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Monday, December 18, 2006

Fighting for Peace

(Click to Enlarge)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not All Wars Are Soft Wars

Nitin Pai, at The Acorn, writes that the nature of wars is changing and that it is now a clash of convictions. While I don't disagree with his analysis, I think it applies only to certain types of wars. I think traditional wars will still be fought and won.

Hard Wars

Wars that have clear definition of victory and use of exacting force (usually costly) and can be fought quickly are traditional wars or hard wars. While public is knowledgeable about hard wars, they stays on the background as long as they see progress.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Screwed Up Priorities

While Indian government slices and dices the population (all 1 billion of us) into OBCs, FCs, Muslims OBC, Christian OBC, creamy layers, SCs, and STs:

The Union Cabinet on Thursday night rejected the recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee to exclude creamy layer from the purview of the 27 per cent OBC quota in government-aided institutions of higher learning.

"After considering all aspects, it was decided to stick to the original Bill with the basic framework of 27 per cent reservation for OBCs," Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters after the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill 2006 would be reintroduced with some minor changes in the current session of Parliament, he said. (TOI)

...other nations and governments have different priorities:

China will this year for the first time spend more on research and development (R&D) than Japan and so become the world’s second highest investor in R&D after the United States, according to OECD projections based on recent trends.

“The rapid rise of China in both money spent and researchers employed is stunning,” said Dirk Pilat, Head of the OECD’s Science and Technology Policy division. “To keep up, OECD countries need to make their research and innovation systems more efficient and find new ways to stimulate innovation in today’s increasingly competitive global economy.”

Based on recent trends trends, China will spend just over USD 136 billion on R&D in 2006, just over Japan’s forecast USD 130 billion. The United States is predicted to remain the world’s leading investor in R&D in 2006, spending just over USD 330 billion. The EU-15, which includes France, Germany and the UK, is predicted to spend just over USD 230 billion. (OECD)

No prize for guessing which country will be a developed global giant and which one will continue to be a third world country mired in poverty and backwardness in 2020.

Cross-posted on INI Signal

Friday, December 01, 2006

Stop Patronizing - It's Bad For Us, Says...

After Sachar committee report on status of Muslims in India was tabled in Parliament, clarion calls for quotes for Muslims are abound. But, here seems to be a few sane people around:

Many Muslims argue that they are better off helping themselves, rather than holding out for the government. In fact they often seem to fare worse where they have more political clout, which easily translates into unreliable token promises, for, say, an increase in the number of teachers literate in Urdu, the language of Indian Islam. The leaked figures on government jobs show that Muslims do better in Gujarat, scene of an anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002, than in Bihar, where governments depend on their votes.

“Muslims do well in education where the initiative rests with them,” says Mushirul Hasan, vice-chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi. “Where they are dependent on government patronage they fare badly.” Muslim educational societies have begun to improve education in Kerala and the booming southern cities of Bengalooru (Bangalore) and Chennai (Madras). More are needed if Muslims are not to fall further behind as India prospers. (Link)

This is corroborated in the article with few more details, especially on the status of education of Muslim girls. The entire report in downloadable .pdf form is here.

Mushirul Hasanji seems to be Friedmanite - Friedman, in his grave, would happily say, "I agree with Mr. Hasan." And so do I.

Cross posted on INI Signal

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Growth Without Reforms - Magical UPA

IEB's Edward, an ardent demographic dividend proponent, argues that Economist and Ajay Shah may be wrong to say India is over heating and that there may not be a real worry for a crash or a recession anytime soon. Does second quarter growth of 9.2% prove that Edward is right? I am not so sure.

The current growth is not based on structural reforms of Indian economy. It's most likely based on easy money. With a conducive RBI governor, Dr. Reddy, Chidambaram has been talking up the economy and talking down any action to control easy money. What's wrong with easy money especially if the economy is going strong? Easy money generally hides lot of problems in the economy. Because consumers and companies are highly leveraged, if there is any slow down in the buying binge (from consumers, companies, or exports) the economy will go into a tail spin with a recession at hand. Economist:

In contrast, India's economy displays an alarming number of signs that things have gone too far. Consumer-price inflation has risen to almost 7% (see chart), well above Asia's average rate of 2.5%. A recent report by Robert Prior-Wandesforde at HSBC finds many other signs of excess. For example, in a survey of 600 firms by the National Council of Applied Economics Research, an astonishing 96% of firms reported that they were operating close to or above their optimal levels of capacity utilisation—the highest number ever recorded. Firms are also experiencing a serious shortage of skilled labour and wages are rocketing. Companies' total wage costs in the six months to September were 22% higher than a year earlier, compared with an average increase of around 12% in the previous four years.

India's current account has shifted to a forecast deficit of 3% of GDP this year from a surplus of 1.5% in 2003—a classic sign of excess demand. Total bank lending has expanded by 30% over the past year, close to the fastest growth on record. (Link)

If growth went from mid-8% to low-9% in the past few quarters, it may indicate that the economy is actually heating up increasing the likelihood of bigger slowdown - proving Edward otherwise.
In fact, with no structual economic reforms, slow (to no) infrastructure buildup since UPA came to power more than two and half years ago, it pretty much indicates that the main driver of growth is free/easy credit. And that has consequences.

Economist and Ajay Shah argument is about sustainable growth - ie long term growth. And they may still be right. It appears Manmohan and Chidambaram will enjoy the easy money laurels without taking any hard decisions (there are fellow Communists to please and blame) and pass on the coming economic mess to the next government to clean up.

Cross posted on INI Signal

Friday, November 17, 2006

Milton Friedman dead at age 94

Probably one of the greatest men to promote individual freedom and fight against government economic tyranny against it’s own people died early yesterday. While he was an economist, and probably want people to remember as such, he was very much a public figure promoting the ideas of individual economic freedom and economic choice for individual and family. He fought against socialism and much vaulted wisdom of the few wise men in the government to control people lives.

Friedman's fight was against powerful giants in economic field who were promoting government intervention and take over of economic life of a country – giants such as the doyens of socialism John Maynard Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith. He build on Adam Smith, Alfred Marshall, and Friedrich. A. Hayek’s economic models, and led the charge at University of Chicago with free market ideas that came to dominate the capitalist economic model (and in the process enable the school to capture lot of Nobel prizes in economics).

The peak of his popularity and message was probably in early 80s during early Reagan era when Thatcher was tearing up socialism in UK and Deng Xiaoping turn the communist China towards the path of capitalism. Washington Post columnist George Will wrote, in 1989, when cold war was over, that Soviet Union collapsed and University of Chicago and General Friedman has won.

Friedman never called himself a conservative, although they appropriated him. He was more a liberal in the classic sense – trying to get to the root of the problem, as he would say – instead on relying in government to solve problems, like the socialists world over do. He would probably call himself a libertarian.

Soon after Indian independence, US offered the expertise of Milton Friedman, a short, less than 5 foot man, with a complex set of idea on private enterprise and monetary policy, or John Kenneth Galbraith, a tall, good looking classic socialist - the government knows best - type of guy. Nehru, who already fell in love with British socialism, during his years in Britain and since, and was under the spell of Soviet collective economic miracle charade, chose the socialist John Kenneth Galbraith.

I think, under the advise of Galbraith, Nehru and Indira combined did more damage to Indian economy since 50s onwards than the British did since setting up East India Company three centuries prior. (Galbraith went on to advise Nehru not to fight the Chinese invaders of J&K (Aksi Chin), which according to him, was a desolate land and where a blade of grass would not grow, contributing to India’s defeat in 1962. One wonder why Nehru and other's didn't think, if that was so, why did the Chinese want that land.)

It would not be an exaggeration to say if Nehru chose Milton Friedman and his advise, India would have lot fewer poor people, superior infrastructure, better people participatory in civic life, and a stronger economy than we have now in 2006.

Here are some articles that Friedman wrote to GOI in the 50s trying to push Nehru and government towards better economic path:

Memorandum to GOI in 1955

On Nehru and Mahalanobis who jointly created the socialist Indian economy

Some bloggers have called for an economic mahatma in India to fight for and to explain better wealth creating economic policies to Indian people. Milton Friedman is the closest economic mahatma that US has had. While I disagree that we have to wait for an economic mahatama to deal with pressing issues, India would greatly benefit from such as person, if there were one.

Milton's last commentary published today in Wall Street Journal (registration needed).

CSPAN – an excellent three-hour In-Depth interview with Friedman in 2000 wherein he talks about his economic theory and philosophy.

IEB post with google and youtube links to Friedman interviews.

With my usual interest in good obituaries here are some:
New York Times (always excellent obits), Economist, and WSJ

And Now For The Tough Part of the Nuclear Deal

US Senate approved the Nuclear Deal yesterday after much debate and several tries to derail it - without much support most members - during the lame duck session. Bush said he'll sign it.

But now comes the tough part for India:

Separate the military and civil nuclear facilities

Keep skeptics at bay in our country

Ramp up civil nuclear reactors approval process and building several of them during the next decade or so

Work with US on important foreign policy issues that impact India but not falling over itself to very whim of US policy by tying itself into knots over non-issues - ie still keeping our national interest and security in mind on policy matters

Working to scuttle a similar deal between China and Pakistan which Hu Jintao will be offering to General Mush in the next few days. I am sure MEA is not thinking about it because it just don't think that way (in fact I won't be surprised if it's working to lend support to it).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Depth of Moral Equivalency

I came across an opinion written by Rudrangshu Mukherjee in The Telegraph published in Kolkatta. I have seen moral equivalency in lot of issues but I think this one takes the laddu.

He starts okay with a bold assertion that independent struggle should not be about revenge. But soon it is on a slippery slope to nowhere.

First the apologies to the British:

"The revolt of 1857 has been stalked by silly controversies ever since it began. British officers in 1857 got misled into the controversy about the greased cartridges, which many of them believed in their delusion had caused the huge conflagration. "

Then the muddle:

"One hundred years later, historians became embroiled in a needless debate about nomenclature, what to call the rebellion: mutiny, war of independence, what have you. "

And then the blow - starts off slow...

"Kanpur was the site of three of the worst bloodbaths of the rebellion — on the river at Satichaura Ghat, where the rebels massacred the Britons who had been promised safe passage by boat to Allahabad, the killing of the survivors from Satichaura Ghat in an enclosed room called Bibighur and the subsequent vengeance of James Neill after the British recovered
Kanpur. To commemorate the Britons who had been killed in the two massacres, the British erected a statue — Angel of Mercy — near the well into which the dead bodies had been thrown after the Bibighur killing. In the remembrance of the victors, the Indians who had been butchered by Neill needed no commemoration. Indians and non-Christians were not allowed to go into the enclosed area containing the well and the statue. "

but soon becomes as clear as blue, cloudless, sky:

"One hundred and fifty years after the event, it is important for both Britons and Indians to accept that both sides had perpetrated terrible acts of violence. One side used violence to protect their possessions in India from a real and violent threat from those who had been conquered and dominated by the British. The other side used violence to defy the dominance
and to break it. 1857 is not a moment of which either India or Britain can be proud. The year represents a common legacy of violence. "

This is moral equivalency at its worst - equating fight against subjugation and slavery with fight to impose that imperial tyranny. Now we get the call for equal status to the imperialists and the subjugated natives. Do we not feel ashamed for been subjugated? Is there no pride for attaining independence after bitter, almost a century long, struggle? Are we supposed to forget the discrimination, and ethic and culture cleansing that we are still grappling with and give equal space to the imperialists?

One won't find this kind of muddled moral equivalency anywhere else in the world. We have twisted ourselves into knots during the post-independent socialist historians period when even subjugation was and continues to be taught as a virtue. And we are unable to break the knots.

So now we get calls for building monuments for the imperialists! This after the current prime minister, Manmohan, in his official capacity actually thanked the British for their imperialism and subjugation - you gave us English and that compensates for centuries of the slavery.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is India-US Nuclear Deal as Good as Dead?

After Democratic Party swept US Congress and got a bear minimum majority in senate, I started to wonder about India-US Nuclear Deal. While most democrats are close supporters of India and want close relationship with India, they also champion, the now defunct, NPT. Many pro-NPT analysts (NPT ayatollahs) have made the case that India-US nuclear deal will pretty much kill the NPT and encourage other nations to pursue nuclear weapons. These ayatollahs got sympathetic ear from democrats.

Will Harry Reid, recent minority, but now majority, senate leader, who expressed reservations about the deal when the senate tried to pass it few months ago after the house passed the bill, kill it?

From post-election news reports it is clear that Bush top foreign policy priority, beyound Iraq, is India's nuclear deal. If democrats want a confrontation with Bush on foreign policy I doubt they would have it over India. There will be calls for change to the deal and may be outright opposition to it from some senators. The senate democratic leadership could put some poison pills to kill the deal. But senior democrat senators with foreign policy experience, like Joseph Biden, have endorsed the deal. If most democrat and republican senators prevail, and I think they will, the deal will be passed some time early next year without any changes.

Relative Sizes of Heavenly Bodies

A friend of mine emailed these pictures. I've never heard of the bigger stars. Enjoy.

Isn't Earth the prettist of all?

Snake Comes to Bite - Terror comes to Roost

A suicide bomber killed 42 Pak soldiers. This was apparently in retaliation to Pak's destruction of a madrassa (using air power), which killed more than 80 people. According to Pak, the madrassa was graduating terrorists (this contradicts most experts who perpetually claims madrassas are benign religious schools).

The first suicide bomber in terror factory Pak is an indication that Taliban and al-Qaeda are stepping up take over battle of Pak or at least working to consolidate a state within a state. If Pak continues to play double game with terrorists with regards to India and Afghanistan, the snake will bite back. It portents a bleak picture for Pak’s future and gathering danger for India, Afghanistan and the rest of the world.

"An anonymous telephone caller told a Pakistani journalist the attack that killed 42 army recruits in the northwestern town of Dargai on Wednesday was revenge for an air strike last week on a religious school in the nearby Bajaur region, in which authorities said 80 militants were killed.

The suicide attack was the first on the security forces outside Waziristan, a tribal region where the army has been fighting al Qaeda and pro-Taliban militants since late 2003.

Bajaur is at the northern end of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt along the Afghan border, while Waziristan is at the south. Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the remote, rugged stretch of mountains." (Reuters)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

N. Korea's Nuclear Test a Plus for India if...

North Korea has finally done it. The west, especially Bush's government, wants Kim Jong Il to go away; he says to US I won't unless you talk to me directly and sign a non-aggression treaty.

The usual dire predictions follow after the nuclear test. Most are garbage; some are probably true. But if one does nothing to change the situation, the problem will fester and grow. Until now, US has tied Japan's hand and questions S. Korea loyalty if it speaks up and want to pursue a different path with fellow Koreans to the north. China was playing its own game that it usually plays.

Come a nuclear test by dear leader.

As long as Bush/Cheney are in charge, not much will change on North Asia power tussle – US won’t engage with N. Korea and Chinese will bit for time and prop up its buddy.

It is now that India should act - in the next two years - to frame the geopolitical situation to its advantage vis-à-vis China. India should ramp up its dialogue with Japan and form a strategic partnership with close military ties. Shinzo Abe as PM, an Indophile, would be big a help to move forward. China is already courting Japan's new PM, but things will remain testy between the two giants as long as they are perceived to be equals. China won't rest until it has complete hegemony in the region. And then there is this rouge state. Its big brother, China, is no help to Japan. India should step in, just behind US, to make a case for close military partnership with Japan.

From a purely geostrategic India's stand point, while we can't control or have influence on the situation, dear leader's test would be a positive if the Japanese don't talk themselves out of going nuclear (following persuasion from US and manipulative antagonism from the Chinese). US has already started the persuasion game, trying to push China to make N. Korea fold its cards, so that Japan stays non-nuclear.

Judging from Chinese indignant reaction to the test, it is nice to see N. Korea biting China's behind after China enabled nuclear proliferation from pak and from itself. Now if only we can form a strategic partnership with Japan (along with a few big SE countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia) to form a loose circle around the dragon.

Until now India had to watch over its shoulders, namely pak, when worrying about China. If India acts, China will have to watch over its shoulder, namely Japan, when worrying about India.

The missing piece is our utterly unimaginative MEA and PMO along with an unstrategic and almost naive Manmohan. A big missing piece, indeed.

Schizophrenic Manmohan

Make a deal and then complain to others about partners in terror!

Manmohan shook the general's hand for 14 seconds little over a month after one of the deadliest terror attack in India and proposed that India and Pak's ISI work together to solve mysteries on the terror attacks on India (apparently the doctor doesn’t have any imagination). Pak's Mush was probably not sure what was going on but went along with it - as liars usually do until it is time to disown a commitment. The brilliant idea of partnership in terror investigation was the end result of brains at PMO following Manmohan's call for thinking outside the box about Pak and Pak's terror in J&K and the rest of the country.

With few days after the long shake hand with the liar, Indian investigators had proof that the apparent partner planned, funded, and executed the terror attack that killed 200 and injured 600 in Mumbai. With which partner should Manmohan's government investigate?

Pak ISI and its army spokesperson denied it - they would know - and said they will help us investigate (presumably to identify Indians investigative techniques) but won't hand over anyone (presumably they know exactly who initiated the terror attack).

After getting the usual shaft from the partners in peace (and in terror), Manmohan says he complained to the US and to EU!

A seven-year boy will have more brainpower to tackle his bullies then the stupid and gullible Doctor and his team at the PMO.

So much for thinking outside the box!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Former RAW Chief Damning Assessment of Manmohan's Capitulation

Ajit Doval, former director of Intelligence Bureau, assess the strategic Havana blunder of gutless Manmohan.

Here is part of the assessment:

"Let’s examine the contemporary realities which overnight transformed our perception of Pakistan from a terrorist-sponsoring state into that of a counter-terrorist partnership state. In the past 12 months, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists struck across the country, killing nearly 400 persons (the heaviest casualties suffered in a year by independent India outside the terrorist-hit states).


ISI has substantially upgraded its presence in Bangladesh and is increasingly leveraging fundamentalist groups for anti-India action. The CBI believes that fake Indian currency notes are being “supplied by the Pakistan government press at Quetta to Dubai-based counterfeiters who smuggle it into India”. It pegs the volume of such notes at Rs.1,69,000 crores.


When asked, in June 2003, whether Kargil was a mistake, Musharraf told Gulf News: “We don’t trust India. Before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue. Bilateral talks started only because of Kargil. Another Kargil taking place would depend on how the peace talks proceed.” Pakistan’s army leadership may be considering the Havana statement as a dividend for heightened terrorism in the mainland.


That Musharraf, who during the SAARC summit in Nepal in January 2002, said that the Kashmir issue “was linked to Indian terrorism and cannot be separated”, is now going to be our comrade-in-arms in our war against terrorism betrays both a lack of history and strategic vision.


General Aziz Khan, Musharraf’s former Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, addressing an army function in Rawalkot on June 24, 2003, had said: “Pakistan not only knows how to tackle India but has leaders with the guts.” I wish we could say the same. "

The main driver of this policy seems to be US (Manmohan even repeats - word for word - what US government has to say about the General). What is everyone else doing in the Indian establishment that is currently in charge? Is the betrayal so deep?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Has the Betrayal begun?

Manmohan's strategy to transfer Kashmir Valley to Pakistan seems to have begun.

Indian Foreign policy as gone the American way.

Could it be possible that Manmohan Singh is playing the Muslim card for Indian elections? Could he be saying, “See we can do business with Islamic Pakistan even if it terrorizes us?” That’s probably a cynical view. The reality is probably simpler, more shameful, and dangerous.

Little over two months after 200 people terror carnage in Mumbai and less than a week after latest terror bombing, Manmohan shook hands with General Musharraf for 14 seconds – laughing and looking pleased.

It is abundantly clear that the current Indian foreign policy as gone the American way. The significance of Richard Boucher’s visit few weeks ago is apparent now (after Mumbai attacks). The Indian establishment has bought into American establishment story about Pakistan – that General Mush and Pak’s army are the good guys and are actually fighting the Islamic jihadis waging terror war against India.

"Significantly, it has been agreed to put in place “an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.” Link

Manmohan has bought into the Euro-liberal view that nation-state and borders are irrelvent and artificial division of cultures and religions needs to be wiped out. While the Europeans are under assault from terrorizing Islamists and are stuck like deer frozen by an approaching car headlights, facing a near certain dead, Indians cannot afford to play the same games with their national security.

Here is what the Prime Minister of India said at Non-Aligned Summit at Havana, where he met the general.

“Today we again confront the danger of the world being split along an artificially created cultural and religious divide. The NAM, encompassing as it does, every religion professed by mankind, every ethnic group and ideological persuasion, is uniquely placed today, once again, to play the role of a bridge of understanding,” said Singh. Link

Expect Manmohan to announce open J&K borders with terrorizing Pakistan with hundreds of jihadis waiting on other side of the border. Here is how it will potentially play out: transfer of power to administer J&K to some kind of tri-representation from Pak, J&K (Pak agents in Kashmir, that is), and India soon; complete transfer of power to Pakistan at a later date in decade or so. The strategy for Pakistani take over is set – implementation will take time. Patient Pakistanis will do anything to make it a dream of taking J&K, especially Kashmir valley, from India. They can wait a few decades – after all they waited six decades.

The greatest Bharata betrayal has begun. With the joint terror investigation announcement, the perpetrators and investigators are now one and the same. We are in for a big troubled future. Lot of Indian soldiers and civilians will die before Manmohan’s current foreign policy will come it’s logical conclusion.

Update: B. Raman writes an amazing column in Rediff about Dr. Singh's Stockholm Syndrome. It clearly shows Indian establishment has bought into US establishment tale on General Mush - Indian PM is even using the same defensive statements.

"He is reported to have pointed out to the Indian journalists accompanying him to Havana that Pakistan has also been a victim of terrorism.

What is he trying to indicate to the Indian people by this remark? That they should not be too harsh in judging the general. That the general is not that malign as he is perceived by the Indian people to be. That they should give him the benefit of doubt. That they should accept his offer of cooperation with India by setting up a joint anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism."

And he gives up throwing up his hands, thus -

"God save this country and its men, women and children from the the jihadi terrorists. Since our prime minister has let us down, what else can we do?"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stunning 6,75,000 Crores Worth Investments Annouced

Investments worth 6,75,000 Crores were announced in past the 75 days says Financial Express. Stunning! That's about $150 billion - about 20% of GDP! Based on 93-96 investments announcement make by Indian companies, CMIE estimates on 5-10% will actually get off the drawing board. If I remember correctly mid-90s to late 90s was a period recession and slow growth (5-6% GDP growth). But now, if the economy continues at 8-9% rate, the prospect of actual investments would surely be higher than 5-10% - may be in the range of 25-30%. Think about the jobs and ripple effect of these investments.

Karnataka takes the biggest slice followed by Orissa, Maharastra, Chattisgarh, and Gujarat. And most are in high capex intensive industries such as power, mining, and petrochem.

"The Tata group has topped with the maximum capital announcements worth Rs 1,20,000 crore , followed by ONGC at Rs 1,14,000 crore and RIL at Rs 59,000 crore.

Among the states, Karnataka was the most favourite destination for India Inc, grabbing announcements worth Rs 63,000 crore ($ 14 billion), largely in the power, petrochemical and cement sectors, according to industry chamber Assocham, which has computed the investments."

It just shows that the economic boom has just begun.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vinayaka Chavithi Panduga

Happy Vinayaka Chavithi

Atanu had nice post on Ganapati along with a link to Shashi Tharoor's article on Ganasha. Enjoy. And don't forget those yammy ondrallu.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Don’t Look for an Economic Mahatma

A Classic Indian Solution?

Amit Verma writes in TCS (via The Acorn) about transforming Indian mentality landscape, presumably about economic matters. While his diagnosis is valid, his solution, which he concurs with Gaurav Sabnis and Nitin Pai, that of waiting for an economic Mahatma is a simplistic one.

It’s simplistic because one, there can never be an economic “Mahatma”. I can’t imagine someone who says “being rich is glorious” or a Milton Freidman unfettered free market (who, by the way, advised Nehru to follow a different economic model in early 50s – unfortunately Nehru chose to listen to the recently deceased John Gilbraith) ever conferred a Mahatma status. The person who comes closest to an economic Mahatma was an 18th century Scotsman. The current so-called socially liberal institutions will not allow it. Even the messages of original Mahatma with regards to social, such as on untouchability and religious tolerance, and economic, such village economic microcosms, matters were, and continue to be, largely ignored.

And two, creating sound market and incentive based economics policy, unlike independence from imperialism, is not a one shot deal. It is continuum. Sure it would have helped to an Alexander Hamilton to set the right economic framework soon after independence (while Indian constitution framers studied US constitution, which was supremely important, they seems to have ignored Federalist Papers where the meat of US economic frame work lies). But one Nehru or Mao or Mugabe can destroy decades of established economic framework in just few short years. Getting the right economic environment is not just for one time prime minister, but it is an on going process, as the Japanese and, especially, Europeans societies and leaders have show so vividly in recent decades.

Borrowing and extending one of Peter Drucker’s management theories – that a successful company is one that does not rely on extraordinarily talented people to function, but rather is one that rely on ordinary people to be productive and be successful - an economically successful country can not rely on a Mahatma to make it productive. It needs ordinary policy makers who can make incremental policy changes to increase incentives for productive economic behaviour and disincentive for bad ones. It is needs ordinary entrepreneurial people who are willing to take risks. It needs ordinary bureaucracy to enforce the policy incentives. India has all three ordinary groups that are getting larger and increasingly more successful.

I guess I am more sanguine about the state of Indian economy in the long term. And I don’t wish for an economic Mahatma. I agree we have long way to go, but a Mahatma can do more harm than good economically.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Latest Chinese Export!

Can you tell which one is fake by looking at them?

Well the bottom one is $640 a bottle real Italian red and the top one is $100 a bottle fake Chinese red. Everything of the top one is fake - the bottle, the label, and the wine.

But here is the kicker...

"Claudio Gufoni, a 59-year-old wine enthusiast who lives in Santa Croce sull'Arno, east of Pisa, was the client who was duped into buying more than 100 bottles of the bogus Sassicaia. Although prosecutors confiscated most of his fake bottles as evidence, a few were left behind. Mr. Gufoni says he now serves them to unsuspecting guests: "No one has noticed the difference." WSJ (Subscription required)

Isn't that the dirty little secret of Robert Parker's world. Not many people can actually tell the difference between wines (at least the decent ones!). It's all in your head (or is it your mouth)?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How Jihadi Groups Are Taking Over Bangladesh Economy

Selig Harrison, a long time Washington Post South Asia correspondent, writes in an op-ed in WP on how Islamic jihadi groups with the support of Pak ISI and Bangla intelligence agencies are turning Bangladesh into terrorists haven. While the current PM Khalida Zia turns a blind eye to jihadi groups to stay in power (kind of like what DMK is doing in Tamil Nadu and Communists are doing in Kerala), Jamaat-e-Islami, a jihadi political party, has created not only terror infrastructure but also spreading its hands into the entire economy.

"In return for the votes in Parliament needed to form a coalition government, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has looked the other way as the Jamaat has systematically filled sensitive civil service, police, intelligence and military posts with its sympathizers, who have in turn looked the other way as Jamaat-sponsored guerrilla squads patterned after the Taliban have operated with increasing impunity in many rural and urban areas.

To the dismay of her business supporters, the prime minister gave the coveted post of industries minister to Matiur Rahman Nizami, a high-ranking Jamaat official who has helped promote the growth of a Jamaat economic empire that embraces banking, insurance, trucking, pharmaceutical manufacturing, department stores, newspapers and TV stations. A study last year by a leading Bangladeshi economist showed that the "fundamentalist sector of the economy" earns annual profits of some $1.2 billion."

No wonder they don't want a lucrative gas pipeline from Myanmar to India and don't want anything to do with $3 billion investment that Tata contemplated. And the jihadis are laying a ground work for winning the next democratic(?) elections. US is again turning a blind eye to the developing situation because Pak's ISI has a lead role in nurturing Jamaat. And we all know how US wants "proof" that the ISI is nothing more than a day-care center for the children of Pak Armed forces.

US analysts always talk about not allowing jihadi access to nuclear weapons and oil. Now the jihadis will soon have access to gas – and lots of it. With ISI in charge of these jihadis, nuclear weapons are no problem. A deadly combo is in the making.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Saudi NRI Funded Mumbai Blasts

TOI reports anti-terror squad officials’ investigation revealed that Saudi based NRI funneled Rs. 1.2 Crores to recruit, practice, and bomb Mumbai commuter trains that killed 200 people on July 11, 2006.

The 53 that were killed at Gateway of India and Mumbadevi bomb explosions were also part of the same program. LeT, official terror group of Pak's Army and ISI, used local Muslim group, SIMI, to plan and implement the Mumbai carnage.

"The modus was simple. The planters waited for the chief co-ordinator to give a bag and a 'go-ahead' signal following which they walked up to a platform and boarded a train. While one went in and kept the bag, the others provided a camouflage.

The trio got down just as the train left the platform and returned to the subway, where they picked up the next bag. Four bags were planted on platforms 3 and 4 and three on platforms 1 and 2. The four then escaped from the subway, police said."

I am sure Manmohan and Shivraj Patil has something to say about this.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ease of Doing Business - Comparison

World Bank study on easy of doing business for 2006 is out. And India is still at the bottom of the pile. The report is aptly named as Doing Business in 2006: Creating Jobs. Link

Here is comparison between #116 India and #1 New Zealand. The differences are obvious. While there many economic factors that impact employment, ease of doing business - starting a new business, closing a failed business, cost and ease of hiring and firing, and trading across borders - has a direct impact on job creation in a economy. And India is moving a glacial pace with even the talk of reform shut out recently. Expect no change in any of these factors for three more years until a new government comes in.

(Click to enlarge)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Islam vs Islamism

Bill Moyer, an American journalist who usually does programs on faith, has a new series on American Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) in which he talks to western philosophers and novelists and non-fiction writers. Some were interesting, some not so. The series is mostly geared towards western audience with discussion primarily about Christianity and Islam and faith itself. I found one especially interesting - a conversation with Martin Amis, a British writer, who seems to be struck by reality after September 11 attacks. (I am not sure the rest of Europe still is.)

Martin talks about the difference between Islam as practiced during the past 500 years prior to the decline of Ottoman Empire after WWI - an open and modernizing religion and culture - and Islamism that is practiced now - essentially a role back of all the openness and modernizing effect of the prior 500 years. He talks about how the Islamic terrorists feel and justify their murdering activities especially referring to Mohammad Atta, the leader of September 11 attacks.

Martin declares that atheism is passé now and that at best he is an agnostic. And he recognizes that irreligious Europe has to deal with a tiny minority Islamists who have nothing but religion. It is very interesting conversation. Watch it here.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

"If You Want to Be Treated Like India, Be Like India"

Gary Ackerman, US Congressman from the state of New York and long time supporter of India in Washington, made a floor speech in US Congress on July 26, 2006, on the eve of passage of Indo-US nuclear deal.

"Critics have expressed concerns regarding the bill's impact on our non-proliferation policy and clearly, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea are all looking for clues about what this deal means for them and their nuclear programmes. What do you tell Pakistan and Iran and North Korea? Well, you tell them this: If you want to be treated like India, be like India. Be a responsible international actor with regard to weapons of mass destruction technologies. Don't sell your nuclear technologies to the highest bidder. Don't provide it to terrorists. Be a democracy -- a real democracy like India and work with us on important foreign policy objectives and not against us.


I think the choice is clear: if you want the IAEA to inspect India's civilian nuclear facilities, then you're for this bill; if you want India to be obligated to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime for the first time, then you're for the bill; if you want them to comply for the first time with the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, then you're for the bill; if you want to send a clear message to nuclear rogue states about how to behave, then you're for the bill; and if you want a broad, deep and enduring strategic relationship with India, then you are for the bill!"

Need I say more?

And here is what Tom Lantos, Congressman from California and Ranking member (committee leader of Democrats in Republican ruled US Congress) of the powerful House International Relations Committee, offered to non-proliferation concerns in US Congress:

"And Mr Chairman, our bill addresses those concerns thoroughly. It requires the President to make several determinations to Congress. Among these, the President must determine:

· that India has concluded a credible plan to separate civilian and military nuclear facilities;

· that India has concluded a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that will apply safeguards in perpetuity to India's civil nuclear facilities, materials and programs;

· that India is harmonizing its export control laws and regulations to match those of the so-called Nuclear Suppliers Group; and

· that India is actively supporting US efforts to conclude a fissile material cutoff treaty."

Those conditions sound pretty benign to me. Separation of civil and defense reactors is plus for India; agreement with IAEA on civil reactors should not be an issue; India already has export controls; and lastly actively supporting US efforts on FMCT is not same as US tying up India and Pak in some smaller version of FMCT.

Lots of people say lots things during the hearings and elsewhere; but they don't become law. I am still convinced this nuclear deal is in India's interest.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Come of it Mr. Jaswant Singh

Is Jaswant Singh a traitor for not relieving the spy in P.V. Narashima Rao's PMO office for which he claims he has proof?

I personally like Jaswant Singh because of what he has done for the country. Despite that and all his protestations, I think he belongs in that category.

He should have revealed who the spy was 10 years ago when he got the information. Not only did he not reveal the information, he did nothing to pursue the matter or prosecute the person when he was the defence, foreign, and finance ministers during various times for five years in PM Vajpayeeji government after he got the information about the spy in former PMO.

It is shear stupidity to offer all the excuses he gives now for not having revealed the name and for contined obfuscation.

"The former Foreign Minister also disclosed to the media that the mole was close to the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and he was a civil servant not a politician.

"The civil servant was in such a high position that he was privy to a lot of information," Jaswant singh said, adding the person concerned was no more in office or the country.

The former External Affairs Minister, however, evaded a clear-cut reply when asked repeatedly why the subsequent NDA government allowed the civil servant to go scot-free despite him having leaked sensitive information."

Update (July 25, 2006): IBNLive reports Jaswant Singh revealed the spy as Dr V S Arunachalam to BJP leaders in a closed door session.

"Dr V S Arunachalam served five prime ministers - including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao - and 10 defence ministers in different capacities like defence scientific advisor, and as secretary of the department of Defence Research and Development, in his official assignments at the Centre from 1982 onwards."

The next day Jaswant denies Arunachalam is the man. We are still in the dark.

Update (July 26, 2006): S. Gurumurthy says there were two spies - not one - in PM P.V. Narashimha Rao's government, and that the names were known in 1997. He describes how the two people worked with Rockefeller Foundation and Carter Center to enable a Kashmir solution using the than soft PM I.K. Gujral to sign on the dotted lines in 1997 without any official involvement of the either India or Pak governments. And the two also worked hand-in-hand to alert the Rockefeller Foundation when PM Rao wants to test nuclear weapons and Prithvi missiles in November 1995. The two were - V. S. Arunachalam and Naresh Chandra, former ambassador to US. I still remember the sweating Ambassador Naresh Chandra trying to explain on CNN the PM Atal Vajpayee's nuclear weapons tests 1998. (PM Vajpayee didn't confer to anyone before taking the decision.) Link

It looks like Jaswant Singh's spy is Naresh Chandra (after his denial that Arunachalam was the spy). But Naresh Chandra was not in PMO?

Update (July 28, 2006) Indian Express had an interesting interview with PM P.V. Narasimha Rao recorded when he was alive few years ago. PM Rao says he will take the secret of why he didn't test nuclear weapons to his grave. But I wonder if he told his close friend PM Vajpayee as to what happened. And Mr. Vajpayee could avoid the same pitfall as PM Rao when he became the prime minister in 1998.

Update (Aug 12, 2006) I finally read Sekhar Gupta's late July column in Indian Express on the mole issue. He thinks PM Rao may have wanted US to believe he wanted to test and used someone as mole to get the message across. Mr. Gupta thinks both Naresh Chandra and Arunachalam are unlikely moles. Link

What Do Victims get?

Autopsy, Inquires, and Kid’s education - State Sympathy For Maoists Killers

Civil Rights wing of naxalites and other civil rights groups in AP demand autopsy when AP police killed 30 Maoists guerrillas, including Madhav an apparent state secretary of CPI-Maoist.

"The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee and other groups also sought a judicial probe into the gun battle and booking of cases of murder against the policemen involved."

Instead of standing by the police force, the AP government launches a magisterial inquiry into how the murderers were killed. And offers free education and employment to Madhav's son.

"Home Minister K. Jana Reddy said the government would order a magisterial probe and punish the policemen if they were guilty.

The government has also offered free education and employment thereafter to Karthik, son of Madhav. The 16-year-old reportedly fainted after hearing the news of his father's killing.'

Ah, the ideal murdering father.

Where do these civil rights group hide when civilians are slowly and brutally murdered by these naxalites? What kind of education and jobs does the state give to families of victims of naxalites brutality?

Here is what KPS Gill had to say in an interview with Indian Express’s Shekhar Gupta on NDTV on how naxalites brutally murder their victims -

"See, if a person is killed by a bullet or stabbed or hit by a dow (a North Eastern machete), his death, you feel, is not so brutal. But if he’s killed by multiple injuries, a stone is picked up and he’s hit with it over and over, it seems brutal, prehistoric. It does not sit well with the conscience. This is what I have seen." Link

Friday, July 21, 2006

Economist's Continued Assault on Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Economist is clearly perturbed by US Congress and Senate committees approval, first step in multi-step bill approval process, of Indo-US Nuclear deal of July 18, 2005 and the implementation plan announced in March 2006 during Bush's visit to India.

None of its arguments make any sense. It agrees that China is stock piling nuclear weapons; but bristles at India when it wants to maintain minimum credible deterrence. Link

"...the NPT to curb their arsenals (four are shrinking, only China's bomb-pile is still growing) on the way to eventual disarmament."

It approve the bogus signature of NPT P-5 countries that they will eliminate their weapons the never future; but it would not approve of India become a full fledge member of NPT as nuclear weapons state taking on the same responsibilities as the P-5.

"The five have at least all signed the treaty banning further nuclear tests and have stopped producing more highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons; India flatly refuses to do either."

And of course the Pakistan boogie! If only Economist (and western media at large) didn't turn blind eye to Pakistan stealing designs from Europe, its collaboration with China to make nuclear weapons, and creation and sustaining WMD Walmart of Pakistan's father of WMD, A.Q. Khan, may be Economist has some right to use Pakistan boogie.

Now it wants Nuclear Suppliers Group and IAEA to block the deal. The noble prize winner IEAE chief, Mr. al Barade’i, already supports the deal. Good luck with NSG!

The only way Economist can influence the process now is to join the suspicious bandwagon in India. Everyone from the Communists to pseudo-analysts to serious analysts are afraid of the deal - Communists because they don't want anything to do with US; pseudo-analysts because they are afraid of some the fine print the Manmohan and MEA apparently is covering up; and serious analysts that US Congress will have too much influence on India nuclear establishment. While I think the concerns are far outweighed by the real benefit to India from access to Uranium to sophisticated reactor designs, if Economist wants to stop the deal it has to pump up Indian legislature, that has to approve the deal also, to reject it.

For that the Economist has to change its message, a bit.

Update: The most serious critic, from the start of the nuclear deal, came from Brahma Chellaney. His complains are exactly the opposite of Economist. To torpedo the deal, Economist should join hands with Mr. Chellaney. Link (subscription needed)

"Paying For Naïveté

The much vaunted Indo-US nuclear deal is pockmarked with a string of humiliating conditions for India"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Anti-Terror Initiatives: Observer Foundation

Wilson John and PV Ramana of Observer Research Foundation offer an excellent policy brief on what India should do to tackle terror systematically. Most of them are eminently sensible. I was disappointed with their recommendations on what to do with Pakistan. May be it goes along with overt and covert actions recommendations.

● Formulate a National Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
● Create separate Ministry of Internal Security affairs and
institute a Counter Terrorism Centre.
● Direct overt and covert actions against terrorists and
terrorist groups.
● Completely root-out the underworld in Mumbai. Silence
fugitive underworld leaders and operatives.
● Hunt down groups like SIMI. Punish political leaders
linked to such groups.
● Stop terrorist funding through punitive legislation.
● Introduce a comprehensive, permanent anti-terror law.
Take fi rm action to prevent the abuse of such a law.
● Make a provision to declare a person as terrorist.
● Take action to secure extradition of fugitive terrorists.
● Re-invigorate intelligence and police forces in all
● Strengthen Joint Taskforce on Intelligence, Multi Agency
Centre and Joint Intelligence Committee.
● Create Counter-Terrorism Fund.
● Formulate a comprehensive action plan to prevent attacks
on mass transit systems.
● Prepare to face recurring, more lethal terror attacks
● Make terrorism an integral part of Composite Dialogue.
● Force Pakistan to shut down LeT, JeM and all other terrorist
organizations targeting India.
● Launch global diplomatic and media campaign to pressurize
Pakistan to act against terrorist groups.

It's a thoughtful policy document. One would hope UPA govt will put these into action at the earliest. I know one action that UPA will not pursue even if it pursues the rest - "Punish political leaders linked to such groups." Because appeasement policies have no end in UPA - even if it means national security is threatened.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Americans Playing Double Game With Indian Terror Again

200 People Dead. Sorry, But We Are Not With You, Says US

Within a week of terror attacks in Mumbai, US is parroting its apparent front line ally against terror. The combined message comes from US and Pakistan. US barely even acknowledge terror against India. And General Mush on the same day says not talking to him on J&K is playing into terrorists’ hands. His Foreign Minister already said the terror will not stop until J&K is resolved according their satisfaction.

Manmohan is more than willing to oblige that talks will go on.

Chidanada Rajghatta reports for TOI:

Scepticism about New Delhi’s post-blasts policy ran so deeply in [Richard] Boucher that at one point, he suggested India may not be such a long-suffering victim of terrorism after all.

"The terrorists that we're fighting against have been fighting against Afghanistan, been fighting against Pakistan, been fighting against the United States, been fighting against Europeans, and maybe some of them fighting against India, as well," he said, almost grudgingly including India among the list of countries affected.

He also appeared to reject the Indian contention about the role of the Pakistani state or military-intelligence establishment in the blasts saying they (the perpetrators) were "obviously well-prepared by somebody with evil intent, by somebody with local knowledge, by somebody with -- or some group, some individuals, some people with a lot of planning and malice, so forth, you know, and a lot of knowledge."

Is this for real? Actually it has been US position for a long time that Indians don't face Islamic terror. And Pakistan is one of the good guys. And in a related(?) story, Pakistan dips into Tablian kiddy bank.

Pakistan arrests scores of Taliban in crackdown

Tue Jul 18, 8:11 AM ET

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan arrested scores of Taliban militants in raids overnight in the southwest province of Baluchistan, taking action that Afghanistan, the United States and NATO powers have long called for.

More than 150 Afghans were arrested during an operation ordered by the Baluch government in the past two days.

200 people dead - sorry but we are not with you, says US. This when Indian PM is hob-knobbing with US president in northern Russia.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beyond Wimpiness - Hypocrisy

Instead of learning from Israeli response to the kidnapping its soliders by Hamas in Gaza and by Hizbollah in Lebanon, Indian government wants Israel to stop bombing terror groups headquarters while not even pretending to condemn the unprovoked Hizbollah's rocket attacks into the port city of Haifa.

India also condemned the “excessive” military retaliation by Israel, but at the same time called for the immediate release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.” Link

Based on Manmohan’s government’s non-response to the latest Mumbai terror carnage, we can call Indian wimpy.

But here comes the hypocrisy part. A day later, Manmohan’s Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran says, the PM would ask G8 to ask for a coordinated response to global terrorism.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to ask leaders of the G-8 countries to come out with 'cohesive' action and a 'credible strategy' to effectively combat global terrorism. Link

Indian government condemns Pakistan for supporting terrorists but we are friends with Iran that supports Hamas and Hizbollah and is now indirectly waging war (using Hizbulla) against Israel to shift the world focus from its nuclear weapons program.

Coordinated response. Yeah, right.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Three Columns of Interest on 11/7 Terror Bombing

I have seen three columns that I thought were interesting - there are, of course, plenty more that have nothing new to offer to explain or understand the current situation in better light. Some excerpts from the three.

First is The Hindu's Praveen Swami. Based on his previous articles on spectre of terror cells and the complex interactions between them and with their bosses in Pakistan, he creates narrative speculating who may have created this cranage.

""THE HINDU," wrote the Lashkar-e-Taiba's founder and spiritual guide Hafiz Mohammed Saeed in 1999, "is a mean enemy and the proper way to deal with him is the one adopted by our forefathers, who crushed them by force."

...In December, the Intelligence Bureau and the Mumbai Police arrested National Conference-affiliated municipal councillor Arshad Badroo along with two other Jammu and Kashmir residents — the key figures, it turned out, in a Lashkar bombing operation targeting the city.

Last month, evidence emerged that the Lashkar continued to seek the resources needed for a major strike. Acting on information provided by the Intelligence Bureau, the Maharashtra Police arrested 11 members of a Lashkar cell that had shipped in an incredible 43 kilograms of explosives, along with assault rifles and grenades. Several had links to SIMI — just like Raza and Sheikh. Soon after, three Lashkar operatives were killed while attempting to storm the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's office in Nagpur.

Another Dawood Ibrahim lieutenant, Fahim Machmach, helped a separate group of terror recruits transit through Bangkok, including two Bangalore residents who identified themselves using the code-names `Iqbal' and `Sohail.'..."
Link (Bold mine)

Second is Indian Express columnist Shishir Gupta. He expresses dismay at UPA, especially Manmohan and Shivraj Patil's, lax attitude towards internal security and intellegency gathering.

"But the Intelligence establishment under the UPA is in denial. The comfortable theory about terrorism is that it is imported into this country. And that is still true. But the UPA, it seems, simply can’t accept that jihad now has a domestic manufacturing facility. Shivraj Patil wants us to think of boys gone astray...

... The PM has allowed his national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, the home minister, Shivraj Patil, to put the party first in engaging ULFA and the Naxalites. The Naxalite strategy badly backfired. But even after that the government halted the army’s anti-ULFA operations in the Dibrugarh-Saikhowa forests earlier this year.

Management of internal security has suffered after the rule of two-year fixed tenures was instituted for home and defence secretaries, R&AW and IB chiefs. Here merit was not the criterion. Comfort levels with the Congress were the yardstick. While the R&AW fumbled from spy to spy (Rabinder Singh to Ujjawal Dasgupta), the IB lost key people in its Kashmir, anti-Naxalite and Operations wings due to office politics.

...The counter-insurgent Salwa Judum movement in Naxalite-infested areas of Chhattisgarh occupied as much time and attention as Kashmir violence. The Left criticised the BJP taking over a movement started by a Congress MLA."

And finally Rediff's Saisuresh Sivaswamy compares American reaction after terror attacks on its soil verses Bharatiya reaction after terror attacks on its soil - both after 1993 Mumbai's Bombay Stock Exchange and current Mumbai attacks.

"I cannot but notice that the United States of America, which then declared its biggest offensive since Pearl Harbour and which action brought it tonnes and tonnes of international criticism -- not to mention unveiled threats of attack from Osama bin Laden, abduction of US nationals and their murder -- has not faced any terrorist attack since 9/11.

...With these words America went to war.

I had waited in 1993 for the majesty of the Indian State to similarly display itself, as I waited many more times for it to happen. I waited for it last night as well, and finally I saw the display.

On the streets of Mahim, close to where we work, the majesty of the Indian State was on full display as Congress president Sonia Gandhi accompanied by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Railway Minister Lalu Yadav drove past, en route to the blast site. My colleague counted 38+ cars in the motorcade that swept past, as other traffic on the road was kept frozen in place by the security phalanx. It was truly an impressive sight -– only, I couldn't help thinking, it was put on for someone who doesn't hold an office of authority. While the man who does, simply reviewed the security situation in the face of the Srinagar and Mumbai blasts, and directed that New Delhi's security be beefed up.

This was the majesty of the Indian State on display yesterday. I could have wept.

When somebody directs terror at you, nation-States are expected to hit back with maximum force, carry the fight into the enemy camp. It is not enough to possess unrelenting, unremitting muscle power -- it also becomes necessary, once in a while, to display that power. And not merely through caparisoned missiles parading down Janpath once a year, but by responding forcefully to challenges to the State's very existence.

All your nuclear weapons, your missiles, your tanks, come to nought when you don't have the steel in your soul to defend yourself and your subjects -- at any cost.

And finally, a supreme court lawyer says this in his article in Indian Express on July 12, 2006, under the title A nation of wimps

" A distinguished analyst of South Asian affairs once told the Pakistani government that “India does not react to the loss of people. They have just too many. India only reacts to the loss of territory”."

True indeed. Both the statement and the title of the article.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dear Prime Minister, Name Three Things You Did Since Last Attack

Information is pouring in on the nature and extent of carnage that terrorists unleashed on Mumbai commuters and theories (1, 2, 3, 4 - via Varnam) about who may be responsible. As I watch and read the usual Indian leaders in charge talking reading tough statements which sound awfully familiar, I was wondering what did Manmohan do in the past nine months since the Diwali attacks in Delhi market place?

So here is an open letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Dear Prime Minister: I heard and read your statement, after the horrific killing of Mumbai commuters on July 11, 2006, that terrorism will be defeated and your government will 'fight and defeat the evil designs of terrorists'. The statement sounds remarkably similar to the statement you made before. It's the same statement you made when terrorists killed more than 60 people in Delhi's market place during Diwali season last year and the same statement I heard from you after terrorists stuck Varanasi in March of this year.

Your repeated, yet similar, statements after every terrorist attacks makes me wonder if you really believe in what you are saying. I am sure you do and I have no reason to doubt your sincerity. But then may be I do have reason to doubt your sincerity. I doubt it because I don't see any action following those words in your statements. May be I missed the quite action.

So please tell us, Prime Minister Manmohan, the three things that you did to tackle terrorism since you came into office in 2004, or say, since after Delhi attacks nine months ago.

1. What new laws did you pass to give our security forces more power to investigate and prosecute terrorists and terror cells?

2. How did you reorganize the internal security apparatus so that they can coordinate information and capabilities better?

3. How is our border more secure to intercept and stop terrorists from entering or contacting terrorist sympathizers in our country?

4. And finally, how did you improve our internal and external intelligence capabilities and coordination to track and kill or prosecute terrorists before they carry out their carnage?

We are bit weary of listening to your and your Home Minister’s reading of tough statements. Give us specifics on your anti-terror actions to make us believe you.

With Regards.

Update: The Acorn apparently noticed the same.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Presenting Garbage Fiction As Facts - Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra single handily made up allegations that Indian security forces massacred Sikhs in Chittisinghpura when Clinton visited India in 2000. Clinton probably read his writing in New York Times, and without getting confirmation from his intelligence agencies (they would parrot ISI, anyway), made allegations in Madeleine Albright's autobiography's introduction that Hindus killed Sikhs during his trip to, apparently, make a point. (Publisher of the autobiography later retracts the story but Clinton's people refuses to do so.)

When push come to shove, Mr. Mishra says no one really knows about who killed those poor J&K Sikh villagers and wants an investigation and talks about fragile Indian democracy and (laughably) play with words. Talk about obscurantism. Because his fiction gets space in western newspapers and magazines as facts, he is given wide coverage in Indian newspapers.

Now Economist (July 1-7) gleefully reviews his another garbage portrayed as facts. This garbage has a lengthy title - "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond" (apparently to China and Japan). I don't think I would ever read the book but the review is quite entertaining by itself. I couldn't stop laughing after reading the review:

"His part in the wider drama established, Mr Mishra identifies himself with all manner of strugglers on the sub-continent...

"His eye is keenest in his homeland, the subject of more than half the book. Mr Mishra shreds the Hindu nationalists, purveyors of a religion cobbled together from folk beliefs in the 19th century, for the political purpose of opposing foreign rule. He reveals their contradictory ideas of caste and the imbecility of their world-view which is haunted by fears of the World Trade Organisation and the pope. In their rhetoric, they are as anti-America as al-Qaeda. Yet, at the same time, Hindu extremists seek to co-opt Western countries through mastery of their own scientific achievements. Mr Mishra discovers, in a secret laboratory hidden in a teak forest, Hindu extremists making dental powder out of cow's urine. But the nationalists' violence is no joke: 2,000 Indian Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 alone. In Kashmir the army, backed by every Indian government of the past decade, has murdered thousands of people in a failed effort to quell an insurgency that is rooted in legitimate grievance.

"India is not shining, but its people do have the advantagein violent and corrupt elections of changing their government. That has rarely, or never, been the case in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Tibet,...."

Ah, the wonderful struggling garbage maker:

Hindus fundamentalists can out do al-Qaeda in their hatred of US; Hindus haunted by WTO and pope; Hindus making dental power from cow's urine; Hindu army murdering thousands of people - what else is missing: naked Hindu sandus dipping in Ganga; Hindus praying to multiple gods (all at the same time); Hindus myriad languages and customs - they all play into this surreal image of destructive power of Hindus.

But he throws the Hindus a bone...despite all this the Hindus can change their government. And their neighbours can't.

Update:Salil Tripathi provides an excellent rebuttal to Mishra's nostalgia to India socialistic past and aborring present in UK's Guardians commentisfree section (via Confused - read both Salil's rebuttal to Mishra original article and his reply to Mishra reply to his rebuttal). Sandeep and Acorn critique Mishra latest tirade on India in NYT op-ed.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Another Tyranny In The Neighbourhood

The brutal Maoist’s leader in Nepal, Prachanda, has full control over the unfolding political situation in Nepal. The current parliament invited to form the government, by the King Gyanendra, elected a dying ineffective 85-year old former PM. There is no political strategy from the elected representatives other than bending over backwards to accommodate the Maoists killing force while savaging Nepalese Army, police and security forces.

United We Blog (via The Acorn) details what Prachanda is up to with the help of Indian communist parties and how ineffective the traditional political parties are been to take the lead on the future of Nepal.

The Acorn thinks India and Indian Army should play a role stabilizing Nepal. I doubt that's going to happen.

With the communists hold on Manmohan's government, India would do nothing to upset the rise of Nepalese Maoists - apparently they are part of the political process and we (along with US and UK) helped their revolutionary cause. If pushed too hard, the Maoists, learning from our Bangladeshi friends, will most likely say, after taking the hundreds of millions of dollars that Manmohan is doling out, that India is the big bully in the neighbourhood to cover up what would be at least a generation of tyrannical rule in Nepal. China will have another client state in South Asia. Pakistani Islamic jihadists will have another haven to attack India from. And the Indian and western media will be rooting for the never ending revolutionary cause.

If Bangladesh falls into Islamic rule, won't South Asia be a wonderful place - five tyrannies in the nieghbourhood to the east, north, and west!

Foreign Affairs Essays: The Rise of India II

C. Raja Mohan wasn't his usual self with silly phrases and words such as "laser like focus" sprinkled in the essay. Explaining how India increasingly holds the Balance of Power, he wrote a lucid and clear headed essay about growing Indian global power and reach. There is some focus on the Bush-Singh nuclear accord but the essay was more general and tried to present what Indian foreign policy is trying to achieve - usually the activities are not very clear reading the Indian media's piece meal quotation based coverage of foreign news.

"Unlike their U.S. counterparts, Indian leaders do not announce new foreign policy doctrines....New Delhi has made concerted efforts to reshape its immediate neighborhood, find a modus vivendi with China and Pakistan (its two regional rivals), and reclaim its standing in the "near abroad": parts of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region. At the same time, it has expanded relations with the existing great powers -- especially the United States.

"As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades."

While I doubt India would be political "west", I have no doubt about the latter phrase. His explanation of three strategic circles was pretty interesting.

"India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security."

He also talks about what held back India from pursuing these strategic objective: partition during independence (I actually think partition was the best thing that happended to India - more on that in a different post) and J&K terrorism sponsorship by Pakistan; pursuing (that silly and devastating) socialism causing the great decline in economy; and Cold War - with US allied with China and Pakistan, India was pushed into Soviet sphere. Now the change in direction of the second cause along with disappearance of third cause frees India to pursue its "grand strategy."

He rightly says Clinton didn't do much to have closer relationship with India (other than that presidential visit to India just before his eight-year term expired); Bush did. And I would venture to add that if Al Gore had become the president, he would have listened to all the nay-sayers and, India and US would still be distant democracies talking to each other through the media.

For those in US and India with an illusion that India will have to kowtow to US after the nuclear deal is sealed, he tries to make the case that India will never be a junior ally to US.

And US does not like having allies having a say in its actions; so the question of alliance, especially against a third country like China, is still up in the air and won't be resolved unless something changes on the ground.

"But shared interests do not automatically produce alliances. The inequality of power between the two countries, the absence of a habit of political cooperation between them, and the remaining bureaucratic resistance to deeper engagement in both capitals will continue to limit the pace and the scope of strategic cooperation between India and the United States. Still, there is no denying that India will have more in common with the United States than with the other great powers for the foreseeable future.


"It will never become another U.S. ally in the mold of the United Kingdom or Japan. But nor will it be an Asian France, seeking tactical independence within the framework of a formal alliance."

Overall a good read on strategic issues facing India (and to some extent US). Raja Mohan's forth coming book is Impossible Allies: Nuclear India, United States, and the Global Order.


Foreign Affairs Essays: The Rise of India I

September/October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs examined the role of rise of China with a lot of talk about its peaceful rise. The current, July/August 2006, issue is about the rise of India.

Gurcharan Das wrote about the economy, C. Raja Mohan about security and over strategic thought of India, Ashton Carter primarily focused on the current nuclear agreement between US and India, and Sumit Ganguly wrote on prospect of Kashmir derailing India's rise. Those who read Das’s India Unbound and Raja Mohan's Crossing the Rubicon may find their essays familiar. Ashton Carter was a lot more circumspect about the nuclear agreement then I would have expected. Sumit Ganguly used to promote strategic and moral equivalence with respect to Pakistan and India on J&K, but not in this essay.

Gurcharan Das talks about The India Model - a model in which the economy grows despite the corrupt and obstructive government. He gives the Indian entrepreneurs - the real Indian economic story - their due. He tears down Nehru and Indira and the apparently self serving "steel frame" bureaucracy.

"But what is most remarkable is that rather than rising with the help of the state, India is in many ways rising despite the state. The entrepreneur is clearly at the center of India's success story."

He tears down Nehru and Indira and the apparently self-serving "steel frame" bureaucracy.

"Indians mournfully called this "the Hindu rate of growth." Of course, it had nothing to do with Hinduism and everything to do with the Fabian socialist policies of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his imperious daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who oversaw India's darkest economic decades."

"No single institution has come to disappoint Indians more than their bureaucracy. In the 1950s, Indians bought into the cruel myth, promulgated by Nehru, that India's bureaucracy was its "steel frame," supposedly a means of guaranteeing stability and continuity after the British raj....But in the holy name of socialism, the Indian bureaucracy created thousands of controls and stifled enterprise for 40 years. India may have had some excellent civil servants, but none really understood business -- even though they had the power to ruin it."

Being a close observer of Indian economy, it was just a joy to read to Das's essay.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Manmohan Doesn't Have Anything to Say

Sharanya Manivannan, a Malaysian blogger, wrote an open letter to Indian PM Manmohan Singh asking him why he hasn't said anything about the continued destruction of Hindu temples in Malaysia. Link

"The Government of India has thus far taken no official stand on the issue. This is not for lack of knowing. Although the available information about these demolitions remains little, almost all the non-Internet media that has picked up on the situation has been from India. These are state-sanctioned demolishings, not the work of small factions of zealots...

When the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, the Indian government, along with academics and former state officials, responded with the outrage demanded of the situation.

Some months back, the Government of India sent an official criticism to the Government of Denmark regarding the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad, resulting in the cancellation of Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen's official visit to India at that time."

Sharanya, you are looking for the wrong man to take action.

And I think I know why Mr. Manmohan (I used to call him PM Manmohan, but I don't think he deserves the respect any more) doesn't have anything to say.

Mr. Manmohan is busy:

- he is busy providing reservations and quotes that divide Hindus into their castes, perhaps forever, for short term political gains;

- he is busy courting the minority vote in India; the Muslim minority vote that is. So don’t expect him to speak out against a Muslim nation’s atrocities against other minorities, especially against Hindus – it is not being secular you see;

- he is busy making peace with terrorists and terror sponsoring country; those are the same who ethnically cleansed a region of India of Hindus;

- he is busy making borders irrelevant to the terror perpetrators in our land but not for the minorities that are being terrorized in other lands.

CH: India raises a stink over Krishna Temple demolition in Pakistan

ANI's headline on June 15, 2006, after India protests demonition of the last Hindu Temple in Pakistan by it's government. Link

Part of the Classic Headlines Series

Thursday, June 15, 2006

End of Colonial Empire Companies, At Last?

IBM's Sam Palmisano calls for a change in the structure of multinational companies - stop being colonial East India type companies in order to reduce anti-globalizers ire. The classical colonial companies are multinational companies that currently do research and development in developed countries and make and sell wares - cars to TVs - in developing countries. He gives GM, Ford, and IBM as examples. But there are plenty more - from European to Japanese companies.

Palmisano wants companies to be full integrated globally with R&D everywhere and manufacturing everywhere – in a globally integrated model. Justifying his recent announcement of spending $6 billion in R&D in India, Palmisano thinks that is the only way big business can keep both the anti-globalizers and developing countries protectionist instincts at bay.

“The globally integrated enterprise is an inherently better and more profitable way to organise business activities – and it can deliver enormous economic benefits to both developed and developing nations." Link

Palmisano also had an assay in May/June 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs on Globally Integrated Enterprises.

In many ways, this is already happening. Intel and other major IT companies are designing small part of chips and software in India, China, Russia, and Israel. But there are many more companies, such as pharamacutical and biotech, that do not. Hopefully Palmisano's call will embolden these companies to distribute R&D and manufacturing more evenly based on their geographical markets.

Also, I wonder what he plans to do about the protectionist instincts of developed countries already in full force in Europe and budding in US. And what about the protectionist instinct of developing countries like China and India if their companies want to design and do research in developed countries - this probably is less of a concern because so little of it happens now in their own countries.

National barriers are breaking down, at least in business world. May be not for too long. Naill Ferguson, that Harvard and Oxford economic historian, the British historians (apparently most other British professors) love to hate, has written a book, The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred, that tries to show there may be signs that all the globalization hoopla may be coming to end with nation state reigning supreme once again in the near future (a not so favorable Economist of the book is here - link). More about that latter...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Books That Were Banned in India Since the 70s

Nilanjana S. Roy writes about books that were banned in India since the 70s in Business Standard. Apparently 70s was the decade when most books were banned – peak of Indira’s power.

“It was increasingly books that “misrepresented” India that were targeted. Desmond Steward’s Early Islam and Michael Edwards Nehru: A Political Biography were both banned in 1975 for what the government considered grievous factual errors, as were Charles Bettelheim’s India Independent and Alan Lawrence’s China’s Foreign Relations Since 1949. Lourenco de Sadvandor’s incendiary, and sadly ill-researched, Who Killed Gandhi was banned in 1979, while the ban on Arthur Koestler’s scathing (but hardly well-informed) view of Eastern religion, The Lotus and the Robot, was carried over from the late ‘60s.”

Satanic Verses ban in late 80s made a big splash…but there were others.

Apparently the newest book to be banned, The True Furqan: the 21st century Quran, was in 2005 – an anti-Islamic book by evangelical Christian proselytizing group.

I wonder if it is an exhaustive list. If it is, I am surprised at how few books were banned in the past three and half decades. My perception was a lot different. May be the banners have just moved on to movies what with latest the Da Vinci Code and Fanaa – they never read the books anyway. Link

New Dow Jones BRIC 50 Index

Dow Jones Indexes created BRIC index – Dow Jones BRIC 50 Index to track performance of 50 largest companies in the four countries. Fifteen companies from Brazil, India, and China and five from Russia are included in the index. Link

Indian companies included are:

Hindalco Industries Ltd., Hindustan Lever Ltd., Housing Development Finance Corp., ICICI Bank Ltd., Infosys Technologies Ltd., ITC Ltd., Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Oil & Natural Gas Corp., Reliance Industries Ltd., Satyam Computer Services Ltd., State Bank of India, Suzlon Energy Ltd., Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Tata Motors Ltd. and Tata Steel Ltd.

“The number of components in the index is fixed at 15 each for Brazil, India and China and five for Russia to reflect the size of each market. Each component's weight is capped at 10% of the index's total free-float market capitalization. For China, only "H" shares and U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies, such as Netease.com Inc. on the Nasdaq Stock Market, are used.”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

One of the Best Op-Ed I Have Read in Years

Gautam being a chemi may have played into his beautiful writing in Indian Express about slimy Arjun's plans to divide Indians...again.

You have made me feel low again, Mr Arjun Singh

Posted online: Thursday, June 08, 2006 at 0000 hrs IST

I am an OBC. I come from a place where discrimination on the basis of caste is common. I grew up hearing I was inferior because I was from a backward class. All through my childhood I regretted the fact that I belonged to a backward class.

When friends would tease me over my caste, my mother would tell me the only way to shut them up was to study well and top in class. I took her advice seriously and channelised my frustration into my studies. This brought about a big change in me: I started working very hard. From performing poorly in class I, I now excelled in studies, coming second in the district (supaul) in the class X exams in 1996.

Even after that achievement, some of my casteist friends disparaged my success, insinuating that I must have had some connection with the state government—I shared my caste with the then chief minister of Bihar. I was very disappointed. It wasn’t just the barbs of friends. My disappointment was more over belonging to my particular caste. But then once again I began preparing very hard to prove that my performance in the board exams had been the result of my own effort.

I worked very hard and got through IIT JEE 2000, ultimately obtaining admission to the B-Tech programme in Chemical Engineering at IIT Kharagpur. Initially, I was apprehensive about facing the same discrimination here as well. But I was surprised when no one asked me my caste. Nobody really cared which caste, creed or religion one belonged to. For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of equality.

It is my deep conviction that no place on earth can ever be as secular and free of casteism as IIT. Slowly, the feeling of inferiority engendered by my caste began fading away. I started believing in the equality of humankind. I started loving people—not based on their caste, but based on their values and ideas. I forgot all the discrimination I had faced earlier in life.

Looking back, I feel proud of having lived in such an environment. This place not only educated me technically, but socially as well. After my stint in Kharagpur, I believe I am truly secular. I’m not merely saying it; I feel it.

Perhaps it’s the way of the world that the moment you begin feeling good about something, it’s taken away from you. Before this 27 per cent education for OBCs was introduced, I had begun believing that India was growing not only economically, but also socially. I was beginning to feel free from the restrictions of of caste and creed.

But then our leaders reminded me of my caste. They made me feel ‘‘backward’’ all over again. They made me remember my childhood days. It has suddenly become difficult for me to feel the same as I did before this latest announcement.

I am truly worried about my alma mater. I feel our leaders are going to spoil our haven on earth for their own narrow, selfish motives. I would like to propose a solution: send all our leaders to the IITs. Only then would they come to realise the real meaning of secularism, the value they keep trumpeting. I would not take umbrage if IIT seats were given to our leaders to make them understand the true meaning of secularism.

But now I am sure that once they make reservations mandatory for admissions in institutes, equality shall be replaced with hatred and discrimination. I urge our leaders: please don’t do this to us. Our generation has changed. Please don’t separate us on the basis of our birth, something over which one has no control. We have the power to mould our destinies and fortunes; allow us to do that. We have started believing in equality, hard work and dedication as the recipe for success. Please don’t break our faith. It will endanger the unity of our nation. Please let the new generation of India live in a world where ideas matter, not the caste or religion into which one is born.

The writer was in the Class of 2004, B-Tech Chemical Engineering, IIT Kharagpur. gautamiit@yahoo.co.in