If Nawaz Sharif now plays his cards well - improves governance, makes his politics more responsive and inclusive, reaches out to opposition and his constituency, doesn’t remain aloof and keeps the parliament and political parties as his back – he could well change the power equations for good.
The biggest takeaway for India from Prime Minister Modi’s visit is Abe’s assurance of $33.5 billion public and private investment and financing including ODA, doubling Japanese FDI and the number of companies in India over the coming five years.
As the Australian PM visits India, the future of the two countries relations hinges not so much on their strategic cooperation in the international sphere, as on how meaningfully can Australia help India deal with its enormous human development challenges, including poverty alleviation.
Under the earlier policy, the foreign portfolio investment in Indian defence industry was either banned, or capped at an arbitrary level for certain companies, causing a lot of dissatisfaction among several listed Indian companies which had pleaded their genuine helplessness in controlling such investments given their nature of flow.
The dominant challenges for Japan apart from China remain North Korea. The document expresses concerns on the launching of multiple ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan along with the possibility, for the first time, that the North Koreans may have acquired nuclear warheads.
Amidst the ‘Arab Spring’ nations, the most keenly watched and followed developments have been in Egypt. Being one of the largest Arab nations, lynchpin of peace treaty with Israel, key US ally and a nation of potent and modern armed forces, Egypt deserved the attention. And so, the success or otherwise of the Arab revolutions hinged on the success or failure in Egypt. However the transition in Egypt has been far from smooth so far.
There has been much speculation since 2011 about who is going to manage the proposed fund, how is it to be different from the already existing technology related heads in the defence budget, and how will the amount set aside for the purpose be utilized.
A sub-committee of the CCS must devote time and effort to make substantive recommendations to improve the structures for higher defence management, defence research and development, self-reliance in defence production and the improvement of civil-military relations.
The army has quite patiently allowed Imran and Qadri to carry on with their protests and create a political condition unfavourable enough for Nawaz Sharif to approach the army for help. Thus like in 1993, Nawaz is feeling the heat even if the opposition is not united in their effort to dislodge his government.
There are logical reasons for India to suitably intercede with both its neighours to facilitate an agreement on the border. A mediatory role by India may not be unwelcome by Bangladesh and Myanmar as both have friendly relations.
In the short-term India needs to let the internal situation within Pakistan play itself out and see what emerges from the standoff. There is no doubt that Pakistan will have to be engaged but terms and manner will be dictated by the prevailing political and economic scenario in India, Afghanistan and the region including India-China relations.
The summit is seen as one of the major initiatives of the Obama administration towards the African continent and being the first US President to hold the largest event with the African head of states and governments.
In a recent judgment, the UN Tribunal has delineated the maritime boundary line between India and Bangladesh in the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles (nm). Both the countries are pleased and hope to consolidate further their relationship.
The military has ridden roughshod over Pakistan’s polity for most of the country’s history since its independence. The Pakistani army, once described as a ‘state within a state’, is now being viewed by many as the state. In fact, the army and the ISI (the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) together form the ‘deep state’.
Prime Minister Modi has to think beyond the immediate circle and leverage the Himalayas as a bridge for India reaching out to wider Eurasian space the access to which has blocked by Pakistan. A way out could be to promote a regional market across the border, woven by a web of spiritual and commercial interests.
There now seems to be greater recognition of India’s concerns on transfer of technology and not just about co-production but also co-development of next generation weapons. The larger objective for India, however, must be to reduce its dependence on import of foreign equipment and modernize its armed forces in the quickest possible timeframe.
The death toll from the Ebola virus in West Africa is a serious health concern for the world. There are around 45,000 Indians staying in the region infected by the virus and the real ‘test’ will be whether the government will allow infected Indians back into the country.
Realising the electoral significance of the issue the Congress seems to be engaging in a competitive politics with the BJP by talking of giving citizenship to even those migrants who came to India after 1971 but were persecuted in Bangladesh.
While India needs to vigorously pursue its endeavour for APEC membership, it is crucial for the policymakers to comprehend the geo-political allusions of this Chinese invitation, which is linked with India-China ties as well as their balance-of-power politics in Asia-Pacific.
Russia seems both happy as well as worried about US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Concerns about Central Asian security apart, now with the sectarian strife in West Asia flaring up, the Russian anxieties would heighten about possible spread of ISIS type assertion along its southern belt.
There is a growing sense that Putin, after what he did to Crimea, has prepared a fine blueprint for similar intervention in Central Asian states should it become a necessary case for protecting Russian interests in these countries.
In a three part series the author analyses Russia's strategic play. In this first part, the recently held military "snap inspection" drill by Russia involving 65,000 troops is examined and significantly the intent and purpose behind it.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence’s figures reveals that the army's equipment modernisation is steadily falling. In 2008-09, the army spent 27 paisa of every rupee on capital expenditure. This fell to 24 paisa in 2009-10; 23 paisa in 2010-11; 20 paisa in 2012-13 and just 18 paisa in the last two years. Resultantly the army’s ambitious plans to transform from a ‘threat-based to a capability force’ by 2020 are being consistently thwarted.
For all the grandstanding by the Pakistan army and the civilian government that Op Zarb-e-Azb was going to be against all kinds of terror groups based in NWA, no such thing seems to be happening. Clearly, this operation has been launched keeping an eye on the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan.
The recently concluded Afghan Presidential election, rather than facilitating crucial political transition, is mired in controversy. An early resolution is crucial both for Afghanistan and the international community. For Afghanistan, a peaceful and non-controversial transition would ensure the legitimacy of the upcoming government and push the twin processes of reconciliation and democratization forward.
As all the votes cast in the run-off election are audited and recounted under international supervision, the final outcome could be a close finish with winning candidate leading by a much narrow margin. However, the America-brokered agreement might open up several larger issues with huge social, political and security implications for Afghanistan. The process of constitutional amendment can only be initiated after the new parliament is formed in 2015. The country is likely to remain in a state of transition, perhaps for several years to come.
Democracies of the world have many similarities, notwithstanding the differences in the system of governance and the governmental structure. The decision making by the Higher Defence Organisation (HDO) and the government of the United States and India face similar challenges regardless of the threat perception and the role, size and the employment of the military.
The Declaration pushes for a more equitable norm and the New Development Bank is an interesting outcome. The initial subscribed capital of $50 billion dollars and the responsibilities of the functioning are to be shared equally among the founding members of the bank. While China will host the headquarters, the regional centre will be located in South Africa; similarly the first President of the Bank will be from India, the First Board of Governors from Russia and the first chair of Board of Directors from Brazil.
The basis for the development of ties between India and Brazil rests on trade and commerce. The regional powerhouses share a relationship that is gradual and progressive. However, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brazil for the BRICS Summit can give a fillip to their bilateral association.
Israel argues that the Hamas does not recognize its existence, which, up to a point, is technically correct. But, a moment of reflection will show that recognition is exchanged only between states and that since Israel has prevented the emergence of an independent Palestine, it has no right to expect recognition from the other side.
All is not right with the Indian Higher Defence Organisation (HDO) became public knowledge, perhaps for the first time, after the Kargil War in 1999. There have been significant changes in the geo-strategic situation and the nature of threat faced by India over the years and yet little has changed in the higher defence management and the HDO of the country.
The Guidelines of 2012 have been under review for some time. While a drastic shift in the policy is unlikely, some changes in the policy, clarity about some of the existing provisions and simplification of the procedure seem necessary to make the policy work better.
China’s announcement of a 10 billion Yuan ($1.6 billion) fund to finance the “maritime silk road plan” is a clear sign that it is serious about moving ahead with its stated plans. For India, it is instructive that the sales pitch of shared economic gains does not conceal the MSR’s real purpose: ensuring the security of sea lines of communications (SLOCs) in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Given India’s vulnerability to a rise in global crude oil prices as a result of its 75-80 per cent of its crude import dependency, the Iraq crisis could widen its current account deficit, while putting pressure on exchange rate, impeding government’s fiscal consolidation goal and putting off any nudge on interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India.
The problems caused by climate change have been recognised as one of the greatest concern of this century. The subject is futuristic, relevant and multi-disciplinary with many stakeholders. The matter encompasses not only the health of the planet itself, but also that of nations and individuals.
The Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) is the organisation that is responsible for ensuring the quality of a wide range of military hardware at the time of their procurement. This is a very old organisation and has evolved over a period of time to meet the aspirations of its customers.
Over the years, the scope of SCO has widened to include the interests of countries beyond the Eurasian space. For India to capitalise on the SCO it must have a clear pro-active policy, otherwise it may risk becoming a focal point of criticism by the Central Asia states like the way India is often targeted by the SAARC members.
While the Finance Minister’s budget speech struck the right chords, a closer examination of the 2014-15 budget, and its comparison with the 2014-15 interim budget, shows certain anomalies which are difficult to reconcile with some of the earlier statements made by the minister in his capacity as the defence minister.
Brazil will hold the 6th BRICS Summit of Heads of State and the Governments of BRICS from 15 July 2014 to 16 July 2014. It is a coalition of emerging economies providing alternative ideas of global governance.
There are speculations whether the present budget is sufficient to meet expenditure on big ticket items but one has to bear in mind that it is only the advance payment – generally 15% of the contract value – that becomes payable on signing of a new contract. Even if new contracts are signed for say INR 50,000 crore, MoD will require just about INR 7,500 crore for those schemes.
Boko Haram has recently emerged as one of the deadliest and most brutal terrorist groups with links to the global jihadi movement. The group is grounded in a region where it can tap into ethnic ties and take advantage of weak security environment, generic condition of lawlessness and socio-economic marginalization.
The editorial also intrinsically marks the return of the 'pro-Pakistan' lobby in the US non-proliferation community, and the American media, which was culpable in encouraging the many indulgences of the Pakistani military and nuclear establishment for many decades and facilitating favourable non-proliferation policies for Pakistan to effectively pursue a clandestine nuclear programme with technological aid from Western companies.
The author recounts his memories of the US military base at Manas International Airport in Bishkek, which was the hub for onward movement of about 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo a month to and from Afghanistan. The folding of the US base has not only put an end to the US-Central Asia saga but in effect the US overseas military presence is now retracted to the line of its power limits in Europe.
The government in Baghdad has lost control over a stretch of territory to ISIL. It follows that Iraq is at present inexorably moving towards dissolution. In any case, it will be a difficult if not impossible task to recover in full the territory under the ISIL and its associates.
On 3rd July 1914 nearly a hundred years ago at Simla, Tibet and India signed the Simla Convention that gave birth to the McMahon Line separating Tibet from India in the eastern sector. Much is made by some that the Simla Convention was not a legal document but from the time of the Convention till 23rd January 1959, the Chinese government never officially, in any document, ever challenged the McMahon Line.
There is no one nationalist Sri Lankan view. Among the Sinhalas, there are also the liberals who are quite realistic about their assessments and would argue that there may be a change in leadership in India, but the cornerstone of India’s policy vis-à-vis Sri Lanka will remain the same. The Tamils, on the other hand, are unanimous in their view that India can and should play a major role in bringing meaningful political reconciliation to the country.
The Defence Minister made two significant points: one, the need for making a significant amount of the nation’s resources available for defence and two, he talked about the slow pace of acquisition of defence equipment as the key concern. These are unexceptional statements of intent and the challenge would be to meet these objectives.
While the visit was proposed as a good will visit, some of the issues that have been bedeviling bilateral relations came up for discussion particularly, from the Bangladesh side, the conclusion of Teesta and the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA). The EAM assured Dhaka that New Delhi would conclude the LBA and is already in the process of building a consensus on Teesta.
The global thrust on economic integration has certainly accrued greater space to India that the non-alignment actually stands for. It allows India to reach out to both the US and China without fear of taking sides and draw in the benefits from both of manufacturing, investments, trade and commerce.
The proposal to relax the present cap on FDI in defence has expectedly drawn sharp reactions. Those who oppose argue that higher FDI is not required and, more importantly, it will not be in national interest, not the least because it will stymie the process of indigenization. This calls for a dispassionate analysis.
Surrounded by hostile neighbours, Israel has been overly conscious of its national security interests, a concern which has shaped its regional strategy right from its birth in 1948. It needs to evolve a dynamic regional strategy in tune with the changing regional dynamics or else could end up being more isolated in the region.
India continues its elusive search for peace in Jammu and Kashmir(J&K), in the face of Pakistan’s proxy war and dissatisfaction among some sections of the youth in Kashmir Valley.
In principle there is nothing wrong in revisiting the doctrine but such revisions/reviews must be based on sound and valid reasons. The proponents of the doctrinal review argue that India’s existing doctrine is ill-suited to deter Pakistan from using tactical nuclear weapons against India.
Myanmar’s 2,276 km long coastline in the Bay of Bengal has the potential to provide the ‘second coast’ to China to reach the Indian Ocean and achieve strategic presence in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Especially transportation logistics to the ‘second coast’ from landlocked south west Chinese provinces like Yunnan have both economic and strategic benefits
Modi’s visit to Bhutan is politically significant. After inviting SAARC leaders to his swearing in ceremony; his choice of Bhutan as the first country came as no surprise. Bhutan is also the only country where the bilateral relationship is free from tension and expectations from each other are also easy to attain.
New Delhi should work out an arrangement with the Rajapakse government wherein the rights of both the countries’ fishermen are protected within the respective territorial jurisdiction. If this is not done, the welfare of the Sri Lankan Tamils, which different governments of India have endeavoured to promote as part of a decided long-term policy, will be compromised.
Before India once again goes down the path of wondering how it can rescue Pakistan from itself, some home truths about Pakistan – the state and society – need to be understood. The single most important home truth is that Pakistan's hatred for India far outweighs any fear or concern or even loathing it may have about the terrorism and extremism that the Taliban have come to stand for.
The arrests of the key Indian Mujahideen operatives has come as a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism; however, there are a few causes of concern - such as lack of inter-agency coordination, growing radicalization in the society and the potential resurgence of the IM - that the government needs to urgently address.