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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Agreement to Reach An Agreement

The Agreement Was Finally a Minimum Common Denominator

There was at least an agreement to reach an agreement on cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. China and India are keeping their powder dry, one hopes. US caved in in the last minute, after, apparently, assurances it got from developing countries that they would cut emissions too! And finally the hypocritical EU, which apparently took the lead in the talks, agree to cut, again. I'm sure they'll keep their promise, just like last time. Apparently there will be transfer of green technology from industrialized countries to developing ones. And the ever bureaucratic India inserted language that someone is going to monitor the transfer - one more ploy for blame game when the time comes? EU tried the usual nonsense of shoving the global agreement through, as it tried during the trade, Kyoto, and any number of global agreements, with the help of its friends - China, with the milder India backing it, put a stop to it with a "This is a conspiracy" charge. There were no specific standards mentioned.

I'm sure the polar bears sitting outside Bali conference (they must be glad it was cooler there at this time - although Bali is right on the equator) apparently will go back to North Pole happy! The ever more increasing ice shield of the Antarctic will probably not be happy because reversing green house gases will stop expanding glaciers at the South Pole if emission are cut - same correlation, in reverse, applies?

Climate policy analyst Eliot Diringer, of Washington's Pew center, looked on the positive side.

"It puts no one on the hook right now for emissions reductions," he said. "What's important, though, is that it lets no one off the hook either."

Now the U.N. will embark on at least two years of talks to fashion a more effective and widely accepted successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The process could determine for years to come how well the world will cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The roadmap is intended to lead to a more inclusive, effective successor to Kyoto, which commits 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases by an average of 5 percent between 2008 and 2012.[Yahoo News - AP]

What AP doesn't say is what happened to Kyoto that EU bulldozed through and US and Australia are usually blamed for derailing. First, Kyoto went into effect in 2005 (not 2008 as the AP report says) and was supposed to reduce green house gases to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012! Number of countries ratified the treaty but no one reduced green house gases. In fact they are actually going up. The only countries that reduced emissions, for a period of time, were the east European countries and Russia. These countries, which were still under Soviet Union in 1990, lost their industrial base in the early to mid-90s, post-USSR collapse, with emissions coming down rapidly. But now their economies are growing and so are green house gas emissions, as expected. The rest of EU countries increased, not decrease to pre-1990 levels, their emissions by 2-10% depending on the country! And the much maligned US actually reduced its emissions 2% while keeping its economy growing. Talk about European hypocrisy.

In any case, in the next two years, during negotiations, Bharat should hold to its per-capita based emission standards line. If industrialized countries can cut to 1/12 their current energy consumption - level of current Bharatiya per-capita consumption, fine, India will join in to cut energy consumption. Else green emissions or not, energy usage will sky rocket in the few decades catching up with rich nations. And there is still no cheap energy alternative to coal, oil, and gas on a mass scale, without massive subsidies from the tax payers. Meanwhile, Bharat better get used to managing it's vast coast line, flooding, and irrigation facilities to deal with impact of increasing warming - man-made or not.

Right Strategic Decision on Agni IV

The man who delivered anti-ballistic missile shield, if not the shield, at least the precursor technology, V.K. Saraswat, is strategically accurate when he says ICBM is not a capability we should focus on.

To a question, he said: “The ICBM is not our priority. India doesn’t need to build an ICBM to defend herself based on the current threat perception.”

He said Agni-IV was in the design stage. “Agni-IV is better than Agni-III in terms of performance envelop.”

He, however, declined to mention the range or the time frame for the first flight trial. He said two more flight tests for Agni-III would be conducted. [India not in the race for making ICBMs: Saraswat - The Hindu]

While Agni III, which was tested in April 2007, can reach most of China, the enhanced version, Agni IV, will cover the extreme northeast portion of Chinese territory where it has significant long-distance missile assets located. While most Chinese ICBMs, in the 10s, according to American analysts, are pointed towards US, they can easily be re-targeted. China considers US a strategic adversary, just like US does it.

Bharat, on the other hand, has no global ambitions, and without any animosity towards US and Russia, would rather get along with the rest of the world. Neither of these countries have animosity towards Bharat but they have deployed ICBMs that can be re-targeted easily. EU nations capability is degrading rapidly while Latin America countries are mostly second/third tier powers.

While deployed Agni IV will act to deter Chinese policy makers, stopping deployment after Agni IV by just having ICBM capabilities should suffice at this moment of Bharatiya's power project. If the world changes radically in the future, having ICBM capability would be sufficient for geopolitic power play until actual deployment, if needed.

Humour: Funny Political Comebacks

Chris Lamb lists political comebacks - mostly related to US politicians, in WaPo. Some are extremely funny!

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is said to have been drinking at a party when he bumped into Bessie Braddock, a prudish political opponent. "Mr. Churchill, you are drunk," Braddock said.

"And Bessie, you are ugly," Churchill said. And then, after a pause, he added: "I'll be sober in the morning."

There's also the story about Churchill's encounter with Lady Nancy Astor, who told him: "If you were my husband, I would poison your coffee."

"If you were my wife," Churchill replied, "I would drink it."

When Huey Long was governor of Louisiana, he supposedly told then-Texas Governor James "Pa" Ferguson: "If there had been a back door at the Alamo, there wouldn't have been a Texas."

"But there there was a back door -- and that's why there's a Louisiana," Ferguson said.

If an explanation is needed here - Alamo is a town, in Texas, where some Americans stood their ground against the mighty Mexican Army, when they tried to capture it, until American military come to rescue, in the late 19th century. Hence the reference to back door leading to Louisiana.

Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky and Sen. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts were sitting outside a Washington hotel when, according to legend, a man walked by with a pack of mules. "Clay, there goes a number of your Kentucky constituents," Webster said.

"Yes," Clay replied, "they must be on their way to Massachusetts to teach school."

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's Muddled Capitalism

Every Way But The Right Way?

UPA finally, after four years in power, has a plan to generate employment opportunities, apparently based on markets, instead of on subsidies and brainless government run employment schemes that only promote corruption and political patronage. The plan is not to simply de-reserve the existing 114 SSIs and allow existing SSIs to seek capital to expand to generate economic growth and employment opportunities, but to allow large companies compete with the existing SSIs!

Explaining its implications, Nath said: “This is important because we have got to modernise our SSIs. It is not that some reservations that are there would go away. Excise and other benefits will remain. The SSI sector needs foreign equity.” “If today someone wants to set up an SSI unit and ancillary units, they cannot fund it because it is not allowed. Now there is no limit. They can own an SSI. FDI would be allowed, but it will be governed by the investment policy. So if a large industry is allowed 51 per cent in that sector, then they will also be allowed 51 per cent in SSIs as well.” [To open up small scale industry, Govt set to remove restrictive law - IE]

If this is not a muddled way of doing things, I don't know what is? While competition is a great thing - the competition should be on a level playing field.

The reserved list of 114 items for SSIs still remains. Now larger, much better capitalized companies, will open shop to under cut the existing SSIs and send them out of business within a few years! Soon the large cap companies will have a monopoly in these 114 reserved industries, will enjoy the excise tax breaks, and they can do little for generating employment in these reserved industries, because they can't grow as the industries have to be SSIs!

What a mess. This is not crony or free market capitalism - it's muddled capitalism. The ultimate beneficiary will be shifted with this policy - now it will be new, but large, companies, where as de-reservation would have allowed the existing small companies a fighting chance. The losers will be the unemployed, as is currently, but also the existing industries which can't compete with the big dogs. Smart SSIs will sell to interested large companies, at the earliest, and get out of those industries. The not-so smart ones will be out of business soon enough, probably bankrupt. The government again is picking the winners, with little to gain in terms of employment opportunities, with its muddled policy instead of allowing the market to sort it out and in the process actually generate much needed employment.

This Was a True Interceptor Test

First Worked, But This Test is a Technology Breakthrough

The first test, in November 2006, was, rightly, rigged. The interceptor was programmed with the incoming missile trajectory and the interceptor did its job. And test validated preliminary technology demonstration of missile interception capability.

However, the second test, on December 6, 2007, was the actual thing. It is a technology demonstration of an actual missile interception. There was no rigging. An actual seeker on the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence - AAD 02, determined the trajectory of the incoming missile, a modified Prithvi, and maneuvered into position to destroy the incoming missile at hypersonic speed, about 15km above sea level. Now that is extremely complex.

Source: The Hindu

And DRDO should truly be proud of what it achieved in such as short period with, as usual, limited budget, when compared to other nations pursuing missile interceptor technology.

The target missile, a modified, single-stage Prithvi missile called ‘TGT-04,’ lifted off from Chandipur-on-Sea, Orissa, at 11a.m. Five minutes later, the interceptor missile, named ‘AAD-02’ (Advanced Air Defence), roared off from a mobile launcher at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across the sea from Chandipur.

As the target missile climbed to an altitude of 110 km and had a free fall at a speed of 2.5 to 3 Mach, the AAD-02, speeding at 4.5 Mach, performed intricate manoeuvres and homed in on the target in a head-on collision. The interception took place 25 seconds after the AAD-02 took off. [Interceptor missile test-fired - The Hindu]

And the next test, scheduled for April 2008, is even more complex. Two interceptors, one exo- and one endo-, are to track and intercept the same incoming missile, so that if the exo- misses, endo- can finish the job.

In April next, the DRDO would launch two interceptor missiles to intercept a single incoming target missile in both exo-atmosphere (above 40 km altitude) and endo-atmosphere (below 30 km altitude). However, there would be no endo-atmospheric interception if the exo-atmospheric test achieved a kill. [Interceptor missile scores ‘direct hit’ - The Hindu]

But, beyound exo- and endo-, the ultimate and most complex test scenario would be detecting dumb missiles, or decoys, from real ones to concentrate on the real ones to destroy. If DRDL's Advance Systems Lab can achieve that capability, it would be a truly world beating organization when it comes to missile and anti-missile technology and capability. Now, however, it's kudos to DRDO for a significant achievement.

As has been said before, capabilities matter more in geopolitics then actual deployment. It's a significant geopolitical achievement vis-a-vis our enemies. We can except the Chinese to acquire the technology, by what ever means, soon and deliver it to its all weather friend to the west.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wither Pakistan's Economy?

Side Effect of Moving Back to Democracy of The Old

Two things led to the boom in the Land of Pure's economy, which has grown at 6-7% plus with decent FX reserves, in recent years - monetary support from US (along with funds skimmed off, ostensibly, given to fight terrorists) and the vibrancy of Pakistan's most important trade city, Karachi.

Currently, there are increasing calls in US about the lack of effectiveness of US funded Pakistan's anti-terror operations and calls for more accountability on how the money is used by the Pakistanis. I think the gentle Pakistanis, post-Musharraf's dictatorship, will talk US out of the accountability hurdles and the country will continue to receive monetary support with few strings attached, even under a new US president.

But, with Gen. Musharraf's regime coming to an end, peace in Karachi may also be sunsetting - along with it, the prime source of recent LoP's economic dynamism. Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about one source of support for Gen. Musharraf's dictatorship over the past eight years, or at least since Sept 11 above turn of the General, under US pressure. While the article gives historic background on MQM party that control politics and trade in urban areas in the state of Sindh, especially Karachi, it also talks about the peace and pro-business years in Karachi during the past five to six years. Gen. Musharraf, himself being a Muhajir, did not continue the virtual civil war of the country against the Muhajirs, migrants from pre-partitioned Bharat, which started under former PM Zulfikar Bhutto's anti-Muhajirs discriminatory policies and pursued with gusto under Benazir's and Nawaz Sharif's regimes using the police and army against Muhajirs at various times.

Source: Economist

The lull in fight against Muhajirs, and their party, MQM, helped MQM come above ground and allow Karachi, a historically important trade and port city, to take off. While the rest of LoP was increasing coming under Islamic and Sharia influence, economically and socially, the booming Karachi remained secular and prospered, along with the country itself - the city accounts for 68% of the economy.

All that may be about to change, with the chief patron going away from the scene, and the old players and ways, including civil war in Karachi streets, probably making a come back. One of last paragraphs in the WSJ article gives a quote:

MQM is "a terrorist group that has a political wing, and then a military wing, which it uses to win elections," scoffs Taj Haider, a senior offical in Karachi with Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and a former senator.[WSJ]

Democracy in Land of Pure may be a good thing for most secular people in the country, except for the Muhajirs and their Karachi, and may be for Pakistan's economy.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Better Official Statement on Malaysian Tyranny

Here is what foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the parliament as report in IE:

Making a suo motu statement regarding the Hindraf—Hindu Rights Action Force— demonstration in Malaysia, Mukherjee said the “Government remains deeply solicitous for the welfare of people of Indian origin living abroad”. He added, “As members are aware, there is a large community of people of Indian origin in Malaysia who are citizens of that country. We have friendly relations with Malaysia and we are in touch with the authorities there in the related matter.” [Govt in touch with Malaysia: Pranab - IE]

After this Malaysian foreign minister threw it back at Indian government saying that it's an internal matter of Malaysia.

Here is a clear and, not a half-way, statement:

"We are concerned about the way demonstrations by Hindu minority asking for greater freedoms were put down in Malaysia. We are concerned not only because the people whose demonstrations were put down by massive force are people of Indian Origin and Hindus, but because of humanitarian reasons.

While we know it is surely an internal matter of Malaysia and it should act according to its own sovereign laws, it matters to all nations concerned how Malaysia, being a major modern Muslim nation, treats its minority populations. Malaysia has a proud history of tolerance and on the forefront on promoting inter-religious dialogue and understanding. Malaysian actions will not only be an example Islamic nations around the global, but also to other nations that dealing with similar issues, such as India itself.

We take pride in our friendship with Malaysia and hope Malaysia would set an example of inclusiveness and become a model to the rest of the world."

This message, probably, delivered by MEA spokesperson would have been far more effective than Mukherjee's. And then MEA can work in the background to change the ways of Malaysian government when it dealing with minority rights.

Update - Dec 7: Dr. V. Suryanarayan writes, in The Hindu, an excellent primer on the miserable state of People of Indian Origin (PIOs) - here, people from subcontinent - since Malaysian independence from Britain.

As a leading member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Malaysian government has sharply criticised many governments for pursuing policies that have adversely affected the Muslim communities. UMNO and PAS, the two leading Malay parties, have on several occasions since independence criticised the policies of the Thai government, which has led to the alienation of the Malay minority in southern Thailand. Malay leaders have also criticised the government of Singapore for pursuing allegedly discriminatory policies against the Malay minority in the island. Malaysian official criticism of India, for intruding into its internal affairs, certainly sounds strange.[Malaysian Indians: a disadvantaged community - The Hindu]

Strange but not unique to Malaysian Islamic rulers. It's part of Islamic one way dialouge with other civilizations - we tell you what's right but don't tell us what's right, because we are Islamic and what we do is God approved and always right.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Guha's Book in His Own Words

Because I am slow reading, and read every word, unlike some fast readers, I am still slogging with India After Gandhi, a Ramachandra Guha's self-proclaimed opus. I am getting close to finishing it. Despite it's draw backs, more than nit-picks, it's a really good book on Bharatiya history since independence. It's more than a summary - it is a very well written, extremely compact - if not it, probably, would have been 1500 pages or longer - flows really well, and most people will probably finish it in a week or two.

In any case, here is Guha's take on his book followed by Q&A (the women who introduced him took forever herself). The event was at a small Indian Arts Gallery in New York City, I think.

(Unfortunately, an rtsp embedded link from RealPlayer doesn't work in blogspot.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

An Excellent Primer on Terror Organization SIMI

Praveen Swami offers an excellent background on SIMI, the terror organization that blows up RDX bombs to kill innocent people all over the country and provides underground logistical support for terrorist operations to terror and government organizations from Land of Pure, and increasingly, Bangladesh.

Growing numbers of SIMI members followed in their footsteps, making their way to the Lashkar, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami training camps, but SIMI leaders continued to insist their organisation itself had nothing to do with terrorism. Its polemic, however, became increasingly bitter. In a 1996 statement, SIMI declared that since democracy and secularism had failed to protect Muslims, the sole option was to struggle for the caliphate. Soon after, it put up posters calling on Muslims to follow the path of the eleventh-century conqueror Mahmood Ghaznavi, and appealed to god to send down a latter-day avatar to avenge the destruction of mosques in India.

By the time of SIMI’s 1999 Aurangabad convention, the ground-level manifestations of this ugly polemic were only too evident. Many of the speeches delivered by delegates were frankly inflammatory. “Islam is our nation, not India,” thundered Mohammad Amir Shakeel Ahmad, one of over a dozen SIMI-linked Lashkar operatives arrested in 2005 for smuggling in military-grade explosives and assault rifles for a planned series of attacks in Gujarat. Among those listening to the speech was 1993 bomber Azam Ghauri who, by the accounts of some of those present, was offered the leadership of SIMI.

When 25,000 SIMI delegates met in Mumbai in 2001, at what was to be its last public convention, the organisation for the first time called on its supporters to turn to jihad. Soon after the convention, Al Qaeda carried out its bombings of New York and Washington, D.C. SIMI activists organised demonstrations in support of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, hailing him as a “true mujahid,” and celebrating the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. [SIMI and the cult of the Kalashnikov - The Hindu]

Ahluwalia Has It Right on Reducing Energy Usage

Let me just say upfront - I am a skeptic of global warming. Not global warming per se, but that humans are major contributing factor for the current global warming. I am skeptical that a few models could differentiate earth's warming and cooling cycles and could attribute current warming cycle to humans. But then I am also for clean environment - I worry about my car gas mileage, recycle paper/plastic, don't care for aerosol hair or cleaning products, and all for laws to remove pollution in water and air. And I am also firm a believer in free markets. Just like how a few climate modelers can't tell us anything about earth's warming and cooling cycles, a few socialist economists can't determine what the needs and wants of every family in a society are and use few simplistic models to tell us how much steel, for example, and how many cars and scooters to produce in the next few years. A free market is much better at determining that and allocating resources accordingly with the least possible market projection lag and over-run.

Coming back to why Montek Ahluwalia, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, is right. There are increasing calls, from international groups, that to reduce global warming energy usage has to be curtailed. But energy is a fundamental factor of economy. An economy can't be strong, viable, and growing without constant and vast supply of energy. And, in addition, for poor developing countries, like India, cheap energy is key to keeping the economy growing and pull the vast humanity out of poverty and misery. So, even if one were to believe that humans cause global warming and reducing energy usage will somehow reverse global warming, the reduction has to be based on parity among all societies.

Just because rich countries have started using vast amounts of energy early on, poor countries shouldn't pay for it now. In fact, the reason why rich countries are rich is because of high energy usage. Poor countries will never be able to get out of poverty and have decently well off populations without the availability of vast amounts of cheap energy.

Also, India has about a billion people with vast majority of countries about 20th the size, in population terms. Any country-based energy usage restriction will be grossly unfair to the people of India (and China).

The only solution is energy usage on a per-capita basis and usage standard should be equitable among rich and not-so rich societies.

Ahluwalia said there was an increasing acceptance of the argument that per capita emissions by a country was the right basis to fix responsibility of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Any reduction strategy based solely on total global emissions, and not differentiating on the basis of per capita emissions by countries, is fundamentally flawed and goes against the tenets of equality,” he said.

India is the fourth largest carbon emitter in the world, releasing 1,342 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2004. However, its per capita emission is just 1.2 tonnes of CO2, which is 17 times less than that of United States.[Montek objects to emission norms - IE]

Even the leader of UN forum for Climate Change is dismayed at the unfairness of solutions proposed to curb the so-called greenhouse gases. (Human Development Report on climate change.)

Chairman of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) R K Pachauri had also criticised the HDR on Monday saying certain sections of the report were “a bit questionable to say the least.”[Ibid]

Update: Sebastian Mallaby, columnist at WaPo, summaries all the issues facing any so-called anti-global warming treaty from an American perspective.

Update 2 (Dec 3, 2007): Ahluwalia expands on his thinking on climate change on Shekhar Gupta's 24x7.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Bharatiya History - Rather Study Of - Began

B.B.Lal is a well known Indian archaeologist. He gave the inaugural speech at an International Conference of South Asian Archeology, in July of this year, in Italy. His speech runs for several pages but the first few paragraphs summaries the attitude of the study about Bharatiya's past, especially pre-Islamic invasion era, by the entire international scholarship, those so called Indologists.

Perhaps this is the first occasion when a South Asian is being given this privileged treatment by the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists.

The conference hall is full of scholars from all parts of the world – from the United States of America on the west to the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, on the east. All these scholars have contributed in a number of ways to our understanding of the past of South Asia, and I salute them with all the humility that I can muster. However, I hope I will not be misunderstood when I say that some amongst us have not yet been able to shake off the 19th-century biases that have blurred our vision of South Asia’s past.

As is well known, it was the renowned German scholar Max Muller who, in the 19th century, attempted for the first time to date the Vedas. Accepting that the Sutra literature was datable to the 6th century BCE, he gave a block-period of 200 years to the preceding three parts of the Vedic literature, namely the Aranyakas, Brahmanas and Vedas. Thus, he arrived at 1200 BCE as the date of the Vedas. However, when his contemporaries, like Goldstucker, Whitney and Wilson, objected to his ad-hocism, he toned down, and finally surrendered by saying (Max Muller 1890, reprint 1979): “Whether the Vedic hymns were composed [in] 1000 or 1500 or 2000 or 3000 BC, no power on earth will ever determine.” But the great pity is that, in spite of such a candid confession by the savant himself, many of his followers continue to swear by his initial dating, viz. 1200 BCE.

The ultimate effect of this blind tenacity was that when in the 1920s the great civilization, now known variously as the Harappan, Indus or Indus-Sarasvati Civilization, was discovered in South Asia, and was dated to the 3rd millennium BCE, it was argued that since the Vedas were no earlier than 1200 BCE, the Harappan Civilization could not have been Vedic. Further, since the only other major linguistic group in the region was the Dravidian, it was held that the Harappans were a Dravidian-speaking people.

Then came the master stroke. In 1946, my revered guru Mortimer Wheeler (later knighted) discovered a fortification wall at Harappa and on learning that the Aryan god Indra had been referred to as puramdara (destroyer of forts) he readily pronounced his judgment (Wheeler 1947: 82): “On circumstantial evidence Indra [representing the Aryans] stands accused [of destroying the Harappan Civilization].” In further support of his thesis, he cited certain human skeletons at Mohenjo-daro, saying that these were the people massacred by the Aryan invaders. Thus was reached the peak of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory.

And lo and behold! The very first one to fall in the trap of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory was none else but the guru’s disciple himself. With all the enthusiasm inherited from the guru, I started looking for the remains of some culture that may be post-Harappan but anterior to the early historical times. In my exploration of the sites associated with the Mahabharata story I came across the Painted Grey Ware Culture which fitted the bill. It antedated the Northern Black Polished Ware whose beginning went back to the 6th-7th century BCE, and overlay, with a break in between, the Ochre Colour Ware of the early 2nd millennium BCE. In my report on the excavations at Hastinapura and in a few subsequent papers I expressed the view that the Painted Grey Ware Culture represented the early Aryans in India. But the honeymoon was soon to be over. Excavations in the middle Ganga valley threw up in the pre-NBP strata a ceramic industry with the same shapes (viz. bowls and dishes) and painted designs as in the case of the PGW, the only difference being that in the former case the ware had a black or black-and-red surface-colour, which, however, was just the result of a particular method of firing. And even the associated cultural equipment was alike in the two cases. All this similarity opened my eyes and I could no longer sustain the theory of the PGW having been a representative of the early Aryans in India. (The association of this Ware with the Mahabharata story was nevertheless sustainable since that event comes at a later stage in the sequence.) I had no qualms in abandoning my then-favourite theory.

But linguists are far ahead of archaeologists in pushing the poor Aryans through the Khyber / Bolan passes into India. In doing so, they would not mind even distorting the original Sanskrit texts. A case in point is that of the well known Professor of Sanskrit at the Harvard University, Professor Witzel. He did not hesitate to mistranslate a part of the Baudhayana Srautasutra (Witzel 1995: 320-21). In 2003 I published a paper in the East and West (Vol. 53, Nos. 1-4), exposing his manipulation. [Highlights mine]

And Sri Lal goes on to explain the fraud...thus began our history - just made up in few short years.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Musharraf's Mubarak Route?

Writing about the absurdity of supporting any dictator, liberal authoritative or communists socialists, Robert Kagan posits that Gen. Musharraf may be doing a Hosni Mubarak of Egypt:

Today, Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf is playing the old game, as is Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and it appears to be working. Substitute radical Islamists for communists, and the pitch is the same: Apr¿s moi, le d¿luge. If you force me out, the radical Islamists will win. And Musharraf is busily trying to ensure that this is the only option. He cracks down on moderates with good democratic credentials, and with far greater zeal than he has cracked down on al-Qaeda. If he can hold on long enough, he may so radicalize the opposition that no reasonably moderate alternative will be available. [Musharraf And the Con Game - WaPo]

Sounds entirely plausible. The pharaoh has been reelected for six six-year terms by destroying - arresting and shutting down - opposition parties, while fighting the Muslim Brotherhood radicals and terrorists, and getting at least $4 billion aid annually from Washington, most for any country (the aid is mostly because Egypt made peace with Israel during Anwar Sadat time, which is currently fragile but none-the-less legal).

Although Musharraf is much older to remain in power for very long, even if the Mubarak card works, Musharraf's successors can benefit from this arrangement. But it's hard to see Washington providing billions of aid to LoP forever, if the army doesn't fight the Taliban/al-Qaida terrorists, even if it makes peace with Israel - both actions being very unlikely.

What Are You, If You Read This Blog?

(via Ajay Shah)

Praise, But What Did He Get In Return?

Bush was effusive about Gen. Musharraf, that paragon of democracy:

President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."

Bush was asked in the interview if there is any line Musharraf should not cross. "He hasn't crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don't think that he will cross any lines," Bush replied, according to an ABC transcript. ". . . We didn't necessarily agree with his decision to impose emergency rule, and . . . hopefully he'll get . . . rid of the rule. Today, I thought, was a pretty good signal, that he released thousands of people from jail." [Bush More Emphatic In Backing Musharraf - WaPo]

What did Gen. Musharraf promise Bush that he would do? We may not know anytime soon, but it may have something do with allowing American forces to secure nuclear weapons and material, and probably allowing American forces to cross Afghan-Pakistan border to fight Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists. While we may find out eventually what deal was stuck, Bush, and the American administration, has once again showed that democracy and public opinion (in the brutalized country) will always take a back seat to American national interest. Always.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Secret Brookes-Bhagat Report - Babus Protecting Babus?

While the military planners still seem to be a puny ones with no strategic thought behind actions:

This is illustrated by a meeting of the hush-hush China Study Group in 2004, when the Indian army opposed the plan of constructing 12 strategic roads in Arunchal Pradesh, saying that these would be used by Chinese Peoples Liberation Army to come into India. At this point, the then home secretary testily told the then director-general, Military Operations, that if the army was so afraid of meeting the PLA on the foothills, it should prepare to meet it in Delhi.

the secrecy around the Brookers-Bhagat report on the 1962 Chinese war against India, written soon after the war ended, from December 1962 through May 1963, is mind boggling. Common notion seems to be that Congress I politicians do not want to embarrass the first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, who belong to the original INC, and his clan that continues to rule the newer Congress I party single handedly. But two different opposition coalitions, Janata Party, and Bharatiya Janata Party, ruled during various times and these parties too, which had every incentive to drag Congress I through mud, did not release the ultra secret war postmortem document.

I think it's more to do with babus protecting babus - one should never underestimate the power of babus and overestimate the power of politicians in the country.

In the late eighties, then minister of state for defence, Arun Singh, tried unsuccessfully to ask the defence secretary, S.K. Bhatnagar, to lend the Report to the army chief, General K. Sundarji, so that he could read it, but to no avail. In 1997, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, N.N. Vohra, was successful in accessing the Report, with a deputy secretary of the defence ministry waiting inside his office to ensure that there was no attempt made at photocopying it! [Truth of ’62 is locked away - Shishir Gupta, IE]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How Foreign Policy is Stitched Up Elsewhere

Arun Shourie, in his brilliant rhetorical style, reminds us, for those who needs reminding, how foreign policy is made in Bharat. Where bad becomes good and good becomes bad because the right people, who have no interest of the nation at heart, except to prompt their own blinkered views and ideologies, and, ultimately, their own national interests.

The very highest in this government allowed themselves to be persuaded by the Americans that we should do something that would strengthen Musharraf, as he was the best, it would seem the only option for us. Of course, they were nudged into accepting American ‘advice’ by that one mental ability they have in abundance — the ability to conjure wishfulfilling thoughts, thoughts that exempt them from standing the ground. This combination — American ‘theses’ and conjured rationalisations — led them to almost make a grand gesture of Siachin to bolster Musharraf, and yet again buy ‘peace in our time’, and that too under the exact camouflage that an American think-tank had stitched up.

The stitch job is actually fairly consistent since Indian independence from British Imperialists. The period under imperialism has taught most foreign policy babus (and coterie of politicians who control foreign policy) not to think for themselves, with national interest at heart, but reproduce, propose, and implement stitched up plans made in London, then in Moscow, and later, in Washington

Sri Shourie prefaces the above with this:

Here is one of the most deceitful men we have had to deal with. It is not just that he was the architect of Kargil. Here is a general who insisted that the Pakistani army had nothing to do with Kargil, so much so that he did one of the most dishonourable things that any armyman can do: he refused to accept bodies of soldiers who had died in the operation he had himself planned. And yet the same man claims in his book that Kargil was one of the most successful operations of the Pakistani army! Here is a man who has repeatedly dishonoured his word — pledged to the people of Pakistan, to its courts — about sticking to his office. Here is a man who has repeatedly issued decrees exempting himself from law, from his pledged word. Here, then, has been a personification of deceit. And yet, what a buildup he has had in India — eulogising him has been almost a fashion-statement among many Indian journalists.[Where have all the general’s cheerleaders gone? - IE]

And it's not just Congress I, which takes the biggest laddu, but also the likes of Jaswant Singh, who worked against national interest during Operation Parakram, after Parliament terror attacks, based on stitch up jobs in western press (Jaswant looked to the British for answers also).

This reminds me of early Nehru socialists days when P. C. Mahalanobis went around the world, in the summer of 1954, to get his economic engineering and planning ideas validated.

"The most brilliant" of these was Joan Robinson, then just back from a trip from China (where she was "much impressed by the progress they were making"). She thought htat the export-import sector in India needed more government control. Mahalanobis agreed, and in turn asked Robinson to visit India as a guest to the ISI [Indian Statistical Institute - that halo institute that could predict exactly how much 30+ crore Bharatitya would consume in terms of cars, scooters, iron, power, and everything else for the next five years]. This visit, he told her, "might be of very great help to us because her support may carry conviction that our approach to development planning is not foolish (sic). She smiled and said - 'Yes, I think I would be able to knock some sense into the heads of the economists in your country.'" [India After Gandhi, pg 215, Ramachandra Guha] (ISI explanation mine)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wonderful Show!

Created by Hawks, the newly arriving IAF trainers - 20 years in the approval process and 3 years since signed deal - imported from UK's BAE Systems. [Link]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

LoP, The Iran of 1979?

Comparing the current turmoil in the Land of Pure with the turmoil in Iran right before Ayatollah Khomeini took over and send Iran down an Islamic spiral, David Ignatius, of Washington Post, suggests it may be time for US to stop meddling in LoP's affairs.

The shah was America's friend, just like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He was our staunch ally against the bogeyman of that time, the Soviet Union, just as Musharraf has been America's partner in fighting al-Qaeda. The shah ignored America's admonitions to clean up his undemocratic regime, just as Musharraf has. And as the shah's troubles deepened, the United States hoped that moderate opposition leaders would keep the country safe from Muslim zealots, just as we are now hoping in Pakistan.

And yet the Iranian explosion came -- a firestorm of rage that immolated any attempt at moderation or compromise. A similar process of upheaval has begun in Pakistan -- with one terrifying difference: Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

The Iran analogy was made forcefully two weeks ago by Gary Sick, a Columbia professor who helped oversee Iran policy for the Carter administration during the time of the revolution. "There was no Plan B," Sick wrote in an online posting. He sees the same dynamic at work in Pakistan. "We have bet the farm on one man -- in this case Pervez Musharraf -- and we have no fall-back position, no alternative strategy in the event that does not work." ...

The abiding truth, about Iran then and Pakistan now, is that outsiders don't understand the forces at work in these societies well enough to try to manipulate events. The disaster of Iran happened partly because of American meddling -- in installing the shah in the first place and then enabling his autocratic rule. Pakistan, too, has suffered over the years from too much U.S. intervention...

But changing Pakistan is a job for Pakistanis, and history suggests that the more we meddle, the more likely we are to get things wrong.[In Pakistan, Echoes of Iran - WaPo]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Popular Useful Idiots

Here are not-so popular useful idiots one finds everyday and then there are popular useful idiots. Not-so popular ones don't do much damage until they help create terror or help destroy innocent lives - like the Tehelka sting operation and its supporters are doing now. The popular ones are the most dangerous ones.

Anne Applebaum, of Washington Post, writes about the latest popular useful idiots - a phrase used by Lenin referring to foreigners supporting his revolution and newly established workers paradise Bolshevik system in Russia.

Exhibit A is [Naomi] Campbell. Though better known for her taste in shoes than for her opinions about Latin American economics, she nevertheless turned up in Caracas last week gushing about the "love and encouragement" Chávez pours into his welfare programs. Wearing what a Venezuelan newspaper called "a revolutionary and exquisite white dress from the prestigious Fendi fashion house," she praised the country for its "big waterfalls." Not surprisingly, Campbell did not mention the anti-Chávez demonstrations held in Caracas the week before her visit; proposed constitutional changes designed to let Chávez remain in power indefinitely; or Chávez's record of harassing opposition leaders and the media.

But then, that wasn't the point of her visit, just as it wasn't the point when actor Sean Penn, a self-conscious "radical" and avowed enemy of the American president, spent a whole day with Chávez. Together, the actor and the president toured the countryside. "I came here looking for a great country. I found a great country," Penn declared. Of course he found a great country! Penn wanted a country where he would win adulation for his views about American politics, and the Venezuelan president happily provided it.

In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called "useful idiots" once supported Russia abroad, their modern equivalents provide the Venezuelan president with legitimacy, attention and good photographs. He, in turn, helps them overcome the frustration [John] Reed once felt -- the frustration of living in an annoyingly unrevolutionary country where people have to change things by law. [The New Fellow Travelers - WaPo]

A Logical Conclusion to Post-Partition Trauma in South Asia

And a Logical End to the Current Mess?

Nitin Pai at Acorn dissects C. Raja Mohan's rather uncharacteristic column in Indian Express that India should proactively work with the Pakistanis to support its territorial integrity.

New Delhi must move from a mere refusal to take advantage of Pakistan’s current internal crisis to a series of considered step — including troop reductions in J&K and greater cooperation across the international border — to signal India’s positive support for Pakistan’s territorial integrity. [Musharraf maelstrom and India - IE]

While I agree with the analysis of Sri Raja Mohan, I don't like his policy prescription.

Nitin tries to argue that:

Ideally, a stable, peaceful and internally reconciled Pakistan is in India’s interests. However, while a total collapse of Pakistan will certainly be undesirable, a breakaway state along the Durand Line need not necessarily be such a bad thing. Yes, as long as the state is illegitimate and constitutes nothing more than a ungoverned space that hosts al-Qaeda related organisations, it will remain inimical to India’s interests. But if the state were to somehow acquire legitimacy and become a ‘normal’ state that does not share a border with India, then it should be possible for India to work out a modus vivendi with it. How likely is the latter? Exteremly unlikely, it would seem, but we don’t really know. India would do well to spend some effort to find out. [Musharraf’s second coup and India’s response - The Acorn]

In the comment section, I went a bit further to say that a stable, peaceful, and strong Pakistan is not in our interest and we'd be better off with a divided and internally reconciled several states in the land mass that is currently Pakistan:

India should do no such thing as supporting territorial integrity of LoP. We didn’t cause it. Why should we support our enemy’s (is there another word for this country) territory? Does that include PoK also? We have a habit of putting our selves into unenviable positions repeatedly - as Nehru has done with respect to China. That’s one lesson (and only one lesson) we should learn from Indira.

It’s fine if Pak wants to be normal country - we should deal with it. But if it wants to break up, we should act and take back PoK and complete that land bridge to Afghan and beyond to Central Asia. And recognize and establish contacts with new nations such as Baloch and Sindh/Punjab - if it happens. In fact I think we should actively promote it. NWFP and Tribal Areas will be no better.

The whole land mass will be lot less of an enemy to Bharat. Imagine the strategic implication if Pak disappears. Beyond nuclear weapons, as long as we can protect the western border - and I suspect we can, it’s fool hardly to assume a strong Pak is in India’s interest. It’s like US, during the cold war, saying a strong powerful Soviet Union is in its interest (and USSR had lot more nuclear weapons). No, it’s not.

We should sit back and watch the situation with no guarantees and warranties to others. Only guarantee GOI should be giving Indian people is that it hasn’t let down guard on the western front or on the terror front in homeland. [Comment]

It may be time for Balochistan to declare independence - after all, General Musharraf killed their leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, just last year. With the already uncontrollable Pashtuns (or Pathans as we call them) forming their own state across Durand line or merging with Afghanistan (at least later, when NATO forces leave), the rest of the land mass of current Pakistan will be Sindh and Punjab along with PoK. The current Pakistan ruling class already mostly emanate from Sindh and Punjab. These two states can work to stay together to continue the experiment of Land of Pure and may even end up as a viable, stable, and progressive state.

This combined Sindh-Punjab could be India's buffer state to the uncontrollable tribal regions. This combined entity, as future Land of Pure, may still continue its policy of terror in India. But a weakened and broken-up land mass will be less of a threat to Bharat and less of an ally to Chinese or other hegemonic powers in the region.

Instead of guaranteeing territorial integrity of our enemy, we should make contingency plans to take part of PoK along with Northern Areas back - excluding the hard to control Muzaffarabad - and to recreate that land bridge to Northern Afghanistan that is dominated by Tajiks (and on to energy rich Central Asia). We should also be making contingency plans to work with the Americans to allow them to remove Pak's nuclear weapons and destroy nuclear military facilities before the terrorists can lay their hands on the weapons or facilities.

Breaking up the current Pakistan into its natural components will be a logical conclusion of the British Empire in the subcontinent and post-partition trauma on both Bharat and current land mass of Pakistan. And a logical end to the current mess in Land of Pure.

Can the General Survive After Angering the Three As?

Move to avoid the noose of Zulfikar Bhutto may have hastened it?

It was self-preservation that finally drove General Musharraf to impose emergency and chaos in Land of Pure. Now that he did, he seem to have lost the patience of at least two As - America and Army. The Islamists have been saying for few years now that the General has angered Allah.

American and Army play the same game. One gives and other takes and follows orders. If the general defied America, the Army may decide to cut its loses and move on. Hence the expedited move towards the noose.

The key question Musharraf faces is how long the army will continue to back him. Rank-and-file soldiers are keenly aware of the widening gulf between them and the public they are supposed to protect. The army, already demoralized, is unwilling to fight a never-ending war against its own people. [Ahmed Rashid's A Second Coup in Pakistan - WaPo]

Gen. Mush could have cut a deal with the Army and his buddy CoAS General Kiyani before the official announcement of the Supreme Court's verdict (it's very likely he knew what the verdict would be - there was no reason to make this move otherwise) and retired in Europe or America. No, he wanted to take his fate in his own hands. Now it seems it may not be in his hands anymore.

Musharraf seems to believe he has something else going for him as well. The general has survived suicide attacks, a plane hijacking and even an instance when he fell out of a mango tree. "I have confronted death and defied it several times in the past because destiny and fate have always smiled on me," Musharraf wrote in his 2006 memoirs. "I only pray that I have more than the proverbial nine lives of a cat." [Musharraf Declaration Seen as Latest Misstep - WaPo]

The wile cat may have run out of lives.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Another Emergency in LoP

How Does an Emergency in a Military Dictatorship Work?

Apparently this time Emergency was declared by the civilian president, Gen Musharraf. The previous crisis was precipitated by the General, then as the general, when he sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. With massive street protests and Lal Masjid debacle and growing dissatisfaction within the LoP, the General wiggled out the crisis by making the deal with Benazir Bhutto.

With American backing, Benazir thought she could come back and loot a few more billions before running back to London where her expensive headscarf and Oxford education make her an automatic westerner, despite her corruption and mal-administration. The plan didn't work out the way she wanted. Since the last time she was in LoP, the country has changed. Terrorists colluding with ISI mass murdered nearly 200 people in her procession on the day of her arrival. She stuck around for few more days making more enemies than friends in the country. Now, conveniently, she is in Dubai to see friends and family! Less said about that other leader, Nawaz Sharif, the better.

Raising everyones hope for democracy, at least the sham one LoP always had, Gen. Musharraf worked overtime to diffuse the previous crisis with active American State Department in the background. But the chief justice was back in business and the future for the General is not clear. If the Supreme Court nullified the sham presidential election of making Gen. Musharraf the president, the General will be without a role - he had already appointed his friend and buddy, Lieutenant General Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani, as Chief of Army Staff. But once in power, with himself being out of power, because of Supreme Court, who know what Gen. Kiyani would do.

Leaving the country's, Benazir's, and American hopes in tatters, General (not retired yet) Musharraf acted. He shut down the Supreme Court and nominally took over government radio and TV stations while shutting down the private ones (including the one that has a transgender has a host! - we were told, with no sense of irony, that made LoP more progressive then Bharat). I say nominally because the military already controls all administrative aspects of LoP's government.

So the military administration imposed an emergency on itself to control those institutions that were slipping away - like that increasingly independent Supreme Court. Now there won't be mass demonstrations to bring back Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Now there can be a rubber stamp as new chief justice. Benazir can go back to London from Dubai - dashing her hopes of milking few more billions from LoP. The Americans can be talked out of tough situations because, frankly there is nothing they can do. All hurdles are removed for the Gen. Musharraf. Until of course, a military C-130 crashes for some inexplicable reason as it happened when Gen. Zia Ul-Haq overstayed the LoP Army's welcome in power.

Update: A new rubber stamp chief justice is in place already.

Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who was one of the judges in the bench that heard the case against Chaudhry, was appointed the new Chief Justice and was sworn-in. Five other judges took fresh oath under the emergency proclamation. [PTI - The Hindu]

An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Ali Ettefagh, an Iranian, writes at Post Global that it may be it's time to dissolve the unnatural Land of Pure. And adding insult to injury, he says LoP should not have been formed in the first place. I don't agree with the latter (more on that someday) but I do with the first suggestion. It happened before - in 1971. May be it's time to break up the country into more homogeneous parts so that some parts can move on with development and be normal nations, for example Baloch and Sindh regions, while other parts, like NWFP, FATA, and may be even part of Punjab, with the help of LoP military, of course, can continue their march towards seventh century. And allow PoK to rejoin J&K and make Kashmiris happy and peaceful people again.

Pakistan was a phrase coined for an idealistic confederation of five Muslim provinces within the old British-controlled India (Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province or Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan). However, these are tribal lands with distinct traditions and have very little in common. These provinces were all knocked together, on presumption of a common religion, and a “dominion” was fabricated within the Commonwealth with self-governance authority akin to independence after World War II. It was all part of the post-war fire sale of territorial control of Britain. The ill-conceived plan even set up a separate territory of East Bengal as East Pakistan, a subcontinent away, with the rough-and-ready argument of common religious beliefs and a majority Muslim population. East Pakistan eventually became independent and renamed itself Bangladesh.

For as long as I remember, Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan has always been a hub of instability, smuggling and violent crime. Pakistan is the main transit route for opium and heroin from Afghanistan, where more than 90% of the world’s opium supply is produced. In turn, that cash flow encourages money laundering, armed banditry, murder, violence and corruption. Therefore, several conflicting layers of official structure naturally form, each operating as lawless gangs or states within a state. Drug-infested territories have a poor record of development. Power and corruption leads to uneven, Byzantine relations between groups and to opaque alliances. Meanwhile, the masses remain in poverty: according to the World Bank, that’s about a third of all Pakistanis...

There are other issues to ponder, namely a nuclear arsenal, missiles, a brisk small-arms export business (about $250 million a year) and the schizophrenic dual-tracked “friendship” with the U.S., al-Qaeda and Wahhabi extremists. Pakistan’s aimless Kashmir policies are perfect examples of circular political indecision. U.N. peacekeepers have remained stationed in Kashmir for more than three decades. [Why Not Dissolve Pakistan, Too? - Post Global]

An utterly sane idea!

How the Taj Was to Come Under a Wrecking Ball

Next time anyone claims British rule was good for India it may be worthwhile to remember this:

Excerpts from books on Taj Mahal and Mughal architecture:

Lord William Bentinck, (governor general of Bengal 1828-33, and later first governor general of all India), went so far as to announce plans to demolish the best Mogul monuments in Agra and Delhi and remove their marble facades. These were to be shipped to London, where they would be broken up and sold to members of the British aristocracy. Several of Shahjahan's pavilions in the Red Fort at Delhi were indeed stripped to the brick, and the marble was shipped off to England (part of this shipment included pieces for King George IV himself). Plans to dismantle the Taj Mahal were in place, and wrecking machinery was moved into the garden grounds. Just as the demolition work was to begin, news from London indicated that the first auction had not been a success, and that all further sales were cancelled -- it would not be worth the money to tear down the TajMahal. Thus the Taj Mahal was spared. [R. Nath's History of Decorative Art in Mughal Architecture]

The forts in Agra and Delhi were commandeered at the beginning of the nineteenth century and turned into military garrisons. Marble reliefs were torn down, gardens were trampled, and lines of ugly barracks, still standing today, were installed in their stead. In the Delhi fort, the Hall of Public Audience was made into an arsenal and the arches of the outer colonnades were bricked over or replaced with rectangular wooden windows.

The Mughal fort at Allahabad (one of Akbar's favorite) experienced a fate far worse. Virtually nothing of architectural significance is to be seen in the barracks that now make up the fort. The Deccan fort at Ahmednagar was also converted into barracks. Now, only its outer walls can hint at its former magnificence. [David Carroll's Taj Mahal]

Come to think of it, it sounds pretty close what the Islamic raiders and rulers did to Hindu and Buddhist temples and universities, few hundred years prior. The Islamics destroyed and burnt places because they weren't Islamic while the British destroyed places for profit and power.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Communists Restate the Obvious

Our brain dead communists have come out the closet again, for the nth time. Few weeks ago they denied their opposition to India's 123 Nuclear Agreement with US had anything to do with China. Now the picture becomes more clear.

He [CPM general secretary Prakash Karat] said that the sole strategy of the US was to capture the Indian market. And why does US wish to “capture” the Indian market? “Because China will be equal to the US in terms of economy and growth by the middle of this century,” Karat said, “so China has to be encircled.” He said the US was trying to make India its strategic ally to counter China, “the most powerful socialist country capable of challenging the might of the USA”.

He said the Government is aware of this “US hegemony” but prefers to remain silent.[US and India will corner China - IE]

The government wants to be silent may be because it wants to be part of the hegemon rather be a pawn in the global hegemony game. And in case Karat hasn't noticed the Chinese market is being "cornered" by America (companies, that is) and the Chinese are no longer Marxists socialists but dictatorial free marketeers.

To put it another way, Bharatiya communists are saying we care more about the future and security of China rather then Bharat's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not Our War...Not Quite Official

Another Durrani - Mahmud Ali, LoP's Ambassador to US, speaks of milking the Americans, who apparently are frustrated that they aren't seeing much return, in terms of terror fighting, for their $11 billion post-September 11 investment.

"It says, 'We don't trust you,' " said Durrani, the Pakistani ambassador. "We need more night-vision equipment, but every three months you withdraw what we have. This is what happens when bureaucrats dictate policy."

These expensive $6000 night-vision goggles are part aid to LoP army to fight the nonexisting terrorists in NWFP.

Advanced night-vision equipment of the type provided to Pakistan -- which amplifies tiny amounts of infrared light to spot people, equipment and other heat sources -- has been used by American GIs for more than a decade. But when President Pervez Musharraf's government requested them in 2002 and 2003 for use against insurgents fleeing across the border from Afghanistan, U.S. officials initially voiced serious reservations.

Eventually, after the accounting procedures were put in place, Washington provided more than 1,600 to Pakistani forces, according to figures compiled by Alan Kronstadt, a South Asia specialist with the Congressional Research Service. Pakistan was allowed to purchase about 300 from a U.S. contractor, and the rest -- about 1,300 pairs of goggles valued at $6.4 million -- were provided without charge by the Defense and State departments, Kronstadt said. A small number were also provided to Pakistan by U.S. intelligence agencies, said U.S. officials and independent experts.

The Pentagon's monitoring is conducted under a special program -- EUM, or Enhanced End-Use Monitoring -- that allows U.S. officials in Pakistan to check all the serial numbers every three months.[U.S. and Pakistan: A Frayed Alliance - WaPo]

I guess soon we should expect these goggles and other equipment to vanish from the western front and land on the eastern front - where the real enemy lays. Putting one and one together, it's may be only a matter of time before the golden goose is slain.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not Our War, Time for Deal Making

Former chief of Pak's military intelligence and ISI, Lt. Gen (retd.) Asad Durrani, says why are we dying for the Americans - fighting tribals in NWFP is not our war and it's time to make a deal.

My own assessment is that anyone we do not like in our tribal areas, we call them Taliban. Those opposed to negotiations would come up with [reasons] like Al-Qaeda being present. This is the old habit of refusing to do certain things and the pretext is anything you can find — in this case it is Al-Qaeda. The old English saying, give the dog a bad name before you kill it, that fits in so very well here.

But let me assume there are Al Qaeda elements and we don’t want them. We again will have to come to an arrangement with the locals who may be providing them sanctuary.[...war being fought in the frontiers is not our war - The Hindu]

If there is any way ISI and LoP's army can get al-Qaeda away from NWFP, they'll go back to their old ways of the good old '90s - send back Taliban to take back Afghan for the still needed strategic space and continue with J&K terror (and the thousand cut policy). al-Qaeda spoiled all that with its terror in the west and all the unwanted western attention to LoP. Ultimately, for LoP's elite, that's the only solution - as soon as the American and NATO forces leave Afghanistan. And it's not about cleansing the terror forces from amongst them and creating a democracy. The losers will be Afghan on the west and Bharat on the east.

Now When is He Going to Give It All Away

With the booming stock market, chief of Reliance India Ltd, Mukesh Ambani is the latest richest man on the planet.

New Delhi: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani today became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run in the stock market.
Following a strong share price rally today in his three group companies -- India’s most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd -- the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to $63.2 billion (Rs 2,49,108 crore).
In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around $62.29 billion each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.
Warren Buffett, earlier the third richest in the world, also dropped one position with a net worth of about 56 billion dollars. [PTI - Livemint]

So when will Mukesh give it all away just like Gates and Buffet are?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Defending the Defensible

Christopher Hitchens defends the term Islamofacisim - the term PC world of media does not want use and the self-appointed liberals jump up and down to label the term racist.

...so the question remains: Does Bin Ladenism or Salafism or whatever we agree to call it have anything in common with fascism? I think yes. The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures. [Defending Islamofascism - Slate]

Mishra Expands on His Opposition

It was hard to see why BJP was objecting to 123 Nuclear Agreement with US beyound the slicing and dicing of legal verbiage by Arun Shourie and the notion that it will not get the credit for completing the deal. Brajesh Mishra, NSA during Vajpayee years expands on why he opposes the current deal - but then there is a contradiction.

However, he underlined that his “impression” was that the Government is “less than enthusiastic” about the nuclear weapons programme. He cited the separation plan that puts 14 reactors under safeguards as a step that would limit the supply of fissile material claiming that in 2003, when he was in Washington, “we said that we in India would put a couple of our reactors under safeguards and all those to be built under international surveillance.” [Convince me n-weapons plan safe... - IE]

And he goes on to say, Manmohan's team kept in the loop, or at least consulted him, during negotiations.

If Manmohan's team indeed doesn't care about strategic program, the agreement is a no-go. But Anil Kakodkar, in charge of strategic program as chair of AEC, the original decenter, is on board. And there is every indication that the Americans have left the strategic program alone - i.e. no curtails on future strategic programs such as building additional military reactors or number of bombs, or amount of fissile material generated, at least until FMCT comes in play.

So the question seems to be, is putting 14 reactors under IAEA safeguard too high a price to pay for the agreement that legitimizes India strategic program while freeing up civil nuclear industry to interact with global nuclear industry?

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Decent Interview with a General

Most of Shekhar Gupta's 24x7 interviews are mediocre. Most questions are like he's making unserious bata-kani with his guests over chai. The latest chat with Gen. J.J. Singh, recently Retd. Chief of Army Staff, is a little better although he could have probably gotten more out of the general.

The General is surely a serious man and I am glad he's on our side.

When you write this history, how will you describe yourself? As the first Sikh chief of army staff? Or the chief of the Maratha regiment?

I am an Indian first and an Indian last. After that I'm a Maratha, because I spent 43 years of my life with Maratha troops. And then I'm a Sikh. [It's possible for us to have military history... - IE]

None of that Amartya Sen's muddled multiple identify nonsense.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another Deal - But This Time Probably Costly and Troublesome

Russia-India cooperation was probably at it's peak when a join team worked on Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. This was just a few years ago. India provided much of the money for R&D, which the crumbing Russian defence contractors couldn't afford, and learned a lot from Russians about designing and manufacturing advanced cruise missiles. The project may even be a money maker with a projected interest for 1000 missiles over the next decade by various countries. And India had spin off benefits with the newly developed air-launched supersonic cruise missile and, probably, Sagarika - potential submarine launched cruise missile, part of the triad.

But now India is going to sign another deal with Russia after vacillating for years with Congress I rejecting or disowning pretty much every defence proposal that BJP started but hadn't paid for before leaving office. This time to develop and manufacture the 5th generation fighter plane PAK-FA that apparently is on par with F 22A Raptor, the most advanced American fighter plane, and JSF 35, a US-British joint plane. India still expects to pay a lot of money for R&D and learn a lot about advance fighter plane design and manufacturing (and unlearn LCA development mistakes). But the Russians are playing another game. They want the money but want to use the existing advanced fighter jet design and get to work making it. I can just see trouble ahead with this whole project.

Here is how both sides are talking past each other:

In January, Russia promised that a prototype of the PAK-FA would take its first flight in early 2009. However, the IAF believes it will take close to a decade before the first fighter would be ready for induction.

Air Chief F H Major confirmed that the IAF has finalised the technical requirements of the desired fifth generation aircraft. “The air staff requirements for the fifth generation fighters have been made. It will take five years for development and it will be 8-10 years before the first fighter takes to the skies,” he said.

While the Sukhoi Design Bureau has already finalised the basic design and features of the aircraft, India is hoping to contribute to the programme and gain some valuable expertise for its DRDO scientists. [India, Russia to ink pact for developing fighters - IE]

In Yelstin's Russia, may be our guys could've pull it off, but in Putin's Russia, I doubt Indian engineers will learn much from this co-development venture. It's highly unlikely we'll get our money's worth from this project.

Another Bombing And Evolution of Thought

The most recent bomb attack was a masjid, this time a sufi mystic resting place. Two killed and 17 injured. The pattern becomes obvious - a small bomb in small Muslim town, Malegaon, in Maharashtra followed by Mumbai train bomb that killed about 200; a small bomb at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad followed by series of deadly bombs at market places that killed about 40 people. Now it's probably the turn of a market place full of people in Jaipur. Still no communal clashes. But the Islamic terrorits are like virus. They only need to succeed once to make one sick and perhaps destroy the body.

The Hindu's Praveen Swami puts these small followed by large bombings into an anti-tolerant, mainly Sunni, Islamic terror perspective. This probably explains why the impending religious clashes, the terror sponsors hope for, may never come.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is, almost without dispute, the most venerated Sufi saint of South Asia. Born in 1141 C.E., Chishti is believed to have studied at the great seminaries of Samarkand and Bukhara before travelling to India. Ajmer emerged as an important centre of pilgrimage during the sixteenth century, after Emperor Akbar undertook a pilgrimage on foot to the saint’s grave.

Chishti’s order laid stress on seven principles, notably the renunciation of material goods, financial reliance on farming or alms, independence from economic patronage from the established political order, the sharing of wealth, and respect for religious differences.

Chishti’s doctrine on the “highest form of worship” led to the saint often being described as the Garib Nawaz, or emperor of the poor. Several of the most famous Sufi shrines in South Asia – notably that of Fariduddin Ganj-i Shakar at Pakpattan in Pakistan, and that of Nizamuddin Awliya in New Delhi – were born of Chisti’s teachings.

Over the centuries, they have come to command a massive multi-faith following, attracting Muslims, Hindus and Christians alike. For that precise reason, they have long been under attack from religious neoconservatives.

Islamist critics of Sufism have made no secret of their loathing for shrines like that at Ajmer, which they claim propagate the heresy of ‘shirk’ – an Arabic term commonly translated to mean polytheism, but which is also used to refer to the veneration of saints and even atheism.

South Asian terror groups associated with recent attacks on Muslim shrines — notably the Lashkar-e-Taiba — draw theological inspiration from the Salafi sect, a neoconservative tradition also sometimes referred to as Wahabbism. Salafi theologians are intensely hostile to Sufi orders like that founded by Chishti, characterising them as apostasy. [The war against popular Islam - The Hindu]

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gore's Nobel "Peace" Prize With a Twist

As widely expected and predicted, with resignation, Al Gore got the Nobel Peace prize. But the Noble committee, the political animal it is, added a twist. It including U.N. Climate Panel as the recipient also. This is UN's second prize in six years? Apparently UN has become a very effective organization. Granted most of the panel members were climate scientists and policy wonks. It should have been just these guys who got the "peace" prize. But they are just to cover the committee's behind when it made the decision to give the prize to Al Gore.

A British judge seems to agree that Gore's movie was made up and that it can be shown to British children only with a caveat that it's a one-sided view. Gore answer apparently was, "I made up 1000s of issues in the movie but the judge thought only nine issues were conflicting," so the movie is game. I'm kidding about the 1000 issues, of course. Washingtonpost.com's Fact Checker has related post on this issue - the nine serious errors in Gore's movie, and has other links on the post.

May be Al Gore will jump into US presidential race and take the hard left-wingers with him spliting the Democratic party, although Gore himself is not an extreme left-winger, except when it comes to environmental issues. At the moment Hillary Clinton is leading Democratic nomination by a wide margin. With potential split, may be Republicans will retain the presidency despite the Iraqi quagmire.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bjorn Lomborg For Nobel Peace Prize

It's hard for any thinking person to make the connection - how is a Nobel Peace Prize connected to current local or global environmental issues. Yes, I read some of those reports on water wars and apparent other conflicts due to environmental causes. But they are all theoretical. As far as I know, all wars are fought over boundaries and economic loss, i.e. for big business (like, say, East India Company) - not for water or wetlands or dead fish. For argument sake, let's say there is a connection between peace and environment.

The front-running candidate for this year's prize is fairly well know. One reads news reports that Al Gore, former US vice-president, is lobbying hard using his Hollywood, Euro-politicians, and of course, various, so called environmental, NGOs connections to make it happen. He'll probably get it - at least for creating a fake movie and using his bully pulpit to make up stories about the impending gloom and doom due to global warming. After all, the Nobel committee gave Jimmy Carter the prize, in 2002, just to slap Bush around, who was building up to Iraq invasion. Jimmy Carter has been building houses for the poor Christians around the world for over a decade - not much peace making there. The committee is as much a political animal as it can get.

But the man who truly deserves the Nobel Peace Prize (if the connection between peace and environment still stands) is Bjorn Lomborg.

In his new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, Bjorn, after taking into consideration various, so called, catastrophic scenarios by 2100 due to global warming proposes sane solutions to deal with manageable problems caused by global warming in much more cost effective way.

Environmental groups say that the only way to deal with the effects of global warming is to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions -- a project that will cost the world trillions (the Kyoto Protocol alone would cost $180 billion annually). The research I've done over the last decade, beginning with my first book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," has convinced me that this approach is unsound; it means spending an awful lot to achieve very little. Instead, we should be thinking creatively and pragmatically about how we could combat the much larger challenges facing our planet...

A one-foot rise in sea level isn't a catastrophe, though it will pose a problem, particularly for small island nations. But let's remember that very little land was lost when sea levels rose last century. It costs relatively little to protect the land from rising tides: We can drain wetlands, build levees and divert waterways. As nations become richer and land becomes a scarcer commodity, this process makes ever more sense: Like our parents and grandparents, our generation will ensure that the water doesn't claim valuable land...

The IPCC tells us two things: If we focus on economic development and ignore global warming, we're likely to see a 13-inch rise in sea levels by 2100. If we focus instead on environmental concerns and, for instance, adopt the hefty cuts in carbon emissions many environmental groups promote, this could reduce the rise by about five inches. But cutting emissions comes at a cost: Everybody would be poorer in 2100. With less money around to protect land from the sea, cutting carbon emissions would mean that more dry land would be lost, especially in vulnerable regions such as Micronesia, Tuvalu, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Maldives...

As sea levels rise, so will temperatures. It seems logical to expect more heat waves and therefore more deaths. But though this fact gets much less billing, rising temperatures will also reduce the number of cold spells. This is important because research shows that the cold is a much bigger killer than the heat. According to the first complete peer-reviewed survey of climate change's health effects, global warming will actually save lives. It's estimated that by 2050, global warming will cause almost 400,000 more heat-related deaths each year. But at the same time, 1.8 million fewer people will die from cold...

Of course, it's not just humans we care about. Environmentalists point out that magnificent creatures such as polar bears will be decimated by global warming as their icy habitat melts. Kyoto would save just one bear a year. Yet every year, hunters kill 300 to 500 polar bears, according to the World Conservation Union. Outlawing this slaughter would be cheap and easy -- and much more effective than a worldwide pact on carbon emissions...

The typical cost of cutting a ton of CO2is currently about $20. Yet, according to a wealth of scientific literature, the damage from a ton of carbon in the atmosphere is about $2. Spending $20 to do $2 worth of good is not smart policy. It may make you feel good, but it's not going to stop global warming. We need to reduce the cost of cutting emissions from $20 a ton to, say, $2. That would mean that really helping the environment wouldn't just be the preserve of the rich but could be opened up to everyone else -- including China and India, which are expected to be the main emitters of the 21st century but have many more pressing issues to deal with first. [Chill Out - WaPo]

Here is an excellent presentation of his ideas in the book. (It's about an hour.)