14 October 2016

*** BRICS Summit October 2016 in India Against Soured Background

By Dr Subhash Kapila
12 Oct , 2016

The 8th BRICS Summit is being hosted by India in Goa on October 15-16 2016 ordinarily would have passed off as an eventful diplomatic event, but it now takes place against a soured background due to adverse strategic postures against India by its member-nations in 2016.

BRICS member nations line-up includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Intended as an economic grouping to prove as a counterweight to United States global dominance of financial institutions, BRICS has not met its intended goals as the strategic postures of its nations being contradictory to each other overwhelm and negatively impact the intended economic integration goals and its emergence as an alternative engine of global economic growth.

Major share of the blame for the generation of a soured background in2016 especially now hovering over any substantial outcome of the BRICS Summit 2016 needs to be shared by China and Russia as the leading nations of BRICS. Brazil and South Africa have succumbed to Chinese policy formulations opposing India and thereby ruling out their being cast as independent or neutral observers. India singularly stands alone in BRICS but not without economic and strategic clout.

China is politically and militarily adversarial to India now for decades and persisting as one is a recorded fact. The China-Pakistan Axis with strategic underpinnings pointedly aimed at India is also an established strategic reality. India vainly keeps hoping that economics would ultimately prevail and modulate China’s patent targeting of India’s strategic rise in Indo Pacific Asia.

*** US Military Research Labs will take commercial technology for a constant game changing third offset innovation

September 30, 2016

First offset - nuclear weapons

In the Cold War, the U.S. and its NATO allies sought a series of competitive advantages over the Soviet Union, a means by which to offset their very, very great conventional strength. The United States actually pursued two offset strategies. The first came with President Eisenhower's New Look Strategy in the early 1950s. When President Eisenhower came into office in 1953, the United States was heavily outnumbered by the Soviet conventional superiority on the European central front.

Eisenhower estimated it would take 92 U.S. and NATO divisions to have any chance of checking, at the time, 175 Soviet divisions. But a force that size, with Europe rebuilding itself after the Second World War, and with the United States starting to try to balance its budget for a long-term competition with the Soviet Union, it was neither politically or economically viable.

So to counter Soviet superiority without bankrupting the West, Eisenhower directed a top-level strategic review which resulted in what was called the New Look. And that said the U.S. would reduce military manpower and would rely instead on its nuclear arsenal, where we had a big advantage at the time, for deterrence. We had a very substantial lead at the time, and that technological advantage in nuclear weapons and their delivery systems provided the most effective offset to Soviet strength and their geographical advantage.

Second offset -precision weapons

Soviets built up their tactical and nuclear -- strategic nuclear forces. By the 1970s, the dangers of nuclear escalation were just too high.

In the 1970s, the US developed a second offset strategy. In 1973, what became DARPA launched a project called the Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program.

*** Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

11 October 2016  
Source Link

We increasingly let computers fly planes and carry out security checks. Driverless cars are next. But is our reliance on automation dangerously diminishing our skills?

When a sleepy Marc Dubois walked into the cockpit of his own aeroplane, he was confronted with a scene of confusion. The plane was shaking so violently that it was hard to read the instruments. An alarm was alternating between a chirruping trill and an automated voice: “STALL STALL STALL.” His junior co-pilots were at the controls. In a calm tone, Captain Dubois asked: “What’s happening?”

Co-pilot David Robert’s answer was less calm. “We completely lost control of the aeroplane, and we don’t understand anything! We tried everything!”

The crew were, in fact, in control of the aeroplane. One simple course of action could have ended the crisis they were facing, and they had not tried it. But David Robert was right on one count: he didn’t understand what was happening.

As William Langewiesche, a writer and professional pilot, described in an article for Vanity Fair in October 2014, Air France Flight 447 had begun straightforwardly enough – an on-time take-off from Rio de Janeiro at 7.29pm on 31 May 2009, bound for Paris. With hindsight, the three pilots had their vulnerabilities. Pierre-Cédric Bonin, 32, was young and inexperienced. David Robert, 37, had more experience but he had recently become an Air France manager and no longer flew full-time. Captain Marc Dubois, 58, had experience aplenty but he had been touring Rio with an off-duty flight attendant. It was later reported that he had only had an hour’s sleep.

*** Syria war became conflict between USA and Russia and Iran

Even if the Syrians are the ones being forced to suffer, for many of those involved, the conflict is no longer about Aleppo or even Syria. Of this, the Babylonian mixture of languages spoken on the frontlines and in the air above is just one of many indications. "I have the feeling that we have become laboratory rats for Russian, Iranian and Syrian weapons -- and for the West's political experiments," says Sharif Mohammed, a civilian who is holding out in eastern Aleppo.

In its sixth year, the conflagration has become a kind of world war in three respects. Firstly, for the last four years, large numbers of foreigners have been flowing into the country to join the fight. More than 20,000 radical Sunnis have joined Islamic State (IS) and about three times that many Shiites from a half-dozen countries are thought to be fighting on behalf of the Assad regime.

The US-Russia Proxy War

Secondly, the conflict has destabilized the entire region, a development that has helped Islamic State expand its influence in addition to heating up the civil war between the Kurdish PKK and the Turkish government.

Thirdly, Syria has become a proxy war between the US and Russia. At stake is the role America wants to play in the world -- and the role that Russia can play in the world.

It has been a year since Putin began his intervention in Syria -- on the pretext that he intended to fight Islamic State. For a year, the Americans and Russians tried to convince themselves that they shared common interests in Syria and could agree to fight terrorism together. But in reality, Russia is playing a role similar to the one it adopted in Ukraine: It is providing massive amounts of military support to one side, thus becoming a de facto party to the war, while posing on the international stage as a mediator and part of a possible diplomatic solution.

*** Can Intellectuals Wear Muddy Boots?

Talent management is a hot topic today, and we increasingly read articles and blog posts that are very critical of the military’s management of its personnel. However, the tension between talent management and our promotion system is not a new one. If one studies the history of our military or reads biographies of those who’ve been labeled as “reformers” or “intellectuals”, we find that the institution is not always kind to those who think outside the box or push the boundaries of intellectual thought in the Profession of Arms.

In the late 1800s, a young company grade officer by the name of Arthur Wagner was a member of a network of military leaders who were labeled as the Young Turks. He and his compatriots were intellectuals and reformers. They were not happy with the status quo, and they sought to bring about change by writing in journals such as the Army and Navy Journal, Journal of Military Service Institution, and the Journal of United States Cavalry Association. They pushed the Army to think more deeply about war, develop tough realistic training practices, and create a professional military education system that better prepared leaders for the realities of combat. If Arthur Wagner were around today, he would probably be a member of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, the Military Writer’s Guild, and a frequent contributor to sites like From the Green Notebook, The Strategy Bridge, The Military Leader, Ricks’ Best Defense, Small Wars Journal, and War on the Rocks.

Like many past reformers and forward thinkers, Wagner’s pursuit of improving the Profession of Arms came into direct conflict with his desire for promotion. In 1904, Colonel Wagner wrote a letter to his good friend General Franklin J. Bell after hearing a rumor that his chances of being promoted to Brigadier General were slim because he had the reputation of being an intellectual. Below are excerpts of his letter, and I ask readers to consider the culture of the military today while reading it. Have we improved as an organization? In today’s military, can “intellectuals” wear muddy boots? Can “muddy boots leaders” carry books in their rucksack? Or do we still feel the need to distinguish between “muddy boots leaders” and “intellectuals”?

My Dear Bell: April 28, 1904

I have reflected a great deal upon the matter which you recently mentioned; namely, that you had heard an objection made to my promotion on the ground that while I am acknowledged to be well versed- even “deeply versed”- in the theory of my profession, I am not “practical.” On what this statement is founded, unless it is based merely upon prejudice or ignorance of facts, I am at a loss to know.

*Reclaim PoK: India’s Statutory Obligation

By Rakesh Kr Sinha
12 Oct , 2016

The Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) reminds this nation of an unfinished task of the partition, a scar, deep somewhere in the collective conscience of this country. The PoK can be broadly defined as a captured vassal State of the Punjabi Muslim dominated Pakistani regime, left far behind in the march of human civilization, in news with an importunate regularity for all bad reasons. A terrorist haven, a nursery, a training field, a launching pad, it has turned out to be a laboratory for experimenting jihadi extremism with new models of terrorism, duly supported and nurtured as a tool of State policy by Pakistan.

In March 1993, the High Court of Judicature of ‘Azad’ J&K in a judgement had said that the ‘Northern Areas’ were an integral part of J&K and consequently the Govt of Pakistan should revert the control…

As regards to physical control of the territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), out of 2,22,236 sq km, the PoK has 78,114 sq km i.e. 35.15 % ; China occupies 42,735 sq km i.e.19.23% of the total area that also includes the territory (5,180 sq km) of Shaksgam–Murtagh Valley ceded to China by Pakistan through Sino Pakistan Frontier Agreement of March 02, 1963. Inside PoK, the so called ‘Azad Kashmir’ (Mirpur, Poonch) has 13,297 sq km of territory with it and the rest is known as Northern Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.

* Stop politicising the Armed Forces

By Brig Anil Gupta
12 Oct , 2016

The entire nation is dismayed at the vocal slugfest going on between the political parties on the national media. The political discourse has reached its lowest ebb with the choice of language nothing less than deplorable. One had heard such phraseology and words at street level politics but expected much sober and mature terminology at the highest echelons of politics. Oratory is a skill and USP of a successful politician but it should never cross the ‘Laxman Rekha’ of morality and decency.

In order to score political brownies over the issue of ‘surgical strike’ they are doing irreparable damage by dragging Army in order to meet their political ends.

In the yesteryears people eagerly awaited to listen to the national leaders and appreciated them for their vision and oratory skills. What has happened that has led to such dismal discourses that at times one wonders about the calibre of the modern day politicians. One possible cause could be a shift from “accommodative politics” of yesteryears to modern day “combative politics” with media acting as a force multiplier.

The Indian Armed Forces, Army in particular, are being unnecessarily being dragged into this political one-upmanship. At the eye of the storm is the successful ‘surgical strike’ carried out by the Army on the intervening night of 28th -29th September that shook the Pakistani Deep State and world-wide changed the image of India from being a ‘Soft State’ to a nation ready to fight terrorism and its perpetrators employing all elements of national power of which ‘political will’ is most critical.

Does SAARC Have A Future? – OpEd

OCTOBER 13, 2016

The recent cancellation of the 19th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that was scheduled to take place in Islamabad on November, 15 and 16, has led to serious doubts as to whether SAARC can fulfill its objectives and remain as a useful forum that would be beneficial to the eight nations that are members of the SAARC.

India cited Pakistan’s involvement in the September 18 terrorist attack at an Army camp in Uri town of Kashmir, in which 19 soldiers died, as the reason for its decision to boycott the summit. When a few other member countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan supported India’s stand and decided not to attend the 19th summit at Islamabad, there was no option for Nepal, the Chairman of SAARC to cancel the summit.

Obviously, this has created considerable dissatisfaction in Pakistan, creating serious fissures among SAARC nations.
Potential strength not being realized

SAARC, with member states of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and around 9% of the global economy. With such strength, SAARC has the potential to emerge as a strong center of power in the world, with prospects of emerging as a decisive economic and trade entity.

For this to happen, there has to be unity and sound understanding between the SAARC nations, which are conspicuous by absence.
Very little to show

With its secretariat based in Kathmandu, SAARC is supposed to promote development of economic and regional integration.

The future of Ladakh

By Claude Arpi
13 Oct , 2016

Making Ladakh a Union Territory would not only help ‘localise’ the Kashmir issue to the Valley, it would also provide a better administration to the mountainous region, streamline the security and send a message to China: ‘India cares for Ladakh’.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh paid a belated two-day visit to Ladakh after last month’s much-publicised all-party delegation’s trip to Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh had been forgotten in that programme.

While in Srinagar in September, Mr Singh remarked that the delegation’s talks with the various sections in J&K have been fruitful. Various sections but minus Ladakhis! The neglect of Ladakh is not new.

In April 1952, Sonam Wangyal, a resident of Leh wrote to the Indian Prime Minister: “When Kargil fell to Pakistan, (in 1947) the Muslims of Padam (Zanskar) anticipating the entry of an Indian force from Lahoul made it their first business to invite Pakistan troops from Kargil. In this they succeeded… the Buddhist suffered during the occupation of their land by Pakistan, how their Gumpas (monasteries) were looted and desecrated, their women outraged, their men slaughtered and their houses rifted is common knowledge.”

Hundreds of Ladakhis eventually fled to Kulu, “large percentage of them perished during their fugitive wanderings.”

At that time, some elements in the local police are said to have sided with the invaders. Wangyal’s letter requested Nehru to send some relief to the suffering population through Kushok Bakola, Ladakh’s head lama: “May we hope that the excesses of the police will be duly inquired into and that this force will, in any case be withdrawn and replaced, if necessary by an Indian military picket.”

Should India be concerned about Russia’s closeness with Pakistan?

By Bharat Lather
13 Oct , 2016

In Pakistan, the standard narrative of Islamabad-Moscow relations begins a purportedly fateful choice said to have been made in 1949. That year, Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was invited by Moscow for a state visit, which he promptly accepted. However, upon receiving an invitation from Washington, Liaquat cancelled the Moscow visit, going to Washington instead, beginning what would become an on-again, off-again relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

Moscow, realizing that its longtime partner (India) is now seeing other people, has lifted an arms embargo on Islamabad, which is keen on modernizing its military…

As the U.S.-India embrace tightens, former Cold War foes Pakistan and Russia are bolstering ties with one another. Pakistan was an early Cold War partner of the United States, ultimately helping to evict the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989. While India proclaimed a policy of non-alignment, it was firmly allied with the Soviet Union, which served as its chief defense supplier for decades. Those strong ties continued following the end of the Cold War into recent years. While India’s defense arsenal remains overwhelmingly Russian in origin, over the past four years, Washington is on the verge of supplanting Moscow to become New Delhi’s top defense supplier. Moscow, realizing that its longtime partner is now seeing other people, has lifted an arms embargo on Islamabad, which is keen on modernizing its military and reducing its dependence on Washington.

Role of the former Soviet Union (Presently Russia) in the Indo-Pak War of 1971

Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Plan: All Talk and Little Action

By Dr Sanchita Bhattacharya
13 Oct , 2016

In implementation of its National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, the Pakistani government, as reported on September 26, 2016, initiated a widespread fiscal crackdown against over 8,400 individuals allegedly involved in terror financing in an apparent sign of state acting decisively to track and block the money supply to extremists.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb did yield positive results, but the major portion of the NAP, which was about taking action against extremism and the extremist mindset, has not yet been implemented.

According to official sources, “over three dozen banks have also choked around Rs101 million in suspicious funds owned by 177 madaris”.[1] “All bank accounts of Lal Mosque’s top cleric Maulana Aziz and gangster Shahid Bikiki of Lyari Aman Committee have been frozen. Their travel documents have also been cancelled,” a senior official of the Ministry of Interior, stated. In addition, authorities at the National Database Registration Authority and Directorate of Passport and Immigration office have blocked travel documents of over 3,111 terror suspects whose names were listed in Schedule IV recently.

Among prominent terrorists whose accounts have been frozen are: Mati-ur-Rehman of al-Qaeda Pakistan, Mansoor alias Ibrahim alias Chotta of Tehreek-e-Taliban and Qari Ehsan alias Ustad Huzaifa of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Pakistan Government has already announced Rs20 million bounty on their heads. Accounts of Umar Chohas of Tehrik-i-Taliban al-Qaeda group, Bilal Ahmed of TTP al-Qaeda Pakistan, Ramzan Mengal of LeJ, Sher Abbas of Jamaatul Furqan, Maulvi Ahmed Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Maqsood Domki of Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Pariyal Shah, Sarfraz Pappu, Imaad Ali, Baqir Moosvi, Hafiz Aurangzaib and Kabir Raza of ASWJ, Sibtain Shirazi of defunct Tehreek-i- Jafaria Pakistan and Mirza Ali of defunct TJP have also been frozen.

The Risk-Taker

September 25, 2016

Indian Express
Summary: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seeks to break out of the many presumed constraints on India’s Pakistan policy by taking more risks than his predecessors.
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For a quarter of a century, India has struggled to negotiate peace with Pakistan under the shadow of nuclear weapons and cross-border terrorism. Limited gains and enormous frustration from that process have begun to compel Delhi to break from the past. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new approach seeks to break out of the many presumed constraints on India’s Pakistan policy by taking more risks than his predecessors. Modi’s willingness to probe the limits of escalation — both horizontal and vertical — marks a new phase in India’s troubled relations with Pakistan.

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, India’s leaders were weighed down by the prospect that any conventional military action against Pakistan’s support to cross-border terror would inevitably escalate to the nuclear level. Delhi was also paralysed by the fear of “internationalising” theKashmir question and inviting “third party mediation” into India’s disputes with Pakistan. The Clinton Administration’s decision in 1993 to question the legitimacy of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India was compounded by Washington’s perception of Kashmir as the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoint and its quick interventions to defuse the frequent military crises between India and Pakistan.

A deeply defensive India in the 1990s believed negotiations with Pakistan were necessary to resolve the impasse in Kashmir. The governments of HD Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral (1996-98) put Kashmir back on the negotiating table with Pakistan. After the Shimla Agreement of 1972, Delhi saw itself under no compulsion to negotiate on Kashmir. Gujral’s successor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, after multiple military crises, negotiated the terms of a peace process with General Pervez Musharraf that called for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute in a violence-free atmosphere. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ran with this baton and came close to resolving the disputes in Siachen and Sir Creek, negotiated an agreement on Kashmir, expanded economic engagement and people to people contact during 2004-06.

The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data

September 01, 2016 

The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data

Summary: The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes for the Indian Administrative Service, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.

India’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, but the country’s bureaucratic quality is widely perceived to be either stagnant or in decline. While small, India’s elite civil service cadre, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), occupies the nerve center of the Indian state. Unfortunately, the IAS is hamstrung by political interference, outdated personnel procedures, and a mixed record on policy implementation, and it is in need of urgent reform. The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.

Key Insights Into the IAS 

For officers early in their careers, exam scores and education are highly predictive of future success. 

Older officers who enter the service as part of larger cadres face limited career prospects and are less effective at improving economic outcomes. 

While initial characteristics heavily shape career trajectories, in the long term, there are clear rewards for officers who systematically invest in training or acquire specialized skills. 
Individual bureaucrats can have strong, direct, and measurable impacts on tangible health, education, and poverty outcomes. 

Surprisingly, officers with strong local ties—thought to be vulnerable to corruption—are often linked to improved public service delivery. 

Does India Really Want to Go to War?

October 12, 2016 

We are going through a strange time in India. Even as we live it we are rewriting history. It isn’t that we transformed overnight into another kind of country. We didn’t change in isolation. The world around us continues to change and it is inevitable that we will change with it, especially when it comes to international relations and how we approach them.

War is a malaise. Like avian flu or HIV or dengue fever, it is born of a beast and there is a beast in both citizen and nation which we keep wrapped and leashed with clothes and flag, societal norms and the constitution.

But war, like all infectious diseases, has a way of creeping into the system and minds, insidiously at first and then with blatant disregard for life and the toll it may take.

Just as happened with avian flu, HIV and dengue fever, many of us thought it would never come to India. Yet suddenly it seems that even if we are not at war, there is a great deal of warmongering being instigated, especially in certain sections of the media.

We are a peace loving democracy. We may have countless internal problems: water disputes over a river, lynchings for consumption of beef in states where it is banned, child trafficking, farmer suicides, Maoist attacks, environmental devastation, an almost civil war-like situation in Kashmir, corporate and political corruption.

But we have not gone to war.

Disability Pension Controversy: Here Is The Complete Picture

What is the complete story behind the ‘slashing of the disability pension’ of the defence forces? Read below.

Yesterday, there were reports which claimed that even as the country was saluting the armed forces in the wake of their surgical strikes in Pakistan, the Modi government had ‘quietly put the finishing touches on a plan to slash disability pensions for injuries incurred in the line of duty’.

This shows the union government as not only being disrespectful towards the armed forces but being so at a time when the the country at large is saluting them for their surgical strikes inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

So what is the complete story behind the ‘slashing of the disability pension’? Read below:

The problem

Disability element of pension for defence personnel, during the 5th Central Pay Commission (CPC) regime, was calculated based upon a slab system. For civilians, the same was calculated based upon percentage of emoluments. This was a grave anomaly and resulted in lower disability benefits to disabled soldiers as compared to civilian counterparts. Only soldiers at lower ranks with lesser length of service stood to gain by slabs.

The solution

The 6th CPC removed this anomaly and started a regime of percentage system both for civilians and defence personnel. To offset any loss to lower ranks, the Government introduced an amount as a minimum slab which was guaranteed if the calculation by way of percentage fell below that level.

The error

Be warned Pakistan, you are dealing with a new reality now

October 10, 2016
Source Link

'Since India has to live next to Pakistan, it can't remain under permanent blackmail.'

'A predictable consequence of these fundamental shifts is the fraying of the principle of strategic restraint.'

'It hasn't been junked. But the threshold has been shifted to provide India much greater room for retaliatory action,' says Shekhar Gupta.

Smarting under the impact of the 9/11 terror attacks, the George W Bush administration had its battering ram, Deputy Secretary of Defence Richard Armitage, to summon the chief of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, asking him to dump the Taliban and become a US ally, or else.

The Pakistani general started arguing that there was a history of his country's and the agency's role in Afghanistan and how they had vital interests there. 'History,' Armitage is said to have declared, 'begins here and now.'

It doesn't happen often, but events, leaders, ideologues can sometimes arrive at the same conclusion and when they believe they have the power to do so, make the same assertion.

That's what Narendra Modi has done with his declared strikes along the Line of Control in Kashmir. What exactly happened in the night intervening September 28 and 29, how deep did Indian commandos go, how much success they achieved in terms of death and destruction, or, even, if you allow the Pakistanis a question, did they even go 'in' or just 'fired small arms' from the Indian side killing two soldiers, are all minor, tactical issues.

The substantive, strategic issue is: India made the public statement it did. This redefines the India-Pakistan relationship hereon. It also firmly signals the end of continuity from the Indian side.

The India–Sri Lanka Fisheries Dispute: Creating a Win-Win in the Palk Bay

September 09, 2016 

Summary: With renewed commitment, India and Sri Lanka have a chance to bring stakeholders together, halt the damaging effects of trawling, and secure the livelihoods of their people.

V. Suryanarayan, retired, was formerly the founding director and senior professor of the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras.

The Palk Bay, a narrow strip of water separating the state of Tamil Nadu in India from the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, has historically provided rich fishing grounds for both countries. However, the region has become a highly contested site in recent decades, with the conflict taking on a new dimension since the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009. Multiple issues have compounded to bring tensions to a near crisis point, with serious ramifications for internal and bilateral relations. These issues include ongoing disagreement over the territorial rights to the island of Kachchatheevu, frequent poaching by Indian fisherman in Sri Lankan waters, and the damaging economic and environmental effects of trawling. However, with the governments of both countries recently affirming their commitment “to find a permanent solution to the fisherman issue,”1 there is an opportunity to create a win-win scenario, in which the bay becomes a common heritage of mutual benefit.

Strong Ties

The bay, which is 137 kilometers in length and varies from 64 to 137 kilometers (roughly 40 to 85 miles) in width, is divided by the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). Bordering it are five Indian districts and three Sri Lankan districts. In 2004, there were approximately 262,562 fishermen on the Indian side and 119,000 on the Sri Lankan side.2

Unravelling the Mystery of Brahmaputra River Issue

October 10, 2016 

On 07 September 2012, our former President Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam made a prophetic statement while speaking at St Thomas College, Pala saying, “Future wars will be over water”. While referring to this, one is not talking about the present Cauvery Water Crisis between Karnataka and Tamilnadu. There has been a lot of discomfort in the Indian strategic circles that China may choke the water of Brahmaputra, known as Yarlong Zangbo in China, either by constructing dams on it or by diverting her waters, thereby affecting the availability of water for the middle riparian state of India and the lower riparian state of Bangladesh. China has not signed a water sharing treaty with any country and that increases the uncertainties about her behaviour over water.

All strategists studying China know about her penchant for building her asymmetric capabilities. Colonel Qiao Liang and Colonel Wang Xiangsui, two Chinese Colonels who wrote a book titled ‘Unrestricted Warfare’ in which they described all types of asymmetric capabilities that China may use against her adversaries. They mention that modern technology can be employed to influence the natural state of rivers under the subject of Ecological Warfare. Such writings by Chinese themselves have added to the concerns about China’s intentions with respect to the dams that she is building on Brahmaputra.

China Eyes Ending Western Grip on Top U.N. Jobs With Greater Control Over Blue Helmets

OCTOBER 2, 2016 

As China steps up its commitment to U.N. peacekeeping, Beijing is said to be eyeing a leadership role — with potentially troubling human rights implications. 

China is believed to have its sights on the United Nations’ top peacekeeping job, a position that would place a country with an abysmal human rights record in charge of the world’s second-largest expeditionary force of more than 100,000 peacekeepers deployed in hot spots around the world.

While the race for a new U.N. secretary-general has for months grabbed most of the attention at Turtle Bay, behind the scenes a fierce political competition is underway to land top posts under the world body’s next chief. The outcome could shatter the monopoly that Western powers have held for decades inside the inner sanctum of U.N. leadership — and push peacekeeping operations in a direction human rights advocates may find worrisome.

According to multiple U.N.-based officials, Beijing is angling to run the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or DPKO, which has been headed by French nationals for nearly 20 years. Moscow, for its part, is said to be hankering after the Department of Political Affairs, or DPA, which former U.S. State Department officials have headed for the past decade.

“China is making a play for DPKO, and Russia is making a play for DPA,” one senior U.N. official said. “Are these just opening positions? Who knows.”

Saudi Arabia and Iran Face Off in Afghanistan The Threat of a Proxy War

Saudi Arabia and Iran’s ongoing proxy war in the Middle East is never far from the headlines. The two countries have sparked or exacerbated various conflicts throughout the region, including in Syria and Yemen, two of the most complex and devastating wars in recent history. But another battle between the two regional powerhouses has gone relatively unnoticed, even though it could further destabilize a key strategic theater for the West: Afghanistan.

Since entering Afghanistan nearly 15 years ago, NATO has committed thousands of troops and billions of dollars to the country. Today, 13,000 NATO troops remain there, and this summer, NATO committed to continue funding Afghan forces until 2020.

But despite all these efforts, Afghanistan remains highly volatile, with a weak central government and various insurgency groups that maintain considerable influence in the country. Many of these groups have a long history of working with Tehran or Riyadh and sometimes both. Although both capitals fund Islamic centers and various groups in Afghanistan, their respective strategies for the region diverge considerably.

Iran sees Afghanistan as a primary zone of influence, much as it sees Iraq. The two countries share a porous border, as well as cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and economic ties. Iran is also home to a large number of Afghan refugees, and increased instability and insecurity there translate into even more. Further, narcotics trafficking from Afghanistan fuels Iran’s epidemic of drug abuse. For these reasons, Tehran was already present in Afghanistan when the United States and its NATO allies intervened in 2001. At the time, Iran saw the NATO war as an opportunity and worked with Washington and its partners to defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country. Tehran also leveraged its influence to help build a new national government in Kabul and donated hundreds of millions in aid. Iran has often been

Getting Regulators and Regulated to Collaborate on CybersecurityCommerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Sees a New Relationship for Traditional Adversaries

With passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in 2015, Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to develop a system in which the federal government and businesses can share cyber threat information.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker thinks DHS shouldn't have a monopoly on government and businesses sharing cyber threat information. In a recent speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pritzker suggests that regulatory agencies should implement cyber threat information sharing programs with the businesses they regulate, not only to enhance their IT security, but to build a collaborative environment between the two, often adversarial sides.

"Pick any cyber breach - Target, Sony, Yahoo; when under attack, these companies do not think about how government can help them," Pritzker said in a speech delivered last week at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cybersecurity Summit. "What they see are the downsides of engagement - potential liability, the risk of punitive action and the investigations that may result from even basic interactions. ... We cannot blame executives for worrying that what starts today as an honest conversation about a cyberattack could end tomorrow in a punish-the-victim regulatory enforcement action."

In this audio report (click on player above to listen), you'll hear:
Pritzker explain the reasoning behind getting regulators and regulated companies to collaborate on cybersecurity information sharing;
Experts express concerns about how too close of a relationship between the two sides could jeopardize the protections regulations provide the public; and
Lawyers representing businesses before regulatory agencies address why such cooperation could enhance cybersecurity among regulated companies.

The Upside to the EU’s Crisis

Europe currently finds itself in the throes of its worst political crisis since World War II. Across the continent, traditional political parties have lost their appeal as populist, Euroskeptical movements have attracted widespread support. Hopes for European unity seem to grow dimmer by the day. The euro crisis has exposed deep fault lines between Germany and debt-ridden southern European states, including Greece and Portugal. Germany and Italy have clashed on issues such as border controls and banking regulations. And on June 23, the United Kingdom became the first country in history to vote to leave the EU—a stunning blow to the bloc.

At the same time as its internal politics have gone off the rails, Europe now faces new external dangers. In the east, a revanchist Russia—having invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea—looms ominously. To Europe’s south, the collapse of numerous states has driven millions of migrants northward and created a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists. Recent attacks in Paris and Brussels have shown that these extremists can strike at the continent’s heart.

Such mayhem has underscored the price of ignoring the geopoliti­cal struggles that surround Europe. Yet the EU, crippled by the euro crisis and divisions over how to apportion refugees, no longer seems strong or united enough to address its domestic turmoil or the security threats on its borders. National leaders across the continent are already turning inward, concluding that the best way to protect their countries is through more sovereignty, not less. Many voters seem to agree.


OCTOBER 11, 2016

The current situation in Syria is the civil war’s most dangerous and arguably tragic phase. Months of U.S.-Russian efforts to arrange a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and set up a military coordination agreement have collapsed spectacularly, leading to venomous recriminations as a Russian-backed coalition renewed its assault on Aleppo. The tone of official rhetoric — Ambassador Samantha Power called the renewed bombing campaign “barbarism” — together with a suspension of military contacts raises the risk of a military clash that much further. Meanwhile, interventionist circles in the West have renewed their cries for the United States to use force, while Russia signaled that such a move would lead to uncertain consequences and possible military conflict, reminding the United States to “think carefully” before hitting any Syrian regime forces. If this is not the greatest foreign policy train wreck of 2016, it will certainly do until that calamity arrives.

On October 3, the United States suspended its attempts to implement a ceasefire with Russia and scrapped the proposal for a joint military coordination body. Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated by shelving a 2000 deal on disposal of weapons-grade plutonium and canceling a bilateral agreement on research cooperation between nuclear sectors. The two countries have since cemented an escalatory cycle of tit-for-tat blows, as U.S. intelligence agencies publicly blamed Russia for its hacking of the Democratic National Committee to interfere with U.S. elections. The prevailing impression in policy and media circles is that Russia has abandoned efforts at peace, instead making a bid for military victory on the ground. Increasingly, many in Washington are certain that Russia strung the United States along in negotiations to help Syrian forces recapture Aleppo in the closing days of the Obama administration. References to the Cold War abound as tensions increase.

Japan's Central Bank Writes Tokyo A Blank Check

Official announcements often have hidden meanings that escape the commentariat, leaving citizens unaware that an important page in their governments' policies has just been turned. So it was with the Bank of Japan's Sept. 21 press release, which held so many revelations that observers struggled to digest and explain them all.

Much of the discourse that followed focused on familiar topics, such as the end of quantitative easing or additional interest rate drops. Others registered surprise at and approval of the bank's new inflation target, which makes room for officials to overshoot their targets.

But what has received far less attention is that, for the first time since World War II, the Bank of Japan's bond purchases will now be directly linked to the government's issuance of debt. In many ways, this could be the biggest economic development Japan has seen since the 1985 Plaza Accord, which set the country on a path toward a bubble-ridden economy and the two "Lost Decades" of stagnation that followed.
The Road to Fiscal Dominance

When a government spends more money than it brings in with taxes, it typically issues bonds to make up the shortfall. The market and central bank then buy those bonds since they are, in theory, the safest asset available. From there, the bonds serve as the basis for any number of transactions. The more a government issues, the higher the risk that it will be unable to pay them off - and, as a result, the higher the interest rate the market demands. If functioning properly, this system acts as a natural check on government spending, since skyrocketing interest payments and deteriorating public finances would threaten the government's ouster.

Robotics Delivery Option: Drone. Arrival Estimate: 2020

Even keen advocates of airborne package delivery still envision a long wait for your parcel.

Do not let the breathless predictions and gimmick-laden pilot tests by large tech companies fool you: drone deliveries are still a ways off.

We wrote in March that drone delivery will be a long time coming. And even though federal rules released since then allow the use of drones for commercial activities, there are major restrictions—including the fact that drones can’t fly above people or out of the line of sight of an operator without a waiver.

Even if regulations soften, there are still major hurdles to overcome before drone deliveries become regular occurrences. Among them are security, airspace management, and reliability, not to mention the small problem of what an aircraft does when it arrives at your home.

And yet suggestions of delivery drone applications keep coming. Alphabet is hauling Chipotle burritos across the campus of Virginia Tech aboard its Project Wing aircraft. UPS is testing a drone to send medical supplies. Mercedes-Benz has collaborated with drone-maker Matternet to design a vehicle that works as a mobile delivery hub.

The idea makes some sense: networks of delivery drones could provide swift and efficient shipping, reduce road congestion, and even help cut emissions.

But even keen proponents of the concept can be forced to admit that we’re in for a wait. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Andreas Raptopoulos, the chief executive of Matternet, said that airborne package delivery will reach an “inflection point around 2020.”

Hacked IoT Devices Unleash Record DDoS MayhemFirepower Fueled by Vulnerable Internet of Things Devices

Jeremy Kirk (jeremy_kirk)
September 29, 2016  

An army of networked devices - webcams, digital video recorders, CCTV cameras and routers - has been unwittingly drafted into doing electronic battle via a type of attack that has existed since the early days of the internet, but which has reached new levels of intensity in recent weeks.

Website operators and companies regularly fight off distributed denial-of-service attacks, which seek to take down services through overwhelming or else highly pinpointed barrages of traffic. DDoS attacks have typically been launched from compromised desktop computers. But in a development that experts have long forecasted, hackers are increasingly using so-called internet of things devices to launch record-breaking attacks.

The assaults are asymmetrical: The cost of launching attacks are often trivial compared to the cost of defending against them. While large organizations, such as financial service companies, are usually ready for DDoS attacks, many are not, and the unprepared often find themselves scrambling in panic as their websites remain unavailable.

The attacks highlight structural weaknesses in the internet - now essential to global commerce and business - which wasn't designed to defend against this type of abuse.

"Never before in human history have so many people across the world been utterly dependent upon such a fragile, brittle technology as the internet," says Roland Dobbins, a principal engineer at Arbor Networks in Singapore.

The consultancy Gartner predicts that 6.4 billion internet-connected devices that fall into the IoT category will be online this year. By 2020, 25 percent of cyberattacks within enterprises will involve IoT devices, but just 10 percent of IT security budgets will be dedicated to safeguarding them, Gartner forecasts.

The most prominent apparent IoT attack of late was directed against the website of cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs, whose exposés on the cybercrime underground have made him a frequent target of online attacks and other harassment. His site was hit Sept. 20 with 620 gigabits per second of traffic in one of the largest-ever DDoS attacks ever seen. By comparison, most DDoS attacks are in the range of 1 Gbps to 15 Gbps.

Enhancing NAVIC’s Competitiveness

September 6, 2016 Livemint 

NAVIC, India’s indigenous satellite navigation system, the details of which are discussed in a previous piece, can have significant consumer benefits. Rapidly declining average selling prices of smartphones have led the Internet and Mobile Association of India to estimate about 371 million mobile Internet users by June 2016 in its latest report. Mobile Internet cost is also expected to drastically come down post the introduction of 4G networks. Therefore, NAVIC’s success in replacing Global Positioning System (GPS), the most popular navigation service in the Indian market currently, shall depend on its ease of integration with third-party smartphone apps.

Since the revenue from navigation services in India in 2016 amounted to $53.3 million, and is projected by Statista to grow at an annual rate of 31.79%, NAVIC’s operational launch can result in healthy competition between various navigation services, and potentially significant revenues for the country. India can combine NAVIC with GAGAN—its indigenous augmentation system—to service users on differential rates depending on the navigational precision they seek.

While NAVIC’s accuracy is currently lower than GPS’s, it could well make up for this with its higher sturdiness to erratic weather conditions. NAVIC leads on this score because it accesses frequency bands that are less volatile to changes in ionospheric properties. Apps that rely on satellite navigation services for location, timing and navigation—pretty much spanning the spectrum of economic activity from mobility solutions to agriculture, and from location-based advertising to delivery of medicines—can now make conscious choices and trade-offs as regards the kind of support they require. Interestingly, one such trade-off hinges on the domestic regulatory frameworks governing each of these navigation systems. Competitive advantages built around regulations, particularly in the areas of labour and environment are quite common, but in the context of NAVIC, the debate is much more nuanced than simply choosing between weaker and stronger regulations.

After Attributing a Cyberattack to Russia, the Most Likely Response Is Non Cyber

October 10, 2016

Almost four months after the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike claimed that two Russian hacker groups were behind the theft of data from computers at the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, the U.S. government has publicly attributed the attacks to Russia. In a joint statement from the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community declared that it was “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” According to the statement, the hack was not the work of an individual calling himself Guccifer 2.0 or a 400 pound hacker sitting on a bed, but was: intended to interfere with the U.S. elections; consistent with other Russian efforts to influence public opinion in Europe and Eurasia; and was likely to have been authorized at the highest levels of the Russian government.

This is the latest in a growing list of cyberattacks that the United States has attributed to state-supported hackers. Washington accused the PLA of hacking U.S. Steel and others;North Korea of attacking Sony; and seven hackers tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of attacks on U.S. financial institutions and a dam in Rye, New York. Russia has, not surprisingly, denied any responsibility, saying the claims “lack proof” and are an attempt to create “unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria.”

The next steps for the Obama administration are unclear. As Henry Farrell notes, the U.S. government will now have to decide if it will provide compelling evidence of Russian culpability. Releasing additional proof will be necessary if the United States wants to build some international legitimacy for whatever retaliatory actions it takes. In fact, the United States signed onto a 2015 UN report that said that accusations of internationally “wrongful acts brought against states”–the kind the United States is accusing Russia—”should be substantiated.” But substantiation has significant risks. It will be difficult to assign responsibility without revealing intelligence capabilities, and attribution may allow Russia to patch vulnerabilities and result in the loss of U.S. defensive and offensive capabilities.