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Moral disintegration of a neighbourhood nation

Pakistan is passing from a difficult phase. The all-dominant Army as well as the civilian leadership should chalk out a comprehensive plan so that the country remains united and overcomes its multifarious problems

Pakistan, which was created 70 years back, was bisected when a new nation, Bangladesh emerged. However, the all-dominant Army and thoroughly corrupt political leadership over there have not taken lessons from past blunders and at present, the country is facing multifarious tribulations which include secessionist agitations by various nationalities, increasing religious intolerance, population explosion, worsening economic situation, growing water crisis, civil and military confrontation, poor education system, escalating drug addiction, rampant corruption as well as isolation in the international arena. These are only a few major issues and the list can include several more significant problems faced by the ailing country.

Pakistan was created on the name of Islam and it was the main adjoining factor of diverse nationalities that joined the new-born nation but Islamic extremists killed, converted or subdued the minorities. Hence, Islam ceased to be an adhesive factor. Punjab, being the most populous State, soon captured power and started exploiting abundant resources of the country and subjugated all other nationalities. In the 1970 general election, the Bangladesh Awami League emerged as the single largest party but the Punjabi-dominated Army refused to hand over power to Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman and the country faced its first partition.

Balochistan, which is the largest Province of Pakistan, and possess copious mineral resources, is the poorest State in the country. Balochis are fighting for independence of the State and there were several uprisings. The Pakistan Army, which is known for its brutality, killed innocent people and bombarded civilian areas but atrocities could not break the resolve of the Balochis and the secessionist movement is still continuing.

Besides, Balochis, Sindhis, Pashtuns and Kashmiris want separate nations while Muhajirs, Saraikis, Chitralis, Hindkowans assert that the federal Government is exploiting them and they want more autonomy. Pakistan, instead of blaming India should give equal rights to their diverse nationalities otherwise the country may have to undergo the trauma of more partitions.

General Zia-ul-Haq with ulterior motive radicalised the country to gain support of Islamic extremists. He created an infrastructure to produce Islamic fanatics and jihadists to fight in Afghanistan and in India. Few Middle East countries pumped money which augmented Wahhabism and it increased animosity between the Shias and the Sunnis. Sunni extremist outfits like the Sipah-e-Sahaba, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat started massacre of the Shias. There are about 35 million Shias and they also constitute organisations like the Imamia Students Organisation and the Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan to take revenge from Sunnis. At present, Pakistan is undergoing a bitter sectarian war which is harmful for the country. The Islamic State, which is a Sunni terrorist outfit, is also recruiting young Pakistanis to kill the Shias and carryout terrorist activities.

Iran is recruiting young Shias from Pakistan to assist the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. These battles which hardened radicalised Shia youths will be a big danger to Pakistan once they return back from Syria.

The Pakistan Army, which has not allowed civilian institutions to grow, painted itself as the guardian of the country and claimed that India wants to destroy Pakistan, and, hence, the country needs powerful Armed Forces. The Army also propagated that it will take revenge of partition of the country and will snatch Kashmir from India. Hence, the Army needs more funds. In this way, the defence forces took a lion’s share of the scarce resources which further damaged the economy.

Senior officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were involved in drug smuggling in the name of financing anti-India operations but as hefty sums were involved, lot of drugs were sold within the country and it became one of the most drug addict nation.

Few terrorist outfits created by the ISI declined to obey the dictates of creepy ISI and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is an umbrella organisation of more than 13 terrorist groups, profess to fight against the Pakistani Government and it carried out several terrorist attacks in the country. The gravity of terrorism can be assessed by the fact that according to South Asia Terrorism Portal, from 2003 to 2017, more than 60,000 persons were killed because of terrorism in Pakistan.

The country is so thoroughly radicalised that it will be difficult to take it out from increasing extremism. Several anti-terrorist operations launched by security forces could not achieve the desired result, partially because security forces only want to eliminate ‘bad terrorists’ and partly because of resistance from powerful Islamic fraternity.

Pakistan is so engrossed in day-to-day problems that it has no time to sort out long term issues. There will be acute water shortage in 2025 and it will further damage the economy of the country as Pakistan’s agriculture is water dependent. Its main crops are cotton and sugarcane and both needs excessive water. Pakistan is not making any sincere efforts to conserve water and within few years the situation will be disastrous.

Pakistan’s population is increasing at the rate of more than two per cent, which is the highest in the region. According to 1951 census, West Pakistan had a population of 33.7 million, which became 194,931,848 in January this year. This unprecedented growth has shattered the economy of the country. At present, export is dwindling while imports are enhancing. The net public debt is more than Rs 18 trillion which is frightening. Pakistan’s foreign debt is Rs 6.14 trillion and it will need assistance either from the International Monetary Fund or China to repay its foreign debt in March 2018.

In the present era, technology is most important – developed countries are progressing only because of inventions and latest technology – while the backbone of Pakistan’s education system is madrassas and in these madrassas, semi literate teachers are producing jihadists instead of scientists, engineers and doctors. The present educational system if not improved soon may become a cause of collapse for the country.

Pakistan possesses nuclear warheads and there was always a danger that some international or national terrorist organisation may procure nuclear warheads by payment or by arousing jihadist feeling in some Pakistanis who have control over nuclear warheads.

In another worrisome development, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed launched a political party, namely the Milli Muslim League (MML) with full support of the ISI. MML had applied to the Election Commissioner (EC) for registration, although this time, the EC has rejected the application, but soon it will have to register the party under pressure from the Army. This time, Yaqub Sheikh is contesting election as an independent candidate. Analysts feel that in the beginning, terrorists may not succeed but later they can capture power and at that time whole nuclear arsenals will be under their command. It will be a scary situation.

Pakistan is also facing acute problems in the international arena and losing friends. Recently, the US put restrictions on the use of $255 million assistance and the ninth Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) summit in the joint declaration not only condemned terrorism but also named few terrorist organisations which are operating from Pakistan. Muslim countries are also not very helpful to Pakistan because of terrorism. Pakistan is passing from a difficult phase and the all-dominant Army as well as its civilian leadership should chalk out a comprehensive plan so that the country remains united and overcomes its multifarious problems.

Moral disintegration of a neighbourhood nation – Jai Kumar Verma is news publisher at Daily Pioneer. this Article is about international news for more visit :

Rahul at Berkeley A confused cacophony

Rahul Gandhi’s Berkeley speech, unlike Nehru’s, was a private affair. Bereft of an element of thought, he expressed his own state of mind and that of his party’s – lacking in direction and cohesion

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech, delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, on October 31, 1949, was titled, ‘The age of crisis.’ One can’t help but express an interesting analogy and it is that the Congress, of which Nehru was once the patriarch, and which is now run by his puny and intellectually stunted descendents, is itself passing through its most acute ‘age of crisis.’

Nehru’s great grandson, who is not at all a chip off the old block, when he delivered a semblance of an address at the University of California, Berkeley last week, should have similarly titled his speech and qualified it thus: “The age of crisis – in the Congress and the role of the present Nehru-Gandhis.” Such a title and topic would have better enabled the audience in the university to understand how one of India’s principal political party is seeing rapid decimation due to its myopic, confused and uninspiring leadership and of how a number of challenges that India faces today is a result of decades of faulty planning, misdirected application of political thought and petty dynastism that the Congress under Nehru’s daughter, grandson, grand daughter-in-law and now great grandson brazenly promoted.

The point on the dynasty bit, Nehru’s great grandson accepted, but in his inimitably callow and confused style, displaying a deep and striking degree of thoughtlessness, he decided to exempt himself and his dynasty from promoting the scourge of dynastism and chose to castigate, instead, our collective psyche for being addicted to it. Had the audience in Berkeley, or at least the self-professed thinking ones among them, examined India today, they would have perceived how it has broken through the manacles of dynastism, of how it is led by leaders who have come up from the roots, from the soil through a ceaseless phase of struggle and toil among the people. This transformation is especially noteworthy because it has happened in the last three years, starting from the summer of 2014. This shift happened not because Nehru’s descendents and their courtiers had ordained it; it has happened and is happening inspite of them.

To return to Nehru’s speech, it was well organised – he was officially invited as the Prime Minister of India – was reflective, ruminative, philosophical and gave an insight into Nehru’s own state of mind, his quest – intellectual and political – and also gave some idea of the position that he wished India would eventually occupy in the comity of nations. On this occasion at least, Nehru did not lapse into lecturing and moralising, it was more of a public introspection of his quest, of India’s march after freedom and of the overall global geo-political situation post World War II. It is another matter that Nehru’s month-long trip to the US in 1949 achieved little in political and foreign policy terms, though it had generated interest and anticipation in the US Administration and among the intelligentsia alike.

Nehru spoke of how all his life he was “engaged in a quest of – the discovery of my own country – India” and how during the course of this life’s journey, he found much in his country that inspired him, much that interested him and much that made him “understand a little of what India was and is today” and yet, his quest continued, “India, with the weight of ages behind it and with its urges and desires in the present, has only been partially discovered by me and I am continually finding new facets of its many-sided personality that continually surprise me.”

Nehru argued that the aim of freedom was to free and to uplift the millions out of their burdens, “there was always an economic facet to our political struggle for freedom. We realised that there was no real freedom for those who suffered continually from want, and because there were millions who lacked the barest necessities of existence in India, we thought of freedom in terms of raising and bettering the lot of these people. Having achieved political freedom, it is our passionate desire to serve our people in this way and to remove the many burdens they have carried for generations past”.

Nehru’s descendents, however, were not as passionate about working out this second dimension of freedom – economic empowerment – as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is today. This section of Nehru’s speech directs one to Modi’s own exhortations today of liberating the millions of their burdens of marginalisation, exclusion and dependency. Nehru’s speech had its flashes of inspiration and makes for good reading even today.

In contrast, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s speech was a confused cacophony. Bereft of the element of thought, full of random and disjointed expressions and arguments, Gandhi’s address – if it may be called one – essentially expressed his own state of mind and that of his party’s – lacking in direction, cohesion, and in intellectual quotient. What could have been utilised as an occasion to spell the Congress’ or the Opposition’s vision of India for the future, articulated in a cogent, civil and intellectual manner, actually degenerated into a rant by a mind that appeared to often plummet into the depths of despair, of mental trauma while displaying an ignorance of the spirit of India, of aspirational India and of its civilisational dimension. It displayed a mind which was occupied in trying to fish in the sand with his back turned to the vast sea.

That Gandhi had not yet discovered India, was nowhere near understanding its many dimensions, was evident from the cavalier manner in which he spoke of the people of India and commented on their mindsets and attitudes and went an extra mile to exonerate his party and family from the contribution they made to their plight. His refusal to condemn the many atrocities, especially the anti-Sikh pogrom, that took place under the Congress’ watch, often aided and fuelled by their cadres, manifested his arrogance, complacency and his incapacity for introspection and directional overhaul. That it was a stunted mind which spoke was evident when people in the audience were prevented from asking Gandhi questions while only crony intellectuals with set questions were given space.

Gandhi’s attacks on Prime Minister Modi, his immature rants against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, his false narrative of an India under siege, have actually breached the golden rule of not carrying the baggage of domestic politics abroad, it is an act which needs to be, henceforth, responded to in kind at every occasion and opportunity.

The narrative in response must describe how Gandhi’s party landed India in a great mess, widened faultlines, left festering conflicts, engineered societal chasms, all for its political benefit and of how now, under leaders from the grassroots, that mess is sought to be addressed, to be rectified against great odds – in short how Congress under the Gandhis subverted India and how India under Narendra Modi is waging India’s second struggle for a many-fronted emancipation from that subversion.

Meanwhile let us be happy that Gandhi’s talk, unlike Nehru’s, was an entirely private affair, was attended largely by dissatisfied cronies who had points to score in India, the occasion prevented a free flow of thought and exchange and was more of a mannequin infested puppetry show. Rahul Gandhi’s address itself is already being buried in the dump-heap of history’s refuse.

Rahul at Berkeley A confused cacophony – Anirban Ganguly is news publisher at Daily Pioneer. this blog is about international news for more visit :

The Brazilian sojourn

I had a rare opportunity to visit Sao Paulo, Brazil, in South America, from August 13 to 21, my maiden trip to that country. Supported by the Reitaku University and Japan Foundation Sao Paulo Office, I was invited to deliver two lectures at Rio Branco Faculdades Integradas (on August 16), and the University of Sao Paulo (on August 18) to undergraduate and post-graduate students and faculty. The topics assigned for Rio Branco were the ‘Collective Self-defence and Constitutional Revision Debate in Japan’, and for the University of Sao Paulo, ‘Japan’s Declining Population and Demographic Challenges’. Unlike students in Japan, students in Brazil were inquisitive and raised some interesting questions.

Having travelled from Japan, I had some interest to understand the old connection between Brazil and Japan. Informal talks with some Brazilians of Japanese descent were revealing. There are about 1.5 million Brazilians of Japanese descent and mostly of third or fourth generations. Many had migrated during the early phase of the Meiji period and settled there. The other country in South America where a large number of Japanese migrants are settled is Peru. Though some of the third generation of Japanese descendants speak Japanese, most of the younger ones speak only Portuguese, Brazil’s national language, and have little knowledge about Japan.

Having grown up in the Brazilian cultural milieu and having been disconnected with a major part of Japanese culture, some educated Brazilians of the third generation shared their experiences, when they had the chance to visit Japan either as tourists or on business or for emotional connection, that they found it difficult to adjust with the traditional Japanese culture. Since they look the same being from the same race, they are often looked with suspicion by the native Japanese as their mannerisms and social etiquette or conduct of public life are based on Brazilian culture and therefore not in tune with Japanese culture. Since most are settled in their new settings in businesses or other professions, there is little incentive for them to return to Japan.

Brazil also finds special focus in the Japanese Government’s foreign policy. Sao Paulo was one of the first countries where the Japan Foundation’s overseas office was established in 1975, within three years of its founding. In order to deepen ties and expand Japan’s cultural presence, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to open the Japan House to have major Japanese activities, such as exhibition hall, library, bank, theatre, restaurant, etc under one roof. Sao Paulo in Brazil was the first city where the Japan House was inaugurated in April 2017, with Los Angeles and London to follow soon. The building looked quite impressive with modern architecture and showcasing various facets of the Japanese culture under one roof. It was impressive to witness a large number of Brazilian students flocking the exhibition hall and listening to the leader with rapt attention about every exhibit. Even the new Japan Foundation office was quite impressive. The library stocked a good collection of books on Japan in three languages – Japanese, English, and Portuguese.

Travelling from Tokyo to Sao Paulo via Paris meant flying from Asia over the Pacific Ocean to Paris in Europe and then after a six-hour transit again flying from Europe over the Atlantic Ocean and reaching Sao Paulo in the third continent of South America over 30 hours of flying time was indeed tiring. But the adventurous spirit took away all tiredness and I was on my foot soon after I arrived on August 14 morning. The following day was India’s Independence Day and I attended the flag hoisting ceremony at the India Consulate Office. I met the new Consul General briefly and other staff. Some Indian residents were also present. The following day, I had a formal meeting with the Consul General, who had joined the office a month ago from his last posting in Paris, and discussed a host of issues, including cultural relations between India and Brazil.

The ICCR has an overseas office in Sao Paulo and being an ICCR Chair holder myself, it was natural for me to talk about the Cultural Centre’s activities in Sao Paulo. I was told that the head of the Indian Cultural Centre was a woman officer who was attacked on the head with a bottle by a Brazilian woman, a drug addict and robber, some seven months ago when she refused to part with her valuables. After this unfortunate incident, the woman officer returned to India and the post was vacant since then.

This is the dark side of Brazilian cities. Some Indian friends had cautioned me on e-mail communications even before I left Japanese soil about this dark side of Brazil, especially to avoid favela (slums and shanties) and to be careful. Even the taxi driver who came to the airport to receive me, a talkative guy and spoke good English, cautioned me about the gun culture and robbery in certain areas but said that can happen in any part of the city at any time of the day. He further said that even Brazilians are afraid of such goons and avoid going to certain areas of the city. It was also revealed that the capital city of Rio de Janeiro was more unsafe than Sao Paulo, even for Brazilians. I wondered if such is the case, how did Brazil manage to host the last Olympics in Rio?

There’s another side to this story. The economy of the country is in a very bad shape. Sao Paulo, the largest city of Brazil with 17 million people compared to 13 million people who live in Rio de Janeiro, is the main commercial city of the country. The economic growth rate is a dismal below 2 per cent. Having spent a huge amount of money on the Olympics, the country is facing a large debt problem. In many parts, economic activities have come to a standstill. The unemployment rate is rising. In order to lessen burden, many companies are doing away with regular employees and hiring part-timers to save costs. Such a situation also fuels social discontent, leading to arson and looting.

A visit to Ibirapuera Park, the biggest green space in central Sao Paulo, was indeed memorable. Inaugurated in 1954 to commemorate the city’s 400th anniversary, the park was designed by renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. One can find a series of landmark buildings in the park that are the work of modernist master Oscar Niemeyer. The leafy 2 sq-km park serves as a thriving centre of the city’s cultural life. It has a large area for leisure, jogging and walking, and provides a nice ambience for Brazilian culture with a series of museums, performance spaces, music hall, and planetarium where one can go with friends and family with wine and cheese and enjoy a great picnic. The park also provides space for Sao Paulo’s renowned Art Biennial or Bienal in Portugese.

Its importance to Sao Paulo is often comparable to that of Central Park to New York City, Golden Gate Park to San Francisco, or Ueno Park to Tokyo. Ibirapuera is one of South America’s largest city parks, together with Chapultepec Park, in Mexico City and Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota.

Seen as the lungs of Sao Paulo, this park is safe during the day with plenty to do and lots of eating and drink kiosks and restaurants around. It provides the right ambience where one can sunbath or stroll through contemporary art, expositions, listen to intercultural music or simply relax. Most of the landmark buildings in the park are linked by a long and distinctly serpentine covered walkway. Though it was raining in Sao Paulo throughout my short stay, my visit to Ibirapuera was not dampened as the covered walkway provided enough protection. I missed the dedicated Japanese garden, however, as it remains open three days of the week and was closed the day I visited.

Another place that impressed me was the University of Sao Paulo. This is where I delivered my second lecture. This is the largest Brazilian public university and the country’s most prestigious educational institution. It holds a high reputation among world universities and is involved in teaching, research, and university extension in all areas of knowledge, offering a broad range of courses. Founded in 1934, it has 90,000 students with 11 campuses, with the main campus quite spread out. The courses taught here cover all three branches of humanities, science, and commerce. It has a large department on Japanese studies, culture and language with an impressive library exclusively dedicated to Japan. The central library looked well stocked with books, periodicals, and electronic access gateways.

Though I had a wish to visit a beach, it was not so near and time did not allow me that luxury. This was compensated, however, with a visit to the Municipal Market, a large public market in Sao Paulo. With eclectic style, as noted for its columns, vaults and stained glass, the construction of the building started in 1928 and inaugurated on January 25, 1933, by the office of the architect Francisco de Paula Ramos de Azevedo, with a facade designed by Felisberto Ranzini. It is a wholesale and retail outpost specialising in fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats, spices and other food products. The market was formally renamed the Mercado Municipal Sao Paulo in 1995, taking the neighbourhood name of Mercado, and was renovated in 2004.

Commonly known in Sao Paulo as the Mercadao, or “big market”, it is a noted meeting point for residents of Sao Paulo and one of the most visited tourist spots in the city. While the ground floor of the market is occupied by retailers, the second floor mezzanine serves as a restaurant hub. The market area occupies some 12,600 square metres and employs around 1,500 people. About 450 tonnes of food passes through the market per day in more than 290 boxes.

My last visit was to the Municipal Football Stadium, colloquially known as Estadio do Pacaembu, located in the Pacaembu neighbourhood. Owned by the Municipal Prefecture of Sao Paulo, the stadium was inaugurated on April 27, 1940, and has the capacity to accommodate 37,370 people. On the compound of the stadium, a Museum of Football was inaugurated in September 2008 that tells the history of Brazilian football. Covering 6,900 square metres, the museum is located below the stadium’s bleachers. Brazil is a football crazy country. If cricket is religion in India and Sachin Tendulkar is God, football is religion in Brazil and the legendary Pele is God. Overall, the Brazil sojourn shall remain an unforgettable memory.

The Brazilian sojourn – The Writer is ICCR India Chair Visiting Professor at Reitaku University, Japan

Unlearned lessons from the 1962 war

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement in the Rajya Sabha regarding defence preparedness was generic but can be challenged on two counts: Operational readiness and learning lessons

Unusually, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley conspicuously skipped mentioning China or Pakistan in their traditional independence day speeches. Though speaking in the Rajya Sabha last week, Jaitley was less than accurate when he said that the Armed Forces were “strong enough to meet any challenge to the country’s security”, underlining that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war.

The statement is generic but can be challenged on two counts: Operational readiness and learning lessons. Incidentally, both these incomplete missions are for the political leadership to accomplish. Jaitley added that compared to 1962, the Armed Forces were stronger in 1965 and 1971 wars. He forgot to mention that in 1965, India was poised to make strategic gains in Pakistan but had to settle for the British-brokered ceasefire as it had run out of critical ammunition for tanks and artillery. He did not mention Kargil when Army chief, Gen Ved Malik said, “We will fight with what we have”. But for emergency help from South Africa and Israel, Kargil might have gone the other way.

Then, as now, except for 1971 war, there is no long-term planning and political resolve based on a systematic strategic defence and security review to invest sufficient resources in defence preparedness and deterrence. You only have to read successive reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and Comptroller and Auditor-General of India’s (CAG) reports where shortfalls in operational readiness are regularly red-flagged, not to mention the pronouncements of Service chiefs. Defence Budget for the year 2017-18 was the lowest at 1.56 per cent of the gross domestic product since 1962 and capital account for modernisation barely sufficient to meet old liabilities.

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, earlier in the year, noted that the services were not getting their due share of resources due to the perception that expenditure on defence was a burden on the economy. Within 48 hours, he was told by Jaitley to contact him when he ran short of funds. Gen Rawat had also said that the Army was tasked to fight a two-and-a-half front war. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has observed that he needs minimum 42 combat squadrons against the current 32 to dominate a two-front collusive situation and likened the handicap to a cricket team playing with seven instead of 11 players. Chief of Naval Staff, Sunil Lanba, whose fleet is precariously deficient in submarines, speaking on disparity in preparedness said, “The way national security is being handled is not commensurate with the security environment which is extremely serious at the moment”. Our service chiefs have not shown the courage to put their job on the line. Only last month, the French Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Pierre de Villiers resigned as he could not ensure security of France since Euro one billion was cut from the defence Budget. In UK, Admiral David Luce resigned on cancellation of the aircraft carrier programme. American Generals have invariably demanded resource-matching missions, quitting when their pleas were ignored.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray counselled his ally, the Modi Government, to focus on conflicts with China and Pakistan rather than on winning elections. Prior to a by-election, the BJP in Goa hailed former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for enabling India to stand up to Beijing and the surgical strikes. But it was during the brief debate in the Rajya Sabha on foreign policy that Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav observed that defence and military power are key to India’s regional pre-eminence. Congress leader Anand Sharma quoted George Washington, “To be prepared for war is the best way to preserve peace”. Sadly, Governments are forever planning the next election victory.

The CAG report tabled last month in Parliament pointed out drastic shortfalls in ammunition inventories though some progress has been made in the last three years after junior minister, Gen VK Singh, the Army chief in 2013, referred to critical hollowness in defence preparedness. Reason: Neither the ordnance factories have enhanced production nor the procurement process streamlined. Of the 152 types of ammunition, stocking is done at different levels. But critical ammunitions are sufficient to fight a short and intense war. It is not clear if this war is 10, 20 or 40 days and whether it is two-front. It is reported that training ammunition has also been cut drastically.

Last month, the Department of Defence Production approved higher scales of ammunition for tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, third generation missiles and L/70 air defence ammunition in the ‘Make in India’ category where only Indian vendors are eligible. The products from this process could take years to materialise. In addition, last year, Vice Chiefs of the Armed Forces were empowered to acquire emergency ammunition and equipment without the clearance of the Defence Acquisition Council to ensure ammunition and spares for a minimum of 10 days of intense fighting. Some progress has been here.

Last month, the Defence Ministry sought an additional Rs 20,000 crore for slippages in defence modernisation as well as routine operating costs five months ahead of the next Budget likely to be announced on January 1, 2018. It seems the Doklam face-off and political uncertainty in Pakistan have created the possibility of a worst case two-front scenario. Some panic reactions outlined above would not have obtained had the Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces been in sync on long-term defence planning, based on realistic defence and security assessments and review and fiscal guidelines, leading to tasks and matching resources. In absence of any higher political direction and defence reforms, adhocism prevails.

Outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari, speaking on ‘Make in India’ lamented that India cannot produce even an indigenous rifle – the one made failed miserably in field trials. Our investment in research and development is peanuts. Two Indian T90 tanks sent to Russia for an international competition crashed out due to mechanical failures. The indigenously produced Bofors Dhanush gun was found to contain fake Chinese parts (marked made in Germany) and is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. This is akin to Israelis inserting Stucknet virus into Iranian centrifuges.

With Doklam staring us in the face, it is time to catch up with China’s reform and modernisation drive supervised by President Xi Jinping himself. Seventeen Mountain Corps under raising to be any deterrent requires to be made operational and Sikkim and Ladakh provided with infrastructure to make it deployable in both places. Obviously, all the lessons of 1962 have not been fully learnt.

Unlearned lessons from the 1962 war – Ashok K Mehta is a retired Lt General of the Indian Army. He writes extensively on defence matters and anchors Defence Watch on Doordarshan.

Doklam A bitter pill for China

The Doklam stand-off between India and China is close to two months but there is still no solution in sight, as neither side is willing to take a step back.

Beijing continues to use its media to wage a psychological warfare, in order to scare New Delhi to pressurise it to back off. The latest of such threat was witnessed in an editorial in China Daily, which said that the countdown to war has begun. The editorial titled, ‘New Delhi should come to its senses while it has time’ said, “The countdown to a clash between the two forces has begun, and the clock is ticking away the time to what seems to be an inevitable conclusion.”

This writer is frequently faced with a question if war with China is inevitable. And his answer has always been in the negative. The use of military force requires tactical and strategic objectives and the ability to force a win, to achieve these objectives. Wider geo-political implications must also be considered.

In the current stand-off the tactical objective of the Middle Kingdom is clear: To evict Indian forces from what Beijing considers to be its sovereign territory. But can China achieve this objective? In this writer’s opinion, the answer is no.

Ever since the stand-off started, India has quietly built up troops in the area, which was already considerable. The Indian Army’s Eastern Command has three corps numbering over two lakh troops at its disposal. Apart from this, India has air assets in the area, which can provide close air support to the troops as well as strike Chinese positions, supply lines, forward bases etc. Besides, Indian troops are better positioned in the area, overlooking China’s Chumbi valley that ends in a dagger shape near Bhutan’s Doklam area that China claims to be its own. Indian forces can cut off Chinese supply line and, in fact, take on the Chumbi valley.

China cannot spring a surprise on India as it will have to move at least two lakh troops to take on the nearly 60,000 well-trained and

well-acclimatised Indian troops that are deployed along the eastern sector. Such large movements will be picked up by satellites and other reconnaissance platforms.

Having said that, what are the options for China if it does decide to use force? First, it can open fire on the Indian troops who have blocked the road construction in Doklam. This will be swiftly retaliated by the Indian troops. It will be no more than a shooting contest which will result in casualties on both sides but not alter the positions and end the stand-off. It could also lead to the conflict spiraling out of control.

Second, China can start building up troops in the area over the next month or so into September-October. The 1962 war was started by China in October. The 1967 Nathu-la and Cho-la skirmishes, which India won, was in the month of September and October respectively. But like this writer mentioned earlier, there will not be any element of surprise. India will lie in wait for the Chinese troops, resulting in a bigger shooting contest in which India holds better positions. It can also inflict heavy casualties to China.

Third, China can start a full fledged war against India across the 4,000-kilometres India-China border. This will involve the use of missiles and the Air Force. China has thousands of conventional cruise and ballistic missiles that it can rain on India while New Delhi can cause serious damage to Chinese infrastructure in Tibet.

India is raising a mountain strike corps whose first of three divisions has been raised and is operational. The strike corps’ is being raised to capture the Chinese territory; to bargain any loss of territory to China in areas where Indian defences are weak. India’s air assets are also well placed to conduct offensive operations over Tibet and Xinjiang.

Moreover, Chinese jets have to take off from high altitude bases in Tibet, which restricts the payload it can carry and its range and endurance. On the other hand, Indian jets will take off from near sea level bases and it can carry its full load of weapons and fuel. They also carry variety of modern sensors both indigenous and western which gives it an edge over the Chinese jets.

Besides that, Indian pilots are well trained and also have the advantage of training with the best pilots in the western world.

In fact, a report by NDTV by Vishnu Som, talked about an assessment paper written by Squadron Leader Sameer Joshi, a former Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter pilot. Som writes, according to Squadron Leader Joshi, “Terrain, technology and training will assuredly give the Indian Air Force an edge over the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in Tibet and southern Xinjiang, thereby counter-balancing the numerical superiority of the PLAAF, at least for some years to come.”

India is also well placed to hurt the Chinese Navy and its trade and energy flows, should the war include the maritime domain, which is likely in the event of a full fledged war.

So, India can counter the Chinese military aggression and take it to a stalemate. The costs in terms of men and material will be immense in the case of a full-fledged war and will come as a huge set back for the economies of both countries. But it won’t help China achieve its military or strategic objectives. On the contrary, the geo-political losses of such a stalemate will be immense for China.

First, it will make a rising India its permanent enemy. It already has generated a lot of ill feeling amongst Indians for bullying Bhutan and precipitating the current stand-off. Chinese industries stand to gain enormously from India’s industrialisation and infrastructure development. It already runs a trade surplus with India to the tune of $60 billion. India will certainly impose trade restrictions on China denying it any share of India’s economic growth.

Second, it will expose the limitations of China’s military power to the rest of the region which is increasingly being bullied by China into territorial concessions.

Third, it will push India into the US corner, something that China doesn’t want and has repeatedly warned against. It could also lead to some kind of alliance with other regional powers, undermining China’s quest for military dominance in the region.

Fourth, it will affect the One-Belt-One-Road project of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is due in November this year. Will Xi risk a war with India which can result in a stalemate dealing a blow to China’s prestige and Xi’s power or will he swallow a bitter pill and look for a way out of the current crisis? Analysts can only speculate what’s running in the mind of China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

Doklam: A bitter pill for China : Certainly, a India – China war is not on the cards. The use of military force requires tactical and strategic objectives to achieve targets. Besides, geo-political implications too have to be considered.

North Korean imbroglio continues

The volatile security situation in Northeast Asia nosedived further when North Korea launched another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) hours before midnight on July 28, the second such launch in a few weeks. The launch was from Mupyong-ni arms plant in the country’s northern Jagang province near the border with China that flew “in excess of 40 miles”, and travelled about 1,000 km before splashing down into the Sea of Japan, about 163 km from Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island.

The last missile that North Korea launched on July 4 was also an ICBM. That time too, the missile flew for 39 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan. Experts said that the ICBM launched on July 4 may have had a range capable of reaching the US State of Alaska. It was seen as a major step towards its goal of developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the US. The latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly, covering a wide swath of the US in its range. Because of the repeat of firing such a missile, it transpires that North Korea is slowly morphing into a nuclear and missile power sooner than believed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un boasted that his country’s ICBM can now hit the US mainland, including Los Angeles and Chicago, which are in the range of North Korean weapons. In a swift retaliatory measure, the US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises immediately after the launch. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo called for the deployment of strategic US military assets, which usually means stealth bombers and aircraft carriers as well as additional launchers of an advanced US anti-missile system.

Understandably, Japan panicked as the missile landed in its exclusive economic zone, posing a direct threat to its security. Japan’s spokesman Yoshihide Suga lodged a strong protest with North Korea, saying its “repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted”. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo called the launch “a serious and real threat” to the security of Japan and convened an emergency meeting to respond to the launch. Though the missile did not pose a threat to North America, in order to assure its allies, the US reiterated its commitment to the defense of its allies, Japan and South Korea, if their security is breached. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military leaders discussed military response options and reaffirmed “ironclad commitment” to the US-South Korea alliance. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the new situation.

Successive US administrations have been working to isolate North Korea and increasing pressure with the goal of convincing the regime to return to serious talks aimed at denuclearisation. This is also Donald Trump administration’s top priority, but so far without success. According to Jeffrey Lewis, a missile and non-proliferation expert with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the missile’s range was about 10,000 km with the capability of reaching targets deep into the US mainland. The choice of date for the launch was significant. July 27 was a major national holiday in North Korea called Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War Day, marking the day when the armistice was signed ending the 1950-53 Korean War. The armistice is yet to be replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.

Unlike the earlier launches, which were conducted in the morning, this time the late night launch was rather rare. This time, the choice of time was to demonstrate its operational versatility with a view to prove that it is capable of conducting such launches anytime and anywhere of its choosing, thereby confusing foreign military observers to detect their activities ahead of time. The ‘Hwasong 14′ ICBM launched on July 4 was capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory. It was launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached a height of more than 2,500 km before splashing down in the ocean 930 km away.

The official KCNA said the test confirmed important features of the missile system, such as the proper separation of the warhead and controlling its movement and detonation after atmospheric re-entry. According to David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists, if the reported missile’s maximum altitude and flight time are correct, it would have a theoretical range of at least 10,400 km, which means cities like Los Angeles, Denver or Chicago shall be in range, depending on variables such as the size and weight of the warhead that would be carried atop such a missile in an actual attack.

This unusual late-night test launch was North Korea’s 12th missile test in 2017 and second ICBM in less than a month. It cannot be disputed that North Korea has become a global menace and a threat to many nations’ security. The manner in which North Korea is making advances in its weapons programme, it would not be surprising if it tests over and over again its missile technology and nuclear weapons in the months and years to come in order to develop the most lethal systems it can.

Actually, North Korea is not only a threat to Japan, South Korea, and the US, but to China, Russia, and US allies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well. This is because North Korea’s missiles point in every direction, which is why all demand stronger economic sanctions against Pyongyang. Still Pyongyang remains undeterred even if it faces economic isolation with sanctions limiting access to foreign currency and its ability to conduct trade constrained. President Trump knows that China is the only country with some leverage and therefore ramping up pressure on Beijing to exert considerable economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on North Korea from going ahead with further missile tests.

China has its own compulsions not to do as Trump wants. Though it stopped importing coal from North Korea, its trade with the hermit kingdom continues, keeping its economy afloat. Trump has repeated his stance again and again that all options are on the table, including military strike. It would be in every nation’s interests if such a course is avoided because a military strike could have perilous consequences.

One thing that emerged from the latest missile launch was that North Korea’s ICBM capabilities are advancing significantly and faster than many had expected. Though North Korea is now an extremely dangerous and more dangerous as time moves, a non-military solution to the crisis cannot lose its merit. The problem is it is a crisis for the US and its allies but not for North Korea; for it, possession of nuclear weapons is the sole means of survival and therefore the ultimate deterrence, which it is unwilling to barter by any means.

It remains unclear how North Korea shall face international condemnation as more countries start joining to seek ways to punish it for its provocations. Besides condemning North Korea for its act, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticised China and Russia as they “bear unique special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability” as both are “the principal economic enablers” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programmes. He reiterated that the US seeks “peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the end to belligerent actions by North Korea” and that it shall “never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea”, while committing to defend the allies and partners in the region.

China has resisted imposing tougher sanctions against North Korea. The US, more out of frustration, is working closely with Japan such as by freezing the assets of Chinese companies that have close ties with North Korea to press Beijing to play a part in efforts to strengthen its containment. Such efforts have yielded little result. The reluctance of both China and Russia to impose additional sanctions against North Korea is frustrating for the US and Japan.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who doubles as Defense Minister after Tomomi Inada resigned, declared that Japan intends to tighten cooperation with the US and other nations to strengthen pressure on the isolated nation. Tokyo intends to call upon the foreign ministers of the ASEAN nations in the meeting to be held early in August for increased cooperation.

Japan’s fishing industry is concerned as the missile fell in Japan’s EEZ in the Sea of Japan. This is the peak of squid fishing season and fishermen are at the Sea of Japan late at night and therefore worried about the damage they could suffer on account of missile launch. Fourteen squid fishing vessels belonging to the Yamagata Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative based in Sakata were operating in the Sea of Japan off Hokkaido when the missile was fired. Though all are safe, the fear of damage exists.

A coalition of nations is building to collectively put pressure on North Korea to abandon its weapons programme. Both Britain and Australia have also joined, urging China to do more to persuade North Korea to drop its nuclear and missile programmes. The US has also urged India to scale back engagement with North Korea. India is on the defensive as it is the third largest trading partner for North Korea, though it banned all trade except food and medicines in response to the UN resolutions. A US delegation from the State Department was in New Delhi when North Korea fired the missile and this prompted the delegation to urge India to limit and scale back its diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang.

China maintains it does not hold the key to a resolution. It has rejected the criticism and urged a halt to what it called the ‘China responsibility theory’, saying all parties need to put their weight. There lies the real problem and challenge. It clearly shows that China shall do nothing to rein in Pyongyang on the weapons issue as its own long-term strategic considerations override all other issues.

North Korean imbroglio continues – The writer is ICCR India Chair Visiting Professor at Reitaku University, Japan. It emerged from the latest missile launch that North Korea’s ICBM capabilities are advancing significantly and faster than expected.

United, we can save the cow

As I said in an earlier column, I am against the killing of cows as, indeed, of all animals and birds. I equally oppose cow vigilantism because of the accompanying attacks on, and killing of, those suspected of carrying beef or cattle for slaughter, and the fact that people’s eating habits, evolving over thousands of years, cannot be changed overnight. Besides, the vigilantes have done nothing about the inhuman treatment of most cows by people owning them. Cows are often ill-fed. Calves are starved because the bulk of the milk is sold or consumed by owners. Male calves are abandoned the moment their gender is detected and left to fend for themselves in a hostile world. Most of them die slowly and miserably.

Most cows are abandoned after they stop giving milk. It is easy to imagine their plight on being suddenly deprived of the food and shelter they had enjoyed till then, and left exposed to the elements and forced to fend for themselves. In urban areas, they are driven away from parks by gardeners and security guards who fear that they will eat up the grass and plants. Since there is little grass elsewhere, hunger drives them to eating plastic bags lying all over in abundance. The result is poisoning and painful, slow death. In rural areas, they are pushed out of villages and the outlying agricultural fields for the fear that they will eat up crops. In areas close to jungles, they become food for tigers and leopards.

One often hears that is difficult for dairy farmers to feed cows after they have stopped yielding milk. Fodder is expensive. They occupy space in cow sheds, which could have been provided to cows giving milk. But then even many, who can afford to maintain such cows, do not do so. They think nothing of the fact that if they have earned money by selling milk, they have a moral responsibility to look after the cow even after it has gone dry.

This responsibility is all the greater in case of those who worship the cow as holy and call her mother. As for bulls, Nandi is the deity guarding the gate to Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, and is also his mount. It is the symbol of his power that gives life force to humanity. At the gate of the Brihadeeswara temple (part of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage site comprising all Chola temples) at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, stands a massive statue of Nandi carved out of a single rock. Every two weeks, about 50,000 people assemble to see it ceremonially bathed.

Unfortunately, most Hindus are grossly remiss when it comes to practising their faith, which is the fundamental cause of the mal-treatment of cows and bulls. It will not be easy to change this. Meanwhile, the first priority must be providing shelter and succour to abandoned cows and bulls. Here, the Union and State Governments can do a lot by improving cow shelters and pinjrapols, many of which are known for their corruption and inefficiency. Besides, new shelters need to be established. Most of the existing ones are grossly over-crowded.

Stopping people from mal-treating and abandoning cows and bulls will be more difficult. Making examples of some culprits will help in getting the message across that such conduct will not be tolerated. Punishment by the Government, however, will by itself not be enough. A strong public opinion, translating itself into action, is needed. For that, there has to be a campaign and the formation of groups under a Government-run umbrella organisation to intervene in cases where necessary.

These groups, however, must not take the law into their own hands. Their task will be persuading people to treat cows and bulls with care and kindness. In cases of abandonment and persisting abuse, they should report the matter to the umbrella organisation which should have units in every city, district town and sub-division, where its telephone number and address should be widely publicised, so that people know where to report. Response must be swift.

To coordinate the huge amount of work on multiple fronts that all this will entail, the Union Government should set up a separate Ministry of cattle welfare without delay. It has no reason to feel defensive about the matter.

United, we can save the cow – To help the cow, the Union Ministry needs to coordinate action on multiple fronts. It should set up a separate ministry for cattle welfare without delay.

Chaos of countless cars and air pollution

Anyone living in a major metropolitan area anywhere in the world sees the growing chaos with increase in the population of cars. Ever since Henry Ford came up with large-scale production of automobiles, every aspiring individual right from childhood yearns to possess and drive an automobile. Governments in general have been slow to anticipate the growth in demand for mobility, and come up with solutions that would slow down the growth in demand for automobiles, at least in towns and cities. The fact that over 50 per cent of the population of the world is urbanised, and this percentage is growing perceptibly, requires that transport solutions be implemented with an eye on the future.

Recent estimates of the global growth of vehicles are frightening, and atnybody who lives in Beijing, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New Delhi or other large cities needs to feel concerned. Based on current trends, it is anticipated that around 2035, the total population of cars worldwide would hit the two billion mark. China and India are seen as the two countries with the largest growth.

The current population of vehicles is around 1.25 billion, and new vehicle sales annually are inching upto the 100 million mark. By 2035, it is expected that almost 130 million vehicles will be sold worldwide. There are projections of how many of these will be battery electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles, but the bulk of vehicles will still be run by gasoline or diesel fuel. Such an increase certainly has implications for climate change, air quality, and inter-city travel, but most importantly for intra-city travel.

The reality is that even in the developing countries the power of advertising ensures that everyone who has the means must acquire a vehicle. China still has lower ownership levels than most Western countries. If ownership in China were to reach the same rate as the US, the country would have a billion vehicles today. In the US perhaps saturation has been reached with about 250 million vehicles for a population of approximately 300 million.

The Mahatama said, “A technological society has two choices. First, it can wait until catastrophic failures expose systemic deficiencies, distortions, and self-deceptions.. Second, a culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systemic distortions prior to catastrophic failures.” The sporadic efforts being made in various cities would hardly avoid the catastrophe inherent in the growth of the world’s vehicle fleet. There are some cities where the trend is in the right direction. For instance, in Tokyo and most Japanese cities, vehicle ownership relative to the population has declined, and so has the mileage recorded per vehicle – essentially the result of extremely reliable and accessible public transport. The city of Zurich in Switzerland is another example of excellent public transport which compared with car ownership is the favoured option to meet the demand for mobility. A country like India needs to move away from the banal temptation of one automobile per person. It is far better to provide for public transport to meet the needs of all. It is also important to come up with a vision of non-polluting vehicles, such as those run on electricity or those fitted with fuel cells. If we do not come up with such a long-term transport policy, and implement it faithfully, we would never be able to escape the grip of the automobile industry.

In the US, in particular, the automobile, oil and highway lobbies have been notoriously successful in blocking the growth of the railways and their modernisation. This writer first visited China in 1981 when the rail system in that country was nowhere near that of India either in spread or efficiency. Today, China boasts of high speed trains connecting most of the cities running well above 300 km per hour. In the case of Japan, one only needs to experience travel on the bullet train or Shinkansen, where literally a cup of tea full to the brim will not spill while the train is moving. If the US had high speed trains, the airlines operating between New York and Washington, DC, would be out of business, because passengers would prefer travel by train from city centre to city centre taking less than two hours.

One serious impact of the current obsession with vehicular transportation is the terrible air quality in cities like Beijing, New Delhi, Mexico City and Los Angeles. Air pollution is extremely harmful for human health. In the case of the US, if it were not for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and effective regulations and traffic management, air quality would have been far worse than what we have.

Various initiatives would improve air quality and congestion, and reduce road rage resulting from today’s pattern of vehicular transport in cities. The experience with bicycle lanes in many cities has been uniquely successful but this requires appropriate infrastructure, dedicated lanes and secure bicycle stands. The French Government, for instance, has taken a decision to support purchase of electric bicycles up to a total of 200 Euros in an effort to move towards clean transportation options. Precise specifications have been laid down to qualify for such an incentive.

Norway has been particularly aggressive in promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs), as a result of which it probably has a larger percentage of EVs than any other country in the world. Like most cities and towns in Scandinavian countries, where there are dedicated bus lanes, EVs are permitted access to these lanes along with privileged parking and toll free movement. There are also adequate recharging stations which have been provided.

While many of these changes require the articulation of forward looking transportation policies at the national level, the only effective solution would be to create appropriate expertise and capacity in local Governments of towns and cities. This is clearly not the case of ‘one size fits all’, and we would need to make sure that each town or city develops and implements transportation plans unique to its own circumstances and demand for mobility. It is obvious that for sustainable urban mobility a forward looking approach is absolutely essential to ensure that we do not get trapped into a pattern which would require difficult, if not impossible, changes at a later stage.

A developing country cannot establish infrastructure and facilities which would be replaced or rendered useless in the future. A prudent approach would be to ensure that we make choices towards the most desirable and sustainable solutions in the future. The alternative to a visionary approach would be compounded chaos, loss of human welfare and growing misery for urban citizens. Nothing corrodes the quality of life more than chaotic urban transport.

Chaos of countless cars and air pollution – Nothing corrodes the quality of life more than chaotic urban transport. A developing country like India must come up with a long-term, efficient transport policy.

India-China spat More serious than realized

The immediate task is to defuse the stand-off at Doklam. It may require External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meeting her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to untie the knot

More than a month after the standoff at Doklam, the reading of tea leaves by India and China is different. The latest statements by Xinhua last Saturday said quite a bit: In sum, there is no room for talks till Indian troops who illegally trespassed, withdraw first; there can be no compromise on territorial and sovereignty issues; Doklam is not like previous issues as trespass into Chinese territory across a mutually recognised border line is different from frictions that happened in undefined sections of the boundary; India has lied that it sent troops to help Bhutan but there was no invitation from Bhutan; India will face embarrassment as the situation could get worse.

A live fire exercise involving 5,000 troops was held in Tibet opposite Arunachal Pradesh recently. This could be the escalating psywar and mindgames being played, but it also has a message that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is ready for any contingency. Meanwhile, China has briefed foreign diplomats in Beijing on Doklam, saying its troops are waiting patiently but not indefinitely. Conspicuously Beijing has ignored contents of Bhutan’s demarche and India’s Press release.

India, on the other hand, has issued a solitary Press release and contended that the situation has not worsened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping at Hamburg on the sidelines of Brics/G20. It is not at all clear if Modi specifically raised the issue of Doklam in their brief meeting as China insists no bilateral talks were held. Indian leaders – Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister for Defence Arun Jaitley – and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar have briefed the Opposition and stated that informal talks with China were continuing and all channels were being used for working out a diplomatic solution. They emphasised that India would be “patient and peaceful”. How they are concluding that “signs are of things cooling down”, is not clear. Is all this wishful thinking as Beijing shows no sign of compromise, having tied itself with the pre-condition of Indian troop withdrawal first. It has left no

wriggle room.

India is on the defensive, wanting to steer clear of a two-front situation for which it is conspicuously unprepared. In an unusual move, a five-member delegation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence will ask the Government to ensure that modernisation funds are fully utilised and not returned, and the under-allocation of funds for the glaring gaps in infrastructure development on the China front are made good.

Apparently diplomatic channels are not working. Equally, the surfeit of agreements – Peace and Tranquillity (1993); Confidence Building Measures (1996); Political Parameters Framework Border Accord (2005); Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (2012) and Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (2013) are rendered inoperational due to the ‘pre-condition’. Chinese are indeed dead serious about conditionalities once these are articulated.

Recall the furore caused in Beijing in 1998, after India attributed its nuclear tests to threat from China. A furious China all but severed diplomatic ties demanding that India withdraw its China threat before normalisation of ties. After several months of cold peace, then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing in the middle of the Kargil war- so urgent was the need to defuse tensions. The first thing Singh was required to do publicly in Beijing was to acknowledge with all the grace at his command that China was not a threat to India. That done, the Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai toast was downed with Moutai. The Chinese have a saying that, those who tie the knot have to be the first to untie it. Singh had to perform that unpleasant and untrue task on behalf of the BJP-led NDA Government. But this time, it is not clear who tied the knot first.

Who will untie the knot this time, when it comes to that? Endowed with exceptional policing skills, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, who took over from the Mandarin-speaking China specialist Shiv Shankar Menon, has made little progress in the stalled Special Representatives (SR) talks. Originally it was expected that the Government would appoint a diplomat as the SR. Doval is required to go to Beijing for the Brics security experts multilateral discourse on July 27-28. Tongue in cheek, the director of a prominent South Asia Chinese think tank in Beijing wondered if he would get a visa, adding jokingly, “I don’t know.” He felt that maybe only the harsh winter may force the troops to pull back, but that will not end the conflict.

The SR process has hit a cul de sac with the unravelling of the 2005 political parameters of the border framework accord. Menon has suggested a new strategic dialogue to work out on how to resolve the problems that have occurred on the defined and undefined parts of the border. A new SR with diplomatic talent is needed to fend off the wily

Chinese transgressions.

While the stand-off remains peaceful, it has opened a can of worms. The Chinese are equating Indian intervention in disputed Bhutanese territory with licence to support iron friend Pakistan in disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They have lopped off nearly 1,000 km of the Ladakh border, saying it is a disputed area between China Pakistan and India. This is not new.

Doklam must not be allowed to escalate with armed troops confronting each other, separated by 200 metres. The long drawn out Sumdorong Chu incident was different, with troops substantially separated by distance.

Doklam should act as a wakeup call to substantially upgrade defence preparedness, especially against China, given the Government’s ineptness in having created a two-front collusive situation. Governments have been investing inadequately in defence in the mistaken belief that there will be no war. India is being short-changed by China on a border resolution because of the many chinks in the armour. Because of the comparative military handicaps, India is unable to play like China does – a coercive hand, like the Tibet card and the One-China policy being matched with the One India policy; strengthen countries having inimical relations with China like Mongolia, Taiwan and Vietnam; track and buzz PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean, especially at choke point Malacca. These options must be made usable to deter Chinese coercion.

The immediate task is to defuse the stand-off at Doklam. India must come out of the closet on Bhutan. It may require Sushma Swaraj meeting her counterpart Wang Yi to untie the knot, pressing for simultaneous withdrawal of troops. The situation is more serious and complicated than first imagined or realised by our leadership.

India-China spat More serious than realized – Ashok K Mehta is a retired Lt General of the Indian Army. He writes extensively on defence matters and anchors Defence Watch on Doordarshan.

Emergency cannot and must not be forgotten

I have not seen Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar. I am, therefore, unable to comment on its merits. I, however, strongly condemn the demonstrations by the Congress against its public showing. These are brazen attempts to throttle the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Besides, the film’s theme, woven round events during the Emergency (1975-77), has a perennial relevance. The Emergency, the darkest chapter in India’s post-independence history, should be revisited repeatedly, so that people never forget its horrors and are steeled in their resolve to prevent the imposition of something similar.

The Congress’s attack on the freedom of speech and expression is hardly surprising. The party has – and had – very little of it internally. Few people, except the fringe group of leaders known as Young Turks and a several others, dared to speak their minds during the heyday of Indira Gandhi’s ascendancy. As for the present, three different choruses are being sung – in praise of the party’s policies and actions, of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities, and, of late, Priyanka Gandhi’s many outstanding qualities.

I have nothing against any of the above Gandhis. My opposition is to the unquestioning adulation of any leader and the culture of servility and sycophancy prevailing in the Congress, which is totally against the culture of democratic politics. Worse, the flip side of such adulation is criticism of – and assault on -even people outside the party who take a dim view of the family and its members. The onslaught on Madhur Bhandarkar and his film underlines this.

Further, as has been said, people need to remember the Emergency, which involved large-scale arrests of Opposition leaders and activists, censorship of the Press, a harsh and oppressive mass sterilization programme, forcible demolition of slums in the name of urban renewal, and the pitchforking of Sanjay Gandhi into a position of an extra-constitutional authority who called virtually all the shots in the Congress and the Union Government.

Parliament dutifully endorsed what the Government said. and did. Most Opposition members were in jail. Critical speeches, such those by PG Mavlankar, son of GV Mavlankar, the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, were not reported in censored newspapers. The same happened in respect of the rampant outrages perpetrated during the Emergency. News spread by word of mouth.

Apart from its horrors, the Emergency should be remembered for what it did to the institutions of governance and the civil society. The only institution that showed some spine was the judiciary. Some of the High Courts delivered remarkably courageous verdicts. Every one of them that dealt with the issue, decreed that even during Emergency, a citizen could approach the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution for appropriate remedy through writ petitions. Yet, on April 28, 1976, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice AN Ray, came out with an infamous verdict which stated:

“In view of the Presidential Order dated June 27, 1975, no person has any locus to move any writ petition under Article 226 before a High Court for habeas corpus or any other writ or order or direction to challenge the legality of an order of detention on the ground that the order is not under or in compliance with the Act or is illegal or is vitiated by mala fides factual or legal or is based on extraneous considerations.” The one judge who gave a dissenting judgement, and thereby ensured a permanent place for himself in the Indian judiciary’s hall of fame, was Justice HR Khanna.

The assault on the Press began with a three-day power-cut to newspaper establishments in the capital. This was to provide time for the institutional structure for enforcing censorship, which had been proclaimed throughout the country, to be set up. Censorship fettered the Press. A number of journalists, who had been critical of the Government, were imprisoned.

Apart from the horrors associated with it and what it did to institutions, the Emergency needs to be remembered for what it revealed about the Congress as well as the country at large. As for the Congress, there was not a squeak of protest when the Emergency was imposed on the night of June 25, 1975. Some critical pronouncements about the Emergency were doubtless heard later from leaders like AK Anthony and his associates in Kerala; leaders like Siddhartha Sankar Ray, then Chief Minister of West Bengal, did not prostrate themselves before Sanjay Gandhi. There, however, was not even a ripple of revolt even though the overwhelming majority opposed the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi’s forcible sterilisation campaign and dominant role in the party, the Union Government and some State Governments as well.

India at large was surprised by the imposition of Emergency, which was done under the cover of night, and found itself robbed of its democracy on the morning of June 26. The arrest of most Opposition leaders on the night of June 25 had undermined resistance, as did censorship, which prevented reporting of demonstrations. People are encouraged to demonstrate when they know that they are not alone and others are also resisting. Yet, there were protests. For example, George Fernandes, who went underground on the night of June 25 itself, was active in organising resistance when he was arrested from Kolkata in June, 1976, and charged with several others in what has come to be known as the Baroda dynamite case.

All this, however, did not threaten the Emergency regime with immediate collapse; to all appearances, it might have continued for quite some time more if Indira Gandhi had not called for an election in March 1977, which led to her defeat and reflected the mass disenchantment with the Emergency dispensation that was growing. Clearly, given the enormous powers of the modern state, it is very difficult to throw a dictatorial regime out. Hence, the importance of ensuring that an Emergency can be imposed only to cope with situations that warrant the move and not to further the dictatorial ambitions of a leadership.

For that, political parties must have internal democracy and leaders who can oppose the imposition of dictatorships. Equally, institutions of democratic governance, which did not deliver during the Emergency, have to be strong enough to resist and people must resort to collective protest. For all this, it is essential for the love for liberty to burn fiercely in every heart. To quote Justice Learned Hand’s famous observation, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there no Constitution, no law, no court can save it; no Constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” For this to happen, people must know what the absence of liberty means. Hence, they must never forget the Emergency.

Emergency cannot and must not be forgotten – Hiranmay Karlekar is Consultant Editor of The Daily Pioneer and former Editor of Hindustan Times. He has authored four books in English and two novels in Bengali. © 2017 Frontier Theme