Friday, January 23, 2015

Manohar Parikker and the "Deep Assets": How I K Gujral compromised India's security

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Defence Minister of India, Shri Manohar Parriker made a statement recently in which he alluded to "deep assets" which had been built up over 20 or so years which had been compromised. The Congress Party went to town condemning this statement and even accused the Hon'ble Minster of being irresponsible. The statement has to be viewed in the context of the recent interception on the high seas of a boat which has been identified as a boat whose mission was to deliver a consignment of arms and explosives to a module of the Indian Mujahideen in Gujarat. The boat was intercepted as the radio exchanges were monitored over a period of 2 to 3 days and when confronted by the Coast Guard, the boat and its crew chose to detonate explosives and destroy the boat, cargo and the men on board. It is clear from the intercepts that nearly 50 lakhs were being paid to each of the men on board and this certainly makes it a high risk venture. It is against this background that Manohar Parikker made his forthright remarks.

Unlike USA, Israel or even Pakistan India has not been able to create an efficient Intelligence Agency. The recent disclosures made by R K Yadava in his Mission R&W make shocking reading: we have as R K Yadava  points out an intelligence agency which is badly organized, working at cross purposes with other agencies like the IB and worse full of men who are eager to be recruited as double agents. Worse nearly 6 men have defected to USA and India has not been able to bring them to book. When the country's leading Intelligence Agency is facing a crisis of this magnitude, the statement by the Defence Minister has to be taken seriously. There is no scope for bravado.

When I K Gujral became the Prime Minster after the dismissal of Deve Gowda, the new Prime Minster unleashed  volley of measures which virtually disbanded the operational capability of the R&W in Pakistan. He wrongly believed, perhaps because he was born in Pakistan, that it would be possible to have peace with Pakistan. With this false ideological and emotional motive, Gujral systematically degraded Indian intelligence assets in Pakistan. A top secret unit called CITX was disbanded and all the operatives recalled to India. India lost its ability to monitor the movement of military units and the deployment of troops. It had even penetrated the middle level of the Pakistani military establishment when Inder Kumar Gujral brought the whole process down.

As irony would have it I K Gural was saved from assassination by the very R&AW that he chose to attack.

What Parikker has said is true and there is no point in making a political issue of it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kiran Bedi and the Delhi Assembly Polls, 2015

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Once again the same questions and again loud, incoherent noises passing off as political wisdom. The BJP inducted Dr Kiran Bedi into the party and is projecting her as the Chief Ministerial face of the campaign for the Delhi Assemble polls scheduled for February 2015. The BJP has lost its advantage in terms of the Modi factor and has therefore "parachuted" Kiran Bedi screamed Arvind Khejriwal. Not to be outdone, the Congress leader Ajay Maken, yes the same Ajay Maken from Hans Raj about whom the dynastic fascist leader, Mani Shankar Ayer said some unpleasant things a few years back, declared that there is dearth of local leadership in the Delhi unit of the BJP. Therefore both the AAP and the Congress are reading mixed political signals in this new development. Added to the motives attributed to the induction of Kiran Bedi is the fading halo around Narendar Modi which according the APPtards has alarmed the Party. Let us see the validity of these arguments.

Dr Kiran Bedi is a prize catch as she is a well known crusader against Corruption and has shared the limelight along with Anna Hazare and his acolyte, Arvind Khejriwal. Since APP will again try to rake up the Lokpal Bill and the response of the BJP to the promise to pass a strong Lok Pal Bill, it makes sense to have the mascot of the anti Corruption movement to confront Khejriwal. None of the other leaders from Delhi match up to the record and stature of Kiran Bedi. Dr Harsh Vardhan would have been ideal, but for some strange reason he is in the dog house for the moment. Satish Upadhya cannot take on Arvind Khejriwal one on one and the BJP leadership has rightly understood this. I must add that even without Kiral Bedi, the BJP could still sweep the polls in Delhi, but there is a definite edge to the BJP Campaign now. Second, Delhi has a large Sikh population which will not vote for the Congress given its abysmal record in 1984 and Kiran Bedi being a Sikh will certainly help bring some of the votes now that the alliance with the Akali Dal is getting unstuck. Lastly, the administrative experience of Kiran Bedi cannot match anyone of her rivals. There is a strong undercurrent of support for Kiran Bedi even in the Juggi Jonpuri colonies due to her track record of service through the NGO she heads.

Now the results as I see it. Before the induction of Bedi. BJP would on its own have won around 35 to 38 seats. Now it will cross 40 though it will not reACH 49 SEATS IT ONCE HELD IN THE FIRST ASSEMBLY. Therefore Amit Shah and the BJP central leadership have pulled a coup by bringing in Kiran Bedi.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Je suis Charlie Hebdo: The Indiscreet charms of Islamic Terrorism

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo the satirical magazine which won international notoriety for publishing offensive cartoons pertaining to Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Two or three heavily armed men stormed into the building by forcing the woman at the gate to enter the access code of the high security building and fired 37 rounds of ammunition from Ak 47 rifles before making their escape they shot dead a critically injured policeman. That the attack was well planned and meticulously  executed can be gleaned from the flawless getaway, escape from the scene into the woods surrounding the Parisian countryside. The French President, Francois Hollande declared that the killers would be hunted down and that the attack on the journalists was an attack on French Laws which guaranteed "freedom of expression". The French, American and Western media have framed  the attack in terms of the opposition between the liberal West which has the civilized approach to life and liberty and the barbaric totalitarian jihadists who  kill in the name of religion. This way of framing the issue privileges the superiority of the West which is allegedly governed by "laws" and not "men".

Charlie Hebdo was known all over the world for its irreverence and indeed hostile caricature of non White/ Western cultures, religions and  personalities. It may be pointed out that when one of the early satirical magazine, a predecessor of the contemporary, Charlie Hebdo, published a spoof on Charles de Gaulle way back in 1970, it was banned and all copies of the magazine forfeited and destroyed. It is therefore clear that the French claim that they respect Freedom of expression rings hollow. As long as the target of attack is not European or White then it is OK. This seems to the limits set to freedom of expression in France. Can the right to offend be subsumed under the right to freedom of expression.

The western world has seen the disenchantment of the sacred and in most parts of the world people do regard certain personalities, beliefs and symbols sacred and beyond ridicule. Unfortunately in India where political discourse is derivative and based on the pretentions of the western world there is a tendency to equate the freedom of expression with the right to offend. Nothing can be more disingenuous than this argument. In the west only political and national symbols command allegiance of the people. In India we have a whole menagerie of animals, hosts of symbols, a horde of personalities all of which clamour for attention and respect and notional symbols of a recent transition to nationhood are at best second or third tier allegiances. Hence, there is no use of equating the freedom of expression with the right to offend. Reasonable freedom can exist only within the limits of mutual respect and the attack on Charlie Hebdo  only demonstrates that the boundary between freedom and respect has been irrevocably broken or breached.

There is a lesson in this tragedy for France. Even since Nicholas Sarkozy became the President of France it has followed a policy of intervention in the Islamic countries and in this there is a pattern of continuity between what was happening under the rights regime and the present pseudo socialist one. The attack on Libya, Tunisia and the provocations in Syria all anger the Islamic societies and added to that is the cultural arrogance of caricature.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 in India : A Retrospect

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

2014 will be remembered as a year in which India reinvented itself. The year began under a spell of gloom as the Congress regime was floundering under charges of corruption, dynastic fascism and political instability. The involvement of Robert Vadra in a series of land scams in states such as Haryana and Rajasthan only showed that even the First Family of the Congress was deeply implicated in corruption. The Congress could not mount an effective answer to the charges and resorted to the usual game of promoting identity politics and raising the bogey of communalism, an undefined and inherently self contradictory concept. Rahul Gandhi tried to lead the Congress counter charge, but the people of India have moved well beyond the narrow limits of dynastic politics.

Enter Narendar Modi. As Chief MInister of Gujarat he performed well that he was repeatedly elected with higher margins than the the previous occasion. He personally led the NDA campaign in the Parliamentary Election of May 2014 and by addressing thousands of rallies all across the length and breadth of India he drove home the message that India can hope for a better and a more secure future provided it abjured dynastic rule and its inherent corruption. He got a  fantastic mandate from the country and formed the Government.

In the six months that Modi has been in power, there has not been any dramatic new development but incremental steps have been taken. His "Make in India" campaign has certainly stimulated investment in the industrial sector and though the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India,  publically criticized this policy, the fact is that industrial growth has picked up. The price rise has been checked and along with price rise we also find the Government addressing the issue of trimming the ever burgeoning subsidies that bedevil the social sector. The Direct Cash Transfer scheme brought in by the previous regime is being streamlined and strengthened. The various Rural Employment guarantee schemes have spawned monumental corruption and the Modi Government is taking steps to ensure that the 100 days employment goes only to the really poor and needy.

The mission to Mars has put India in the big league of Space powers and the successful launch of the GSLV rocket is a huge step in the direction of developing the indigenous cryogenic engine. Apart from these the interlinking of rivers will be another huge task along with the modernization of the Railways by the involvement of Chinese technology and capital. All in all there are positives all around.

The liberal press has been flagging the issue of the religious conversion of Home Coming, Ghar Vapsi as it is called. Narendar Modi has reined in the hot heads in his party and the issue has dies a natural death. He refused to issue a statement in Parliament on the issue, but quietly and effectively dealt with the  controversy. The people of India have begun to look to the future with hope and an aspirational India has pinned its faith in Narendar Modi. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The False protests on Conversions in India: An investigation

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Indian Press is making a lot of noise on "Conversions" in parts of North India. Though the BJP has no role in the policy of bringing back to the Hindu faith those who were "converted" to other faiths over the course of the past several centuries, the Opposition, particularly the Congress has been disrupting the Parliament demanding a Statement from the Hon'ble Prime Minister. The Television Anchors are having a whale of a time, thundering about the "religious freedoms" enshrined in the document of political settlement issued in 1950. Let us examine the truth of what is happening.

Christianity emerged in Asia at a time when the Roman Empire was at the height of its power and strength. As St Augustine writes in his City of God the birth of the Saviour in a corner of the Roman Empire made the religion aspire for a universality that other religions, particularly the many gods and semi divine characters of the Roman public religion lacked. To be a Christian in the Roman world as Peter Brown and other historians have pointed out was to reject the political entity called the Roman Empire, the earthly city of Augustine and this life was only a transition to the Heavenly City where the Lord reigns forever. Constantine in 324 made Christianity the official religion and thereby a persecuted faith became the official religion. Conversion the context of Christianity was a change in world view, the understanding of life, nature and of course the relationship with God  who sent his Son as our Saviour. The Passion of Christ and His Resurrection on the third day is the proof of God's intervention in history. The acceptance of the three central premises of Christianity is Conversio, the transformation, the inward illumination.

In India, however, the " conversion" has usually been on the basis of identity. Lower castes were induced to "convert" by economic and other inducements and though there have been several instances of sincere and well thought out "conversions" most of the converts regarded Christianity as yet another caste of Hinduism. And in the blatant embrace of identity politics due to the numerical democracy which is followed in India, conversion only meant creation of minority pockets for electoral gain. There is nothing religious and spiritual about this. And the storm over conversion is misplaced and most of the converts do not understand even the elementary aspects of the faith they were induced to join for identity reasons.

The Church in India did little to help the entrants from the lower castes. In Tamil Nadu that I know well, high caste parish priests do not perform the sacraments for the lower casts particularly the "pariah" christians. In Villupuram the untouchable Christians have even complained that the Church graveyard is segregated. I am not giving a litany of complaints to undermine the faith. I am only saying that conversion is a personal and inward transformation and public embrace of Christianity does little to change the ground realities.

The controversy over "conversions" or Ghar Vapsi, Home Coming as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad calls it is totally misplaced and the agents of vote blocks alone are affected not the poor.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Massace of the Innocents at Peshawar, Pakistan

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The massacre at the Army Public School located near the Cantonment at Peshawar has shocked the world and India is aghast at what happened. A two minute silence was observed in educational institutions all long the length and breadth of the country. Cynics might say that this is only a ritual for public consumption. However as a teacher myself and as a parent I, an ordinary citizen felt the pain and anguish of the ordinary Pakistani man and woman. To dismiss the gesture as a mere choreographed display of hypocritical concern will not help anyone. Unfortunately there are sick elements in the Pakistani civil society who have gone to town blaming India for the massacre and this propaganda is only to serve the purpose of diverting attention from the real perpetrators of this outrage. The longer Pakistan lingers in the twilight zone of denial the longer tit will suffer. India cannot do such an act not because it is an innocent country of lambs, but because such attacks do not serve India's interests in the region.

The Pakistani Taliban has taken responsibility for the attack which killed 132 children and 9 teachers. The motive behind the attack is said to be the ongoing Army operations against the Taliban which is going on in the North West Province, the Kim country. Apparently, the Taliban hoped to weaken the resolve of the Pakistani Army in hunting down the militants in the mountain territory. However, they seem to have seriously miscalculated an the Pakistani Army corrupt and criminal force that it is, will not forgive a blatant attack on its own raison d'etre.  I think a turning point has been reached, the tipping point which will see a dramatic changes on the ground. I wish the Army well in its hunt.

Is India responsible for what is going on in Pakistan. I have no doubt that some financial and perhaps military support is being given to some secessionist groups in the Baluchi region. However beyond that India's responsibility  lies in the fact that at the time of Partition the Pakthtoons who were led by the Frontier Gandhi were staunchly against Partition and the silly criminal man called Nehru sold them short and therein lies the roots of the problem. Nehru who wanted his seat of power by all means possible just allowed the Pakhtoons to be swallowed by the Pakistani state in the same manner that Baltistan too was taken over. Had there been an exchange of population, then the demographic character of Pakistan would have changed and the mohajirs would have been in the majority. Since the demand for Pakistan essentially came form this section, they would have defended the nation by not leaning on Islamic fundamentalism as the ideological glue to hold the disparate nation together.

India has to answer the question raised above.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Conversions, the Taj Mahal and "Secularism" in India

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

India is back doing what it does best. Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of secularism if I am paraphrase the words of the great Bard of Avon. In Agra, the city famed for the Taj Mahal a group of 57 families decided to leave their Islamic faith and embrace a syndicated version of the Hindu faith. There is no ban in the political statement called the Constitution on religious conversion and so the contrived outrage against the "reconversion" to a syndicated edition of Hinduism ought not to engage anyone's mind. However, things are not so simple here in India. Busybodies get on the scene and the climate gets charged with all kinds of real and imagined assaults on "secularism". Religion according to the Indian political document that these busybodies like to quote is only a matter of personal choice and so it cannot concern anyone.

A huge amount of misinformation has been put out by  those professing to stand up for "secularism". The BPL cards cannot have been given as an inducement for conversion because the state government is in the hands of the Samajwadi Party which is politically opposed to the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Holding the Central Government responsible for the incident in Agra is disingenuous because the Ration Cards and BPL cards can only be given by the State Government. The 57 families abandoned Islam because they found their livelihood effected by the sort of high voltage campaign that is being carried out by the likes of Azam Khan and his ilk. The Government of India under Narendar Modi has economic development of India and the infusion of technology as its main raison d'etre. It is certainly not interested in identity issues. The defeated political entities like the Janata Dal (U), the Congress party and the Samajwadi party have all based their politics on religious and caste identities and therefore are at the  present noise on the issue of these 57 families choosing a faith of their own conviction. Economic inducement was neither give nor taken. So there is no illegality here.

Azam Khan a "minister" in the Samajwadi Government at Lucknow issued a statement recently in which he demanded the takeover of the Taj Mahal by the Waqf Board of which he is the Chairman. What he does not stat is that Waqf property to the tune of several thousand crores has already been swindled and this Khan shows no interest in reclaiming that. A national monument under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India is now being targeted. Further, the Queen for whom the Taj was built was  Shia and the Mughals themselves were probably secret adherents of the Shia faith. This is important because the Safavids rulers who helped Humayun reconquer the territories of Baber from the Afghans would have provided military and material support only after ensuring that the Mughals are on their side in the geo political situation as the Persia was sandwiched between the Ottomans and the Mughals. By deliberately insinuating the discredited theories of P N Oak the so called secularists are only providing cover to the like of Azam Khan.

The reconversion movement in Agra must be seen in the context of the communal politics injected into the region by Azam Khan and his tribe.