Here people, some weekend reading for you!
Also, my co-authored analysis of Australian Defence White Paper 2013, got published in ODT.
Here people, some weekend reading for you!
Also, my co-authored analysis of Australian Defence White Paper 2013, got published in ODT.
(Published in USINPAC)
Among other interminable dross that were churned in the recently concluded 5th annual BRICS summit in South Africa, was the idea of a Development bank, by the five ever-rising economic powers. Although the details are vague, like any other diplomatic summit declaration trying to obfuscate the deep fissures within this coalition of unequals, the fact that India agreed to this disaster in the making is a new low in the foreign policy of a country, which is not much known for rational and realistic choices. The idea behind the development bank is indeed noble, “to address…the infrastructure gap in developing countries…”, especially in Africa. But the intention to make it successful or meaningful or the national interest of each member of the coalition is not clear. One thing, which is however clear, is Indian ambivalent skepticism about bandwagoning with any power simultaneously coupled with the Nehruvian idea of being a “messiah of the mass” and trying to be a leader of the third world, which reflects the mindset of Indian bureaucracy and ruling elite, is increasingly drawing India into a dilemma.
The BRICS is not an alliance. It is an arbitrarily formed group, mentioned in passing by an ex-banker, which was so captivating to the ruling elite of the grouped nations that they thought of formalizing it in an institution. Initially starting as rising economies, a perceivable counter balance to the G-8, these economies are no longer rising, with deep structural and institutional flaws, different modes of governance, deteriorating law and order situation and freedom of expression and censorship issues, different economic fundamentals and most importantly, absolutely different and divergent world view and interest. Joshua Keating pointed out why the BRICS couldn’t be more different than each other. The last addition to this coalition, South Africa, is the messiest of them all. The selection of South Africa is ofcourse controversial and political, regarded often as a quota position from the African continent, as it leaves out far more competent and growing economies like Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea. This comes when BRICS are accused of neo-imperialism, and banners like “don’t carve out Africa” were found everywhere near the summit in Durban.
It is well known, that the primary drivers behind the ideation in the BRICS are Russia and China. Russia wants to bandwagon with China to balance the influence of United States. The motivation and Great power nostalgia of Russian elite is simple enough to fathom. The Chinese interest is however far more complex. As a growing hegemon, China actually has interest in Africa, both geo-politically and economically. The resources of Africa are mostly still unexplored, and the market potential of cheap Chinese manufactured goods is enormous. This however comes at a time, when China is increasingly viewed with suspicion in Africa. The last couple of years have seen the murder of Chinese engineers by disgruntled and exploited African labourers, incessant strikes in Chinese operated industries and mines, and the now infamous op-ed by Lamido Sanusi, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, where he accused China of having neo-colonial ambitions. China now wants to portray itself as a benevolent and altruistic force, and therefore wanted to soothe Africa under the BRICS front. India, for all its independent and non-aligned foreign policy, is legitimizing Chinese actions.
It is puzzling to fathom why India is following Chinese and Russian lead. For a start, Russia is not what it used to be. It clearly views China as a far superior partner than India, and a market for superior weapons and technology, ironically at the same time when India received massive aid grant from Japan. India and China are not really partners, and as I wrote here before, will probably not be in the near foreseeable future. Nor is Indian business interest in Africa that important, scalable or maintainable. For example, assuming that India invests in some African country under the BRICS development bank, tomorrow if there is some kind of unrest, is India capable or willing to defend its business interest? India never showed any willingness to aggressively promote or defend its business interests, be it Afghanistan, Maldives, or South China Sea, and there is no reason to believe India would do that in Africa. India also lacks such far off power projection capability. Which brings us to question the wisdom; do the benefits of Indian investment in Africa outweigh the cost? What is the incentive of pledging tens of billions of dollars, all Indian taxpayers’ money, in a region which is beset by uncertainty, instability and conflict, or starting a monetary organization, potentially rival to IMF/World Bank which will not be of any direct benefit to the already slowing economy and growth rate?
On the other hand, India will eventually be viewed as just another neo-colonial resource grabbing power like China, if it continues to be with the BRICS. The respect that India enjoyed in Africa, and the goodwill as a potential democratic competitor of China will fade away, with India just being a satellite of Chinese ambitions, a satisfied mid level power in an institution guided by Russian and Chinese geo-political interests. Nor is Indian interest, in the BRICS assisted conflict resolution in Central African Republic understandable. Again, the question is geo-political, what IS India’s interest? Tomorrow if Russia leads the BRICS into conflict resolution in Syria, will India be willing to commit its resources?
As this Economist essay explains, India is utterly confused about its growing clout and new found respect as a rising power, lacks a political will, strategic culture, a status-quo bureaucracy, and timely and fast decision making infrastructure. Added to that is the notorious ambivalence towards aligning with the West, even though being perfectly aware that in the great scheme of the game, China stands as the largest potential rival. This ambivalence and skepticism stems from the utterly discredited NAM mentality which is still somehow widely followed among the Indian foreign policy circles, and the moral, altruistic, socialist Nehruvian world view, without any long term planning or Realist Raison D’etat. With the BRICS now attracting countries like Egypt, a slow and painful repetition of the outdated Indian NAM policies are in the process. Everyone knows how NAM turned out. One can only hope that India’s policymakers realize soon where her interests lie.
This is not a long post. Just a respect for our troops, who are fighting the battle for all that is good and civilised in some of the darkest corners of the World.
This past week, five Indian soldiers for the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, while escorting UN vehicles. More than 160,000 Indian soldiers served in UN missions across the World, in the past 60 years, with more deaths while peacekeeping operations than any other country.
This post is for all those brave soldiers we often forget, who sacrifice their today for our tomorrow…in our borders with China and Pakistan, in the highest battlefield on Earth in Kashmir and Siachen, guarding our seas and our ocean, maintaining the flow of commerce and trade near Somalian coast, Strait of Malacca and South China sea, guarding ships against pirates, in Congo, in Lebanon, in South Sudan.
The flag of Daily World Watch is halfmast.
Asia Pivot, Autarky, Balance of power, bandwagoning, capitalism, centralised economy, china, diayou, East China sea, Economics, FDI, Foreign Direct Investment, Foreign Policy, Game of Thrones, Globalization, India, International relations, Japan, Poverty, Protectionism, Realism, senkaku, socialism, south china sea, stolper samuelson theorm, Sumantra Maitra, Trade Liberalization, United States of America
Hey guys, hope everything’s alright? I’m okay here, new semester starts, new students come…it is a great feeling to see so many fresh mind, eager and enthusiastic to learn and share new ideas, and not fixed like some older fools surrounding us.
My paper recently got published in United States – India Political Action Committee, on Trade Liberalization, protectionism, Foreign Direct investment, and poverty. I show with data correlation how trade liberalization helped in decreasing poverty in the third world, and how liberalization helped countries like China and India to grow and become market rulers, using their comparative advantages. I also try to answer why simultaneously other countries are not so successful in reaping the benefits of globalization.
There are often arguments we hear from activists, politicians, media and general public about how Globalization and trade liberalization is either good or bad. Both the arguments are wrong, misguided, misunderstood, shallow, naïve and ultimately extremely irresponsible. To claim a single formula to be good or bad for every country in the planet, regardless of their geographical position, resources, economic fundamentals, taxation and revenues, health, weather and temperature and other factors, shows a lack of understanding of the problem, oversimplification and ultimately lack of academic rigueur. Here in this paper, I briefly try to touch up on these points to explain why ultimately trade liberalization is a good thing, and why Protectionism can never be a sound policy.
Also, two of my essays on Realism and Indian Foreign Policy, and Chinese Security Dilemma got published, where I try to make sense of the growing Geo-political scenario playing out between the two Asian giants.
Will keep you updated with more papers about to be published!
2001 2002 India Pakistan Standoff, Agni, Battlefield, china, Cold Start, Cold War, General Padmanabhan, Hatf, India, Long Peace, Mearsheimer, Nasr, No First Use, Nuclear Doctrine, Nuclear Triad, Nuclear War, pakistan, Realism, russia, Second Strike, Tactical, United States
Pakistan test fired a short range battlefield nuclear capable tactical missile today, according to a press release and statement by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the press relations arm of their military intelligence. (Image from Facebook page of ISPR)
This was a long term goal of Pakistani Armed forces to introduce battlefield tactical nuclear weapons. With a range of 60 kilometers, and suitable low yield, this missile and a nuclear warhead can be used against a tank battalion or armored brigade. It could also be used to obliterate a large number of soldiers at one strike. (For a backgrounder, read this analysis by Shashank Joshi)
This move is also, however a dangerous escalation of the military nuclear doctrine and ethics in the World. Nuclear weapons are considered defensive weapons, primarily for deterrence and balancing, for ultimate destruction, to be used as the last act of a country after a devastating first strike. That had been the unspoken norm of nuclear doctrine.
This Pakistani missile, makes nuclear weapon tactical and offensive, to be used against enemy soldiers, in a limited and controlled battlefield situation.
The move is dangerous as it significantly reduces the threshold of a country to use nuclear weapons, which, since second world war, for better or for worse, were always considered as the last and ultimate weapon.
Also, since this weapon is clearly targeted at India, as Pakistan is not currently facing any other significant short range battlefield threat, real or perceived this move will also change the Indian nuclear doctrine in the foreseeable future.
Indian nuclear doctrine is based on second strike. India is the fourth country in the World to have a workable nuclear triad, and is the second country in this World to have a No First Use policy, after China. The second strike capability is based on the assumption that India won’t be the first country to introduce or use a nuclear weapon against an adversary, however she reserves the right to do a massive, disproportionate and deadly second strike if nuclear weapons is used against any part of her, including the armed forces. (Indian COAS, General Padmanabhan maintained this stance even during the tense days of 2001 – 2002 standoff)
If nuclear weapon is used even against a single soldier of Indian republic, the “No First Use” is nullified.
Terrible though it may sound, India would be free to use, without any legal, moral or ethical restrain, the full might of its nuclear arsenal and unleash hell.
Being a much larger country, by landmass, economy and population, a deeply scarred India might possibly survive a nuclear war.
Pakistan would be wiped off the map.
( Also re-published in Space Daily, Australia. )
( Published in World Tribune )
Over a hundred people, most of them children and women were bayoneted to a slow, systematic and horrific death by pro-Governmental forces in the Syrian city of Houla, a few days back. According to the UN Monitors, fewer than twenty people died from shelling, rest was all summarily executed by pro-Assad militia. The Assad government obviously denied that, and even though there is no reason to trust the Syrian Government as the voice of reason, truthfulness and democracy, the motive behind this brutality indeed seemed a bit shaky. What would the Government achieve by killing children, other than more isolation? Surely the planners of the Syrian Government are not that naïve to try to intimidate a whole sect with this brutality of slow torturous death. They could have just bombed them, and blame that on Al Qaeda. Was it then really a false flag operation by Jihadi elements among the revolutionaries? One can’t be hundred percent sure anymore that the revolutionaries are just peaceful protesters, after the Damascus bombing a few weeks back. The photos of tattered blood soaked body parts was signature Al Qaeda, and it was confirmed too after a few days. The brutal Assad was crooked enough to hijack the victim approach immediately. It is all very messed up on the ground, and no right minded analyst would try to predict accurately as to what is exactly happening, with the lines getting increasingly blurred, and the battle lines increasingly widened. Meanwhile, as civilians continue to be butchered by one side or the other, and the instability spreading to Lebanon, time is running out before it spreads to Gaza and forcing Israel to act, thereby bringing in a whole new equation.
For all that we know, diplomacy and multilateralism is failing in Syria. Kofi Annan did even worse than what he managed during his tenure in Rwanda and Balkans, and Susan Rice’s storming out after Russian Veto, for all the rage it signified, is almost forgotten. So, how would a planner or a mediator with Realist leanings try to work out from this situation? Here’s a thought. Invite Russian and Chinese peacekeepers in Syria. Better, invite both the countries. Let their boots be on ground this time. Before you discard me as a raving lunatic, here’re the reasons why. Continue reading »
First of all…I wrote an Op-Ed, real journalism after a V-E-R-Y long time. It got published in Otago Daily Times here. The name of the piece is “Just a Natural Progression“, and it is on India, China and nuclear missiles, and stuff related to that. Do read, share and let me know what you think!
Secondly, I would like all of you to read this fascinating piece, on US Foreign Policy, which takes a look on what would have happened, if Realists were in charge, in place of Neo-Cons, or Liberal Interventionists, for the last two decades. It is an absolute MUST-READ.
That’s all thus far! Cheers!
Occasionally there are times, when you read something that is so utterly devoid of depth, lacking unbiased analysis, filled with pretentiousness and holier-than-thou hubris, that you almost pity the imbecile who wrote it in a fleeting moment of emotional rush. Then you find out that the person who wrote that is not some first year student of diplomacy, or an activist in some obscure NGO, but a quite respected middle aged gentleman who is member of a number of policy think-tanks. And your outrage gives way to hopelessness, you lose your sense of humour, and patient disposition. You instantly understand the cause why the World is heading from one woollyheaded disaster to another.
In the last two days, I got accused of being an Islamophobe, a leftist, a neo-con right wing Hindu warmonger, and an anti-semite Nazi. All in a span of two days. Even when you do consider the practical possibility of this exceptional feat, that how exactly can a 28 year old man, with a generally soft-spoken disposition, be all that at the same time, the situation was so outright hilarious, that I fathomed I must have said something right for once in my life, that I managed to cheese off so many people at the same time. Such is the power of truth, as ol’ Gandhi gramps would have said. (I am not a fan of Gandhi, or a Gandhian by any chance, really…you can accuse me of anything, but please not that!)
What be the cause? Continue reading »