplomacy and Development By Jagat S. Mehta, Penguin, Rs 550

    Jagat Singh Mehta’s autobiography covers an eventful and rewarding career spanning the worlds of diplomacy, academics and social service. Mehta was a cerebral foreign secretary. After retiring from foreign service, he was a visiting professor at the University of Texas in Austin for 15 years. He has written extensively on diplomacy and, more recently, has devoted himself to social service for the cause of education and rural development. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the president of India in 2002.

    Jagat Mehta joined the Indian foreign service in August 1947, just a few days after India’s entry into the comity of independent nations. His first appointment was as private secretary to the secretary-general of the external affairs ministry, Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai. The full contribution of this formidable official to India’s foreign policy in the early post-Independence years remains to be chronicled. Mehta recalls that the “PM invariably came to Sir Girija’s room on his way in and out of the Secretariat and seldom summoned him except for meetings… They would exchange drafted replies. More than once I heard the PM say, ‘Your draft expresses my thoughts better; let yours go as from PM to Sir B.N. Rau [ambassador at the UN]’”

    Nehru and Bajpai shared a deep mutual respect for each other’s abilities even though their personalities could hardly have been more different. Elegant simplicity marked Pandit Nehru’s style. On the other hand, Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, KCSI, KBE, CIE, was a grandee of the British raj. Fastidiously dressed in Savile Row suits, he was a connoisseur of fine food and wines and an expert on rare carpets. Jagat Mehta informs us that during the raj, the “best room in the Secretariat — in the south-west corner (which gets the sun from two sides in the winter and was cooler in the summer) and nearest to the Viceregal Lodge — was earmarked for the Foreign Secretary”. Not wishing to disturb the occupant of this room, Nehru moved into another room at the end of the corridor. Bajpai, “more finicky about prestige, the location and size of his office”, had no such inhibition and became the first Indian occupant of the coveted room.

    Mehta was posted in the Eastern Division from 1957 to 1961 and led the Indian delegation in the border talks with China in 1960. He subsequently served as chargé d’affaires in Beijing from 1963 to 1966, during the Cultural Revolution. He was thus intimately connected with India-China relations during a critical and tumultuous period. His finest hour in Beijing came in September 1965, during the Indo-Pakistan war. Summoned to the foreign ministry in the middle of the night on September 16, Mehta was handed the famous ultimatum demanding the return of allegedly abducted sheep and yaks, and the demolition of bunkers allegedly built across the Sikkim border within three days. A second ultimatum was served on September 19. Mehta kept his cool and conveyed to New Delhi before the expiry of the second ultimatum that, in his judgment, the Chinese would not violate the border. Lal Bahadur Shastri commended him for his professional judgment.

    Mehta was appointed foreign secretary in 1976, during the Emergency. In the following year, Indira Gandhi lost the general elections. For the first time since Independence, a non-Congress government — the hastily assembled Janata coalition under Morarji Desai — took over the reins of government, giving rise to speculation about a shift in India’s foreign policy and a possible tilt towards the western powers. Mehta lost no time in advocating basic continuity in foreign policy. Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony of the new prime minister, Morarji Desai, Mehta managed to buttonhole him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan itself, in order to press this recommendation. However, Desai’s initial comments about “genuine non-alignment” served only to fuel speculation about a policy shift. Fortunately, the new foreign minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was a true statesman. On Mehta’s advice, Vajpayee renewed an invitation to his Soviet counterpart, Andrei Gromyko, to visit India at an early date. The Soviet foreign minister arrived post-haste and went away fully reassured that there would be no weakening of established Indo-Soviet ties.

    Diplomatic historians will find many interesting nuggets of information in Jagat Mehta’s latest book, complementing the material offered in his earlier analytical work, Negotiating for India. However, some of Mehta’s observations about India’s foreign policy are certain to be questioned. Did India really violate the principle of non-intervention in Goa, as Mehta alleges? The principle of non-intervention applies to territories of foreign states, not to a part of our own territory under foreign occupation. Freeing Goa from Portuguese colonial rule and reuniting it with the rest of India cannot be condemned as a violation of the principle of non-intervention. Similarly, is it a fair assessment that during the Cold War, “non-alignment accustomed us to a kind of blackmail leverage — presuming on the West and leaning towards the East”? Did India lean against the West or was it the West that leaned against India? The historical record shows that in the immediate post-Independence years (1947-53), India’s ties with the West were far more substantial than those with the Soviet bloc, in every sphere. This began to change in 1953 as a result of a number of developments including, in particular, the Anglo-American decision to induct Pakistan into the Western alliance system. Even so, India’s policy was to develop parallel ties with both superpowers. We ‘leaned’ towards the Soviet Union only after the Nixon administration ‘tilted’ strongly towards Pakistan (and China) in 1971.

    Mehta must be well aware that these views will be strongly contested. During his years in service as well as after retirement, he has not hesitated to express an unpopular opinion and for this, he deserves our respect.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    “Perspectives on Foreign Policy for a 21st Century India”

    Mr. Adam Ward, Director of Studies,
    Distinguished Participants

    I am delighted to be here today to open the MEA-IISS Seminar and to speak to such an august gathering of diplomats, scholars and experts. The MEA-IISS Foreign Policy Dialogue has, from modest beginnings, now become a dynamic platform, facilitating wide-ranging exchanges between scholars and experts from India and the UK.

    Given the rather broad canvas of the topic that I have been asked to speak on, I have structured my presentation along the following lines. First, a delineation of our foreign policy priorities, and how our approach is shaped by a globalizing world. Thereafter, I shall focus on the three issues – climate change, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and terrorism - which form part of this seminar today. I will conclude with a few remarks on India’s neighbourhood.

    Our Republic is sixty years young this year. And, our foreign policy also has a trajectory that covers almost the same period. As the country has grown, so also our foreign policy has evolved and adjusted to the growing demands and challenges posed by rapid economic growth, the situation in our neighbourhood, the realization of our interdependence and integration into global markets, and our consciousness of what India stands for in a changing and often turbulent world as a pluralistic democratic country that has created a successful standard for managing diversity. As far as the last aspect is concerned, some call it the power of the Indian example, of a big country that symbolizes the universal values of inclusiveness, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. This self image is not new; in fact, from the very early years of the founding of our Republic, there has been awareness that our ability to manage diversity and respect pluralism would as some scholars have noted, be “a source of (India’s) legitimacy in the international system”.

    It is a foreign policy truism that our aim is to secure an enabling environment to achieve the overriding domestic goal of all round, socially inclusive development. The corollary to this is that a free and democratic India is a source of stability and a force for moderation in the region. India accounts for more than 70% of the population and more than 80% of the GDP of South Asia. We want to widen our development choices. We have a keen sense of our potential to be a great power by virtue of our population, our resources and our strategic location. A fundamental goal of India’s foreign policy is to create an external environment that promotes the fulfillment of our economic growth targets and ambitions. And, these include three dimensions – capital inflows, access to technology and innovation, as well as the promotion of a free, fair and open world trading system that recognizes the development imperatives of a country like India. This requires a peaceful and stable neighbourhood and external environment, a balanced relationship with the major powers and a durable and equitable multilateral global order.

    We close the first decade of this century with the realization that the intersection, and the overlap, between the national and the global is an undeniable reality. Consequently, the challenges before us – be it sustaining economic growth rates, putting in place poverty alleviation strategies, addressing the challenge of climate change, energy security or global security issues, in particular the threat posed by international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, etc – all require collaborative approaches.

    That we live in an increasingly inter-dependent world was clearly demonstrated as never before during the global economic and financial crisis of the last year and more. The global financial downturn has seen negative rates of growth, a rising tide of unemployment which is yet to be quelled, rising trends of protectionism in the developed world, particularly, and a welcome introspection about the need to reform global financial institutions and systems of financial regulation and governance. That we are in a period of transition where the rapidly resurgent economies outside the traditional circles of global economic dominance are setting a new pace and direction in regional and international growth and development is an absolute truth.

    At the global level, India has worked with our international partners to address the complex challenges to revive the global economy. The 2008 global economic and financial crisis triggered the further evolution of the G20, of which India is a key constituent. At the Pittsburgh Summit, the G-20 was designated as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We see the G-20 process as a move towards a more representative mechanism to manage global economic and financial issues. The Group has taken some positive steps in this direction, for instance by committing a shift in IMF quota share to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries. Simultaneously, the new global realities require that we revisit and reorganize existing governance models which were put in place over six decades ago. In this regard, a dynamic global political and security order requires the urgent reform of the UN Security Council as well. We see our case for permanent membership of the Security Council as valid and legitimate.

    India’s growth in the four years preceding the onset of the global financial crisis was around 9%. In 2008, with the advent of the global financial crisis, India’s growth slowed down to 6.7%. Forecasts for the current year are for a growth rate of 7.75%. Today, India has emerged as the third largest economy in Asia. It is a trillion dollar economy and has joined the ranks of the top ten economies of the world. In a knowledge- and technology-driven world, India has demonstrated certain unique strengths – our IT exports for the current year are poised to touch the $50 billion figure; the December 2009 index of industrial production surged month-on-month by a record 16.8%. Cumulative industrial growth is pegged at around 9%. The most noticeable feature of India’s economic growth is that it is driven primarily by domestic demand.

    Yet, we also need to acknowledge that while average growth of around 7% over the past few years has resulted in material difference for India this has not been enough. To abolish poverty in India and to meet our development needs, we need to keep our economy growing at 8-10% every year for the next 20 years. As the literacy levels of our largely young population go up, we will have to ensure that their employment needs are also met which means that we require a rapidly expanding economy and the infrastructural growth of our cities and manufacturing sectors, so that we can reap the advantage of this demographic dividend for our economic growth. This also means that nation building or socio-economic transformation in India would continue to be primary concern of our foreign policy and this is accordingly reflected in our positions on issues such as global trade and climate change.

    I will now turn to the three specific issues that are a part of your deliberations. In doing so, I do not in any way wish to influence or set the tone for your discussions. Instead, I will merely share India’s perspective on these issues.

    Climate change

    Climate change is one of the most important global challenges facing us. For India, it is not merely an environmental issue, but is intrinsically linked with the growth prospects and developmental aspirations of our people. Its impact on the pace of our development is a very clear and continuing concern.

    Our developmental imperatives project a general trend of growth in energy consumption in India. We expect that fossil fuels will remain an important element of our commercial energy mix. The emerging paradigm of global action on climate change must, therefore, acknowledge every human’s claim to global carbon space and take account of our differential capacities. Despite 17% of the global population, our own GHG emissions today are currently only 4% of the global total. Even with 8-9% growth per annum, our energy use has been growing at less than 4% per annum. We are concerned that the developed countries tend towards ignoring, implicitly, the huge adaptation challenge that we face with climate change. Today we spend 2% to 2.5% of our GDP on meeting adaptation needs. There is need for stable and predictable financing from the developed countries, and this we believe should not rely on market mechanisms but, rather, on assessed contributions. There is also need for a global mechanism whereby climate friendly technologies can be disseminated to the developing countries.

    As a country vulnerable to and already suffering from the impacts of climate change, India has an important stake in the success of the on-going multilateral negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are aware of our responsibilities as citizens of the globe and have participated in the negotiations in a constructive manner. It is in this spirit that we conveyed our voluntary mitigation obligations to the UNFCCC in January this year. We were of course disappointed that an agreed programme of action mandated by the Bali Roadmap could not be achieved at Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Accord was perhaps the best that could be managed under the circumstances. It is a political document that can serve the purpose of contributing to the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol and on Long Term Cooperation. It can complement these core international agreements but cannot be a substitute for them. Our collective effort should now be to bring the significant points of convergence reflected in the Accord into the larger multilateral process under the UNFCCC in order to ensure a balanced, comprehensive and above all, an equitable outcome, at the Mexico Conference by end-2010.

    Nationally, we have adopted an ambitious Action Plan on Climate Change, which is not merely mitigation oriented, but is located within a larger perspective of sustainable development. Prime Minister has set up a high level Council on Climate Change to coordinate national action for assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Our announcement of the voluntary domestic target of reducing the energy intensity of our GDP growth, excluding emissions from the Agricultural sector, by 20-25% by 2020 in comparison to the level achieved in 2005 reflects India’s seriousness in addressing the issue of climate change with commitment and focus, even as it seeks to meet the challenges of economic and social development and poverty eradication.

    Till date, the global energy market has been susceptible to non-market considerations which give energy issues an unpredictable and strategic edge. We believe that these vulnerabilities are best addressed through a participatory global energy model and by pursuing a truly open, transparent, competitive and globally integrated energy market. The reality as we know is quite the reverse. Therefore, we visualise that, as a developing country, an emissions reduction strategy to be comprehensive has to embrace both conservation and efficiency. With a large and rising demand for energy, we assess nuclear technologies to be a viable long-term solution in helping us correct the skew in our energy mix. The underlying determinant in this calculus is the environmental dimension and the associated costs of large-scale deployment of traditional carbon fuels, particularly coal. In this regard, nuclear power generation, despite its high entry level costs, provides a way out, particularly in relation to the wider issues of global warming and climate change.

    Nuclear disarmament & non-proliferation

    I am aware that concerns are voiced over the possible proliferation dimension in the use of nuclear energy. This should, however, not deter us from pursuing the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. India is fully cognizant of the safety and security implications arising from the expansion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We must instead work together with our partners to help reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.

    The challenges of nuclear terrorism and nuclear security have to be addressed. We have been affected by clandestine nuclear proliferation in our neighbourhood. We are naturally concerned about the possibility of nuclear terrorism. We have, therefore, taken the lead at the UN General Assembly on an effective law-based international response including on WMD terrorism. India has joined the Russia-U.S. led Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. We believe that the Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010 hosted by President Obama will be an important milestone in our efforts to build international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism.

    The constructive and forward-looking approach that was adopted towards India in September 2008 by the NSG has enabled full international civil nuclear cooperation with India as also our nuclear energy cooperation agreements with major partners including the United States, Russia, France and the UK. These constitute not only a long overdue recognition of India’s standing as a country with advanced nuclear technology and responsible behaviour but have also opened up significant opportunities for technical collaboration. I believe that this change would also serve as an important step towards strengthening international partnerships to ensure that advanced nuclear technologies are only utilized for peaceful purposes.

    You are well aware of India’s long-standing commitment to global, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament. As early as 1988, our then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi presented one of the most comprehensive proposals to achieve a nuclear weapon free world to the UN General Assembly. In 2006, India tabled a Working Paper on nuclear disarmament to the UNGA. We feel encouraged by some recent positive steps. President Obama’s administration has signaled US willingness to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its nuclear strategy and to work towards a nuclear weapon free world. The renewed debate underway on this issue harmonizes with our long held positions.

    We have identified some initiatives that I believe could be explored further as building blocks of a new global, verifiable nuclear disarmament framework. These include: a global agreement on ‘no-first-use’ of nuclear-weapons and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states; measures to reduce nuclear danger through de-alerting, reducing salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and preventing unintentional or accidental use; a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and on their destruction etc..

    We hope that we can achieve progress in the Conference on Disarmament. We will support the emerging consensus in the CD to adopt a programme of work. Last year, we supported the work plan including commencement of negotiations on the multilateral FMCT. On this latter issue, which we see as an important non-proliferation measure, India has had a consistent position – we are willing to negotiate a multilateral, non-discriminatory, effectively and internationally verifiable FMCT.


    Terrorism poses an existential threat to the civilized world. It is a pivotal security challenge for India and in our neighbourhood. Terrorists have sought to undermine our sovereignty, security and economic progress, aided and abetted by forces beyond our borders. Our embassy in Kabul has faced vicious suicide bomb attacks twice, in 2008 and 2009. The Mumbai attacks of November 2008 and the more recent outrage in Pune, have once again demonstrated the barbaric face of terrorism. Terror groups implacably opposed to India continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from safe havens across our borders.

    Open democratic societies such as India face particular challenges in combating the threat of terrorism. The United Kingdom is also familiar with this debate. We are acting nationally to address this through legal, institutional and administrative measures. We have recently amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 to reinforce the legal and punitive provisions, including financing aspects of terrorism. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been established as a federal body for investigation and prosecution in respect of terrorist acts with all-India jurisdiction. Regional hubs have been created for the National Security Guards. The National Multi Agency Centre (MAC) has been strengthened and made functional round the clock.

    At the same time, it is clear that the threat from terrorism cannot be dealt with through national efforts alone. Global outreach and linkages among terror networks are now quite evident and they are becoming more active. The global nature of the threat has been recognized widely. Global efforts to tackle the problem also need to be intensified. Terrorism needs to be countered collectively and expeditiously. It is time that the international community works towards early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that was tabled at the UN over a decade ago in 1996. We must act jointly and with determination to meet the challenges posed by terrorism and to defend the values of pluralism, peaceful co-existence and the rule of law.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Let me turn to our neighbourhood. From India’s perspective, the goal of ushering in a peaceful, stable and prosperous neighbourhood is predicated on enabling each of our neighbors to pursue the shared objective of the development of our peoples. We do not see this as a zero sum game but as a cooperative endeavor, requiring collaboration rather than confrontation, so as to enable each of our neighbours to grow. We do not see this as a compulsion but as a natural choice voluntarily made; a corollary of the inter-dependent world we live in. We believe that our strengths place us in a unique position to actively support the socio- economic development in our region.

    The greatest threat to peace and stability in our region emanates from the shelter terrorists find in the border of Afghanistan-Pakistan and in Pakistan itself. The recent international approaches to Afghanistan, in particular the London Conference last month, are focusing on security and reintegration, development, governance and regional and international cooperation. The issue of reintegration should be tackled with prudence, the benefit of hindsight, foresight and caution. We believe that any integration process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led, and should include only those who abjure violence, give up armed struggle and terrorism and are willing to abide by the values of democracy, pluralism and human rights as enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.

    For the Afghan Government to take greater ownership of security, it is imperative that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are properly trained and equipped. Similarly, in order to stengthen governance and institution-building, priority should be accorded to building adequate capacity to deliver on developmental objectives. It is self-evident that for this process to be enduring, Afghan ownership should go hand in hand with Afghan leadership.

    Afghanistan is centrally placed to emerge as a trade, transportation and energy hub connecting Central and South Asia. The international community must work together to realize this potential. Growing economic interdependence would complement efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region.

    India is an important neighbour of Afghanistan and we share undeniably close ties that have endured through the centuries into present times. Our focus there is on development activity with the aim to build indigenous Afghan capacities and institutions. This will enable an effective state system to improve the delivery of goods and services to Afghan people. Our assistance, now over US$ 1.3 billion, is spread over a large number of provinces in Afghanistan. In addition to several small and medium development projects, India has built the Zaranj-Delaram road and the power transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul. We are also constructing Afghanistan's new Parliament building, a symbol of our common commitment to pluralism and democracy. At the recent London Conference, we have announced new initiatives in the agriculture sector and in institutional capacity building.

    Our relationship with Pakistan is complex. Out of our desire for peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with Pakistan, we have repeatedly taken initiatives in the past to improve the relationship. You are aware that the dark forces of terrorism sought to erase the good that stemmed from such well-intentioned initiatives. We are now making another attempt of dialogue with Pakistan. However, calls of jihad, hostility and aggression continue to be made openly against India. This reflects the real and tangible difficulties that we face in dealing with Pakistan. If the process of normalization that we desire with Pakistan, is to be sustained and taken forward, effective action against such groups by the Government of Pakistan is an absolute must.

    Under pressure and faced with the threat of terrorism in its own country, Pakistan has initiated some steps to fight this scourge. But these steps are selective. Distinctions between Taliban, Al Qaeda and terrorist outfits such as LeT are now meaningless, since they are now in effect fused both operationally and ideologically. We have consistently maintained that Pakistan should bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice expeditiously and in a transparent manner. It should act decisively to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its territory.

    As I said previously, India is making another sincere attempt to initiate dialogue with Pakistan. I have invited my counterpart, the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan to Delhi for discussions later this week. We hope we can build, in a graduated manner, better communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address issues of concern between our two countries.

    With Sri Lanka our political relations are close, trade and investment have increased exponentially, and there is broad-based engagement across all sectors of bilateral cooperation. We view the conclusion of the military operations against the LTTE as providing an opportunity to finally achieve a lasting political settlement acceptable to all communities, including the Tamils, within a united Sri Lanka.

    Our relations with Bangladesh have acquired further substance and scope in recent months, particularly after the very successful visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January this year. Our security related cooperation has developed positively as also our cooperation in infrastructural development in Bangladesh, for which we have announced a US $ 1 billion concessional Line of Credit.

    It is a universally held truth that India’s economic growth has a positive impact on our region. Today, with sustained high economic growth rates over the past decade, India is in a better position to offer a significant stake to our neighbours in our own prosperity and growth. We have made unilateral gestures and extended economic concessions such as the facility of duty free access to Indian market for imports from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. We have put forward proposals multilaterally within the framework of the SAARC or the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation where we have assumed asymmetric responsibilities.

    Turning to our extended neighbourhood, it is evident that with the rapid rise of China and India, the global and regional situation is being re-defined. There is much that is said about China’s rise and its implications for India. There is both competition and collaboration in the dynamic equilibrium of our relationship with China. Both our countries have always thought in civilizational time-frames. Even as we are discussing the unresolved boundary question, we have ensured that there is peace and tranquility in our border areas. China has emerged as India’s largest trading partner. We are consulting each other on global issues such as multilateral trade negotiations, climate change, and in the G-20, etc.

    In the decade ahead, India will have to, as one writer noted recently, provide itself with “the widest possible field of vision” when it comes to China. This will entail not only a multi-dimensional approach to developing relations with China but also creating our menu of strategic options to ensure that we are able to protect and promote our interests effectively in our region.

    Key elements in the India-China relationship like imbalances in bilateral trade, the unresolved boundary question, our dialogue on water resources with regard to the trans-border rivers like the Brahmaputra and the Sutlej point to the complex and evolving nature of our dialogue. The rapid growth of our economies has engendered a search for resources by both countries in third countries and regions across the globe. In some cases we have developed patterns of collaboration with the Chinese, in others, we have been in competition. This is the reality of the relationship. In our own region, which remains geo-politically unstable, China has an enduring strategic relationship with Pakistan, and a growing presence in other neighbouring countries. We are conscious of these leverages that China has developed in our region and realize fully that our relations with China cannot be uni-dimensional, or seen through a narrow prism. Our own relations with our South Asian neighbours acquire crucial importance in this scenario. Our economic strength and increased commitment to the economic development of our neighbourhood in South Asia, sustained dialogue at the leadership level, security-related dialogue especially as it relates to better border management, cooperation in health, education and environment-related sectors, and creating the infrastructure for better intra-regional connectivity and transportation, together with the attraction of India’s soft power are all factors that can be, and are being, mobilized in this context.

    With Japan, we are developing the foundations of “strategic global partnership” with a strong economic and strategic content. Recent years have seen a qualitative shift in relations with defence dialogue and security cooperation emerging as important aspects of our relations. Our relations with the United States are in a new and transformative phase, with convergences in foreign policy priorities, and shared approaches to some of the most complex regional and global challenges of our times – from countering terrorism to working together for energy security, mitigating the impact of climate change to maritime security, nuclear security and safeguarding the global commons to name a few areas. With Russia, our strategic partnership has been continuously strengthened, and our multi-faceted relations span a number of sectors including defence, nuclear energy, space research, science and technology and hydrocarbons. Our ties with France have been further enhanced through regular summit-level meetings and the triad of cooperation in the civil nuclear, defence and space sectors. The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) and the Russia-India-China (RIC) cooperation forums have also helped us engage more closely with these countries in forging ties of dialogue and cooperation on economic and development-related issues.

    India’s engagement with the ASEAN has grown manifold over the past decade and half and is set to get a fillip with the conclusion of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement.

    Myanmar is an ASEAN member country with which we share a border of more than 1640 kms. We have advocated engagement with Myanmar since it is a close neighbour of ours. It is important for India to ensure a peaceful periphery with Myanmar. We strongly believe that any political reform process in Myanmar should be peaceful and not cause instability within that country or on our borders with it. We have urged the Government of Myanmar to take forward the process of national reconciliation and political reform and broad-base it to include all sections of society, including the more than 18 ethnic groups in the country.

    On the security architecture for the region, there is a need to evolve a balanced, open and inclusive framework for Asian countries and major non-Asian players to interact and cooperate to address traditional and non-traditional security challenges. The ASEAN Regional Forum has provided a useful model for such cooperation based on dialogue and consensus in diverse areas such as counter terrorism, trans-national crimes, maritime security, disaster relief, pandemics and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. India is also a member of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). We have also partnered with the international community in deploying an Indian naval presence for anti-piracy escort operations to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Aden.

    Before I finish, let me say a few words about our relations with the UK. The UK is an important interlocutor for us in the bilateral, EU, G8 and global contexts and our multi-faceted bilateral relationship has intensified specially since its upgradation to strategic partnership in 2004. Our engagement is most wide-ranging including high-level visits, parliamentary and official-level exchanges, business interaction and cultural interchanges. President Pratibha Patil was on a State visit to the UK from 27-29 October 2009. There have been regular exchanges of visits at the Prime Minister-level. Institutional linkages have continued through regular FOCs, JWG and India-UK Round Table. Our trade and investment partnerships are both-ways and expanding rapidly. India is the second largest source of students to UK with about 31,000 students. Science & technology is a focus area for our two countries. On 11 February 2010, we signed a Joint Declaration on civil nuclear cooperation which will give a new dimension to our already multi-dimensional and vibrant ties.

    Once again I want to say how delighted I am to be with you this morning and to be given the privilege to be a part of your deliberations. I have no doubt that the MEA-IISS relationship will scale greater heights in times to come which is a tribute to your vision and long-term perspective about the need for the world to engage India more closely, to forge understandings, and to promote more inclusive dialogue with key stakeholders on both sides. I wish the deliberations of the seminar success.
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    PM manmohan singh lives in wonder land wrt to relations with USA,Pakistan and china.

    Rising Above The Region

    Away from the din and fury of parliamentary politics, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is writing a new strategic doctrine for India. That doctrine can be compressed into four words: rising above the region. The theory is simple: to realise its full geopolitical and economic potential, India must rise above local problems and deal with global issues.

    The prime minister does not want a failed neighbouring state to distract attention from the three crucial issues India must confront this decade. These are, first, settling the border issue with China and striking up a pan-Asian economic partnership in an arc curving up from the Middle East to China through to East Asia and Japan. Second, deepening ties with the United States so that by 2020, when the US, China and India account for nearly 60 per cent of global GDP, New Delhi has strong partners in the West as well as the East.

    Third, delivering economic and social justice to the 800 million Indians who today live outside the mainstream. If they can over the next decade be transformed through inclusive economic growth into an asset, great benefits will accrue. The lure of Maoism will decline as prosperity delivers peace, justice, education and healthcare to the poor. This will add significant numbers to India's productive and consumer population.

    These are huge prizes to be won. The prime minister is prepared to take calculated risks to seize them. This includes continuing a dialogue with Pakistan despite rhetorical provocations from Islamabad and growing unease within the Congress. It also means tackling Maoists with a twin strategy of economic development and firm policing.

    To achieve the outcomes the prime minister seeks, India will have to concurrently run three sub-strategies: one, use America and China as tactical partners in the mission to sterilise Pakistan. Both have an interest in a stable, peaceful South Asia. Two, integrate the Kashmir valley with India economically and culturally. The sense of alienation, palpable in Srinagar today, can only be removed if the Valley becomes a natural part of India's burgeoning growth story. Three, be unyielding on terrorism. Talking to Pakistan does not mean lowering our guard. It means raising it. When the prime minister meets his Pakistani counterpart at the SAARC summit in Bhutan later this month, he will deliver a crisp message: end state sponsorship of terror.

    All of this carries a significant political risk. The Congress, under increasing pressure from its allies in the Lok Sabha, will watch carefully how the prime minister's doctrine plays out.

    For his policy to succeed, the prime minister may speak softly but he must wield a heavy stick. Terrorists understand the language of force not peace. They must be spoken to and dealt with accordingly. Their paymasters in Pakistan must meanwhile be persuaded by all available means that Pakistan's best interests lie in closer regional economic integration with India. If they understand this, it will make the prime minister's long-term strategy for India quicker to implement. If they do not and Pakistan has a great capacity for self-delusion it will make the task harder. But Islamabad should be in no doubt about this: terrorism against India will have to end. That is non-negotiable. The prime minister is not the dove Pakistan imagines him to be. And circumstances may help him.

    The recent capture of Marjah province in Afghanistan by US-led NATO forces and the planned neutralisation of Kandahar later this year will remove over 50 per cent of the narcotics money that sustains the Sirajuddin Haqqani faction in North Waziristan and the Quetta shura led by Mullah Omar in Balochistan. This will severely handicap both the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. Contrary to current conventional wisdom, India's infrastructural presence in Afghanistan will grow, not shrink. Concurrently, Pakistan's "strategic depth" theory of a re-Talibanised Afghanistan under veteran warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar could disintegrate if the US wisely decides to maintain a strong military presence in the region even after 2012.

    Meanwhile, a pincer movement against terrorist groups custom-made to strike India, led by the notorious Hafiz Saeed using both covert operations and back-channel talks is crucial if all the bits and pieces of the prime minister's doctrine have to fall into place. Talks and terrorism were controversially delinked at Sharm el-Sheikh. Talks and counterterrorism therefore also stand delinked. While the prime minister negotiates with the Pakistani government with a velvet glove, the home minister will not feel constrained to use an iron fist to deal with terrorism directed against India.

    Tackling Maoism requires a different kind of statesmanship. There are powerful vested political and commercial interests which benefit from the Maoist insurgency. The financial nexus between politicians, businessmen and Maoists thrives in a manufactured environment of lawlessness. It must be broken to give tribals economic and social justice.

    By putting his faith in a highly nuanced foreign policy and security doctrine, the prime minister risks losing personal goodwill if it fails. Worse, for the Congress, failure could damage its future election prospects. The devil of any policy lies in its execution. That will determine how powerful a global role India, as it rises above its region, plays in this unfolding century.
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL- India needs to get over its petty obsession with Pakistan

    The Global Nuclear Security Summit, which concluded in Washington yesterday, was remarkable for its revelation that India cannot hope to be a global power of any significance unless it gets over its petty obsession, as a nation, with Pakistan. At the press conference that the foreign secretary gave immediately after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on Monday, there were as many as 30 direct or indirect references to Pakistan.

    Nirupama Rao is free of any blame for this predicament. Of the 13 questions that she took at the press conference, 11 were on Pakistan. If she had refused to answer any questions on Pakistan because the subject of her press conference was the highest level Indo-US meeting, there would have been only her opening statement and two questions: one about Obama’s forthcoming visit to India and another about the sanctions Obama wants to impose on Iran soon.

    When she tried to brief the press in New Delhi in the run-up to the prime minister’s travel to Washington and Brasilia, the situation was slightly better, but only because Rao firmly told the media that “I am here to discuss the subject of the Nuclear Security Summit…. We are not going to get into country-specific situations.” There was a time when the reverse was true: Pakistan’s obsession with India had become a standing joke in major world capitals, where Islamabad’s resident diplomats, visiting ministers, even its heads of State, who are more often than not dictators in military uniform, saw ghosts of India in their own shadows, under their beds and behind drawn curtains.

    The lowest point in Pakistan’s notoriety over this obsession was on April 6, 1995, when Benazir Bhutto was escorted to the US Senate floor by the late Jesse Helms, long-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and introduced thus: “The Foreign Relations Committee has had the honour of welcoming the distinguished Prime Minister of India and I wish to bring her to the floor.” As Benazir stood there and gaped in horror at the introduction, the Republican senator compounded his sin by saying that the error was because he had just completed “a delightful hour-and-a-half conversation” with the Pakistani prime minister and she was talking mostly about India.

    But Pakistan’s obsession with India is understandable because India is the raison d’être for Pakistan. Even now, historically speaking, six decades after it was born, Pakistan has no reason to exist as a state without India. But what is it that has made the opposite true? Why has Pakistan become the be-all and end-all of Indian foreign policy, not for the government, but in the public domain? Part of the reason is that successive Indian governments in recent years have diluted India’s participation in important international gatherings by arbitrarily introducing an Indo-Pakistan sub-text to the proceedings. Thus the non-aligned summits in Havana and in Sharm el-Sheikh were allowed to be overshadowed by meetings between India and Pakistan.

    Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor Indira Gandhi permitted this because they believed that if India was attending a Bandung conference or a non-aligned summit, those meetings by themselves demanded their total involvement and anything else that could loom large at those meetings under a sub-text would diminish the importance of the big multilateral summits. Such diversions as those that occurred in Havana or in Sharm el-Sheikh did not begin in India’s foreign policy until Rajiv Gandhi allowed his “my-mummy-your-daddy” diplomacy with Benazir Bhutto to get as much importance at international gatherings as those summits themselves.

    When V.P. Singh became prime minister without much experience or interest in foreign policy, he allowed his external affairs minister, I.K. Gujral, to hijack the country’s global agenda and subvert it to suit his desire to leave a legacy with Pakistan. Gujral did it once again when he became external affairs minister for a second time and later prime minister. But in between, P.V. Narasimha Rao brought back some sanity to India’s participation in international gatherings: whether it was because Pakistan permitted no room for normal bilateral dealings with India in those years is difficult to tell.

    During the early days of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s prime ministership, until his ‘bus trip’ to Lahore and later after Kargil, the margins of multilateral summits provided the only opportunity to maintain a modicum of contact with Pakistan. Besides, Vajpayee was shrewd enough to realize that the risks involved in meeting the Pakistanis in New York or Caracas was much less in political terms than of meeting them in Agra, New Delhi or Lahore.

    If India is to get over its growing obsession with Pakistan, it has to firmly and decisively stop meeting the Pakistanis on the margins of multilateral summits such as the non-aligned movement and the Commonwealth heads of government meetings. Any such meetings should be restricted to within the territories of India or Pakistan.

    India’s foreign-policy-makers spent decades trying to de-hyphenate the Indo-Pakistan relationship from New Delhi’s dealings with third countries. To a very large degree, India succeeded in doing so in recent years, especially in its dealings with the US. But if that process is stopped or reversed, it will partly be because the public debate in India has become more Pakistan-centric than at any time since the crisis in South Asia which led to the birth of Bangladesh.

    In a sense, it is futile to blame the media for making it appear that multilateral summits such as NAM and CHOGM are taking place on the fringes of Indo-Pakistan meetings, not the other way round. The summits of NAM and CHOGM are open to the media only during the opening and closing sessions. That means, members of the media, who are more or less captive during the three-day interregnum have to find stories that sell with their news editors.

    Just as an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, they spin stories with an Indo-Pakistan angle because such stories will find the kind of space back home in a way a story on nuclear waste, non-alignment or Commonwealth development efforts will never do. But if India makes it a policy not to meet the Pakistanis at any level on the margins of multilateral summits, such stories will fade out in due course. It is imperative that they must because the way it is now, everything that India does on the global stage has become secondary to Indo-Pakistan engagement, never mind whether such stories are real or imagined.

    Lately, Pakistan’s spin masters have begun to capitalize on this Indian weakness because they realize that it is so easy to unsettle New Delhi through the media. Whether this policy has anything to do with the recent relocation of the former US diplomat, Robin Raphel, to Islamabad is a moot question. When she was an assistant secretary of State for South Asia, Raphel publicly proclaimed that it is so easy to create a storm in New Delhi and proceeded to prove her theory by telling a media briefing in Washington on background that Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession to India was illegal. Her assertion led to such a ruckus in India that eventually Parliament passed a resolution declaring the inalienable nature of Kashmir’s link with the rest of the country.

    Take the case of a nuclear deal which is about to happen between Pakistan and the US if sections of the Indian media are to be believed. Such a deal is entirely the creation of the Indian media and in recent weeks, Pakistan has attempted to capitalize on this and keep the story alive by making statements from time to time which are faithfully picked up and blown up in the Indian public domain.

    The story of a US-Pakistan nuclear deal is like the old tale around the question whether a man had stopped beating his wife. As long as the question is whether someone had stopped beating his wife, the answer becomes somewhat redundant compared to the pregnant nature of the query itself. Similarly, the US has a problem when the Americans are pointedly asked about a nuclear deal for Pakistan. They cannot answer in the negative about any such deal because they have no desire to go out of their way and annoy Pakistan. They obviously cannot say anything affirmative because there is no such deal on the horizon, at least not for now. This allows for men like the Pakistani prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, to thrive on the ambiguity and claim political capital back home under the pretext of fighting for such a deal in Washington.

    On January 1, 2011, India will become a member of the United Nations security council for a two-year term. The country will then have to behave with greater maturity than it has hitherto been doing if that elected term in the security council is to eventually become a permanent seat at the global high-table. It is time for the spin masters in New Delhi to consider how a misplaced and often exaggerated enthusiasm for Pakistan in the public domain can be moderated to reflect the realities of Pakistan’s relations with India and with the rest of the world.
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Foreign policy: India's diffidence problem

    India [ Images ] is a major power today in its own right. While much of the world has started to acknowledge it, Indian policy-makers remain diffident, almost apologetic, about their nation's rising profile, writes Harsh V Pant.

    In the last few days, India has engaged with two major powers -- China and the US -- at the highest levels. Both are vital states in so far as Indian national security interests are concerned and both deserve to be treated with a degree of seriousness reserved for great powers.

    But what is equally important to recognise is that India is also a major power today in its own right. While much of the world has started to acknowledge it, the Indian policy-makers remain diffident, almost apologetic, about their nation's rising profile. And when they interact with major powers, they reveal this weakness embedded in the Indian psyche.

    So when External Affairs Minister S M Krishna [ Images ] went to Beijing [ Images ] to mark the 60th anniversary of India's recognition of the People's Republic of China, he ended up pleading once again for Chinese support for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. It is unseemly for a nation that claims to be a rising power in the international system beseeching Beijing for its support, again and again, and then again, only to be rebuffed. More damagingly, it betrays a lack of confidence in India's own ability to define the terms of debate of its rise in the global inter-state hierarchy.

    China is not going to support India's candidature for the Security Council, at least not in the foreseeable future. If the Indian foreign policy establishment cannot understand this basic fact of Asian geo-strategy, they have no right to be running this nation's foreign policy. And if there is some psychological need that gets satisfied in asking this question time and again why can't it be done outside the public glare, saving the Indian public constant humiliation?

    Every time India asks for China's support and gets a negative answer it underlines China's status as the pre-eminent Asian power that reserves the right to grant India the privilege of being in the Security Council.

    It should also be asked why does India have to waste so much of its diplomatic capital on an issue that is not likely to get resolved anytime soon. And why should India care about this so much. Even as the UN's failures have become self-evident over the years, Indian political elites have continued to view it as an almost indispensable actor in global politics that needs substantial Indian diplomatic investment.

    While this fascination with a moribund institution may not have had any cost in the past when India was on the periphery of global politics, today's India cannot afford to cling on to that same old worldview. India's experience with the UN has historically been underwhelming, to put it mildly. India's interests have suffered whenever the nation has looked to the UN for support.

    Yet for most of the Indian policy establishment the role of the UN in Indian foreign policy continues to be one of using the organisation "as a manifest of our desire to be a responsible world citizen." It is time to disabuse ourselves of the notion that India is going to be a permanent member of the Security Council anytime soon and that too with China's support.

    Instead, Indian policy-makers should work towards an eventuality where India gets invited to join the Security Council by virtue of sheer heft in global politics.

    India's obsequiousness towards China is not the only problem. It's evident in India's engagement with the US too. The Indian prime minister's reception in Washington was no doubt warm. All the right things were said and the Indian government's media managers underlined that President Barack Obama [ Images ] was indeed sensitive to Indian concerns.

    The nation was told that Obama "fully understood our concerns about the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan" and "was engaging" Islamabad [ Images ] on these issues. Again, while one cannot quarrel with these assertions, it has become a regular feature of Indian diplomacy to press America toward securing its own regional security interests. The speed with which India has outsourced its regional foreign policy to Washington is astonishing.

    New Delhi [ Images ] is now reduced to pleading with Washington to tackle Pakistan and to rein in Pakistan army's [ Images ] nefarious designs against India in Afghanistan, in Kashmir [ Images ] and elsewhere.

    It is true that India and the US share a set of common goals in the region. There is a fundamental convergence between India and the Obama administration in viewing Pakistan as the source of Afghanistan's insecurity and the suggestion that the world must act together to cure Islamabad of its political malaise. In recognising that the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan constitute the single most important threat to global peace and security, arguing that Islamabad is part of the problem rather than the solution, and asking India to join an international concert in managing the Af-Pak region, the US has made significant departures from its traditionally held posture towards South Asia.

    But it is equally true that a divergence has emerged between American and Indian interests in recent times. Indian regional policy should be based on an unambiguous assertion of its vital national interests, not on the hope that eventually America is there to pull its chestnuts out of the fire. By failing to craft its own narrative on Af-Pak ever since the US troops went into Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, New Delhi has allowed America to dictate the contours of Indian policy towards the region, doing much damage to India's credibility as a regional power of any consequence.

    The US will only take India seriously when India starts taking itself seriously and starts behaving like a major power. The same applies to China. China is nothing if not pragmatic in its foreign policy. China's support for India's candidature to the Security Council's permanent membership will come when India's rise becomes a reality that Beijing can no longer ignore.

    A diffident India will continue to crave for the attention of Beijing and Washington but will not get it in return. A confident India that charts its own course in world politics based on its national interests will force the world to sit up and take notice.

    For all the breast beating in recent years about India emerging as a major global power, Indian strategic and political elites display an insecurity that defies explanation. A powerful, self-confident nation should be able to articulate a coherent vision about its priorities and national interests without apologies. The brazen display of a lack of self confidence by Indian elites in their nation's abilities to leverage the international system to its advantage will only weaken India over the long term. India should assess its interests carefully and learn to stand up for them.
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Twilight years for our foreign policy

    In the 60 years since Independence, there have been three periods in which India has faced serious challenges in the sphere of foreign policy. In the late 1940s, we were being asked to take sides in the Cold War, then about to get hot. Then, in the early 1970s, the crisis in East Pakistan forced us to do what we had wisely refused to in the 1940s, namely, actually align with one superpower rather than remain equidistant from both.
    The third period in which our foreign policy-making skills are being severely tested is the present. We live in a disturbed neighbourhood. Pakistan is beset by the rise of the Taliban and the insurgency in Balochistan. Sri Lanka has just come through a bloody civil war, with no guarantee of a stable peace. Nepal is stumbling insecurely along the path of constitutional democracy.
    The democratic system in Bangladesh is threatened on the one side by the military and on the other by Islamic radicals.
    We also live in a global world of ever shifting alliances. The United States still seeks to be the sole superpower, but its claims are being challenged by a rising China, a combative Russia, and a less than deferential European Union. Meanwhile, relations between nations, big and small, are compounded by new problems. Once, bilateral ties dealt chiefly with economic, political, and cultural issues. These remain, but to them have been added the threats of terrorism and climate change.
    Given the instability in the neighbourhood, and the comple
    x global scenario, it might be that our challenges are even more daunting than in the past. In this context, it is worth investigating the background of the three men who have primary responsibility for our foreign policy. These are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan.
    Two things are common to these men — their age, and their relative lack of experience in foreign policy. Krishna is 77 years old. He has never before served in a Union Cabinet. His political career has been spent wholly in his home state, Karnataka, where he held office as deputy chief minister and chief minister (he later also served a term as governor of Maharashtra). Nearly 50 years ago he did a Master’s degree in an American university. However, his professional acquaintance with global or international matters since has been slight.
    M.K. Narayanan is 75. Unlike his predecessors as NSA (such as J. N. Dixit and Brajesh Mishra), he does not come from a Indian Foreign Service background. A career officer of the Indian Police Service, he ended up as the director of the Intelligence Bureau. Like Krishna, his lack of experience in the field is conspicuous. Indeed, some have put it more strongly, arguing that Narayanan’s police background promotes a tunnel vision that impedes a wider understanding of regional and global forces.
    The foreign minister and the NSA both report to the prime minister. Manmohan Singh certainly has a more global orientation than his colleagues, a product of the years spent working for international organisations, and of his own interest as an economist in trade and liberalisation. He is less insular than some other prime ministers (V.P. Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda come to mind); yet he is not as personally interested or invested in foreign policy as some others (such as Jawaharlal Nehru). Also going against him is his age (he will turn 77 in September), and his health — after two heart by-pass surgeries, he cannot as easily stand the strain of regular foreign travel as a man 20 years younger. Finally, unlike the NSA and the foreign minister he has many other things on his plate.
    By way of comparison, consider the ages of those with principal responsibility for foreign policy in other countries. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is 61. British Foreign Secretary David Milliband is 44. His German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is nine years older. Also 53 years of age is Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Qureshi. I suspect that the equivalent of our NSA in these (and other countries) is likewise in his 50s or 60s. Age apart, the videshi equivalents of our foreign minister and NSA often also have better credentials in the field.
    To work in foreign affairs or national security requires one to be awake at all hours and alert to all possibilities, to be comfortable with modern technology and to be interested even in obscure parts of the world, and, finally, to be willing to travel long distances at the drop of a hat. To be sure, youth by itself does not qualify one to be a good diplomat, foreign policy expert, or strategic thinker. (Consider the callowness of David Milliband). Energy and alertness do need to be accompanied by wisdom and experience. But the latter without the former can be equally unhelpful. A useful rule of thumb may be to get someone more than 50 but less than 70.
    At the risk of being accused of ‘age-ism’, one must ask whether the recent misjudgements in our dealings with Pakistan and the United States are completely unconnected with the age of our principal negotiators. For the worrying thing is that the prime minister, the foreign minister and the NSA are all the wrong side of 75. In the rocky ocean of global politics, the Indian ship of State can carry one old man, perhaps even two. But three?
  9. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Dao of Deng

    Don’t be fooled by India’s supposed diffidence.
    Along with his aphorism about black and white cats, Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping is perhaps most closely associated with the maxim that China should “adopt a low profile and never take the lead.” If any major country has adhered closely to Deng’s suggestion, it is India.
    There is a healthy debate underway concerning to what degree India’s low profile is a matter of choice. Sceptics point to the small size of India’s diplomatic corps, its elderly leadership, an absence of strategic thinking, and its inherent bureaucratic and political caution as reasons that India’s reserved posture is, in effect, forced upon itself. Another view, equally compelling, is that this is part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the Indian leadership. Military spending has remained deliberately low, India’s nuclear posture has been kept recessed, an increased emphasis is now placed on bilateral commercial and cultural relations, and at major multi-lateral summits, India has gone from being a front-page naysayer to a back-stage facilitator.
    But India’s low profile is also the source of much frustration among some Indian internationalists. (Click here, for a recent articulation of this view.) In their estimation, India now has the means to project power well beyond its borders. It should be taking advantage of its new-found heft in its bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagements. And it continues to plead for permission, when it should either rightfully get what it wants or pursue its interests relentlessly. India’s low profile is not just the source of frustration for many Indians, but also for many outside the region as well. In the United States, proponents of a stronger India wonder why it has not done more to establish its credentials as a stakeholder in the international system by contributing more to the global commons. Many are also concerned that India is not actively promoting its brand of democracy. Strategists in East and Southeast Asia hope that India will exert greater influence in the region, providing a stable balance with the United States and China. I have even heard Africa experts asking when India is expected to “arrive” on that continent.
    On the matter of whether India’s peaceful rise is a problem, few have articulated it better than former Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew. At the same time, there are a number of reasons to be sceptical of the base assumptions of the argument that India is really all that diffident, let alone whether that is a sign of weakness. For example, did India actually beg China for a UNSC seat, as some would have it? So it would seem, at least according to the headlines. But read Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’’s speech in full, and you will find but a single mention of UN reform. In passing. And observe the language used: “Indeed, even on the complex issue of UN reform, it is perhaps time for China to review previously held positions and welcome the presence in the Security Council of a nation with which it has much in common.” That doesn’t sound much like begging or his craving attention. The overall tenor of the speech, in fact, is one reinforcing parity between India and China (leaving aside whether that is deserved). The line on a UNSC seat may get the attention of the media; strategic commentators, by contrast, should be expected to dig a bit deeper.
    Similarly, has India in fact been reduced to pleading with the United States about Pakistan? Well, not exactly, going by recent trends. In Washington, India is, in fact, seen as not being subservient enough to American objectives on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which is periodically resuscitated to the detriment of the bilateral relationship, or even on Afghanistan, where India continues to play an active, independent role as a provider of development assistance and infrastructure. India has yet to withdraw a consulate under international pressure, or diminish its security presence in Afghanistan (by some reports, its footprint has only increased). And if India seems helpless to do anything about Pakistan, it finds itself in the august company of all the other major world powers, the United States and China included.
    One last point. It’s important, as part of this debate, for us Indians not to get ahead of ourselves. Certainly, India’s growing latent power can increasingly be leveraged to advance its interests. But there is still a considerable distance for India to go before it can afford to fall prey to hubris.
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    India's Peaceful Rise

    Even though the economy's annual growth rate has been 8% to 9% for the last five years, India's peaceful rise hasn't led to unease over the country's future. Instead, Americans, Japanese and western Europeans are keen to invest in India, ride on its growth and help develop another heavyweight country.

    I recently had the opportunity to visit New Delhi twice. In November JPMorgan Chase (nyse: JPM - news - people ) brought its international advisory board, its European board and its principal officers from many parts of the world to the city for a two-day meeting. And earlier this month Citigroup (nyse: C - news - people ) invited me to speak along with the bank's top leaders at an Asia-Pacific Business Leaders' Summit there. Two of the largest U.S. banks consider India to be a growth story and are eager to service American and Indian companies. I did not detect any anxiety over India becoming a problem to the present world order.

    Why has China's peaceful rise, however, raised apprehensions? Is it because India is a democracy in which numerous political forces are constantly at work, making for an internal system of checks and balances? Most probably, yes--especially as India's governments have tended to be made up of large coalitions of 10 to 20 parties.

    One example of India's "checks and balances" at work was the suspension of its talks on a U.S. nuclear power deal. Although this deal is manifestly in India's interests, 60 communist MPs--part of the Congress Party-led coalition government--opposed the deal. Subsequently, the Communists allowed negotiations to resume, reserving their position on the outcome. India's development will, from time to time, run into domestic obstruction.

    Contrast this with the singleness of purpose in policy and its execution displayed by China's Communist government.

    India's navy has an aircraft-carrier force; its air force has the latest Sukhoi and MiG aircraft; its army is among the best trained and equipped in Asia. India can project power across its borders farther and better than China can, yet there is no fear that India has aggressive intentions.

    Could this be because India is surrounded by states in turmoil? Pakistan is in crisis; a bad outcome there will increase the terrorist threat to India. As Pervez Musharraf is now an elected civilian president, he won't have the same command over the army he has had as army chief. And any other elected president will have even less sway over the military. Nepal is a deeply divided and troubled country. Sri Lanka is embroiled in an unending civil war, with the Tamil Tigers carrying out endless suicide bombings. India obviously has preoccupations enough to keep its focus fixed on its border regions.

    Different Impact

    Suppose China were also a democracy with multiple parties and political power bases? Would a multiparty China with a yearly economic growth rate of 9% to 12% be viewed with the same equanimity as India is? Such a China would probably continue to make big strides on the economic, social and military fronts, with more sophisticated capabilities on the ground and sea and in the air and space, and would eventually become a peer competitor, if not an adversary, of the U.S.

    The speed of China's change and the thoroughness, energy and drive with which the Chinese have built up their infrastructure and pursued their goals spring from their culture, one that is shared by the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese, who adopted the Chinese written script and absorbed Confucian culture. The Chinese are determined to catch up with the U.S., the EU and Japan. Fast-forward 20 to 30 years and the world will have to accommodate a more technologically advanced and economically more sophisticated China, whether under a single- or multiparty system.

    India does not pose such a challenge--and won't until it gets its social infrastructure up to First World standards and further liberalizes its economy. Indeed, the U.S., the EU and Japan root for India because they want a better-balanced world, in which India approximates China's weight.

    The Indian elite also speak, write and publish in English. They hold a wide range of diverse views--and to the degree that Amartya Sen, a Nobel winner in economics, entitled one of his books The Argumentative Indian. Few Chinese, on the other hand, speak--let alone write in--English, and what they publish in Chinese doesn't always disclose their innermost thoughts.

    What if India were well ahead of China? Would Americans and Europeans be rooting for China? I doubt it. They still have a phobia of the "yellow peril," one reinforced by memories of the outrages of the Cultural Revolution and the massacres in Tiananmen Square, not to mention their strong feelings against Chinese government censorship. China will have to live with these hang-ups. To reinforce the idea that theirs will be a peaceful path going forward, the Chinese have rephrased the term "peaceful rise" to "peaceful development." Greater openness and transparency in Chinese society would also help.

    Singapore and Southeast Asia (Asean), sandwiched between these two behemoths, need China and India to achieve a balanced relationship, one that allows both to grow and prosper, pulling up the rest of Asia--East, Southeast and South--with them.
    Lee Kuan Yew, minister mentor of Singapore; Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author; Ernesto Zedillo, director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and former president of Mexico, rotate in writing this column. To see past Current Events columns, visit our Web site at
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Another nice piece by M K Bhadrakumar showing the glaring novice indian foreign policy.with 3 most novice people(manmohan singh,Sm krishna, Tharoor) handling indian foreign policy it was bound to happen.Now their posistion is like khisiyani billi khamba noche.

    The flying Sikh and the peacenik

    By M K Bhadrakumar

    Senior Indian officials in their private briefing insist there was "almost a Zen-like spiritual quality" to the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United States President Barack Obama in Washington last Sunday. However, the question being posed by the Indian strategic community is still: "Does Obama care about India?"

    At the bottom of such poignantly contrasting characterizations of statecraft lie two factors. First, the residual feudal mindset of the Indian invariably attributes what are in reality flaws in policies to personal vagaries in the thinking of the leader. It's not so simple. Statecraft is a complex crucible where the witches brew is a broth of many strange ingredients that might or might not include "a pilot's thumb, Wreck'd as homeward he did come", as the first witch in William Shakespeare's Macbeth claimed.

    Second, generally speaking, India faces an existential dilemma insofar as it is never quite willing to admit it is solely responsible for giving its own life meaning and living that life passionately and sincerely. It fails to account for its "leap of faith", a phrase commonly attributed to the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard - believing in or accepting something intangible or unprovable without empirical evidence.

    Sunday's meeting between the "flying Sikh and the peacenik" - to borrow the words of an Indian editor - was keenly awaited. There is a lot of angst in Delhi about the orientations of the Obama administration's South Asia policies. Somehow the fizz has gone out of the US-India relationship. This was most conspicuous from the fact that the two sides almost underplayed the Manmohan-Obama meet. The usual hype was lacking in the White House press statement.

    According to the Indian strategic community in Delhi, the fault lies entirely at the doorstep of the Oval Office. Simply put, Obama is a different man from George W Bush, who was by implication a passionate lover of India through a longstanding family relationship with the country.

    Is Obama the real problem in US-India relationship today? Is it that he does not really care for India? An answer can be faithfully derived only if a close look is at taken the three main "fault lines" in current US-India ties: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific.

    The Indian strategic thinkers take umbrage that the Obama administration is determined to end the fighting in Afghanistan and as a means of securing that objective, seeks the Taliban's reintegration and reconciliation. They feel badly let down. They want the fighting to go on and on till the Taliban are bled white and vanquished from the face of the earth.

    They are unwilling to concede that the Taliban could be essentially a homegrown Afghan movement that outsiders have cynically manipulated over years. Thus, they feel "deeply disturbed" about what is unfolding and feel cheated that the Obama administration "shunned advance consultations on Afghanistan with its Indian partners".

    The fact of the matter, however, is that those Indians are almost completely alone in the region in clinging on to their one-dimensional view of the Taliban as a 100% Pakistani clone. Almost all major regional powers of consequence to the Afghan situation - Iran, China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Central Asian states - agree on the limited point that there is need of an inclusive pan-Afghan solution to the present problem if the peace dividends are to be enduring.

    In Delhi, arguably, the Indian establishment also has grudgingly come to be aware that the "reintegration" of the Taliban is something that mainstream Afghan opinion itself desires and the international community seeks and India, therefore, doesn't have the locus standii to be unilaterally prescriptive.

    But the so-called Indian hawks shall have nothing of such blasphemous thoughts.

    There is also some sophistry here. The heartache among the Indian hawks about the reconciliation with the Taliban is actually all about their deeply flawed assessment of the Afghan situation in the past eight years. The sad reality is that the overwhelming bulk of the Indian strategic community has no clue about the fundamental aspects of the Afghan problem and harbors simplistic notions about its long-term ramifications for regional security and stability not only with regard to South Asia but Central Asia as well.

    Until very recently, they fancied an Indian military deployment in Afghanistan and an open-ended war in which India and the US as allies work tirelessly toward purging the Hindu Kush of the Taliban movement through the use of force.

    A Clausewitzean war
    The Indians never really comprehended at anytime during the past eight years or so that this has been a Clausewitzean war that is also linked to the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a world security body, the long-term US military presence in "Inner Asia" and the US's containment strategy toward China's rise and Russia's resurgence. The result has been plain to see. Pakistan was shrewd enough to assess the potentials of the war and to work out its geopolitical positioning, whereas Indians find themselves in near-total isolation.

    Besides, Indians overlook that Obama represents the US interests and his mandate is to show "results" in an increasingly hopeless war that is becoming unpopular in the West. The Afghan conflict has become unsustainable politically and financially over the medium term and become a futile war that is locked in stalemate with no real victors.

    Also, a gifted politician like Obama has no intention of committing political hara-kiri as the campaign for the presidential election of 2012 draws close. He cannot continue with the war simply for the sake of pleasing the Indians and getting the US-India partnership in the "war on terrorism" to be waged ad infinitum. For argument's sake, it is highly doubtful such misconceptions would have figured even in Bush's grotesque world view.

    Obama has an extremely erudite mind and sizes up that despite the shenanigans of the Pakistani military, he needs to forge a working relationship with Islamabad to extract as much cooperation as possible in bringing the fighting in Afghanistan to an end. All indications are that Obama conveniently looks away from raising dust over the Pakistani generals' doublespeak in the fight against terrorism since he is coolly logical about his priorities at this point in time.

    He estimates that just as in Delhi, the political elites in Islamabad also have a zest to be co-opted as the US's principal instrument of geo-strategy in South Asia. He will be extremely unwise not to exploit the factors of advantage in the US's favor.

    Having said that, Obama isn't overlooking, either, that the Indians almost instinctively sweat under their collar as he forges closer working relationships with the Pakistanis. He has therefore repeatedly made assuaging gestures toward the Indian leadership, stressing that the long-term imperatives of US-India relationship are not to be hyphenated with the emerging US-Pakistan partnership in Central Asia. Alas, he cannot help it if US-Indian cooperation in critical fields such as agriculture or education do not appear sexy enough to the Indian strategic community.

    Despite Delhi's claims to be an emerging regional power, the hard reality is that relations with Pakistan remain the core issue in its foreign policy. A senior Indian journalist present at the Indian officials' briefing in Washington on the Manmohan-Obama meet on Sunday pointed out that there were as many as 30 direct or indirect references to Pakistan and, in fact, during the Q&A, 11 out of 13 questions from the media persons related to Pakistan. As he pointed out, "If she [the Indian official] had refused to answer any questions on Pakistan because the subject of her press conference was the highest level Indo-US meeting, there would have been only her opening statement and two questions: one about Obama's forthcoming visit to India and another about the sanctions Obama wants to impose on Iran soon."

    Obama can't pressure Pakistan
    To be fair to the Indian strategists, a huge and almost unbridgeable hiatus has appeared between the Indian expectations of the US pressuring Pakistan to do away with its terrorist infrastructure and the US's alleged unwillingness to apply such pressure on the Pakistani military. This is most evident in the Obama administration's dogged refusal to give Indian intelligence direct access to interrogate David Coleman Headley, a prime suspect behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, aside from allowing Delhi to extradite him.

    The Indians have a point in saying that in a comparable situation over the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the Americans would have bombed India to the Stone Age if Delhi refused to hand over its own Headley. Especially if it insisted on keeping him behind the purdah (veil) somewhere in detention in a south Indian city and argued that it had a "plea bargain" with him.

    But then, these are the realities of world politics. The US never ever has hidden its inability to treat other nations as equals or its John Waynesque ways in world politics: that might is right under all circumstances. Neither has it given up its prerogative to pursue its national interests first and foremost even at the cost of other nations sacrificing theirs.

    To be sure, if the Indian perceptions of recent years in the promised land of the US-India strategic partnership turned out to be full of weeds and bleached bones, is it Obama who is at fault? The Indians could have easily learnt from the Iranians who live in their close neighborhood or the Iraqis in Mesopotamia who were their ancient partners in the civilized world millennia ago, how ruthlessly self-centered the US could be when the chips are down.
    Yet Obama is an exception. He has not hidden his genuine warmth toward India and all the values of humaneness that Indians can legitimately claim as their historical legacy. More than that, as a pragmatist and patriot, he is intensely aware that ignoring or neglecting the relationship with India will deeply injure the US geopolitical interests in the Asian continent.

    Equally, he has no reason to slight India, a country that he knows to be genuinely enthusiastic about almost everything American, which is extremely rare nowadays to find on this planet.

    All the same, Obama's primary loyalty will still be toward his own American people. He must give overriding priority to safeguarding America's homeland security and the American facilities and lives overseas and as Vladimir Lenin once told Leon Trotsky, if it becomes necessary for securing peace in Afghanistan, he may even have to wear a petticoat.

    However, that doesn't confuse Obama's true role as a democrat when his team deals with the tough generals in Rawalpindi.

    Finally, what disheartens sections of the Indian strategic community most about Obama is that he is revamping the architecture of the US's Asia-Pacific strategy. They placed a touching faith in the US's grit and capacity to thwart China's rise and in that struggle, they visualized India's role as the great Asian "balancer".

    It is Obama's misfortune that he is presiding over the global economic downturn as it exposes the US's inexorable decline as a superpower. At any rate, the Indians were naive to have overlooked that the US and China were locked in a deadly embrace of interdependence that didn't allow them the luxury of going beyond an occasional sparring. The bitter truth is the Indians are unwilling to admit that they misread the tea leaves when Condoleezza Rice led them up the garden path and today they would rather place the blame on Obama.

    They are unwilling to ask searching questions about the entire basis of the global vision that the Indian policy makers subscribed to in the recent years, especially since 2005. Is Obama to be held responsible for India's gross neglect of its neighborhood policy, its cavalier demolition of India's traditional ties with Iran, the deliberate atrophying of its profoundly strategic partnership with Russia or India's unpardonable failure to come to terms with China' rise?

    Again, the US is justified in securing its hardcore interests by striving to establish a vice-like grip over Indian policies but ultimately it should have been up to the Indian leadership to have created space for the country to maneuver in the highly volatile international system in order to pursue their interests rather than be boxed in.

    There is no way Indians can justify their failure to pursue an independent foreign policy. If they find themselves today sitting on the ground and telling "sad stories of the death of kings", is it Obama who is at fault?

    The existential angst in the Indian mind is in actuality nothing else than the experience of human freedom and responsibility. India is an emerging power in the world order and it cannot insist on living an inauthentic existence.
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Tharoor’s ‘too clever for his own good’ brand of politics led to his undoing

    NEW DELHI: When Shashi Tharoor rose to lay the papers listed against his name in the Rajya Sabha during an initial Parliamentary sitting of UPA’s second stint in power, his involved and accented English rendition of an uninspiring House ritual was met with stifled sniggers. Among those who were suppressing a smile were also some in Congress. Mr Tharoor, it would appear, will take a long time to wipe off those smiles.

    From the outset, the junior minister of state has found it hard to get his steps right in the complex world of Indian politics. The United Nations diplomat, with “a lifetime in international public life” as he described it himself in a TV interview, might have only himself to blame when he examines why the same sweet phrase may not be able to describe his stint in Indian public life.

    His outsider status and his attempts to play it up rather than assimilate into picture have had a role in the way his party and the political class as a whole has reacted to him. With Mr Tharoor came two entities who became an inextricable part of the Tharoor persona — first, the ubiquitous social networking tool, Twitter, and the other, his officer on special duty (OSD) Jacob Joseph, who also came fitted with a Twitter extension.

    Before the Kochi IPL controversy blew in his face, Mr Tharoor was regularly courting trouble with his tweets on issues such as Congress’ austerity drive and his comments on India’s change of visa rules. Even the more technologically evolved Indian netas just don’t get the medium. So, it is not really surprising that it all really began with Mr Tharoor’s tweet on travelling “cattle class” in deference to “our holy cows” . The fat was in the fire and from across political divide came the first call for his resignation. Mr Tharoor’s OSD made matters worse by enlisting support for the beleaguered minister on the virtual world. He even posted a photograph of a tired Mr
    Tharoor snoozing during a “cattle class” or economy class Kerala trip.

    Mr Jacob’s large presence in all issues connected with Mr Tharoor has come to haunt the minister in the current IPL row. If he was the one to have introduced an absurd angle to Kochi tangle by alleging that Mr Tharoor was being threatened by the Dawood Ibrahim gang, then evidence about his possible involvement in the bidding process for the Kochi IPL made Mr Tharoor’s position more precarious. Mr Tharoor might have been able to invoke sexism to take on critics who charged that his close friend, Sunanda Pushkar’s , stake in the Kochi team, was pay-off for his help. However, with Mr Jacob, charges of the OSD doubling up as a deal-maker might have dealt a death blow to Mr Tharoor’s attempts to climb out unscathed from the Kochi mess.

    Off the twitter net, there were a number of other utterances that did not go unheeded in the media. Thus if Congress leaders were peeved at Mr Tharoor’s reading of the late Jawaharlal Nehru’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s impact on Indian foreign policy, then he had definitely broken a lot of unwritten rules in suggesting an interlocutory role for Saudi Arabia in Indo-Pak talks.

    Mr Shashi Tharoor denied the latter statement and blamed the media for misrepresenting him on Nehru and Gandhi conducting foreign policy like a “moralistic running commentary” on other’s behaviour. However, the impression gained ground that Mr Shashi Tharoor was “going too far” as Congress leaders increasingly came to characterise his moves. What they were essentially saying was that he was being too clever for his own good. They seem to have been vindicated by the ongoing controversy surrounding the Kochi IPL franchise.

    Perhaps, Mr Tharoor attempted to break into the slippery world of cricket politics that cannot be mastered without knowing the rules of the game first. His missteps in politics have been drowned out by the unholy mix of cricket, money and corruption thrown up by IPL. This is the big daddy of political deal-making and Mr Tharoor’s “lifetime in international public life” might not have prepared him for its intricacies.
  13. BlackSonic

    BlackSonic New Member

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Oye...bas kar yar...copy past kiye jaa raha hai....
    Oracle and ajtr like this.
  14. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    US strategy made China assertive towards India: Saran

    New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Pitching for an inclusive regional architecture in Asia, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran Monday said America's strategy of offering China co-leadership role after the global financial crisis increased Chinese assertiveness to the detriment of India.

    'In my view, the US effort to co-opt China in its recovery strategy, by offering the latter the prospect of global co-leadership has failed,' said Saran at a lecture at the India Habitat Centre.

    The lecture, entitled 'Geopolitical Consequences of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis: A Reassessment after One Year', was organised by the National Maritime Foundation, a think tank, and presided over by former naval chief Admiral Arun Prakash.

    'The Chinese perceived the US invitation as evidence of US infirmity and therefore an opportunity for strategic assertiveness by China,' Saran said, adding that Beijing tried to use its trillion dollar surplus to change the geopolitical pecking order permanently in its favour.

    'Such perceptions also led China to adopt a more muscular and sometimes overbearing, posture vis-a-vis other major powers such as Japan, the European Union and India,' he said.

    Linking up the geopolitics of the financial crisis to its impact on India's interests, Saran pointed out that US President Barack Obama's last-minute refusal to meet the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in the White House last year was an encouragement to Beijing to get more assertive.

    'But the fallout of this presidential deference to Chinese sensitivity was that the Chinese, in their posture towards India, became increasingly vocal in their opposition to His Holiness' proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh; even our own prime minister's visit to the state provoked strong criticism.'

    Saran stressed that the 'US expectations of any quid pro quo from China were thoroughly belied during Obama's visit to China in October last year', and warned of the dangers of the much speculated G2 condominium to the stability of the world.

    'Neither condominium nor confrontation between the two is in India's interest,' he said, adding that New Delhi's strategic space and room for manouevre since the Cophenhagen summit on climate change has increased and should be leveraged judiciously.

    Pointing out that the revival of the global economy was uneven across countries and regions, Saran pitched for a new regional architecture in Asia.

    'India's preference is for an open, inclusive and loosely structured architecture both in the economic and security fields.

    'Building coalitions with other major powers, wherever interests converge and whenever opportunities arise, will continue to offer the best prospects for safeguarding and promoting India's interests,' Saran said, while urging India to retain strategic flexibility in dealing with a changing global geopolitical landscape.
  15. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The towers of Ilium

    Sandhya Jain

    Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

    Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss… -- Christopher Marlowe

    Ms Sunanda Pushkar’s memorable encounter with the former Minister of State for External Affairs has seriously dented Mr Shashi Tharoor’s political career even as she has withdrawn, leaving behind the embers of an imploding Indian Premier League. It seems difficult to conceive how modern India’s most original and successful international show can go on.

    Yet Tharoorgate affords an opportunity to revisit the dangers posed by India’s dangerous open-door policy towards foreign nationals; the ill-heeded warning by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav against hasty introduction of the women’s reservation Bill; and the non-transparency of people in public life.

    When Congress gave the Thiruvananthapuram ticket to the wannabe UN Secretary-General in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, there was no hint that he was seeking divorce from his Canadian wife Christa Giles. She was conspicuous by her absence during the campaign, but one assumed she was keeping a low profile to avoid a ‘foreign spouse’ controversy.

    Mr Tharoor was in office for nearly 10 months when the storm unleashed by then IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s tweet revealed that the Minister is (was?) engaged to Ms Sunanda Pushkar, also a Canadian citizen, and currently employed in Dubai. It seems likely that Mr Tharoor met her when serving in the Dubai-based investment firm, Afras Ventures, and remained in touch via nearly 14 trips to the city during his brief stint in South Block.

    It is possible she followed him to Delhi with a plan to make him ‘mentor’ of an IPL franchise in lieu of handsome free ‘sweat’ equity for his future wife. Dubai is also where Mr Tharoor met Mr Jacob Joseph, who became his OSD and whose father reputedly owns a hefty stake in Afras. It is unknown if Afras founder NK Radhakrishnan has officially invested in the Kochi IPL franchise that is technically owned by an entity called Rendezvous Sports World.

    Neither Ms Pushkar nor Mr Tharoor seem likely candidates for conceiving and executing such a grand strategy to put together one of the costliest IPL franchises ($ 333.33 million), that too, in a State like Kerala where sporting facilities are poor and the known sponsors are mainly non-Malayalis! Unlike Reliance Industries, Sahara Group or India Cements, both lack wealth of the kind that permits a grand personal investment. Hence, given the Income Tax Department’s probe into alleged benami transactions funding IPL across the spectrum, it seems reasonable to suppose they have much to hide.

    As Mr Chandan Mitra has pointed out in “When the umpire becomes batsman” (‘The Cuttin Ed’, April 18), it strains credulity to believe that unknown businessmen or a suspended Maharashtra transport official could invest over Rs 1,000 crore and outbid a consortium led by the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group. More tasteless was the attempt to implicate Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Given Mr Tharoor’s frequent visits to Dubai and his deputing Mr Jacob Joseph to attend official meetings in connection with IPL’s Kochi franchise, there is a clear case for invoking the Prevention of Corruption Act to examine his conduct in office.

    Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, spokesman of the BJP, has said that Mr Tharoor’s conduct was not merely improper, but a clear criminal offence under Section 13 (when a public servant abuses his office and obtains for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage) and Section 20 (any gratification other than the legal remuneration by a public servant either in his own name or for any other person creates a legal presumption of criminal misconduct). The Shashi-Jacob-Sunanda trio certainly needs grilling.

    What baffled observers, however, was his mesmeric hold on 10 Janpath and 7 Race Course Road, which made both authorities visibly reluctant to hasten his exit. Whispers circulated that Mr Tharoor obliged the ruling party by fiddling names listed in the Volcker Report on beneficiaries of Saddam Hussain’s oil-for-food programme mandated by the UN. Mr D Raja of the CPI wondered why the Congress leadership chose to project him as India’s candidate for the UN Secretary-General’s post, for which he was too junior, being merely communications chief at the UN and not in any policy-making department. That is why he was not taken seriously in any world capital. With the Congress unable or unwilling to defend him in Parliament, the leadership reluctantly asked him to go.

    Meanwhile, Ms Pushkar’s Canadian citizenship and Dubai residence points to a disturbing internationalisation (read dilution) of Indian identity. Unless we put in place stringent laws to inhibit politicians, civil servants and officers of the armed forces from undue intimacy with foreign nationals, we will seriously prejudice our national security, and political and economic interests. The current scandal concerning a naval officer involved in the Gorshkov submarine negotiations with Russia, and Tharoor-gate, are just instances of the perils that face a society that is excessively open to adventurers at its top echelons.

    It is pertinent that at the height of the controversy, in a last ditch effort to salvage the reputation and position of her fiancé, Ms Pushkar suddenly decided to relinquish her Rs 70-crore equity in the franchise. This happened immediately after Dubai-based Ashish Mehta surfaced as her lawyer, raising eyebrows amongst the cognoscenti as he happens to be attorney to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. By an interesting coincidence, when Mr Lalit Modi recently visited Dubai for an ICC meeting, he accepted the hospitality of Sheikh Maktoum rather than stay in a hotel with other delegates.

    Finally, the Sunanda Pushkar episode is a grim warning of the kind of women most likely to appear in Parliament if the women’s reservation Bill becomes law — locally rootless, but with national and international ‘corporate’ contacts and an ability to ‘fix’ things.

    This is precisely what Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav meant when he said women who arrived under the Bill would be the kind who got “whistled at”. He meant they would be ‘friends’ of powerful men, who would clog the system with private agendas. So shallow is media discourse in this country that he was shouted out of court; it is time Indian politics ended the unholy alliance of business and politics.
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Geopolitical Consequences of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis - A Reassessment after One Year

    Shyam Saran
    India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
    April 26,2010

    Admiral Arun Prakash, thank you for honouring me by agreeing to chair this session. I must thank the National Maritime Foundation, the prestigious organization which you head and Commodore Uday Bhaskar, its driving force, for providing me with a platform for sharing my perspective on what I consider a fascinating subject, with this very distinguished audience. This is the subject I spoke at length about a little over a year ago at this same venue. I thank the India Habitat Centre for once again extending their gracious
    hospitality to me this evening.When I went to Beijing for the first time as a young diplomat in the summer of 1974, one of the impressive slogans of Chairman Mao, emblazoned on hoardings at several venues in the city proclaimed: “There is great disorder under heaven; the situation is excellent.” The first part of the phrase is an apt description of what the world looks like today. The second part is somewhat more problematical, but perhaps there are some positive possibilities lurking behind the scenes of chaos. Chairman
    Mao’s less revolutionary successors, too, may still find some contemporary merit in it from China’s own perspective. In February last year, when I spoke at the Habitat, I put forward, briefly, the following broad propositions:One, the global financial and economic crisis, which hit the world at the end of 2008,was in the words of Robert Altman, “a global seismic event”, whose impact would be transformational, altering, irreversibly the geopolitical landscape. However, it was too early then to discern with any degree of clarity, the contours of the emerging terrain.Two ,the drastic and admittedly, necessary measures adopted by major economies to avert a full- blown economic collapse, would exacerbate the very imbalances that had led to the crisis in the first place. The monetary easing and the fiscal stimuli, running into trillions of dollars, would, in the short and medium term, create a new set of downside risks that may lead to crises further down the road, if not dealt with in a reasonable time frame.Three, at the heart of the imbalance, was the “joining at the hip” of the United States, as the world’s largest fiscal and trade deficit economy and China, its symmetrical counterpart fiscal and trade surplus country. I had suggested that it would take an extraordinary and unprecedented degree of coordination and mutual understanding between the two countries, to wind down the imbalance and attempt a soft landing. I had also drawn attention to the then apparent US strategy to try and co-opt China in achieving this benign denouement by offering the latter an influential role in shaping the emerging global architecture both economic and political, and in writing the rules of a new chapter of the global game. I had hinted at the potentially adverse consequences for India of this emerging “diarchy”or G-2. Four, and finally, I had explored the coping strategies India needed to deal with an uncertain and rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. I had suggested a hedging strategy, which I now describe as “engaging with all major powers ,but aligning with none.” It was also my contention that India would be unable to play a role in its larger region of Asia and the world, unless it did a better job of managing its own sub continental neighbourhood. Since I have often spoken at length on this subject, I will refrain from delving into it today. This should not create the impression that it is less worthy of deliberation. It is not. In the concluding part of my presentation last year, I had tried to identify some of the potential advantages which the changing international landscape offered India, particularly if we were able to maintain our own rapid growth as a continental size economy. In a word, India’s enduring search for expanded strategic space and autonomy, could be significantly enhanced, if we looked upon the ongoing crisis as a historic opening as well. So, where does the world and India find themselves a little over a year since then ? Have the uncertainties become less ? Are the contours of the new global landscape any more visible than they were then ? How has India been coping with the dynamic unfolding of events these past months ? What does the future look like ? It is now evident that the massive stimuli injected into major economies, to avert a more damaging and pervasive collapse, have been successful in meeting the immediate, more limited objective. The latest World Economic Outlook claims that the global economy in recovering at a rate stronger than had been anticipated earlier, though the nature and extent of revival is uneven across regions and countries. This may be welcome news, but the Outlook points to potential risks inherent in the very nature of the revival. Firstly, in major economies, such as the US and the U.K and in several important Eurozone countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, which were already suffering from large fiscal and trade deficits, massive fiscal stimuli and monetary easing have averted immediate collapse only by deferring an even more painful and drastic rebalancing in the months and years ahead. Governments have borrowed heavily to replace private demand and spending.In the US, for example, federal debt, as a proportion of GDP will rise from 41% in 2008 to over 90% in 2020. Interest payments on this debt will reach US $900 billion per annum. The figures are even more alarming in the case of several other industrialized economies. As has been pointed out by the economists Rogoff and Rheinstat, “Government deficits cannot be increased in unlimited fashion. At some point, and generally rather dramatically,markets lose confidence in Governments’ ability to pay and the game stops.” This tipping point may soon be reached in the case of Greece and the contagion may spread to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland. In a densely interconnected global economy, there may be no national or regional boundaries to provide the comfort of insulation. Therefore, it would be fair to say that the crisis has by no means layed itself out. The nature of the dangers are even more serious precisely because there are no longer the fiscal and monetary slack available left to affected governments to deal with another severe crisis. For India, this points to the need for some serious contingency planning to deal with such an eventuality.I referred to the centrality of the US- China equation in dealing with the structural imbalance, which lies at the heart of the crisis. Have the two countries demonstrated a willingness to acknowledge their almost symbiotic interdependence and an ability to work together to reduce the imbalance which engenders instability and risks a mutually destructive action and reaction process ? In my view, the US effort to co-opt China in its recovery strategy, by offering the latter the prospect of global co-leadership has failed. The Chinese perceived the US invitation as evidence of US infirmity and therefore, an opportunity for strategic assertiveness by China .Despite its inferiority in various other components of national power and global reach,
    China saw its trillion dollar surplus as a potent weapon to change the geopolitical pecking order permanently in its favour. Such perceptions also led China to adopt a more muscular and sometimes overbearing, posture visà-vis other major powers such as Japan, the European Union and India.Consider what happened on the Dalai Lama issue. While commenting onPresident Obama’s decision not to receive the Dalai Lama in the White House, before his own visit to Beijing, an Indian political leader observed to a visiting dignitary : “The Chinese frowned and Obama ducked. “ But the fall out of this Presidential deference to Chinese sensitivity was that the Chinese, in their posture towards India, became increasingly vocal in their opposition to His Holiness’ proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh and
    even our own Prime Minister’s visit to the state provoked strong criticism. US expectations of any quid pro quo from China were, of course, thoroughly belied during President Obama’s visit to China in October last year. On none of the issues that the US anticipated Chinese cooperation,be it the revaluation of the Chinese Yuan, the sanctioning of Iran or leaning on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions , were expectations met. Rightly or wrongly, there was a sense in the US, that its President had been treated as a
    supplicant.US frustration led to a deliberated targeting of China rather than as a strategic partner, with common interests and responsibilities. The US had sought “strategic reassurance” from China. Instead it received a lecture on how the US must respect China’s core concerns.US frustration led to a deliberate targeting of China at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, and the prospects of diarchy receded. Both sides miscalculated. Both sides were victims of misperceptions. The point, however, is that the extraordinary and unprecedented level of mutual understanding and coordinated action required to enable the two countries to seek a “soft landing” was not forthcoming. And this raises the level of risk to the global economy and may trigger a new and even dangerous polarization in international affairs.For India, the receding prospect of a Sino-US condominium is, of course,welcome since that would have restricted our own room for manouevre. The reference to India-Pakistan relations and the regional situation in South Asia in the Sino-US Joint Communique, points to the risks we confront in this regard. But Copenhagen created, unexpectedly, an opening for India, to leverage its position as a significant swing state. Faced with an unexpectedly negative and increasingly high decibel campaign by the West to paint China as the “Climate Villain “, thereby temporarily displacing India as the recalcitrant and obdurate naysayer, the Chinese leadership turned to India for support and relief. It goes to Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh’s credit
    that he displayed no hesitation in agreeing to work together with China, to confront and eventually forestall, the Western offensive at Copenhagen. Then, as if someone had flicked a switch, the negative projection of India in the Chinese media, came to a virtual halt. Not that this means a fundamental change in India – China relations, but certainly, restores a degree of diplomatic space to India and increases its regional and global leverage.How we utilize this unexpected advantage is a challenge which I hope our
    policy makers will rise up to. The past year has thrown up some tangible features of the emerging geopolitical landscape :One, even though there is continuing uncertainty over likely developments in the global economy, there is no doubt that the large, emerging developing economies ,in particular China, India, Brazil , South Africa and now Indonesia, are managing the revival of their economies better and displaying greater resilience and dynamism. On the one hand, this is accelerating the overall diffusion of power and therefore promoting multipolarity. On the other, it is reinforcing the shift in the center of gravity of geopolitics towards Asia. Increasingly, it is Asia which will provide the engine for growth of the global economy. However, within Asia itself, the significant accretion of
    economic assets and need for accessing resources globally is already leading to a steady increase in regional security assets.The rapid growth of China’s Navy is a case in point.And this is an issue of special relevance to the National Maritime Foundation and its extended fraternity. Other countries in the region are also acquiring substantial military capabilities and there is a risk that the security environment in the region may deteriorate in the absence of a region wide institutional framework to manage and reconcile interstate differences and potential conflicts .A unilateral assertion of its security interest by any country, such as China reportedly claiming that the South China Seas are its “core concern,”on par with Tibet and Taiwan, would be difficult to accept by littoral countries, including India. For India, this points to the need for a significant upgrading of its naval assets and a much closer security relationship with South East Asia, Japan and Australia. While the US and India have been having more frequent naval exercises in this region,- and the latest edition of the Malabar exercises is currently in progress- it is not clear to us how the US itself perceives the changing security environment in the region and in what manner it hopes to cope with its own diminishing preeminence and reach in the Asian theater. In our interactions in Japan and South East Asian countries, we have come across a pervasive perception that the US preoccupation with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has relegated Asia-Pacific to a lower priority in its calculations. Even if these wars were to end soon, the US may return to Asia to find a vastly altered and probably i rreversible landscape. This points to India developing its own perspective for the region, drawing upon US strengths wherever possible and feasible, but aiming to develop its own network of security linkages with the countries of the region. As I have had occasion to argue elsewhere, the Indian preference should be for a multipolar Asia, no different from our preference for a multipolar global order. We should aim at an open,inclusive and a loosely structured economic, and security architecture in the region. We have the capability to actively contribute, to and participate in , such a framework. Enabling such an outcome should be a strategic objective for our foreign policy.Two, if we look at the past couple of years, India’s hedging strategy has been fairly successful. We have been able to adjust to and cope with a new US administration, whose priorities and preoccupations have relegated relations with India to a somewhat lower trajectory than during the Bush
    administration. We have begun to define our interest in Afghanistan independently of US objectives. The recent Chechen suicide bombing in Moscow, provided an opportunity for India and Russia to revive a regional partnership, including with respect to Afghanistan which helps the two countries to go beyond their largely military hardware relationship. We were able to deflect US and European pressures on climate issues, by forging a coalition with China, Brazil and South Africa and hold our ground successfully. This led directly to US acknowledgment of the influence of this group, when Obama negotiated the final version of the Copenhagen Accord with the BASIC leaders, leaving other actors including the Europeans , out in the cold. The efficacy of BASIC will go beyond Climate
    negotiations. India’s role in BASIC as also in IBSA and the BRIC, offers opportunities to increase its global leverage and relevance. This has helped us to deal with an uncertain and rapidly changing global environment with a degree of confidence. Mr Chairman, let me conclude by summing up the main elements of my presentation :While major economies of the world have been successful in averting a debilitating economic collapse as a consequence of the global financial and economic crisis, the revival of the global economy is uneven across countries and regions. The fundamental and structural imbalances which led to the crisis in the first place, have not even begun to be addressed. In fact,the massive fiscal stimuli and monetary easing to deal with the immediate fall out from the crisis, has even accentuated these imbalances and have made several major economies vulnerable to sovereign default and prolonged stagnation. Therefore, the forces buffeting the geopolitical order are still at work and the global economy remains at risk.India must engage in contingency planning and work out coping strategies in an environment fraught with continuing uncertainty and the very real possibility of new crises emerging.Over the past year and a half, the larger emerging economies have demonstrated greater resilience and dynamism, in particular, the major economies of India and China, but also including countries in South East Asia as well as ROK. This is reinforcing the emergence of Asia as the new geopolitical center of gravity. Asia may eventually become the main engine of global growth, but is also likely to acquire a much higher security profile.As the countries in the region acquire larger economic assets and their security stakes increase, this region will see the deployment of much more significant military capabilities, both within the region itself but also in terms of force projection capabilities to safeguard extra-regional resource assets and transport and communication links. This points to the need for a new regional architecture to manage and reconcile divergent concerns and
    requirements of countries in the region and avoid unilateralism. India’s preference is for an open, inclusive and loosely structured architecture both in the economic and security fields.The prospects for a Sino-US condominium has receded for the time being but there remains the opposite danger of growing tensions instead between the two countries. Neither condominium nor confrontation between the two is in India’s interest. For the present, particularly since Copenhagen, India’s strategic space and room for maneuver has increased and should be leveraged judiciously while this window remains open.There is need to continue with hedging as long as the international situation remains uncertain and in rapid flux. Building coalitions with other major powers, wherever interests converge and whenever opportunities arise, will continue to offer the best prospects for safeguarding and promoting India’s interests. The success of BASIC at Copenhagen is a case in point.India not only needs a big picture or strategic vision. It also needs institutional capacity and a certain nimble footedness in identifying and exploiting what may prove to be short-lived opportunities. Our effort should be use such opportunities to put in place, wherever possible, long term assets. I believe India does have a certain vision of itself and a consistent world view. These are rooted in our history, our civilizational values and the nature of our society and its ideals. Harmony in an increasingly globalized world will need universal values which respect diversity, tolerate plurality of views and are imbued with a strong sense of equity and justice. The Indian spirit, in its finest expression, embodies precisely these values, embedded as they are in our character as a crossroads culture. Again, the world of the future is going to be one in which knowledge not material, will the most valuable resource. The society of the future will be a knowledge society and the empires of the future will be empires of the mind, not territory. I believe that India and its people are well positioned to be the builders of such an empire in the future. And this truly should be India’s “unending quest which began at the dawn of history” that Jawaharlal Nehru spoke so eloquently about at India’s independence.

    Thank you for your attention.
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Outside View: India in a globalized world

    The MEA’s policy planners will have to cast India’s foreign policy in a new perspective and come up with an inclusive mapping exercise. SREERAM CHAULIA takes a close look...

    THE REVIVAL of the long-dormant Policy Planning Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in September 2009 through the initiative of the then Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is a positive step for a country that wants to climb up the rungs of global status and power.

    Policy planning bureaus have played a vital role in foreign ministries of great powers by providing broad direction, outlook and blueprints that percolate through the veins and arteries of the system. The famous Cold War doctrine of containment, for instance, was the brainchild of George Kennan, the first Director of Policy Planning in the US State Department. His ‘X’ article in the journal Foreign Affairs (July 1947) recorded his acute observations on the wellsprings of Soviet conduct and laid out the parameters of a global response to the USSR’s “expansive tendencies.” Encouraged by his mentor — the powerful Secretary of State George Marshall — Kennan and his team of researchers produced the fundamentals that became the bedrock of American foreign policy for decades to come.

    India’s policy planners must always bear in mind that power of any kind is relative in international relations, and accordingly come up with power-enhancement plans that factor in the prospects of other states in a dynamic environment. For instance, if India keeps growing at around 8-9 per cent for twenty years and China stays the course with double-digit growth, both states will be absolutely better off but India will be relatively weaker. If India’s nuclear deterrent improves through our scientific community’s efforts (the latest figure is that we have the capacity to assemble a 200-kiloton nuclear device) but falls below the shifting definition of ‘credibility’ due to the even more rapid weapon experimentation by other powers, we will continue to be subjected to blackmail and bullying.

    Decisiveness about what kind of a power China is and where it is heading has to be a key formulation for the MEA’s policy planners. Just as Kennan instinctively grasped the reality of Stalin’s USSR and made a value judgement that it was characteristically aggressive, India has to make up its mind about its northern neighbour one way or the other and compose a broad set of measures to manage this relationship. At present, vacillation and ambiguity about China’s motives, behaviour and future trajectories predominate in Indian policy circles, leading to a confusing approach that is neither fish nor fowl.

    While some degree of open-mindedness and flexibility, to some extent, are definite assets in the highly unpredictable and volatile social world, Indian foreign policy planners cannot be paralysed with a wait-and-see attitude towards a China that is undertaking a rapid revolution in military affairs and has a predatory commodity exports and foreign investment-promotion strategy.

    Even the booming bilateral trade between India and China must be tempered with comparisons to China’s trade equations with other countries. This will help New Delhi foresee longer-term tensions and avoid a scenario where Beijing can convert thick economic exchanges into unacceptable political domination through lobbies or infringement of India’s foreign policy autonomy. How and through what means China might attempt to parlay its ballooning trade surplus with India (which stood at $16 billion, as of 2009) into a superior-inferior power relationship must be closely monitored and countered. Comparative examples of China’s relations with Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Japan, the EU and the USA must be studied extensively by Indian planners before crafting appropriate defensive and offensive mechanisms.

    Unlike the days of the ‘Indira Doctrine’, when domination of South Asia was a transparent and suffused aim of Indian foreign policy, we now live in an interconnected world where we must register our strong presence in far-flung parts of the world to be recognised as a genuine, global power. Indian policy planners have to revisit lessons from the gradual displacement of New Delhi by Beijing as the pre-eminent Asian power in Africa: first by means of Mao Zedong’s radical “Afro-Asianism” and later through proactive loans and natural resource-centric infrastructure building sprees.

    Be it the 1960s or the 2000s, India has been passive and lacking in concrete tools for courting and winning over African nations and people. It is largely due to foreign policy neglect and underestimation of Africa’s economic and human potential that New Delhi has been left with a tough mission of playing catch-up with Beijing. Given the high priority of gaining traction in Africa, the MEA’s policy planners must devise quickimpact projects, funds and programmes on a war footing that would reconnect African states and societies with their Indian counterparts.

    Contemporary India is not known for ‘thinking big’ on foreign policy thrusts despite the legacy of Nehruvian globalism. The narrow educational and experiential backgrounds of the current Indian political class and the obsessive media focus on just the country’s immediate neighbours have reproduced a frog-in-the-well mentality that discourages knowledge accumulation and production beyond a certain geographical radius or comfort zone. There are, for example, countless Pakistan and Sri Lanka hands in and outside government in India but hardly anyone who has a masterly grasp of the politics and predilections of the Caribbean or Bolivarian America.

    The revived Policy Planning Division should have the luxury of not being entrusted with one particular brief and instead should have the whole world as its horizon. It must acquire the acumen to interpret the direct or indirect ramifications for India of a disputed election in Ukraine, a coup in Côte d’Ivoire, or a flared up boundary dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. Inputs do come into the MEA from different embassies and consular missions around the world, but more than collating in-house diplomatic cables and emails is required to arrive at comprehensive estimates and policy adjustments that keep relating back and forth to the refrain of pre-eminent doctrinal foreign policy principles. Intellectual talents that are outside the charmed circle of power holders will have to be mined extensively for situating Indian concerns within larger contexts.

    MEA’s policy planners should embark on their historic mission with the basic presumption that the entire world is or soon will be India’s backyard. While the primacy of some regions or issues may demand greater attention at times, Indian foreign policy must be ready with doctrines and deeds to exert influence in the remotest of corners. Since all of planet earth and outer space are India’s theatres, a robust and competent foreign policy planning arm to execute this challenging role becomes a pressing imperative.
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    India obsessed with permanent seat in U.N. Security Council: N. Ram

    Hasan Suroor

    Support to the U.S.-led "provocative" resolution on Iran one of the biggest "blunders"

    Sustained efforts needed to push the peace process with Pakistan
    Manmohan Government too has demonstrated extreme vulnerability to U.S. pressures

    LONDON: The Manmohan Singh Government's foreign policy is in danger of becoming hostage to its "obsession" with securing a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and its pursuit of ever closer "strategic partnership" with America, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu , has said.

    Speaking at the London School of Economics (LSE), Mr. Ram singled out India's decision to vote against Iran at last month's crucial meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an example of how these two issues threatened to undermine the independence of Indian foreign policy.

    He described India's support to the U.S.-led "provocative" resolution on Iran as one of the biggest foreign policy "blunders" of the government and warned that it could not afford to commit more such mistakes.

    "One fatal mistake such as the vote against Iran, and who knows what will happen," he said in reply to a question from the audience about the future of the Congress-led coalition Government, emphasising that it was a minority government supported by 15 political parties and crucially dependent on the outside support of the Left.

    In a wide-ranging lecture on "India's Position in the World" as part of the LSE's Asia Research Centre Public Lecture series, Mr. Ram focussed on India's relations with Pakistan, China and America describing them as the country's "big ticket" foreign policy relationships.

    Foreign policy performance

    He told a packed audience of academics, students and policymakers that broadly India had done reasonably in most areas of foreign policy. India's relations with China, particularly, had seen a big leap forward both politically and in trade and investment. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India led to a significant breakthrough in many bilateral issues.

    "India will do very well to keep on course with China," he said.

    Mr. Ram called for sustained efforts to push the peace process with Pakistan and said the difficulties over Kashmir should not be allowed to come in the way of normalisation in other areas of mutual interest. He said it was "clear" that the Kashmir issue was "intractable" but that did not mean that progress on other issues should be held up.

    "Normalisation must go on," he said.

    Mr. Ram commended the political leadership on both sides for promoting a spirit of détente and said that all those engaged in the peace process deserved "full credit."

    "Trickiest issue"

    Dealing with America was the trickiest of foreign policy issues for India, he said and noted that this was one area where the Manmohan Singh Government had been "least successful." There was not much difference between the erstwhile Vajpayee Government's approach to Washington and that of the present dispensation in New Delhi. Like the previous government, the Manmohan Singh Government too had demonstrated extreme vulnerability to pressures from Washington.

    On India's prospects in the 21st century, Mr. Ram warned against some of the more breathless predictions even as he noted the potential and possibilities. Using a cricket terminology, he said India was seen to be "on a good sporting wicket but with uneven bounce."

    Earlier, Professor John Harriss, who chaired the lecture, praised The Hindu 's serious journalism and said that Mr. Ram was best qualified to speak on India, having been "very close to the heart" of political debate in his country.
  19. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Prying Open India’s Vast Bureaucracy

    Published: June 17, 2010

    PONDICHERRY, India — P.M.L. Kalayansundaram calls himself a human rights worker. He runs an organization that provides a variety of services to villagers in this area — legal aid, financial assistance to help them organize marriage and death ceremonies, and free refrigerated coffin boxes that they would otherwise have to procure at exorbitant rates from private merchants.

    On a recent afternoon, he told me that he had been determined from a young age to do social work. He remembered being harassed by the traffic police as a boy. Though just 14 years old, he felt even then that government was supposed to work for people, not against them. He was determined to increase the responsiveness of local officials.

    Recently, Mr. Kalayansundaram has been making use of a new tool in his efforts to improve governance. He has been filing a growing number of requests for information under India’s Right to Information Act.

    The act, passed by Parliament five years ago this week, aimed to introduce greater transparency in governance. It requires all authorities to appoint public information officers and to respond to requests for information within 30 days.

    When the act, modeled on similar freedom of information laws in other countries, was first passed, many were doubtful that it would prove effective. Skeptics predicted that officials would find a way around it. Officials themselves worried that they would be swamped by trivial and vindictive requests that would dilute the original purpose of the law.

    It is true that the implementation of the act has been uneven at times. But half a decade after its passage, it is generally acknowledged as landmark legislation that is changing the relationship between citizens and their representatives; and that has the potential to transform governance in India.

    The experience of men like Mr. Kalayansundaram suggests just how that potential could be achieved slowly, information request by information request. Sitting on a lawn under the hot sun, he told me of the various ways in which he had used the act, and of the small but significant changes that had resulted.

    He told me, for instance, of the information request he had made that revealed excessive spending by local officials on fuel and office snacks. When he publicized the information in newspapers, the expenses came down.

    He told me, too, about an information request he made that revealed that some politicians were paying rent for houses in their or their relatives’ names. This practice, too, had diminished.

    One of his greatest successes came recently, when he used the act to help solve a homicide case that had lain dormant for months. Based on information Mr. Kalayansundaram received through an information request, the police were able to identify a suspect.

    Mr. Kalayansundaram emphasized that his efforts have not always gone smoothly. He talked of recalcitrant officials who held up requests for information and of the death threats he had received. Some opponents had put up posters around his house questioning his sources of income and accusing him of illegal activity.

    Still, his overall sense was that the law was improving governance. “All the officials are scared of R.T.I. now,” he said, speaking of the information act. “They move more quickly. If they don’t answer within 30 days, they know they can be suspended.”

    One of the chief benefits of the law, Mr. Kalayansundaram said, is that it confers something of an administrative weapon that responsive officials can use against less responsive colleagues. It permits, in effect, what the political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta called “institutional competition,” a way for different branches of government to maintain oversight over each other, which is an essential component of good governance.

    Using the information act, for example, a person can provide information to a judge that allows the judiciary to challenge police inaction. Likewise, the law permits honest officials to act on information collected by citizens against corrupt officials in their own department.

    Over the years, the act has been hailed as revolutionary and emancipatory. Last year, President Pratibha Patil said that it had “created a virtual Parliament of People.”

    Such praise seems to be borne out by the many stories of people across the country using the act to uncover corruption and improve public services. According to a recent survey conducted by a coalition of civil society groups, more than two million information requests were filed in the first two and a half years after the law’s inception.

    But one of the law’s primary limitations remains the relatively low level of awareness among citizens and activist groups. Another survey on the law’s impact conducted by the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that only about 15 percent of the public knew of the law’s existence. This figure was even lower among traditionally marginalized sections of society, like women and rural residents.

    Such findings are echoed by Mr. Kalayansundaram, who said that the chief obstacle he faced was the public’s lack of familiarity with the law.

    To remedy this, he has been writing articles about the act in a magazine published by his organization. Once a year, on Dec. 10, internationally recognized as Human Rights Day, he drives around in a van with a loudspeaker attached to the roof, touting the law’s benefits.

    Such campaigns, he told me, were starting to show results. “I’m no longer the only person doing it,” he said of his frequent information requests. “This is going to grow and grow. It will definitely change the country.”

    I asked him how long he thought it would take to achieve that change. “Five years,” he answered confidently.

    “Ten years, or maybe more,” he added.

    “But however long, this country will definitely change.”
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Travesty of democracy

    B K Verma

    The three articles, “Time for honest analysis” by Subhash Kashyap, “The legacy of the Emergency” by Subramanian Swamy and “How the media undermined itself” by Shyam Khosla, serve to remind us how the spirit of people of the country can be crushed under the jackboots of a dictator ruling in the guise of a democrat.

    Mr Kashyap’s praise of Mrs Gandhi that she did not “deviate from the letter and spirit of the Constitution” because she allowed both Houses of Parliament to remain functional throughout the 21 months of the Emergency may be technically correct but if what discourse took place in the hallowed precincts could not be published due to censorship, all the exercise in the closed confines of the Parliament was worthless. I, myself, saw from the officers’ gallery Chaudhary Charan Singh delivering a scathing speech condemning Mrs Gandhi and the Emergency in the harshest of words. The next day, not a single sentence of that speech was published. Mr Swamy has compared the Opposition in Mrs Gandhi's Government with that in the present dispensation. Today the Opposition has been severely compromised. When push comes to shove, those affecting pretensions of opposing the Treasury benches invariably capitulate.

    This situation is more dangerous since what we see today of parliamentary democracy looks more like a theatre of the absurd. In the period of Emergency, the whole nation was in a state of shock eventhough apparently everything worked like clockwork. The citizens got a chance to express their anger in 1977 when the general elections were called.

    Throughout the period of Emergency, people were seething with anger. From my office window overlooking the road to jail, I would see truckloads of people shouting anti-Indira slogans being carted away to jail everyday. It seemed like every youth was on revolt. It was clear that the spirit of free India had not died, whatever may have been the official propaganda. But today that spirit is lacking and what we are experiencing is a poor caricature of democracy.
  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Time for honest analysis

    Subhash Kashyap

    In the 35th anniversary week of the Emergency, let’s read the fine print in the 44th Amendment for a check on whether we are really secure from another spell of dictatorship.

    Every five years we recall the summer of 1975 when the history of modern India was given a wholly new course by Indira Gandhi through the imposition of the Emergency. Now it is time for reminiscing on the 35th anniversary of that fated day, June 25, 1975 and I do so with grave forebodings because the passage of time has eroded much of our moral high ground vis-a-vis that ugly period. It is possible now to be a little more truthful than before, not only because many of the actors of that era have passed on, but also for the fact that we may be moving towards the juxtaposition of circumstances that may prove fortuitous for the inheritors of Indira Gandhi’s political legacy to clamp another Emergency on us.

    But I begin by using my vantage point as an official in Parliament House to stress a point which has so long gone unacknowledged by people arbitrating on what future generations should know about the Emergency. I was then the Director of the Records and Research section of Parliament and can vouchsafe that Indira Gandhi did not deviate from the essential of the letter and spirit of the Constitution. It must be placed on record that she kept both houses of Parliament functional throughout the 21-month period. And any scholar today would marvel at the freedom with which MPs discussed the functioning of government during the period and even got away criticising the Emergency. Wonder of wonders, nobody ordered me to excise the speeches of Somnath Chatterjee and Purushottam Ganesh Mavalankar. At the height of the Emergency the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution was celebrated by, among other things, the publication of a commemorative volume of essays. This 700-page document was released in 1976 and at least four of the contributors — Chatterjee, Ashoke Kumar Sen, Rabi Ray and Mannulal Dwivedi — wrote articles critical of the way civil liberties and fundamental freedoms were being undermined by zealous officials. Sen, who was a leading Congress figure, reiterated: “It is for the government to ensure that all powers to the Executive flows from Parliament.”

    Today, the worst excesses of the Emergency are recalled, and rightly too because we must ensure that it never happens again. But they don’t tell the entire story because those who followed Indira Gandhi did not permanently secure India from another round of abuse. How many of the new generation are aware that despite the 44th Amendment to the Constitution (1978), we are still at the mercy of the Indian political classes’ undemocratic tendencies? The Constitutional legitimacy of the 1975 Emergency, which gave a government the right to declare suspension of the Fundamental Rights in the event of external aggression and internal disturbances, can still be invoked because the 44th Amendment retained the essential privilege of an entrenched regime to interpret the precondition of “armed rebellion” in its favour. The leeway seized by Indira Gandhi in turning Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement to her advantage could, hypothetically, be repeated by the increasingly unpopular UPA-2 with Maoist insurgency. In 1975, all that was necessary was a communication from the Prime Minister to the President impressing upon the highest office the gravity of the situation. The 44th Amendment gave that power to the Cabinet — and everybody knows how powerless the will of the Cabinet is before the temper of the Prime Minister.

    I was awakened to this problem recently at a closed-door meeting of intellectuals and retired administrators convened by a senior minister of UPA-2. It was an off-the-record session, organised ostensibly to discuss the performance of the government at the end of its first year in office. The minister, after his harangue on the “achievements”, finally asked each of those present for their opinions. Surprisingly, not even one of the assembled persons had anything positive to say about the way UPA-2 has gone about its work and most of them even added some grim prognosis. This left the minister visibly irritated and he remarked in his summing-up reply: “If all of you hold this opinion of the government and if what you say is true, then it only shows that another Emergency is necessary.”

    This only shows how skin deep is our political rulers’ commitment to democratic ideals. Those who rest assured that nobody would “dare” impose another Emergency on this nation has, to begin with, a very flawed understanding of our political class. As I had lived and worked under the Emergency, I can say with authority that the common man’s perception of democracy and its actors is so dim today that he would not really protest if firm steps are taken to discipline the ‘masters’ and make them behave as true ‘servants’ of the people. The primal concern of the aam admi is his narrow set of needs. That is why, the aam admi still nurtures fond memories of the Emergency period because it was the only time in the history of free India when trains ran on time; the bureaucrats were accountable for shoddy services; corruption was under check and the rule of Law prevailed in most aspects of life. Apart from the chattering classes in Delhi and some state capitals no one had any complaints about Press censorship and the detention of senior political leaders. The latter was even sanctioned under the Constitution. As for Press censorship, L.K. Advani’s famous observation on the role of the media during the Emergency (“You were asked to bend but you crawled”) still rings true. Today, the credibility of the India Press is at rock bottom and everybody sees it as just another commercial activity.

    The excesses committed by Sanjay Gandhi and some officials made the Emergency very unpopular from the beginning of the second half of 1976. Most of the crimes were committed in the name of “Madam” with the big boss herself unaware of them. It is difficult to see an otherwise astute leader like her allowing atrocities to be committed on the Muslims and backward castes, the same who constituted the biggest vote block of the Congress. Also, because south India was largely free of the Sanjay menace, the electoral fortunes of the Congress in that part of India were not as bad as in the north. The Congress won most of its 153 seats there and its principal ally, MGR’s ADMK, won 19 seats in Tamil Nadu.

    So, the length of time and breadth of vision afforded to us by the 35th anniversary should be seized to introspect on whether or not we have been honest to ourselves on the history of the Emergency. The growing hiatus between the politically powerful and the powerless, the yawning rich-poor divide and the collapse of the moral binding of the Indian State breeds public yearning for dictators. And any smart ruling party could seize the opportunities afforded by the loopholes in the 44th Amendment.

    -The writer is former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha

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