25 November 2018

S. Gurumurthy’s hit and misses India is not in a position to embrace S. Gurumurthy’s ideas in practice because its economy is far from being strong

V. Anantha Nageswaran

Social media is busy analysing S. Gurumurthy’s speech at the Vivekananda International Foundation on 15 November. He is a government nominee on the board of directors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The board is meeting on 19 November, hence, the extraordinary interest in and reactions to his speech. It was an impressive speech and one that is thoughtful and thought-provoking, as always.

In principle, the idea that a country that faces a twin-balance sheet problem—in the corporate and in the banking sector—should have the option to consider a central bank-funded government expenditure programme is not that outlandish. It is conceptually correct. Problems arise in translating it into reality.

Connecting India: How roads, teledensity and electricity have improved over time

Prerna Sharma

Connectivity is a prime factor in determining livability, employment and growth in a country. In this view, a well-connected India provides the prospect of a better India—from better access to services to better livelihoods and opportunities. Setting out to understand how connectivity in India had improved over time, we decided to track advances in three basic pillars of infrastructure and access – Roads, Teledensity and Electricity. In doing so, we relied on open-source government data to understand trends across time and states (and, where possible, districts).

The literature on the connection between all three pillars of infrastructure and economic growth is well-documented. Research shows that accessible and equitable infrastructure has long-term economic benefits. It can raise economic growth and productivity while having significant positive spillovers in increasing access to labour markets and reducing transaction costs.

A New Strategy for Afghanistan Begins In Iran


When the imposturous Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency in January 2017, he resolved to undo Obama’s legacy whether it was domestic achievements such as healthcare for all or the historic rapprochements with Cuba or the Iran-specific Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As promised, in May 2018, Trump withdrew from the so-called JCPOA and threatened sanctions upon anyone dealing with Iran. This discomfited India in particular for several reasons. First India imports more than 80% of crude of which about 10% comes from Iran. Indian refiners prefer Iranian crude due to better pricing and terms compared to other suppliers. Second, India is set to develop of one of three berths at Iran’s deep-sea port at Chabahar, which would also come under sanctions. India is also working to build a rail link from the port to the Afghan border. Not only would these sanctions strain India’s strategic goals, but it would also call into question the economic viability of the port which, in turn, would have deleterious consequences for Afghanistan, which needs access to ports other than those in Pakistan.

What does Russia have to offer Asia?

By Nicholas Trickett

Russia and the Rest: Putin’s East Asia Summit Visit
Facing rising sanctions risks and a bearish oil market, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended last week’s East Asia Summit – a regional gathering anchored by the ASEAN + 6 grouping – looking to cut deals and deepen ties with Asian states that aren’t China. For all the pomp and pleasantries exchanged between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during other visits and forums, no one in Moscow is under the illusion that Russia is best served subordinating its economic and political interests to its much larger neighbor. 

Word that Putin would make his first-ever state visit to Singapore for the summit — juxtaposed with U.S. President Donald Trump’s absence — lent the impression of a Russia more actively engaged in Asia, in some respects, than the United States. But there’s little evidence that Russia has shifted from its dominantly bilateral, reactive approach to East and Southeast Asia and Russia lacks clear personnel and organizational structure to its regional efforts. Russia’s boxed in by its own institutional limitations and sanctions pressures. 

The Tokyo File

The World, Built by China

Seven dams generate almost half of Cambodia’s electricity. China built and paid for all of them.

This one, near Cambodia’s southern coast, is about 360 feet tall. It is the fourth-largest by power output in the country.

Sri Lanka borrowed more than $1 billion from China for this strategic deepwater port, but couldn’t repay the money. The port is now controlled by China, which is leasing it for the next 99 years.

Not Quite China's Century? An Early Appraisal

by Charles Edel Siddharth Mohandas

As part of a broader assessment of the state of Sino-American competition in Asia, we examined the economic and diplomatic balance of power in Asia in a previous article . Here, we look at how both states are faring across the military and ideological realms and conclude with some thoughts about how the United States and its allies can move forward.

Military Balance

As China’s economic and political capabilities have grown, so too has its military. China’s decades-long military modernization and build-up have achieved impressive results. Beijing currently boasts the world’s second-largest defense budget, the world’s largest conventional missile force, and the largest navy and coast guard. It also has a maritime militia that is integrated into China’s military command structure and advances Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the East and South China Seas. These advances have not just been quantitative, but qualitative as well. According to open-source Pentagon assessments, the PLA has invested billions of dollars in new capabilities, including artificial intelligence, hypersonic technology, and offensive cyber capabilities. China has also increased its presence and power projection capabilities by continuing to build infrastructure in the South China Sea, and by working to acquire a network of ports throughout the Indian Ocean region and further afield.

How China Took Over Your TV


It’s not just about powering growth. It’s also about national security and self-sufficiency.

China wants to build homegrown champions in cutting-edge industries that rival Western giants like Apple and Qualcomm. While China has a long way to go, the Communist Party is bringing the full financial weight of the state and forcing other countries to play defense.

In doing so, China is staking out a new manufacturing model.

Economic textbooks lay out a common trajectory for developing nations. First they make shoes, then steel. Next they move into cars, computers and cellphones. Eventually the most advanced economies tackle semiconductors and automation. As they climb up the manufacturing ladder, they abandon some cheaper goods along the way.

That’s what the United States, Japan and South Korea did. But China is defying the economic odds by trying to do all of them.


Recent satellite imagery of Bombay Reef in the Paracel Islands shows that China has installed a new platform at the largely untouched South China Sea feature, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. The modest new structure appears to be anchored on the north edge of the reef and is topped by a radome and solar panels. The development is interesting given Bombay Reef’s strategic location, and the possibility that the structure’s rapid deployment could be repeated in other parts of the South China Sea.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

The Saudis Are Killing America’s Middle East Policy

by Steven A. Cook

U.S. President Donald Trump could kill someone on the White House lawn and Washington would still be talking about the disappearance and presumed murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It has been an extraordinary three weeks inside the Beltway. Not since Monica Lewinsky’s daily dash from a car to the lobby of her lawyer’s office building on Connecticut Avenue in 1998 has the city been so focused on a single story.

There are four reasons for this fixation. First, Khashoggi wrote a column for the hometown newspaper in a place where people make news, write about news, and obsess about news. Second, there is the Trump administration’s apparently close relationship with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of ordering the columnist’s death. This gives the episode a certain partisan bent, even if there are prominent Republicans who want to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.” Third, it raises uncomfortable questions about Riyadh’s influence among Washington’s elite. Finally, and most importantly, it heightens an ongoing debate about the wisdom of Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia’s apparently heedless crown prince, who along with killing poor Khashoggi may also have killed American Middle East policy.

Inside the British Army's secret information warfare machine


Abarbed-wire fence stretched off far to either side. A Union flag twisted in a gust of wind, and soldiers strode in and out of a squat guard’s hut in the middle of the road. Through the hut, and under a row of floodlights, I walked towards a long line of drab, low-rise brick buildings. It was the summer of 2017, and on this military base nestled among the hills of Berkshire, I was visiting a part of the British Army unlike any other. They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain’s information wars.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking,” was written in foot-high letters across a whiteboard in one of the main atriums of the base. Over to one side, there was a suite full of large, electronic sketch pads and multi-screened desktops loaded with digital editing software. The men and women of the 77th knew how to set up cameras, record sound, edit videos. Plucked from across the military, they were proficient in graphic design, social media advertising, and data analytics. Some may have taken the army’s course in Defence Media Operations, and almost half were reservists from civvy street, with full time jobs in marketing or consumer research.

Two Decades After 9/11, Militants Have Only Multiplied

by Eric Schmitt 

The below is why I have written for several years that we need a “Judgement At Raqqa.” We need to conduct a modern-day version of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and put militant Islam, and its key enablers like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on trial for crimes against humanity. Killing a person is ‘easy,’ killing an idea, not so much, Much as the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials placed a pall on the Nazi philosophy, we need a 21st century version of those trials to truly stamp out militant Islam. Unless and until we do, we will continue to suffer this plague. RCP, fortunascorner.com

Destruction along the front lines in the fight to retake Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State last year. A study found that despite its territorial losses, the group has more members than when it seized the northern third of Iraq.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times

Here’s how millennials can make globalization 4.0 work for all

Julia Luscombe

Like many millennials, I spend my morning commute sifting through texts, emails and headlines on my phone. The news offers an odd blend of learning about robot backpacks that support remote collaboration, and reading about the millions of Venezuelans fleeing poverty and violence.

It’s a daily reminder of how divided and unequal the world still is. As the digital revolution transforms industries, and ongoing geopolitical challenges become more complex, it seems like we are waiting for some inevitable ‘spark’ to ignite the biggest wave of global integration since the fall of the Berlin wall.

‘Globalization 4.0’ could, like preceding waves of globalization, have mixed results: economic growth and poverty alleviation on the one hand, and political crises and greater income inequality on the other. These days, the outcomes of further global integration feel particularly uncertain.

Globalization 4.0 – what it means and how it could benefit us all

After World War II, the international community came together to build a shared future. Now, it must do so again. Owing to the slow and uneven recovery in the decade since the global financial crisis, a substantial part of society has become disaffected and embittered, not only with politics and politicians, but also with globalization and the entire economic system it underpins. In an era of widespread insecurity and frustration, populism has become increasingly attractive as an alternative to the status quo.

But populist discourse elides – and often confounds – the substantive distinctions between two concepts: globalization and globalism. Globalization is a phenomenon driven by technology and the movement of ideas, people, and goods. Globalism is an ideology that prioritizes the neoliberal global order over national interests. Nobody can deny that we are living in a globalized world. But whether all of our policies should be “globalist” is highly debatable.

The Entire Russian Military Will Be Trained in Anti-Drone Tactics

By David Grossman

Drones are a growing presence on the battlefield and recognizing that trend, the Russian Defense Ministry has ordered that all branches of its military begin training in anti-drone combat.

Russian newspaper Izvestia reports that the first test of these new tactics came in October during training exercises on the Black Sea. Ground forces will also begin training to repel drones.

The shift in training comes from the Russian military's experience in Syria. In January 2018, over a dozen drones armed with explosives attacked a number of Russian targets in the region. Ten drones attacked an air base and three of them went after a naval base.

The attack was successfully repelled—Russian forces were able to shoot down seven of the drones with antiaircraft missiles and were able to commandeer six more toward a safe landing. In a Facebook post documenting some of the captured drones, the Defense Ministry noted that the attack was likely launched from "a distance of about 100 kilometers."

Hezbollah Took a Gamble in Syria, Raising the Stakes for Israel

Hezbollah has taken risks in fighting for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, but those risks are paying off. Israel, however, is on the losing end of this gamble. F 

With the Syrian civil war entering its final phase, the conditions are in place for a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that neither side wants. As Hezbollah fighters begin making their way home after a costly but apparently successful effort to help save the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there are growing signs that the status quo is about to change. 

The Israelis, whose attention is sharply focused on Hezbollah and Iranian installations along Israel’s border with Syria, are becoming increasingly concerned with Lebanon. The most recent war between Hezbollah and Israel ended in a stalemate in 2006. Israel officials believe that since then Hezbollah has stockpiled about 150,000 rockets, enough to hit every house in Israel. There is little doubt on either side of the border that another war will erupt.

War between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon may not be imminent, but it is extremely likely sometime down the line. Now that Assad’s survival is essentially assured, with Hezbollah and Iran regrouping, the outlines are emerging for a new conflict between Hezbollah, battle-hardened by its experience in Syria, and Iran, bolstered by the survival of its crucial Syrian ally, against Israel, determined to prevent them from further fortifying their positions along its border. 

European Security Post-Merkel

By Fabrizio Tassinari

This article was originally published by the Danish Institue for International Studies (DIIS) on 14 November 2018.

EU defence cooperation suffers from a lack of strategic purpose. This challenge offers an opportunity for smaller members such as Denmark to stress that PESCO supported by Germany and the French EI2 initiative are not and should not be competitive models.

Modern German defence policy is mired in a paradox. While international partners expect more activism from Germany, a majority of its citizens believes that international organizations are more competent than the government in the field of defence and armament policy. To address this dilemma, the notion of a European Army has repeatedly been stated to be a central long-term goal of German defence policy.

7% Of All Jobs Will Be Automated By 2034, And 'No Government Is Prepared' Says Economist

Michael Rundle

Almost half of all jobs could be automated by computers within two decades and "no government is prepared" for the tsunami of social change that will follow, according to the Economist.

The magazine's 2014 analysis of the impact of technology paints a pretty bleak picture of the future.

It says that while innovation (aka "the elixir of progress") has always resulted in job losses, usually economies have eventually been able to develop new roles for those workers to compensate, such as in the industrial revolution of the 19th century, or the food production revolution of the 20th century.

But the pace of change this time around appears to be unprecedented, its leader column claims. And the result is a huge amount of uncertainty for both developed and under-developed economies about where the next 'lost generation' is going to find work.

Moscow Returns to The Great Game

By: Salman Rafi Sheikh

One of the most noticeable developments on the world stage has been the resurgence of Russia as a global player. Moscow has risen from the ashes of the USSR and is now once again spreading a challenge across not only its own back yard in Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic states.

It is now not only fighting a proxy war in Syria and making investments in foreign countries and selling weapons to a host of countries to cultivate better relations with them, it has its own Eurasian connectivity program as well, and has thus set itself up as one of the most formidable US rivals, challenging its unilateral domination of the world since the 1990s.

The latest theater is Afghanistan. The recently held Afghanistan summit in Moscow was only the latest manifestation of Russian resurgence in a region that was partly instrumental in the demise of the USSR back in the 1980s. Russia’s ability to bring together politically and militarily opposed states and actors such as the Taliban and the US, the Afghan High Peace Council, Pakistan, India and Iran in the recently-held summit certainly attests to its rising regional diplomatic clout, which has been concomitant with its economic and military resurgence ever since the demise of the USSR and the rebirth of Russia in June 1990.

Why is macroeconomics so hard to teach?

LAST month Nick Rowe had a bad dream. It was five minutes before the first class of the autumn term at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he has long taught macroeconomics. But he could not find the classroom. Then he woke up and remembered with relief that he had just retired.

Learning macro is a source of anxiety for many students. Teaching it can give their professors the jitters, too. The subject is notoriously difficult to explain well. During his 37 years at Carleton Mr Rowe remained, by his own admission, “fairly low down the totem pole” as a researcher. But he became a thunderbird at conveying macroeconomic intuition. In the past decade this served him well in his second intellectual career, contributing to Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, an economics blog. Many a controversy has benefited from one of his ingenious analogies or numerical parables, usually involving some kind of fruit.

How the Blockchain Will Impact the Financial Sector

Cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology are being touted as the next-big-thing after the creation of the internet. One area where these technologies are likely to have a major impact is the financial sector. The blockchain, as a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT), has the potential to transform well-established financial institutions and bring lower costs, faster execution of transactions, improved transparency, auditability of operations, and other benefits. Cryptocurrencies hold the promise of a new native digital asset class without a central authority.

So what do these technological developments mean for the various players in the sector and end users? “Blockchains have the potential to displace any business activity built on transactions occurring on traditional corporate databases, which is what underlies nearly every financial service function. Any financial operation that has low transparency and limited traceability is vulnerable to disruption by blockchain applications. DLT is therefore both a great opportunity and also a disruptive threat,” according to Bruce Weber, dean of Lerner College and business administration professor, and Andrew Novocin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, both at the University of Delaware.

What is adversarial artificial intelligence and why does it matter?

William Dixon

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a critical component in how government, business and citizens defend themselves against cyber attacks. Starting with technology designed to automate specific manual tasks, and advancing to machine learning using increasingly complex systems to parse data, breakthroughs in deep learning capabilities will become an integral part of the security agenda. Much attention is paid to how these capabilities are helping to build a defence posture. But how enemies might harness AI to drive a new generation of attack vectors, and how the community might respond, is often overlooked. Ultimately, the real danger of AI lies in how it will enable attackers.

The challenge

Cyber Deterrence is an Oxymoron for Years to Come

by Jyri Raitasalo
Source Link

For cyber deterrence to make any sense for state actors, they need some concrete indicators of others’ offensive cyber capabilities. Thus, in order to develop even a rudimentary cyber deterrence framework, states need some lessons learned from the effects of “cyber weapons” and cyber war.

For more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, Western states were able to redefine international security and associated rules related to the use of military force within the globalizing international system. During this period, between 1989/1991–2013, many traditional concepts of international politics and strategy were cast out on the trash heap of history. “Great-power politics,” “spheres of influence,” “defense” and “deterrence” were such concepts. They lost practically all of their political correctness and analytical usefulness with the winding down of the superpower confrontation and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Security warning: UK critical infrastructure still at risk from devastating cyber attack

By Danny Palmer 

An ongoing failure to act with "meaningful sense of purpose or urgency" in the face of threats posed by cyber criminals and hackers puts critical national infrastructure at unnecessary risk from cyber attacks, a UK Parliamentary committee has warned.

The UK experienced a taste of the damage that cyber attacks can cause when the global WannaCry ransomware outbreak took down large portions of the National Health Service in 2017, causing disruption to hospitals and patients across the country.

Meanwhile, a recent warning from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) suggested that hostile states will attempt deadly cyber attacks against the UK that threaten loss of life and other major consequences.

New Internet: Blockchain Technology Could Help Us Take Back Our Data from Facebook, Google and Amazon


Joe Lubin was living in Jamaica in 2014 when he had the meeting that would transform him into a crypto billionaire and a high priest in a new technological ecosystem that some believe may one day prove more significant than the internet.

Lubin, a 53-year-old Princeton-educated engineer with a résumé that included stints at Goldman Sachs and several hedge funds, had long since “checked out.” Alarmed by global debt and what he was seeing on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C., he had considered hoarding precious metals long before the 2008 financial crisis was in full swing. He’d even trekked through Peru and Ecuador with his brother, looking to buy South American farmland that might help insulate them from what he saw as an inevitable global reckoning.

Instead, once the crisis finally hit, Lubin decamped to the Rasta nation with a female friend. They built a home recording studio in Kingston, not far from the beach, and began producing music and videos. For a time, Lubin did all he could to avert his gaze from the carnage he’d left behind. “We felt like doing the music project in Jamaica would be much less expensive and more fun,” he says. “I’m a terrible guitar player, so I was more of the facilitator.”

New demand, new markets: What edge computing means for hardware companies

By JM Chabas, Chandra Gnanasambandam, Sanchi Gupte, and Mitra Mahdavian
With over 100 edge use cases identified, the fast-growing need to power connected devices demands a custom response from vendors.

As connected devices proliferate and their capabilities expand, so does the need for real-time decision making untethered from cloud computing’s latency, and from connectivity in some cases. This movement of computational capacity out of the cloud—to the edge—is opening up a new sector: edge computing.

By circumventing the need to access the cloud to make decisions, edge computing provides real-time local data analysis to devices, which can include everything from remote mining equipment and autonomous vehiclesto digital billboards, wearable health appliances, and more.

Disruptive technologies show why government needs data security standards now

By: Justin Lynch
Source Link

Telepathy. Data uploading to the brain. Even humanoid sex robots. These are among the ideas that exist on a periodic table of disruptive technologies, a new visual guide that predicts what will alter human existence in the coming years.

Created by Imperial College London, the table identifies what is set to change societies in the short term (smart controls and appliances), as well as fringe ideas that are decades away from existence, if they will exist at all (think force fields.)

Yet the disruption could turn disastrous without proper data-security standards, according to one of the chart’s creators, Richard Watson, the futurist in residence at Imperial College London.

“There is very little here that is not in some way digital and connected, which makes it vulnerable,” Watson said.

AI and Automation Will Replace Most Human Workers Because They Don't Have to Be Perfect—Just Better Than You


Route 9 skims by Boston and cuts clear across Massachusetts to Pittsfield, a city of roughly 50,000, the largest in Berkshire County. Well east of Pittsfield, Route 9 becomes Worcester Road, named for a city that in earlier times was the nation’s largest manufacturer of wire—barbed wire, electrical wire, telephone wire and the wire used in the making of undergarments by the Royal Worcester Corset Co., once the largest employer of women in the United States. Older Worcester residents can still recall the factory bells pealing to signal the start and end of the workday. Now, the bells are silent, and the wire and corset factories have been replaced with three of the nation’s largest employers: Walmart, Target and Home Depot.

Is Civilian Control of the Military Eroding?

by Michael O'Hanlon

This week, the independent and Congressionally-mandated “National Defense Strategy Commission” released its assessment of Trump administration’s military strategy. Led by former Defense and State Department official Eric Edelman, who worked for both parties through a long government career, as well as retired Admiral Gary Roughead, a former chief of naval operations, the report issued a clarion call to action, in light of the global security environment that the authors deemed the most dangerous “in decades.” The other commission members were also all well-known and well-regarded individuals with backgrounds primarily in the defense and intelligence worlds—making it no huge surprise that they called for continued real growth in the U.S. defense budget (even if President Donald Trump, and many incoming House Democrats as well as Tea Party Republicans, may now have different ideas).

Water Wars: Agreements and Disagreements

By Nathan Swire

The annual Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) Summit concluded on Nov. 18 in Papua New Guinea with leaders failing to agree on a final communique for the first time ever, due to clashes between the United States and China. APEC is an intergovernmental forum of 21 Pacific Rim states, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, Peru, Vietnam and others. 

China and the United States reportedly could not agree over a sentence in the proposed draft communique: “We agreed to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices.” According to the Wall Street Journal, China refused to sign onto the proposed language, feeling it was a targeted rebuke, and the United States refused to remove it.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that the other members of APEC supported the proposed language.