27 November 2016



The most basic dictum in Public Administration is that “the nature of the regime determines the nature of the outcome.” Regimes dominated by elites tend to be extractive, while regimes based on popular participation tend to be inclusive and where the fruits of development are more shared. Make no mistake, whatever be a system of government there will always be elites. The difference lies in the difference between the elites. A privileged and self-perpetuating elite is by nature extractive. 

Equitable distribution is an ideal that is invariably unattainable. But justice for all is an ideal that is attainable. It’s true that all men are created equal. But what we get and attain depends, as Karl Marx is widely attributed with, “each according to his need, each according to his ability.” Marx was just repeating a slogan popularized by the French socialist Louis Blanc in 1851. Needs and abilities can never be identical for all. Thus the goal of modern democratic systems is to cater to the former, and nurture the latter. Which means that the basis of modern democratic systems is to give all the same opportunity and then allow abilities and talents to compete and prosper.

There are many systems of government. The one we are most familiar with is democracy. There are many kinds of democracies in vogue, but the common foundation is that they all strive to institutionally reconcile needs, aspirations, demands and rights of all the people, and consider all people equal. We therefore call them reconciliatory systems. 

Then we have regimes, which are controlled by elites. These typically are all kinds of monarchies, theocracies, dictatorships, colonial and random despotic regimes. Since power is vested in the hands of a small number of people, we call them bureaucratic systems. 

** Japan and India: A Special Relationship?

November 24, 2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent three-day visit to Japan is a sign that the bilateral relationship between India and Japan is headed for newer heights. More importantly, there seems to be a palpable method to this resurgent Asian connection that does not just attempt to restore the balance of power in Asia. The two sides are astutely restructuring regional formulations in the Asian geopolitical theatre through a mix of economic, political and strategic accomplishments. India was able to draw Japan’s support for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), negotiate small but significant progress in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train timeline, ease Indian student visas and facilitate the training of 30 thousand Indians in Japanese manufacturing practices.

Two other developments that took place during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan could turn the India-Japan relationship into an unwavering geostrategic alliance in Asia. One is the decision by both the countries to merge their contiguous maritime corridors to create a single geostrategic maritime expanse running from the Far East up to the western Indian Ocean. Modi’s Japan visit drew assurances for merging India’s “Act East Policy” with Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” The second is the significant progress made in negotiations for the sale of Shinmaywa US-2i search and rescue aircraft from Japan to India. Both of these developments could recalibrate the Asian power balance by resetting the maritime heft in Asian waters, which has increasingly tilted in China’s favor since the beginning of this decade.

When India and Japan committed to work together for the "peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the world" in December 2015, it presaged a new bilateral relationship that would have bearing on regional order. The latest decision to merge India’s eastward regional maritime strategic reach with Japan’s westward approach to Asian waters has added a new element of resolve in the intended maritime policy corridor that spreads well beyond the Indo-Pacific in its scope and intent. Both countries replaced the hackneyed “Indo-Pacific” with terms like Pacific Corridor and India-Pacific. The semantic play at work here cannot be ignored. The move projects both India and Japan as important security nodes in the Pacific corridor and advances India’s long-held desire to play the net-security provider in the region.

Resurrecting Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

* The Man Who Could Have Stopped the Islamic State

NOVEMBER 23, 2016

The phone in the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Directorate of the police headquarters in Gaziantep, a southern Turkish city, rang at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2006. The caller did not provide a name, and records oddly do not indicate the person’s gender. But the caller did offer a well-informed tip. Several Iranian nationals were traveling through Gaziantep to Kilis, a Turkish town on the Syrian border. The Iranians were using forged passports, the caller explained, and they were traveling in a vehicle with the license plate 79 M 0064.

Gaziantep did not penetrate the global consciousness for five years, after the Syrian civil war began. At that point, the city became a hub for all manner of men and women drawn to catastrophes — foreign jihadis, spies, journalists, and aid workers. For many jihadis traveling to join the Islamic State, Gaziantep is one of the last stops before they enter the “caliphate.”

In 2006, however, the caliphate did not yet exist. There were fewer foreigners in Gaziantep then — but one vehicle there had just attracted a lot of attention.

The tip paid immediate dividends. On the evening of Oct. 16, at the southeast corner of Gaziantep University, police intercepted a vehicle with the license plate the tipster gave them. Inside were two men, a woman, and four children. The leader of the group introduced himself as an Iranian named Muhammet Reza Reanjbar Rezaei, which matched the name on the Iranian passport he provided.

A revolutionary who was a global legend

Castro defied 10 US Presidents, then went on to shake hands with Bill Clinton and Barack Obam.

Clad in military fatigues and chomping eternally on a cigar, “El Commandante” was a captivating figure right upto the day he became too ill to continue as Cuba’s leader. He lived on eight years more as a figurehead to 90, having survived imprisonment by Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, 1961’s Bay of Pigs the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year and numerous attempts on his life, some quite bizarre, by America’s CIA. He defied 10 US Presidents, then went on to shake hands with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, striking a concord with the latter to liberate Cuba from five-decade-long strained ties with the US. His contribution to the world went far beyond the confines of a tiny island just 150 km away from Florida, once a playground of rich Americans which he turned into an icon of anti-capitalism.

Castro was not just a revolutionary icon, he helped spread the Marxist doctrine to Latin America, the mesmeric hold of ideology and its champion surviving well for at least a couple of generations. As a leading figure of the non-aligned movement, the Cuban’s influence was felt across the world, including India, where he was a revered figure for decades. His taking on the might of the United States, withstanding its trade embargoes and economic sanctions, made him a hero to many in the world who regarded the US as a big bully. It may have taken more than idolatry to listen to his long winding speeches stretching for hours, but they came from a man with remarkably undiminished fervor.

It’s no time for talks

It is now evident that Islamabad’s attempt once again is to draw international attention to its claims on Kashmir.

The Line of Control has not been quiet since Pakistan mounted a terrorist offensive inside India, capping its effort with the killing of 19 Army soldiers at Uri in Kashmir in mid-September, and this country retaliated with cross-LoC raids. It is now evident that Islamabad’s attempt once again is to draw international attention to its claims on Kashmir. Its case is that India is threatening stability in the region through its military activity on the LoC (in which it claims its civilians have been killed) which, in turn, is to conceal its violation of human rights in Kashmir.

This is far-fetched and convoluted, and anyone can see through the game. The government has for now stated that inflicting terrorism on India and a push for dialogue — the standard Pakistani template — cannot go hand in hand. It’s in this perspective that at this stage India has ruled out a bilateral conversation when Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz (effectively foreign minister) arrives in Amritsar in early December for the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan.

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Questionable Speech In Parliament – OpEd

NOVEMBER 25, 2016

When Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister in the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s cabinet, most people recognized him as financial expert. He was given the credit for reviving the Indian economy, though many people believe even today that it was Mr. Narasimha Rao’s guidance and support that enabled Dr. Manmohan Singh to achieve tangible results.

Possibly, such a good image was one reason that he was chosen as the Prime Minister by the Congress party. However, some people believe that he was chosen as the Prime Minister , since he was expected to be pliable and not assertive.
Corrupt people enjoyed cover under Dr. Singh

During the ten years of his Prime Ministership, Dr. Singh was steadily losing his reputation. Finally, at the end of his two terms, most country men thought that he presided over one of the most corrupt governments in the independent India. He himself was accused of involving himself in coal scam ,apart from the accusation that he allowed so many other scams knowingly.

Even today, people still believe that Dr. Manmohan Singh is a honest person but a weak and inefficient Prime Minister, when so many corrupt persons were helplessly given shelter by him and they amassed wealth under the cover that he provided.

Where Does The Demonetization Debate Stand In India? – Analysis

NOVEMBER 25, 2016
Demonetization has been defined as the act of stripping an old currency unit of its value as legal tender, in order to introduce new units in to the financial system. The Indian government has recently taken the gigantic step of demonitizing its 500 and 1000 rupee notes, a move which has been hogging the limelight since then. The government claims it is a move to stem the tide of black money or an underground and parallel system which has been sapping the growth of economy, along with some other associated benefits in the short and long term.

It is being debated with equal fervor by the opposition parties who seem to have arrived at common ground and hope to make it suitably uncomfortable for the government in order to have an upper hand on other issues.

The said currency notes totaled a whopping 86% of extant currency in India, and the move to demonitize these have made an immense impact on a cash driven economy like India. Most transactions in India are dependent on cash; these include small transactions such as grocery and daily needs shopping, transport, medicare, payment of utility bills such as electricity, gas and water, and larger transactions such as bullion trading, stock market trading, real estate and property. Reasons for the continuation of cash based transactions is the poor penetration of banking services in the hinterland, and urban centers using cash to escape lawful taxation on money heavy activities. Willy-nilly there are enough loopholes perpetrated by the financial system that are sought to be exploited by using underhand methods such as these.

Should it be called Design in India?

The Make in India programme needs design in order to succeed in its fundamental endeavour of positioning India as a global manufacturing destination

Design can be characterized as a handmaiden to innovation; a powerful engine of economic growth

The NDA government’s flagship Make in India campaign is generally construed as a mission to bolster India’s manufacturing sector, by attracting large-scale foreign investors. For example, General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt endorsed India’s manufacturing potential, in a visit this week. “Manufacturing can happen here and be much bigger for us than what it is today” and today “making things in India is as productive as making things in China”, he said in an interview to Mint.

Yet, I was surprised to discover, on the Make in India website, that the mission aspires to do more. “Devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub, Make in India was a timely response to a critical situation,” it states. ‘Design’ appears to be a deliberate and important, even if somewhat underplayed, inclusion.

Design can be characterized as a handmaiden to innovation; a powerful engine of economic growth. For design evangelists such as Nick Talbot, the UK-based head of global design at Tata Elxsi, one of India’s largest design companies, the Make in India programme needs design, in order to succeed in its fundamental endeavour of positioning India as a global manufacturing destination.

Half Of PSU Banks Won’t Survive Next Decade; Demonetisation Will Accelerate Failure

November 24, 2016

Demonetisation may have been their finest hour in the service of the aam aadmi, but it is also likely to speed up the disruption of the banking sector for which PSU banks are under-prepared, if not unprepared altogether.

Public sector banks made heroic efforts to meet the cash rush after Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November. It was their finest hour, as bankers put in extra-long hours to meet the demand for the exchange and deposit of old notes.

Unfortunately, it is likely to be their last hurrah. Demonetisation may have been their finest hour in the service of the aam aadmi, but it is also likely to speed up the disruption of the banking sector for which public sector (PSU) banks are under-prepared, if not unprepared altogether. Outside the State Bank Group (SBI plus five subsidiaries that will be merged into the parent), there are 19 other nationalised banks. It is doubtful if even 10 of them will survive the next decade.

There will be only 10-12 public sector banks that can survive the coming disruption, where technology is facilitating the creation of new, lean banks like payments banks at a time when PSU banks are overladen with bad debts and encumbered with excess overheads in terms of brick-and-mortar branches and manpower.

Demonetisation has given a new spur to digital cash and payments, as seen by the huge spike in e-wallet company PayTM’s daily transactions, which have risen three-fold in a matter of days. Yesterday (23 November) we also saw Airtel launch its own payments bank on a pilot basis in Rajasthan, using its own mobile phone network to service customers. It will incur very little additional costs in creating full-fledged branches. Accounts for mobile customers will be opened with a minimum of fuss, with Airtel numbers becoming bank account numbers and eKYC being done electronically. Cash can be transferred free between any two Airtel numbers, and there are 250 million of them. Cash can be deposited and withdrawn at Airtel retail outfit. And deposits are going to fetch a decent 7.25 per cent, higher than any savings bank return in any regular bank (read the Mint report on Airtel here).

It is difficult to see how PSU banks, with their excess manning and falling deposit rates, can compete with this lean and mean outfit that already has the customer base to cross-sell banking services to.

Preparing For The Long Shot: Range Of BrahMos Cruise Missile To Be Doubled

24 Nov, 2016

India and Russia have approved a proposal to double the range of BrahMos, world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation.
According to Sputnik International, the agreement to develop a different range of the BrahMos was reached during the annual summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Goa. One of the ranges agreed upon was to double it from current range of 186 miles, which received the final nod on 26 October during a meeting co-chaired by Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

The proposal to increase the range of BrahMos was under consideration for a long time and now it has been formalised after India became a member of Missile Technology Control Regime earlier this year. It is said that only minor changes will be enough to extend the range of BrahMos to up to 372 miles.

Currently, BrahMos is capable of hitting targets beyond the radar horizon and can be launched from sea-based and land-based weapon systems. Test fire of an air-launched version of Brahmos cruise missile is expected to be held in February next year. The 2.5-metric-tonne Brahmos air-to-ground missile will be fired from an IAF (Indian Air Force) Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft that has undergone modifications to accommodate the new weapon. A successful preliminary trial has already been carried out, and two more dummy trials are in the pipeline before the actual test.

Beware the security risks before you jump onto digital payments bandwagon

November 23, 2016

Deficit in cash flow has forced users into digital payments. Without proper precautions and security policies, the highly reactive nature of cyber security leaves us vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The whole demonetization of currencies has shaken our country to its core. In the past week, we saw how it affected people at all levels and how they were coping with it, hoping for the better in the near future. While the challenges still persist, it has nudged people towards digital transactions even for their daily needs using virtual wallets, PayTM and others. Companies that enabled digital payments acted as buffers soaking up some of the pressure. In fact, there was a surge in digital payments hitting records high over the past week; PayTM saw a 200% increase in its mobile application downloads and a 250% increase in overall transactions. MobiKwik saw an increase of 200% in its application downloads within few days. Other companies within this domain such as, Oxigen and PayU have also seen a rise in their service usage.

Resultant trend maybe vulnerable to security threats

This new trend is certainly heading in the right direction towards digitization, however there is risk of casting a blind eye towards the security aspect in the whole process of adapting to this digitized lifestyle. The Nordea Bank Fraud incident that occurred in 2007 is a classic example of e-banking cyber-attack, where perpetrators infected unsuspecting customers’ systems with a malware that stole login credentials, and made off with over 1.1 million US dollars. Not even major financial corporations like VISA, PayPal, and MasterCard are invincible from cyber-attacks.

Why PM Modi should push economic liberalisation now

The best use of his store of political capital is to undertake big ticket economic reforms.

When a small Takshashila team walked around Bangalore’s wholesale markets, Dobbspet town and a few tiny village in the latter’s vicinity as part of our #FootNote initiative, we noticed many people reporting that they were not only inconvenienced but suffered monetary losses, yet supported Narendra Modi’s currency reform (‘demonetisation’) initiative. This is counter-intuitive, except perhaps in the context of religious faith.

To better understand this phenomenon, I conducted a twitter poll earlier this week that sought to investigate to what extent have people conflated their opinion of Prime Minister Modi and his currency reform initiative.

The results, after just over 1800 responses, were as follows:

On the India’s currency reform (popularly known as #Demonetisation), I support:

— Nitin Pai (@acorn) 22 November 2016

Obviously, there is no claim that this poll is representative of the entire population of India. It is more likely representative of the forty thousand or so people who follow my twitter handle. Even so, the responses are interesting, and support what we noticed on the #FootNote tour.

What does this mean? As Karthik Shashidhar, our resident quant, remarked, in 87% of the respondents there is an overlap between their opinion of Mr Modi and his policy. In other words, people’s attitude towards him overshadows their opinion of his policy. My colleague Nidhi Gupta, who recently reviewed Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels’ Democracy for Realists (Princeton University Press), that exposes the flaws of democratic systems, noted that in this case too, the notion that people vote on issues does not seem to hold up.

Trump Can't End the War in Afghanistan Without Iran

By Adam Weinstein
November 24, 2016

During his bid for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump all but ignored the war in Afghanistan. He did, however, pledge to reduce the footprint of U.S. intervention abroad, end nation-building, and most notably rip up the Iran deal. Yet these policies are incongruent because the U.S. simply cannot leave Afghanistan as a functioning state without the help of Iran. The refusal of U.S. policymakers to accept this reality is one reason the war against the Taliban has lasted 15 years and Afghanistan remains effectively partitioned between Kabul and the militants.

While Afghanistan has six immediate neighbors, its two most relevant borders are with Pakistan and Iran. Both borders remain porous and useful to the Taliban, with arms and militants moving in and out of Pakistan, and opium moving through Iran. The curtailment of the opium trade and therefore the Taliban’s cash flow was a key component of President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge to retake Afghanistan. Elite Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Teams (FAST) worked with special forces in southwest Afghanistan to destroy the opium labs and disrupt the flow out of the country. Although difficult to verify, it appears unlikely that the U.S. and Iran effectively coordinated in drug interdiction. Meanwhile Iran serves as the escape hatch through which Afghanistan supplies around 90 percent of the world’s opium.

How Pakistan subverts the Indian elite

It's uncanny. After every terror attack on India from Pakistani soil, a rash of articles appears in Indian newspapers. Some are carried on the front pages of well-known dailies, others on the editorial page. All stress caution. Don’t blame Pakistan yet, they chant in chorus. 

Simultaneously, television studios erupt with choreographed debates. Panellists urge viewers in dulcet tones not to jump to conclusions about Pakistani involvement in the latest terror strike. 

This orchestrated campaign has a single point objective: dilute the perception that Pakistan, ‘the state’, had anything to do with the terror attack on India. It places the blame squarely on ‘non-state’ actors over whom Pakistan’s army generals, wringing their hands in helplessness, have no control. 

Earlier this week, 26/11 convict David Headley told an Indian court he worked for Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI


This unadulterated nonsense continues to be spread by sections of the Indian media despite David Headley’s confession this week to an Indian court of the Pakistani army’s direct involvement in terror strikes on India. 

China's Maritime Strategy on the Horizon

By Tuan N. Pham
November 24, 2016

Last July, I authored an article titled “America Has a Chance to Beat Back China’s South China Sea (SCS) Strategy,” highlighting an aggressive Chinese public relations (PR) campaign throughout the region and across the globe to influence world opinions and present Beijing’s legal and political positions in the SCS. I suggested that the PR shift may be part of larger Chinese recalibration of its assertive (and oftentimes unilateral) actions in the SCS to meet the mounting unfavorable geopolitical conditions and regional trends (at that time). I then asked what the PR shift reveals about Beijing’s developing maritime strategy, and, more importantly, what could Washington do to shape and influence that strategy? In this follow-on article, I further assess the evolving strategy and outline how Washington could respond.

Deeper Analysis of China’s Maritime Strategy

Beijing’s forthcoming maritime strategy will shape its comportment and actions in the maritime domain in the near- and far-term, and possibly in the other contested domains of space and cyberspace as well.

Chinese maritime strategists have long called for a maritime strategy – top-level guidance and direction to better integrate and synchronize the multiple maritime lines of effort in furtherance of national goals. For Beijing, the ruling by the International Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague makes this imperative even more pressing. China’s Communist Party’s Central Committee, State Council, and Central Military Commission in July signaled their intent to draft such a document as part of Beijing’s grand strategy for regional preeminence (and possibly global preeminence). The document proposes coordinating Beijing’s maritime development with efforts to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.

China’s maritime activities are driven by its strategic vision of the ocean as “blue economic space and blue territory” crucial for its national development, security, and status. Beijing is on a quest to build maritime power, and naval and security issues are only part of that grand vision. The new maritime strategy will encompass more than just the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Maritime Militia. Also at play is China’s wide-ranging approach to maritime economic, diplomatic, environmental, and legal affairs. Hence, the new guidance will need to rationalize and balance two competing national priorities – defending maritime rights and interests (national security) and developing the maritime economy (economic prosperity). Anticipate the initial emphasis will be on the latter since it fits well with economic initiatives already underway – the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road (otherwise known as One Belt One Road), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – and is an enduring asymmetric counter to the perceived military-centric U.S. “rebalance to Asia.”

Khrushchev’s Fate and China’s Future

By Joseph Torigian
November 24, 2016

The fate of the People’s Republic of China as a political project is increasingly dependent on one man – Xi Jinping. Already known informally as “the chairman of everything,” the sixth plenum of the 18th Party Congress recently declared him the “core” of the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership. Rumors abound that he now intends to violate the party’s own norms of leadership selection at next year’s Party Congress by changing the retirement age in the Politburo Standing Committee and neglecting to name a successor.

Recognizing the extent of Xi’s ambitions, scholars have attempted to better understand his prospects by comparing and contrasting him with a whole swathe of other leaders, including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Chiang Kai-shek, Vladimir Putin, and even the pope. However, in terms of his ambitions, strengths, and weaknesses, Xi most obviously resembles the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Both Khrushchev and Xi came to power believing only major reforms could save the revolution. Xi enjoys the same sources of resilience Khrushchev possessed – a widespread sense that change was needed, a tradition in the party of obeying the top leader, a common understanding that factional infighting would damage the party’s unity, and the difficulty for conspirators to organize a coup.

However, neither leader attained the prestige of their predecessors, whose victories brought the communists to power. Also like Khrushchev, Xi cannot claim the unambiguous authority a fully institutionalized leadership selection process might have provided. History shows that these limitations meant Khrushchev’s options for out-maneuvering opponents were constrained in important ways.

Looking back on the Khrushchev era, Xi might see good news and bad news. How he manages those dilemmas are up to him. For outside observers, lessons from Khrushchev’s reign will help us determine whether he is succeeding.

Two Ambitious Men

On OBOR’s commercially suspect projects

Analysts have observed that many projects that China is financing and building under Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are commercially dubious. People whose job it is to worry about such things have have surmised that the real motivation might be military-strategic in nature.

There is another — less sinister, but non-mutually-exclusive — explanation. Fitch’s Kalai Pillay says that the real motivation is “exporting China’s excess construction capacity that is accompanied by financing from Chinese state-led enterprises.”

“A lot of the big construction companies in China have bulked themselves up significantly over the last 10 years to carry out the big infrastructure projects in China. As many of these come to the tail end they have this excess capacity, the know-how, the real technical knowledge, a lot of patented technology that can be sold abroad, that needs to be exported abroad,” Pillay says.

He adds that there may be little room for non-Chinese banks and institutions to play a role in financing OBOR infrastructure projects.

“The final leg to this is the capital. There is excess capital which finds itself into all kinds of things, international bond markets, the spread market wherever. But one way to export it also is through financing projects that’s going to take place outside of China. So that’s part of that OBOR strategy,” Pillay says. [The Asset]

In other words, China is providing cheap loans to regional countries to build infrastructure — that might not be commercially viable — using Chinese construction companies. If the projects take off, China benefits. If they don’t, then regional governments will be stuck with debts to the Chinese government.

Not bad. For Beijing, that is.

MEA Says Talks And Terror Can’t Go Together, Environment Has To Be Terror-Free

24 Nov, 2016

Official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Vikas Swarup spoke to the press today as part of his weekly media briefing.

Here are the highlights.

- We expect early repatriation and safe return of Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who inadvertently crossed the Line of Control (LoC) over seven weeks ago.

- MEA called in Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner yesterday (23 November) and issued a démarche, the fourth one this month on continued ceasefire violations from the other side of LoC.

- Government has conveyed concerns at continued attempts to infiltrate armed terrorists from across the LoC. In the last week, there were 15 such instances.

- On the possibility of bilateral talks with Pakistan during the Heart of Asia Conference, Vikas Swarup said, “Not ruling out or ruling in anything, but not in position to confirm. Talks and terror can't go together. Environment has to be terror-free for talks to take place.”

- Internationalising the Kashmir issue has borne no fruit, Pakistan would be advised to first end state support to terror, said Vikas Swarup when asked about the committee formed by Pakistan to engage Indians.

- Government has protested the deliberate targeting by Pakistan Army of 18 villages along the LoC during 16-21 November. These violent acts constitute a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement of 2003.

Souza Korea and Japan's Military Information Agreement: A Final Touch for the Pivot?

By Jaehan Park and Sangyoung Yun
November 24, 2016

On Wednesday, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan finally sealed a deal that has long been controversial: the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). While many military officials and defense experts, from a national security standpoint, have argued the necessity of enacting the bilateral security agreement, it is not clear why the two governments pushed forward such a thorny issue at this point. We believe it is in the interests of both Seoul and Tokyo to strike the intelligence-sharing deal, and that the initiative was primarily led by the incumbent Obama administration in the United States to consummate its “pivot to Asia” before the end of President Obama’s term.

Initially, the idea of the two countries sharing military intelligence was proposed by the ROK in the late 1980s. Seoul’s primary concern has been its lack of satellite intelligence. To be fair, the ROK military has acquired substantial capability in signal, imagery, and voice intelligence over the past several years. Still, its area of operation is restricted to the south of the military demarcation line (MDL), and it can only do so much in the absence of military satellites amid the recent advances in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. It is only natural that Seoul has developed a plan to introduce four search and rescue (SAR) satellites and one optic-infrared satellite by 2022. Until then, Seoul will fill the gap by borrowing reconnaissance satellites from other countries including Israel, France, and Italy.

In this respect, Seoul has every reason to cooperate with Tokyo. Japan’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) already operates four intelligence satellites to monitor the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Japan is planning to increase the number of satellites up to 10 in the coming years. In addition, the SDF possesses world-class anti-submarine capabilities. This is especially important now that North Korea is developing its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program. Last but not least, South Korea’s grand strategy is predicated upon its alliance with the United States, which deems Japan as the cornerstone of its Asia policy. As a result, any sensible South Korean policymakers who care about national security would, whether they like it or not, pursue the GSOMIA.

ASEAN’s Nuclear Power Race: Winding Down For Renewable Energy? – Analysis

By Cung Vu* 
NOVEMBER 25, 2016

As the world’s fastest-growing economic region, Southeast Asia’s energy demand will increase to drive this growth. While Vietnam’s push towards nuclear energy may have started a regional race to develop nuclear power, this may slow down somewhat now that Hanoi has decided to freeze it. ASEAN should shift its focus to developing renewable energy.

On November 22, 2016, the National Assembly of Vietnam ratified their government’s decision to hold off the building of its nuclear reactor. Cost was cited as the main reason. Another possible factor could be the unfolding lessons from the event of Fukushima, and the safety and security of nuclear reactors in cases of intentional attacks such as cyberattacks or terrorism still need to be assessed.

This is good news for the region. A possible regional nuclear energy race would now be avoided, and Vietnam’s neighbours would not have to brace themselves for a potential nuclear fallout. The region should now focus on developing renewable energy to meet its energy demand.
Regional Race for Nuclear Energy

Vietnam is the only ASEAN country which, in 2009, announced the building of nuclear power reactors. Supposed to go online in 2028, Vietnam’s quest for nuclear energy resulted in an increased frequency of discussions among neighbouring countries to address many aspects of nuclear safety and security.

What Europe Can Teach Us About Trump – Analysis

By John Feffer*
NOVEMBER 25, 2016

Donald Trump might seem like a uniquely American phenomenon. The shape-shifting billionaire huckster reinvented himself first as a TV personality and then as a maverick populist politician. He rode to power on patriotic slogans – Make America Great Again – and tailored his policy prescriptions to specific American constituencies like West Virginia coal miners and Michigan factory workers. He spoke to very particular American anxieties about immigration, crime, and guns. You can find traces of Trump in American history (Andrew Jackson, Huey Long) and American literature (Elmer Gantry, Lonesome Rhodes).

Donald Trump practically screams America.

And yet, Trump is nothing new. Europeans have been dealing with their own mini-Trumps for decades. Silvio Berlusconi also began his career in real estate before becoming a billionaire media mogul. A womanizer and right-wing populist who promised to create a million jobs, Berlusconi led his Forza Italia party to victory more than 20 years ago in 1994. He would eventually serve as prime minister in four governments. He didn’t follow through on his promise to create a million jobs. In fact, the Italian economy sank deeper into debt and corruption, and Berlusconi became mired in a succession of scandals.

Silvio Berlusconi was, as The Economist put it indelicately, “the man who screwed an entire country.” Those are big shoes for Trump to fill.

League of nationalists

Nov 19th 2016 

AFTER the sans culottes rose up against Louis XVI in 1789 they drew up a declaration of the universal rights of man and of the citizen. Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched not just for the glory of France but for liberty, equality and fraternity. By contrast, the nationalism born with the unification of Germany decades later harked back to Blut und Boden—blood and soil—a romantic and exclusive belief in race and tradition as the wellspring of national belonging. The German legions were fighting for their Volk and against the world.

All societies draw on nationalism of one sort or another to define relations between the state, the citizen and the outside world. Craig Calhoun, an American sociologist, argues that cosmopolitan elites, who sometimes yearn for a post-nationalist order, underestimate “how central nationalist categories are to political and social theory—and to practical reasoning about democracy, political legitimacy and the nature of society itself.” 

It is troubling, then, how many countries are shifting from the universal, civic nationalism towards the blood-and-soil, ethnic sort. As positive patriotism warps into negative nationalism, solidarity is mutating into distrust of minorities, who are present in growing numbers (see chart 1). A benign love of one’s country—the spirit that impels Americans to salute the Stars and Stripes, Nigerians to cheer the Super Eagles and Britons to buy Duchess of Cambridge teacups—is being replaced by an urge to look on the world with mistrust.

'We Could See More and More Divisions'

by Klaus Brinkbäumer
November 18, 2016 
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In an exclusive interview with German public broadcaster ARD and DER SPIEGEL, outgoing US President Barack Obama discusses the legacy he has built and his worries about the future of democracy, as well as Donald Trump, the man who will succeed him in office.

It's not easy landing an interview with Barack Obama, particularly since he seldom speaks to the foreign media. Leading German public broadcaster ARD and DER SPIEGEL decided to team up and request a joint interview with the American president on the occasion of his final visit to Berlin this week. The following is a longer version of the interview ARD broadcast in primetime on Thursday evening. The English-language video from that broadcast is embedded in this article.

ARD/SPIEGEL: Mr. President, Donald Trump won the election, revealing massive discontent and rifts within American society. Did the amount of anger actually surprise you?

Obama: I think it's important not to overstate what happened. The truth is that America has been closely divided politically for quite some time. That was reflected in some of the challenges I had with the Republican Congress. What was unusual in this election is that my approval in the United States is as high as it has been since I was elected. And the economy is going relatively well. I think what is true is that there's been an underlying division in the United States. Some of it has to do with the fact that economic growth and recovery tends to be stronger in the cities and in urban areas. In some rural areas, particularly those that were reliant on manufacturing, there has been weaker growth, stagnation, people feeling as if their children won't do as well as they will.

There are cultural, social and demographic issues that came into play. They're not that different from some of the issues that Europe faces with immigration, the changing face of the American population. I think some reacted there, and Trump was able to tap into some of those anxieties.

Is Erdogan giving up on EU aspirations?

Author Semih Idiz
November 22, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has revived his pet topic of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in place of the European Union. His call comes at a time when Turkey’s ties with the West are at an all-time low because of Ankara’s refusal to meet Western standards of democracy, veering toward authoritarian rule instead.
Summary⎙ Print A proposal to join the Russian- and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization gets lukewarm reception, even among Turkish Islamists.

Europe, in turn, is reluctant to clamp down on political supporters or alleged members of the so-called Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization, the group accused by Ankara of planning the failed coup on July 15. The same reluctance is seen with regard to political supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), despite the fact that the EU has also listed the PKK as a terrorist organization.

“[Turkey] shouldn’t say 'I’m for the EU no matter what.' … For example, why shouldn’t Turkey be part of the Shanghai 5,” Erdogan said to reporters while flying back from a visit to Uzbekistan over the weekend. He was referring to the SCO by an alternative name.

Erdogan said he had broached the subject with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. “If Turkey takes its place in the Shanghai 5, this will enable it to act with greater ease,” Erdogan said.

There were cautiously encouraging, albeit qualified, responses from Russia and China to Erdogan. Speaking diplomatically, Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a Tweet, “Membership in the SCO would be a logical step for Erdogan” because “unlike the EU, SCO members are totally independent.” Pushkov added, however, that “the SCO is different than the EU, which it couldn’t replace.”

Why Vladimir Putin Hates Us


A billboard shows U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the town of Danilovgrad on November 16, 2016.

He’s done it again. The honey badger in the Kremlin just moved more advanced missiles into position on Russia’s most westerly fringe to own the Baltic Sea. This week Moscow admitted it has deployed cutting-edge Bastion anti-ship missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave, north of Poland, plus equally advanced S-400 air defense systems to shoot down aircraft and missiles as far as 250 miles out.

With this move, the Kremlin has established control over the Baltic Sea, most of Poland and the Baltic republics—NATO members all. Russia now can exert anti-access and area denial—what the Pentagon calls A2AD for short—at will, meaning that any NATO aircraft or ships entering the region can be hit long before they get close to Kaliningrad. For Western military planners, this is nothing short of a nightmare, since Moscow can now block NATO reinforcements headed east to counter, say, Russian military moves on the vulnerable Baltic republics.

That scenario, wherein Moscow’s forces overrun a Baltic republic or two before NATO can meaningfully respond, is judged alarmingly plausible by Alliance planners, yet nobody should be surprised that Vladimir Putin has done this. One month ago, when he moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M ballistic missiles into Kaliningrad last month, initiating a Baltic version of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Obama’s response was…nothing.

The outgoing commander-in-chief decided that he needed to appease the Kremlin one more time before leaving the White House, to the horror of our allies who live close to Russia. “We’re on our own until January 20, and maybe much longer,” was how a senior Alliance defense official in that neighborhood explained the reality of what Obama has done through his inaction.

What’s So Great About American World Leadership?

NOV 23, 2016 

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How has America come to elect a president who so starkly repudiated decades’ worth of the largely bipartisan vision of U.S. global leadership? And if that vision won’t be the basis of American foreign policy in the 21st century, what will replace it?

The big message of 2016 is that large numbers of American voters, Democrat and Republican, do not buy what their political leaders have been selling for so long, and that includes foreign policy. The evidence of this from Trump’s victory is reinforced by Senator Bernie Sanders’ remarkable showing in the Democratic primaries, and by years’ worth of public-opinion surveys showing the widespread view that the United States “does too much in helping solve world problems.” It is also reinforced by the high poll numbers of an outgoing president who has mounted his own quiet campaign against key elements of Washington’s foreign-policy orthodoxy.

So it appears the American electorate no longer accepts the American role in the world that policymakers have long taken for granted. And what if the electorate is right? Maybe the foreign-policy assumptions of the past few decades do need to be overhauled. The record, after all, is not very impressive. So far this century, America has failed to achieve most of the key national-security objectives it has set for itself.

Does that sound harsh? Here is a list, in no particular order, of some key goals both the Bush and Obama administrations set for themselves in foreign policy: Prevent North Korea getting nuclear weapons; prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons and contain its growing influence in the Middle East; transform Iraq and Afghanistan into stable, progressive, pro-Western states, or at least leave them as minimally functioning countries; contain and eventually crush jihadist extremism; harness the Arab Spring to enhance U.S. influence in the Arab world; reconcile Russia to the U.S.-led order and resist its efforts to rebuild a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe; resist China’s challenge to the U.S.-led order in Asia; broker a durable settlement between Israel and the Palestinians; and prevent another 9/11 on U.S. soil.