IDSA COMMENT

India and the Draft US FMCT Text

On May 18, 2006 the United States presented a draft Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) proposal as well as a draft mandate to establish an Ad Hoc Committee at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) plenary. A week-long thematic debate closed at the 65-member CD Plenary on May 22, 2006, during which member states made statements projecting their respective positions on an FMCT in general.

June 15, 2006

Building Strategic Roadways in Arunachal Pradesh

Travelling in Arunachal Pradesh without having to suffer from poorly developed roads is indeed inconceivable. Existing roads by themselves are of the primitive 'potholed' variety, which is made worse by frequent landslides in the rainy season. This state of affairs not only disconnects the state from the rest of India but also proves hazardous for the Indian security apparatus operating along the country's borders with China.

June 13, 2006

Will the Joint Doctrine Result in Synergy on the Ground?

The release of India's first joint doctrine on May 17 marks a major step towards military integration and interoperability among the three services. Intended to complement existing individual service doctrines, the joint doctrine outlines the guiding principles for future joint operations by synergising their operational capabilities. It is common knowledge that in contemporary RMA-oriented warfare, joint operations constitute the key to battlefield dominance and military superiority.

June 08, 2006

The EU Ban on the LTTE

The European Union finally decided to add the LTTE to its list of terrorist organisations on May 29. The Tigers would have seen the ban coming, when on May 17 the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka, in which it strongly condemned the LTTE attacks on a Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) vessel a week earlier. The decision was in fact expected for some time, given that the EU had decided to deny official receptions to LTTE delegations earlier on September 26, 2005.

June 06, 2006

The Bhutto-Sharif Charter of Democracy

Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif signed the Charter of Democracy in London on May 15. This is a politically significant step as it signals the coming together of two important parties that together gained 36.5 per cent of the popular vote and hold 72 seats in the current 342 member National Assembly of Pakistan. All political parties including the MMA have welcomed the Charter. The military government, however, has been critical of the alliance and said in a statement that this is a political gimmick of parties that have failed the people and democracy in Pakistan.

May 29, 2006

Aceh: The Road Ahead

The Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) formally launched its political party on May 23, 2006 at Banda Aceh. It has also appointed two independent candidates for the gubernatorial elections in Aceh, the date for which is likely to be announced after the passage of the Aceh Governing Bill in the Indonesian parliament. The Indonesian government claims that the bill would be passed by the end of May or early June, which would decide the standing of the political party instituted by GAM.

May 29, 2006

Darfur Peace: A Distant Dream

After weeks of intense negotiations and international pressure, the Sudanese government and a faction of the main rebel group (SLA) signed a peace deal on May 5, which aims to settle the devastating crisis in Darfur. Although there is a modest hope that it could bring more protection to millions of refugees and result in a significant decline in bloodshed, it is unlikely to end the three-year conflict or bring durable peace to Darfur. Instead, its utility is likely to be limited to paving the way for the UN to replace the African Union peacekeeping force in place now.

May 25, 2006

Time to Samba

Samba is a traditional Brazilian dance. No one form actually defines the samba; it is a set of different rhythmical dance forms. To me what India and Brazil are attempting to do is metaphorical of trying to samba. Both countries are regional powers; and though very different they are yet attempting to achieve much the same in terms of national aspirations. India and Brazil have begun to understand the inevitability and worth of collaboration in all international and bilateral fora. The Indian business community has also begun to end its benign neglect of the South American continent.

May 25, 2006

Bangladesh and the TATA Investment: Playing Politics with Economics

The TATA investment of US$3 billion in Bangladesh, by far the largest foreign investment in the country, has run into rough weather over the pricing of gas. Dhaka rejected Tata's initial 2004 offer of $1.10 per unit of gas to be supplied over a twenty-year period, seemingly favouring the price to be at par with international prices. As per the new proposal submitted in April 2006, the price that Tata has offered is $3.10 for thousand cubic feet (MCF) of gas for its fertiliser plant and $2.60 per MCF for its proposed steel plant.

May 11, 2006

Hu's Foreign Visits: Emerging "Beijing Consensus"

Hu Jintao's recent foreign visits are integral to China's foreign policy strategy of building partnerships around the world. As part of this strategy the Chinese President visited the United States, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya last month. The official Chinese position hailed these visits as an important part of the PRC's diplomatic policies.

May 11, 2006

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