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Friday, 27 February 2015


The building blocks to enduring tiesSaturday, 28 February, 2015 M. K. NARAYANAN If Narendra Modi was successful during his visits to Bhutan and Nepal, it was because he showed a subtle grasp of the importance of gestures and interpersonal equations. He would do well to do the same during his maiden visit to Colombo. Positioning India as a counter point to China could follow later Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision, after his election, to make India as the destination of his first foreign visit, possibly reflects his personal inclination towards India as a natural choice of a long-term ally. However, it is important that it should not be viewed as an indication of Sri Lanka’s desire to place all its eggs in the Indian basket, or even as a willingness to cold shoulder China. India must hence avoid the temptation to flash the ‘V Sign’, before the race has begun, for considerable ground still remains to be covered. A great deal has, however, taken place in Sri Lanka in recent weeks that provides India reason for satisfaction. The “peaceful transfer” of power in Sri Lanka and the absence of any serious violence in its wake, is one. The eclipsing of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who, while distancing himself from India was perceived to be aggressively courting China, is another. Further, the coalition that has come to power has many leaders, especially Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga, who are old friends of India. The scene is thus set for an improvement in India-Sri Lanka ties. The India visit Nevertheless, a lot of homework needs to be done before Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on his Sri Lanka visit. The objective should not be — as media headlines would have it — of “pre-empting” China, but on trying to and building an enduring relationship, which, given the close affinities that do exist between India and Sri Lanka, should have been the natural order of things. Yet, the two nations find themselves separated by much more than the Palk Strait. Mr. Sirisena referred to his India visit as a “remarkable milestone”. But, India and Sri Lanka signed only three agreements viz., on agricultural cooperation, on cultural cooperation, and a Memorandum of Understanding on Nalanda University, none of which can be regarded as significant. They did conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement which amounts to a “demonstration of mutual trust”, but has nothing strategic about it. It only facilitates cooperation in the transfer and exchange of nuclear knowledge and expertise. As this was Mr. Sirisena’s first visit, the more critical issues were either not discussed or possibly not gone into in any detail. However, India and Sri Lanka cannot afford to delay for much longer discussing major issues like the devolution of power to the Tamils in the North, nor can they be avoided during Mr. Modi’s Colombo visit. In fact, they have assumed an air of urgency as Mr. Wickremesinghe has observed that he would like to go in for parliamentary elections soon. Voting patterns in the recently concluded presidential elections demonstrate the critical importance of the minority (Tamil and Muslim) vote, and the coalition of the New Democratic Front of Sirisena and the United National Party of Wickremesinghe need them to outvote the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Critical issues A viable solution to the devolution issue is, however, unlikely without a major initiative coming from the Indian side. Mr. Modi’s team of advisers will have to do a great deal of brainstorming to come up with a solution that at one level, can meet the aspirations of the Tamils, and at another, ensure that the coalition’s standing with the Sinhala Buddhist majority is not seriously undermined. As the architects of the 13th Amendment — and the devolution idea deriving from the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 1987 — the Lankan Tamils will look to India to ensure justice for their cause. Indian Tamils also expect nothing less, and this will have implications for India’s internal politics. There are other thorny issues such as “accountability”, “demilitarization” and growing “communalization” of both the Sri Lankan polity and the Army — as also the pending UNHRC resolution — that will need some kind of settlement. Each in their own way impacts India-Sri Lanka relations to an extent. Buddhist factor Mr. Modi would do well to be also properly advised about certain other aspects that could make a difference from the point of view of the visit’s success. For instance, one of Mr. Sirisena’s alliance partners is the pro-extremist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) whose track record has been one of total opposition to India. Another component is the rabidly Buddhist, Jathika Hela Urumaya, which has turned increasingly militant of late — with regard to its protestations as also its attitude towards non-Buddhist elements in the country, especially Muslims and Tamils. How to steer between the Scylla and Charybdis of Sri Lanka’s internal politics will have to be worked out. An understanding of the Sinhala Buddhist mindset might help. The Sinhala Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka, it is often said, suffers from a “minority complex,” creating many imponderables as a result. The two JVP “insurgencies” (in 1971 and 1987-89) well reflect this. During the LTTE’s heyday, its targets included Buddhist followers; several Buddhist places of worship were also damaged or destroyed. This has left behind a legacy of distrust and insecurity, which translates into violent opposition whenever the demand for the devolution of powers to the Tamils comes up. Irrespective of the party in power in Colombo, underestimating the strength of such feelings — and the extent to which a government in Colombo can make concessions — would be an error. Given that the vote difference in the presidential elections was hardly 4 per cent — and that Mr. Rajapaksa outpolled Mr. Sirisena in a majority of districts across the state (other than in the Tamil and minority belts) — it may not be easy for the coalition to make the kind of concessions required for pushing through the 13th Amendment. As it is, Mr. Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance has a clear majority in the 225-member Sri Lankan Parliament. China angle If Mr. Modi was successful during his visits to Bhutan and Nepal, it was because he showed a subtle grasp of the importance of gestures and interpersonal equations. He would do well to do the same during his maiden visit to Colombo. Positioning India as a counter point to China could follow later, given the existing ground realities, such as Sri Lanka’s “debt trap.” Sri Lanka owes China substantial amounts on account of Chinese aid and assistance for its developmental projects, including the Hambantota and Colombo ports. Mr. Modi knows better than anyone that the largesse of India’s lines of credit simply cannot match that of China’s. Nor for the matter, does our track record of completion of projects compare with that of China. There are reports that Mr. Sirisena has assured China that his government is willing to implement the consensus reached during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s State visit to Sri Lanka last September. The President, reportedly, has also underlined the enduring nature of the friendly ties with China, dating back centuries. Hence, scrapping any of the ongoing projects funded by China may not be on the anvil. It would be better to be cautious and see how far the new Sri Lankan government readjusts its priorities, including its ties with China, before taking any major steps. The realities of Sri Lankan politics also make it easier for Sri Lanka to have a satisfactory relationship with China. There is also the recent “history” of China’s help to Sri Lanka, dating back to the 1952 “rice for rubber deal,” apart from several other instances. If Sri Lanka can be persuaded during Mr. Modi’s visit to Colombo to step back from becoming an enthusiastic supporter of China’s Maritime Silk Road Project, this in itself would be a matter of great geostrategic significance. The Maritime Silk Road Project — employing an ancient Chinese metaphor — masks Mr. Xi’s ambitions to establish a dominant Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific, including building a network of port cities to straddle the Indian Ocean. Location wise, Sri Lanka will have a crucial role, and if it can be detached from becoming involved, this would amount to a significant diplomatic and strategic victory. However, India will be required to demonstrate greater chutzpah, if countries in the region are to heed India’s diktats. Its record in the Maldives in recent years, and again most recently in the case of the former Maldivian President Nasheed’s arrest, does not inspire much confidence about India’s determination


दूरदृष्टीच्या ‘रेलरेषा...!’ ‘झुक झुक झुक झुक अगीनगाडी धुरांच्या रेषा हवेत काढी...’ असे जुन्या वाफेच्या इंजिनावर चालणार्‍या रेल्वेचे वर्णन, आताच्या काळात फक्त दरवर्षी रेल्वेच्या अंदाजपत्रकांना लागू आहे, असे या देशातील सामान्य माणसाला सतत वाटत असे. मात्र, रेल्वेमंत्री सुरेश प्रभू यांनी सादर केलेले यंदाचे रेल्वेचे अंदाजपत्रक धुरांच्या नाही, तर दूरदृष्टीच्या रूपरेषा मांडणारे आहे. अंदाजपत्रकाचा एक नवा अध्याय प्रभू यांनी सुरू केला आहे हे नमूद करत, त्यांचे त्याबद्दल अभिनंदन केलेच पाहिजे. अंदाजपत्रक म्हणजे एक ताळेबंद, असे त्याचे स्वरूप आजवर करून टाकले गेले. त्यातल्या त्यात रेल्वे अंदाजपत्रक म्हणजे दरवाढ आहे की नाही? आणि कोणत्या राज्याला झुकते माप देत नव्या गाड्यांची घोषणा केली गेली आहे? या दोनच प्रश्‍नांभोवती चर्चा फिरती राहिली आहे. रेल्वेचा अर्थसंकल्प हा या खंडप्राय देशातील एका महत्त्वाच्या सुविधेचा संकल्प आहे याचे भान, हा अर्थसंकल्प मांडताना किंवा त्याची चर्चा करताना कधीच यापूर्वी ठेवले गेले नव्हते. मुळात अर्थसंकल्पाला स्वस्त-महागच्या चौकटीत बसविण्याची जी घाई या देशातील माध्यमे आणि तज्ज्ञ करत आले आहेत, त्याला प्रभू यांनी चांगलाच धक्का दिला आहे. रेल्वे प्रवासी भाड्यात किंवा कोणत्याही दरात कसलीही वाढ नाही, ही या अंदाजपत्रकातील पहिली बातमी आहे. कोणत्याही नव्या रेल्वेगाडीची घोषणा लगेच त्यांनी केलेली नाही, ही दुसरी महत्त्वाची गोष्ट आहे. रेल्वेची खरी परिस्थिती झाकून ठेवत वरवर, जनतेला काहीतरी नवे देत असल्याचे चातुर्य वापरायचे आणि वेळ मारून नेत, रेल्वे मात्र आहे तेथेच ठेवायची, असला प्रकार न करता, प्रांजळपणे रेल्वेचे खरे चित्र प्रभू यांनी जनतेसमोर ठेवले आहे. जे आहे ते आणि जसे आहे तसे लोकांसमोर ठेवण्याचा प्रांजळपणा जितका महत्त्वाचा आहे, त्यापेक्षा पुढे बदलाची दिशा कशी राहणार आहे, याचे धोरण अंदाजपत्रकातून स्पष्ट होणे जास्त महत्त्वाचे आहे. आमच्याकडून पैसे घ्या पण आमचा प्रवास सुखद होऊ द्या, अशी आज रेल्वेप्रवाशांच्या मनातली भावना आहे. आरक्षणापासून ते प्रवास पूर्ण करण्यापर्यंत आज प्रवाशांना जे हिसके सहन करावे लागतात, ते कमालीचे त्रासदायक आणि रेल्वेप्रवासाबाबत भीती निर्माण करणारे आहेत. हे भीतिदायक चित्र बदलण्याचा संकल्प सुरेश प्रभू यांच्या या अंदाजपत्रकातून व्यक्त झाला आहे, ही अत्यंत समाधानाची बाब आहे. रेल्वे असो की बससेवा, कोणत्याही सार्वजनिक प्रवासी व्यवस्थेत सर्वांत अडचण जर कोणती असेल तर ती अस्वच्छता! त्यावर घाव घालत प्रभू यांनी ‘स्वच्छ रेल्वे-स्वच्छ भारत’ या दिशेने काम करणार असल्याचे घोषित केले आहे. रेल्वे हे आपले चालतेफिरते घर आहे, ते स्वच्छ ठेवा, असे प्रभू यांनी आवाहन केले आहे. मात्र, या स्वच्छतेसाठी रेल्वे प्रशासनाकडूनच आधी सुरुवात केली गेली, तर जनता निश्‍चित त्याला जबाबदारीने सामोरे जाईल. हेल्पलाईन नंबर, मोबाईल चार्जिंग सुविधा, महिलांना सुरक्षेसाठी निर्भया कोश, ई तिकिटाची सुविधा, सीसीटीव्हीची नजर, सर्वोत्तम अन्न साखळी, तिकिटासोबतच जेवणाचे आरक्षण, चार महिने आधी आरक्षणाची सोय, पाच मिनीटात विनातिकिटाची आफत आली तर तिकीट मिळण्याची सोय अशा छोट्या, पण अतिशय महत्त्वपूर्ण सुविधा रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी जाहीर केल्या आहेत. अपंगांसाठी आणि अंधांसाठी विशेष विचार अर्थसंकल्पात केला गेला आहे. अंदाजपत्रकात जाहीर झालेल्या अनेक गोष्टी प्रत्यक्षात अनुभवाला येत नाहीत, असा आजवरचा प्रवाशांचा अनुभव आहे. त्याला आता तडा बसेल आणि या छोट्या छोट्या, कमी खर्चाच्या, मात्र प्रवाशांना अत्यंत सुख देणार्‍या गोष्टी सरकारने रेल्वेत घडवून आणल्या, तर लोक निश्‍चितच त्याचे स्वागत करतील. सरकारी घोषणांवरचा आणि अंदाजपत्रकांच्या परिणामकारकतेवरचा लोकांचा विश्‍वास त्यातून वाढीस लागेल. नव्या गाड्यांची घोषणा परिस्थितीचा नीट अभ्यास केल्यानंतर होईल, हे त्यांनी स्पष्ट केले आहे. मात्र, नवे रेल्वेमार्ग वीस टक्क्यांनी वाढतील आणि प्रवासी वाहून नेण्याची क्षमता २१ दशलक्षवरून ३० दशलक्ष इतकी वाढविण्यात येणार आहे. या विषयात येत्या पाच वर्षांत साडेआठ लाख कोटी रुपयांची गुंतवणूक होईल, असे नियोजन रेल्वेमंत्रालयाने केल्याचे या अंदाजपत्रकात जाहीर केले आहे. नव्या युगातील गती आणि रेल्वेची गती यांच्यातील व्यस्त प्रमाण बदलण्याचा संकल्प रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी जाहीर केला आहे. नाहीतर भाषा बुलेट ट्रेनची करायची आणि बाकीच्या रेल्वेची गती मात्र एकाच रेल्वेला एकच म्हैस दोन दोनदा आडवी येत असल्याचा विनोद करण्याइतकी कमी! हे व्यस्त प्रमाण बदलून टाकण्याचा संकल्प सुरेश प्रभू यांनी जाहीर केला आहे. अगदी राजधानी आणि शताब्दी एक्सप्रेस यांची क्षमता ताशी १३० किमी वेगाने जाण्याची असतानाही, त्या प्रत्यक्षात केवळ ७० किमी वेगाने जातात, याबद्दल रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी आश्‍चर्य व्यक्त करत, ही क्षमता ताशी १६० किमी इतकी वाढविण्याचा निश्‍चय त्यांनी केला आहे. हा वेगही प्रगतीचा वेग खूपच वाढविणारा ठरणार आहे. याशिवाय सीमाभागात रेल्वेचे जाळे वाढविण्याची घोषणाही महत्त्वपूर्ण आहे. पूर्वांचलातील राज्यांबाबत स्वतंत्रपणे विचार करून काही योजना जाहीर करण्यात आल्या आहेत. उत्तरांचल राष्ट्रीय प्रवाहात जोडला जाण्याकरिता याचा खूप उपयोग होईल. ९ अतिवेगवान गाड्या, विद्यमान रेल्वेची गती वाढविणे, चारशे रेल्वेस्थानकांवर वायफायची सुविधा, वरच्या बर्थवर जाण्यासाठी प्रवाशांसाठी सुखद शिडी, सतरा हजार जैविक शौचालये अशा काही गोष्टी रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी घोषित केल्या आहेत. त्या झाल्या तरी रेल्वेचे चित्र सुखद होईल. नवे तंत्र, भांडवलात जनसहभाग, औद्योगिक दृष्टी, रेल्वेचे आधुनिकीकरण या विषयात या अंदाजपत्रकाने चित्र बदलण्याचाच संकल्प जाहीर केला आहे. गेल्या काही वर्षांत रेल्वेमंत्रालय प्रादेशिक पक्षांच्या नेत्यांच्या हातात होते. त्या काळात प्रत्येकाने देशाच्या अंदाजपत्रकावर आपापल्या प्रदेशाची छाप पाडण्याचा प्रयत्न केला होता. आपापल्या भागात नव्या रेल्वे गाड्या, नवे रेल्वेमार्ग असे संकुचित पक्षपात या लोकांनी केले होते. पहिल्यांदाच रेल्वे अंदाजपत्रकाला या प्रादेशिक अस्मितेतून आणि आग्रहातून प्रभू यांनी बाहेर काढले आहे. रेल्वेला आधुनिक विकासाची दिशा देणारा, नव्या तंत्राचा अवलंब करणारा, प्रवाशांच्या हिताची काळजी घेणारा असा हा रेल्वे अर्थसंकल्प आहे. रेल्वेतील स्वच्छतेवर भर देतानाच, रेल्वेत जमा होणार्‍या कचर्‍याचाही वेगळा विचार रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी मांडला आहे. हा कचरा एकत्रित करून रेल्वे टर्मिनस जेथे असेल तेथे या कचर्‍यापासून वीजनिमिंती करण्याचे प्रकल्प सुरू करण्याचा त्यांचा विचार आहे. रेल्वेची आर्थिक स्थिती सध्या नाजूक असल्याचे कबूल करतानाच रेल्वेमंत्र्यांनी, देशाच्या अर्थव्यवस्थेत रेल्वे आपले योगदान चांगल्या प्रकारे निभावून नेईल, असा विश्‍वासही व्यक्त केला आहे. पंतप्रधान नरेंद्र मोदी यांनी या रेल्वे अंदाजपत्रकाची स्तुती करताना, हे अंदाजपत्रक भविष्याकडे पाहणारे आणि सामान्य जनतेच्या गरजा पूर्ण करणारे अंदाजपत्रक आहे, असे म्हटले आहे. रेल्वेच्या डब्यांपासून ते रेल्वेगाड्यांपर्यंत सर्वंकष रेल्वे सुधारणेचा विचार या अंदाजपत्रकातून व्यक्त झाला आहे. मोदी सरकारने सत्तेवर येताना ‘अच्छे दिन आनेवाले हैं’ अशी जी जाहिरात केली होती, त्या ‘अच्छे दिना’ची चाहूल जनतेला आणून देणारा अर्थसंकल्प, असे या अंदाजपत्रकाचे वर्णन करावे लागेल. पैशाविना केवळ कल्पनाविलासात निव्वळ धुरांच्या रेषा हवेत न काढता, दूरदृष्टीच्या ‘रेलरेषा’ सुरेश प्रभू यांनी आखल्या आहेत, एवढे खरे...

Monday, 23 February 2015

PRIME MINISTER MODI MUST CANCELL HIS VISIT TO CHINA February 22, 2015, 11:26 PM IST SD Pradhan Recent Chinese reaction to PM Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh clearly reveals that Chinese expansionism continues unabated. The harsher and shriller statements this time were surprising as during Xi Jinping’s visit to India hopes were generated that China would stop such activities. Continuation of such activities establishes beyond doubt that China has sinister plans on our bordering areas and is not sincere in resolving the irritants through negotiations. PM Modi was in Itanagar in connection with the celebration of the 29th State Day function and inauguration of Naharlagun-New Delhi Express train. Chinese reaction was stronger as compared to its response when former PM Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh in 2009. At that time China expressed its dissatisfaction with the visit. However this time the Chinese reactions are more stinging. Chinese spokesperson threatened that this visit would “complicate” the boundary issue and could obstruct the movement towards “good momentum towards the bilateral ties”. The spokesperson used the language that not only reflected the higher level of Chinese opposition to the presence of Modi but also claimed that Arunachal Pradesh is the Chinese area. Arunachal Pradesh was referred to as the “disputed area of eastern part of China-India boundary.” The statement also urged the Indian side to take the Chinese solemn concerns seriously. Later the Indian Ambassador was summoned and the Chinese protest was handed over to him. The pungent statements coming soon after the Xi’s visit and just before the Indian PM’s forthcoming visit in May suggest that Chinese policy of expansionism in its periphery has not been changed. The agreements signed since 1993 to maintain peace at the border have been violated by China several times. The Chinese incursions into the Indian terrirtory since then have increased in geometrical progression. India has only routinely registered its protests in the past. Often such incursions are termed as caused by the differences in perception about the boundary line – a justification given by the Chinese. However it is not only India which is facing Chinese aggressive designs but Vietnam and Philippines in South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea are also the victims of Chinese expansionist designs. There are similarities in the Chinese policies towards all these areas. First China has an over-all strategy to acquire the areas in its periphery since long. Soon after 1949, in accordance with its strategy, it militarily annexed Tibet and then began to move towards other areas. China’s strategy has two dimensions-projecting claims and providing justification for those claims with the help of distorted historical facts. It made clear that it would not recognise the McMahon line as far as India was concerned. It placed claims on the Indian territory. Similarly it also claimed the Senkaku islands and almost entire South China Sea through the nine dashed lines on the areas of Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. The publicity campaign included cartographic aggression. Chinese passports began to claim all areas in the periphery attracting severe criticism from the concerned countries including India. Second common element is aggressive patrolling by its armed forces of the claimed areas to project that it can use muscular means to achieve its objectives. In the Indian territory, China is sending PLA patrols and their frequency of incursions have increased as also the number of troops crossing over to the Indian side. On the Indian side, several times the Chinese troops write on rocks that the area belongs to China. In the East China and South China Seas, vessels of reorganised Chinese Coast Guards, backed by PLA (N) are aggressively patrolling the area. They are also using aircraft raising the level of tension. While in India they have been sending helicopter, in Senkaku area they had sent jets. China also demarcated a maritime Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) that covers Senkaku islands. In South China Sea they are also creating artificial islands to increase their EEZ. Third common element is developing facilities which can be used for military operations. Along the Sino-Indian border railway lines and airfields have been constructed. In South China Sea, in the occupied islands, construction work is going on and it is expected that the facilities there could be used for military purposes. The deployment of troops and missiles only raise the fear among other powers about the Chinese intents. Fourth common element is that it is trying to use its economic relations with other countries to dissuade them to challenge its claims. For this purpose, it is showcasing that by maintaining close relations the countries in its periphery could gain. For this purpose it is focusing on four issues- (i) promoting the establishment of a new maritime silk road for the 21st century linking the Pacific and Indian oceans; (ii) the creation of free trade zones along China’s periphery; (iii) deepening regional financial cooperation by creating an Asian infrastructure bank; (iv) pushing for the conclusion by the end of 2015 of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement that would include the ten ASEAN member states and its FTA partners (Australia, China, India, Korea, and New Zealand). While this aspect may appear quite justified, its ulterior motive is to pressurise its opponents to accept its claims and establish its hegemony in the region. In view of the forgoing, India needs to assess the Chinese aggressive actions holistically and evolve an appropriate strategy. Chinese incursions and sharp and shrill noises it makes on the visit of our leaders in our areas are indicate the Chinese sinister designs and its game plan to usurp our territory. Our lack of response or weak response on such incidents only encourages the Chinese to be more aggressive. This is perceived by China as India’s acceptance of their point of view. Indian top leaders need to learn from history that the policy of appeasement towards Hitler prior to the World War II led to only whet his appetite for expansion. India had committed a mistake by accepting Tibet as a part of China. Pragmatism demands that the Indian policy towards China should be revisited. As a first step India should make a firm statement that such acts of China would lead to deterioration in the bilateral ties. India should cancel all meets till China apologises. India’s stern message that Indian territory is non-negotiable. Second PM Modi should postpone his visit to China and make it clear that unless such activities come to an end he would not visit China. In fact the visit should take place when there is a substantial progress on the border issue. There is no point in signing another agreement which China would not honour. And third, it could convey to China that as a reaction to such acts India is going to revisit its Tibet policy. We have not achieved anything by pursuing the current policy. China continues with its policy of supporting Pakistan in nuclear and missile fields causing serious security problem for India


Sunday, 22 February 2015

इसिसच्या दीर्घकालीन लढ्यामागचे रहस्य-प्रमोद वडनेरकर

इसिसच्या दीर्घकालीन लढ्यामागचे रहस्य इस्लामिक स्टेट ऑफ इराक ऍण्ड सिरीया (आयएस)विरुद्ध सुरू असलेल्या लढ्याला सहा महिन्यांपेक्षाही जास्त काळ उलटून गेला आहे. पण, इराक व सीरियाचा त्यांनी बळकावलेला भाग त्यांच्यापासून हिरावून घेण्याचे कसब संयुक्त सेनेने दाखविलेले नाही. अमेरिकन सेंट्रल कमांडच्या अहवालानुसार त्यांच्या हवाई हल्ल्यात आयएसचे अंदाजे ६००० जिहादी आजपर्यंत ठार झालेले आहेत. तरीही आयएस सर्वच आघाड्यांवर जोरदार मुकाबला करते आहे. आयएसमध्येे सतत होणार्‍या जिहादींच्या भरतीमुळे, त्यांना या आघाताची झळ पोहोचत नाही. आयएसविरुद्ध लढण्यासाठी सीरियन व इराकी कूर्दच्या आर्मीला ट्रेनिंग देण्यापासून तर नवीन शिया पंथीय जिहादींची पलटण उभी करण्यापर्यंत अनेक प्रयोग करण्यात आले, पण इराकी सेना फारशी आघाडी घेेऊ शकलेली नाही. एवढे मात्र खरे की, अमेरिकेच्या अधिपत्याखाली या संयुक्त सेनेने आयएसच्या विस्तारवादी कार्यक्रमाला रोखले आहे. त्यांनी जिंकलेला भाग टिकविण्यासाठीच आयएसची बरीच शक्ती खर्च होत आहे. आजपर्यंत तुर्की व सीरिया यांच्या सीमेवर असलेले कोबाने शहर जिंकण्याचा आयएस सतत प्रयत्न करीत होते. पण, कूर्द जमातीचा अड्डा असलेले हे शहर कूर्द जिहादी गटाने आजवर लढविले आहे. चार महिने चाललेल्या या संघर्षात आयएसला मागे हटविण्यात कुर्दीश फोर्सेसच्या यशामागे अमेरिकन फायटर प्लेन्सचे महत्त्वाचे योगदान आहे. बगदाद शहराच्या ईशान्येला असलेल्या ‘दियाला’ प्रांतातून आयएस अतिरेक्यांना नुकतीच माघार घ्यावी लागली आहे. इराकी आर्मी व शिया जिहादींनी इराकमधील दुसर्‍या नंबरचे शहर ‘मासूल’ लढविण्यात यश मिळविले आहे. पण, या अपयशामुळे आयएसच्या विचारसरणीत व युद्धखोरीत कोणताच बदल झालेला नाही. उलट, त्यांनी चिडून जाऊन लिबियात पकडलेल्या २१ इजिप्शियन ख्रिश्‍चनांचा सरेआम शिरच्छेद करून ते दृश्य व्हिडीओवर प्रसारित केले. इजिप्तमधून व्यापारासाठी सीरियात जाणारे ख्रिश्‍चन व्यापारी जर अशा प्रकारे आयएसच्या क्रौर्याला अचानक बळी पडत असतील, तर त्यामुळे त्या देशातील व्यापारावर गंभीर परिणाम होऊ शकतात. इजिप्तमधे या ख्रिश्‍चन समुदायाची लोकसंख्या १० टक्के एवढी आहे. इजिप्तचे पंतप्रधान अब्देल फतेद यांनी, ‘‘आम्ही या हत्येचा सूड घेतल्याशिवाय राहणार नाही,’’ असा इशारा आयएसला दूरचित्रवाणीवरून दिला. पण, त्याच वेळी पुढे जाऊन आयएसचे अधिकारी आपला रोमवर विजय मिळविण्याचा निर्धार व्यक्त करत होते. मागे जॉर्डनच्या एका वैमानिकाची, आयएसच्या अधिकार्‍यांनी, त्याला लोखंडी पिंजर्‍यात बंद करून नंतर तो जळत असताना त्या पिंजर्‍यावर बुलडोझर चढवून अत्यंत निर्घृणपणे हत्या केली. हत्या करण्याच्या या विकृत प्रकारांचे इस्लामचे खंदे समर्थकदेखील समर्थन करणार नाहीत! यानंतर जॉर्डनचे किंग अब्दुला यांनी हत्येला प्रत्युत्तर देताना आयएसच्या ठिकाणावर प्रचंड हवाई हल्ले केले. किंग अब्दुला हे केवळ जॉर्डनचे राजे नाहीत, तर एक यशस्वी लेफ्टनंट जनरल आहेत! जॉर्डनमधे ९० टक्के संख्या सुन्नी मुस्लिमांची आहे आणि आयएसदेेखील सुन्नी पंथीयांची संघटना आहे. त्यामुळे जॉर्डनच्या या प्रतिक्रियेवर सर्वत्र समाधान व्यक्त करण्यात आले. किंग अब्दुला यांनी मागे ‘चार्ली हेब्दो’प्रकरणावरून उद्भवलेल्या आतंकी हल्ल्याविरुद्ध पॅरिसमध्ये झालेल्या निषेध मोर्चात जॉर्डनचे किंग म्हणून त्यांच्या समर्थनार्थ प्रत्यक्ष भाग घेतला होता. पण, त्यांच्या या कृतीचा जॉर्डनच्या नागरिकांनी मोर्चे काढून निषेध व्यक्त केला. थोडे इतिहासात मागे गेल्यास असे दिसते की, किंग अब्दुल्ला यांचे वडील हुसेन हे प्रेषित महंमदाच्या कुळातले म्हणून त्यांचा सन्मान होता. ते मुस्लिम ब्रदरहूड संस्थेचे प्रमुख सदस्य होते. त्यांनी हमास पंथियांना मदत करून पॅलेस्टिनी लष्कराला इस्रायलच्या विरोधात लढण्यास शस्त्रदेखील पुरविले होते. पण, १९९९ नंतर जॉर्डनच्या सत्तेची सूत्रे हाती आल्यानंतर त्यांचे पुत्र अब्दुला यांच्या वागण्यातला धोरणात्मक फरक दिसू लागला. किंग अब्दुला यांनी मुस्लिम ब्रदरहूडचे अध्यक्ष महंमद मोर्सी यांना डावलून इजिप्तची सत्ता काबीज करणार्‍या जनरलच्या स्वागतार्थ इजिप्तला प्रत्यक्ष भेट दिली होती. किंग अब्दुला यांनी त्यांचे हमाससोबत असलेले संबंधदेखील संपुष्टात आणले होते. आयएसला जॉर्डनसारख्या ९० टक्के सुन्नी पंथीय असलेल्या देशातूनही राजकीय पातळीवर विरोध सुरू आहे, तरी आयएस आज सर्व इस्लामिक गटांना त्यांच्या नेतृत्वाखाली एकत्र आणण्याचा संकल्प जाहीर करते, हे कशाच्या भरवशावर? आयएसने निर्माण केलेल्या या समस्येला लष्करी बळाच्या आधारे सामोरे जाण्यावर अनेक मर्यादा आहेत. तसेच वैचारिक पातळीवरही त्यांच्याशी सामना करायला पश्‍चिम आशियातील मुस्लिम राष्ट्रे समर्थ नाहीत. इराक, सीरियाच्या भवतालची सारीच मुस्लिम राष्ट्रे लोकाभिमुख होऊन, खर्‍या अर्थाने जनतेची काळजी घेण्यात अपयशी ठरलेली आहेत. बर्‍याच मुस्लिम राष्ट्रांची शासनव्यवस्था ढासळलेली आहे. तेथे जिहादी संघटनांचाच शासनावर वचक असतो. याच परिस्थितीचा आयएस फायदा घेत आहे. त्यांनी आवाहन केल्यावर हजारोंच्या संख्येने मुस्लिम युवक आयएसमधे सामील होण्यासाठी जगाच्या कानाकोपर्‍यातून येत असतात, ते याच कारणामुळे! आयएसच्या बाजूने आज २०,००० च्या वर विदेशी जिहादी लढत आहेत. त्यात आता युरोपीय राष्ट्रासोबत दक्षिणपूर्व आशियातील राष्ट्रेही ओढली गेली आहेत. इंडोनेशियातील पोलिस सूत्रांनुसार तेथून ५०० जिहादी आयएसमध्ये सामील झाले आहेत. मलेशिया, सिंगापूर, फिलिपिन्स येथून १५० जिहादी आयएसच्या वाटेवर आहेत. मलेशियातही काही महिन्यांपूर्वी आयएसशी संलग्न असलेल्या ५१ युवकांना पकडले होते. खरं तर दक्षिणपूर्व आशियातील मुस्लिमांची मानसिकता ही आयएसच्या विचारप्रणालीशी अजीबात जुळत नाही. ते शांतताप्रिय व सहिष्णू आहेत. त्यामुळेच अल् कायदासारखी प्रखर जिहादी संघटना दक्षिणपूर्व आशियात मूळ धरू शकली नाही. पण, समाजात अशांतता पसरवायला बोटावर मोजण्याइतके घटकदेखील पुरेसे असतात. मागे अशाच घटकांनी इंडोनेशियातील बाली बेटावर बॉम्बस्फोट घडवून २०० पेक्षा जास्त लोकांचा जीव घेतला होता. आयएसच्या लढ्यात सामील होण्यासाठी भारत व प्रामुख्याने काश्मीरमधूनही अनेक तरुण गेले आहेत. यावरून इस्लामिक स्टेटचे व्हिडीओ आणि प्रचारप्रणाली ही बॉलिवूडपेक्षाही अधिक प्रभावी दिसते. त्यांच्या आवाहनात जी मने पेटविण्याची क्षमता आहे, त्यापुढे उदारमतवादी राष्ट्रेदेखील हतबल झाली आहेत. आयएसने आपली सत्ता आर्थिक स्तरावर भक्कम करण्यासाठी तेलसाठ्यांवर कब्जा मिळविला आहे. या चारपाच महिन्यात तेलाचे भाव मोठ्या प्रमाणात कमी झाल्यामुळे, त्यांची २ ते ३ मिलियन डॉलर्सएवढी रोजची आवक आता ३० टक्क्यांवर आली आहे. जिहादींच्या पगारवाटपासाठीही त्यांचेकडे पुरेसा निधी नसल्याचे अमेरिकन एजन्सीच्या लक्षात आले आहे. तरी आयएस जिद्दीने पुढे जाऊन आघाडी लढविण्यात कमी पडत नाही. कारण त्यांच्याजवळ प्राणपणाने लढणार्‍या, इस्लामसाठी कोणतीही कुर्बानी द्यायला तयार असलेल्या फौजा आहेत. इस्लाम विरोधकांना ते किती क्रूरतेने संपवू शकतात, याचे दर्शन त्यांनी प्रसारित केलेल्या व्हिडीओतून होतच असते. त्यामुळे जोपर्यंत मुस्लिम राष्ट्रे जॉर्डनप्रमाणे आयएसच्या अतिरेकी क्रौर्याच्या व अत्याचाराच्या विरोधात त्यांना धडा शिकवत नाहीत, तोपर्यंत आयएसच्या आव्हानांना आळा बसणार नाही. त्यांचे जगाला इस्लाममय करण्याचे इरादे किती निरर्थक वा फोल आहेत, हे पुरोगामी विचारांची मुस्लिम राष्ट्रेच त्यांना चांगल्या तर्‍हेने पटवून देऊ शकतात. प्रमोद वडनेरकर

CORPORATE THIEVES-कॉर्पोरेट हेरगिरी

कॉर्पोरेट हेरगिरी भारतातील मोठमोठ्या कंपन्या दरवर्षी हजारो कोटींचा नफा कमावत असतात आणि आपल्या साम्राज्याचा विस्तार जगभर व्हावा, अशी मनीषा बाळगून असतात. एखाद्या उद्योगाने आपल्या कर्तृत्व आणि क्षमतेने हे यश संपादन केले असेल, तर त्याला आक्षेप घेण्याचे कारण नाही. पण, चोरी करून, लाडीलबाडी करून, सरकारचा विश्‍वासघात करून, गोपनीयता कायद्याचे उल्लंघन करून जर कुणी उद्योगपती दुष्ट भावनेने हे सर्व करीत असेल, तर त्याला मुळीच माफी देता कामा नये. दिल्लीत पेट्रोलियम, कोळसा आणि अन्य दोन मंत्रालयांची कागदपत्रे चोरण्यासाठी हेरगिरीचे जाळे पसरविणार्‍या काही कंपन्या नुकत्याच चतुर्भुज झाल्या आणि त्यांचे बिंग फुटले. राष्ट्रीय अन्वेषण संस्थेला (एनआयए)ला याची कुणकुण बरीच आधी लागली होती आणि त्यांनी याचा शोध घेण्यासाठी मोठे जाळे विणले होते. त्या जाळ्यात एकेक जण अलगद अडकत गेला आणि आतापर्यंत १२ जणांना गजाआड करण्यात पोलिसांना यश आले. यात पेट्रोलियम मंत्रालयाचे दोन कर्मचारी आणि एका पत्रकाराचाही समावेश आहे. आश्‍चर्याची बाब म्हणजे, पकडल्या गेलेल्या एका आरोपीने तर ही हेरगिरी आम्ही गेल्या दहा-बारा वर्षांपासून बिनबोभाटपणे करीत असल्याची धक्कादायक कबुली दिल्याने, हे प्रकरण अधिकच गंभीर झाले आहे. आतापर्यंत दलाल, मंत्र्यांचे पीए हे अशाच काही प्रकरणांमध्ये पकडले गेले होते. पण, केंद्रीय मंत्रालयासारख्या ठिकाणी हे हेरगिरीचे जाळे एवढ्या मोठ्या प्रमाणात दहा-बारा वर्षांपासून कार्यरत असणे, हे अनाकलनीय आहे. कॉंग्रेस सरकारला हे माहीत नव्हते का, असा प्रश्‍न विचारला जात आहे. पण, आता सरकार नरेंद्र मोदींचे आहे. मोदी सरकारने या सर्व लोकांवर कठोर कारवाई करण्याचे ठरविले आहे. एक मात्र नक्की की, गेल्या दशकभराच्या कालावधीत या हेरगिरीसाठी कुणीकुणी हातभार लावला, त्या सर्वांची नावे तपासातून पुढे येणार आहेत. सध्या १२ जण यात सापडले असून आणखी काही लोक यात सामील असावेत, असा तपास यंत्रणांचा कयास आहे. तपासाअंती आणखी कोणकोण यात आहेत, हे देशाला कळणार आहे. मूळ मुद्दा हा की, अनिल धीरूभाई अंबानी यांच्या रिलायन्स एडीएजीचे उपमहाव्यवस्थापक, एस्सारचेही उपमहाव्यवस्थापक, कैरन इंडियाचे महाव्यवस्थापक, आरआयएलचे कॉर्पोरेट व्यवहार सांभाळणारे व्यवस्थापक, ज्युबिलंट एनर्जीचे वरिष्ठ कार्यकारी अधिकारी अशा नामांकित कंपन्यांचे इतके मोठे अधिकारीही या हेरगिरीत पकडले जाणे, हेच मुळात धक्कादायक आहे. सरकारचे गोपनीय आणि धोरणात्मक निर्णय चोरून आपल्याला मिळावेत, यासाठी या कंपन्यांनी हा देशद्रोहाशी समकक्ष व्यवहार का केला, याचे उत्तर या कंपन्यांनी देशाला दिले पाहिजे. एरवी उद्योग स्थापन करताना किती अडचणी येतात, याचा पाढा हे उद्योगपती नेहमीच वाचत असतात. त्यांना प्रचंड सवलती हव्या असतात. विशेष आर्थिक क्षेत्रातील उत्पादने तीन ते पाच वर्षांसाठी करमुक्त, पाणी, वीज, अन्य समस्या त्यांना हव्या असतात. नियम बाजूला ठेवून उद्योग उभारणीस परवानगी द्यावी, असा त्यांचा आग्रह असतो. सरकारने काही अंशी त्यांना सूटही दिली आहे. एकट्या ‘सेझ’वरील करापोटी गेल्या दहा वर्षांत एक लाख कोटीहून अधिक कर माफ करण्यात आला आहे. तरीही ही चोरी कशासाठी? सरकारी धोरणे आधीच कळण्यासाठी बेईमानी करून या बड्या उद्योगसमूहांनी कोणता संदेश दिला आहे? आम्ही किती मोठे समाजसेवक आहोत, असे ढोल बडवणार्‍या या उद्योगपतींचा नफ्याचा डोलारा कशावर उभा आहे, याचे बिंग फुटल्यामुळे त्यांचा खरा चेहरा देशासमोर आणि जगासमोर आला, हे एक अर्थाने बरेच झाले. त्यासाठी मोदी सरकारचे अभिनंदनच करायला हवे. या घटनेवरून सवार्र्ंत महत्त्वाची बाब अधोरेखित झाली, ती ही की, केंद्रीय मंत्रालयासारख्या महत्त्वाच्या मंत्रालयातील गोपनीय कागदपत्रे अतिशय विस्कळीत अवस्थेत ठेवली जायची, जी कणाच्याही हाती पडू शकत होती. या हेरगिरीची कुणकुण, मोदी सरकार आल्यानंतर लगेच पेट्रोलियम मंत्रालयाच्या लक्षात आली होती. एका सहसचिवाच्या फॅक्स यंत्राजवळ काही महत्त्वाची कागदपत्रे सापडल्याने मंत्रालयाची शंका बळावली. त्यांनी लगेच एनआयए आणि दिल्ली पोलिसांना याची सूचना दिली. जाळे विणण्यात आले. आधीच्या घटनेवरून हे काम सराईत गुन्हेगारांचे नसून किरकोळ गुन्हे करणार्‍यांचे आहे, हे लक्षात आले. सीसीटीव्ही कॅमेरे लावण्यात आले. दोन महिन्यांपूर्वी असेच एका सहसचिवाच्या खोलीतील दस्तावेज अस्ताव्यस्त आढळल्याने पाळत अधिक कडक करण्यात आली. त्यात रात्रीच्या वेळी वॉचमनचे काम करणारा आशाराम आणि त्यांचा सहकारी हे सापडले. विचारपूस करताना, त्यांनी जी माहिती दिली, ती अधिकच धक्कादायक आहे. या दोघांनी जयपाल रेड्डी यांच्या कार्यकाळात एकूण सात अधिकार्‍यांच्या दालनाच्या चाव्यांवरून नव्या चाव्या तयार केल्या होत्या. दस्तावेज बाहेर काढायचे, त्याचे कॅमेर्‍याने फोटो घ्यायचे व दस्तावेज तसेच ठेवून द्यायचे, ही यांची पहिली मोडस ऑपरेंडी होती. या दोघांना पकडल्यानंतर त्यांनी हे दस्तावेज आपण इंडियन पेट्रो ग्रुपचे मालक माजी पत्रकार शंतनु सायकिया यांना देत असू, अशी माहिती दिली. त्यावरून सायकिया यांना अटक करण्यात आली. हा शंतनु, हे दस्तावेज नंतर पेट्रोलियम आणि कोळसा उद्योगातील मोठमोठ्या कॉर्पोरेट कंपन्यांना विकायचा. चौकीदारांना वीस हजार मिळायचे, तर शंतनु लक्षावधी रुपये कमवायचा. लक्षणीय बाब अशी की, या इंडियन पेट्रो ग्रुपने आपल्या कार्यालयाच्या प्रवेशद्वारावर जो बोर्ड लावला आहे, त्यावर ‘बिझिनेस इंटेलिजन्स सर्व्हिसेस फॉर ऑईल ऍण्ड गॅस, कोल, पॉवर, फर्टिलायझर्स ऍण्ड पेट्रोकेमिकल सेक्टर्स’ असे चक्क लिहिले ओह. ही कंपनी काय काम करते, याचा तपास कोणत्याही यंत्रणेने केला नाही, सरकारच्या कोणत्याही अधिकार्‍याचे याकडे लक्ष कसे गेले नाही, हे आश्‍चर्यच आहे. कोणते इंटेलिजन्स (गुप्त माहिती) ही कंपनी पुरवीत होती, हे आता सर्वांच्याच लक्षात आले आहे. या कंपनीवरही धाड घालण्यात आली असून, सर्व नोंदी पोलिसांनी आपल्या ताब्यात घेतल्या आहेत. यावरून या हेरगिरीत आणखी कोणकोण सहभागी आहेत, याचा पत्ता लागणार आहे. पेट्रोलियम मंत्री धर्मेन्द्र प्रधान यांनी या सगळ्या प्रकरणावर अतिशय क्षोभ व्यक्त केला आहे आणि तो साहजिकच आहे. कुणी कितीही मोठा असो, कायद्यासमोर सर्व समान आहेत आणि त्यांना कठोरतम शिक्षा केली जाईल, असे त्यांनी म्हटले आहे. या सगळ्या हेरगिरी प्रकरणावरून अशी शंका निर्माण झाली आहे की, केवळ पेट्रोलियम आणि कोळसाच नव्हे, तर अन्य मंत्रालयातूनही अशाच प्रकारचे गोपनीय दस्तावेज चोरीला गेले असावेत. त्याकडेही तपास यंत्रणांनी लक्ष पुरविले पाहिजे. तपासात असेही आढळून आले आहे की, अगदी काही दिवसांवर येऊन ठेपलेल्या अंदाजपत्रकाशी निगडितही काही नोंदी या आरोपींच्या हाती लागल्या आहेत. म्हणजे, अंदाजपत्रकात होणारे बदल, तरतुदी, करसवलतींची माहिती आधीच व्हावी आणि मधल्या कालावधीत आपल्याला लाभदायक होतील, असे निर्णय घ्यावे, असा एकूण हा प्रकार दिसत आहे. देशाच्या अर्थव्यवस्थेशी खेळ करण्याचा हा प्रकार निंदनीय तर आहेच, पण सरकारच्या नोकरशहांच्या एकूणच वागणुकीवरही प्रश्‍नचिन्ह निर्माण करणारा आहे. सकृद्दर्शनी हे दस्तावेज दहा हजार कोटी रुपयांच्या व्यवहाराला प्रभावित करणारे असल्याचे आरोपींनी म्हटले आहे. पण, हे सत्य नाही. हे प्रकरण हजारो कोटींच्या व्यवहाराशी निगडित असण्याची दाट शक्यता आहे. त्या दृष्टीने तपास व्हावा. या हेरगिरी प्रकरणावरून केवळ केंद्रानेच नव्हे, तर सर्व राज्यांनीही धडा घेतला पाहिजे आणि मंत्रालयात सुळसुळाट झालेल्या दलालांचा बंदोबस्त केला पाहिजे.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

मर्द आम्ही मराठे खरे, शत्रूला भरे कापरे|

मर्द आम्ही मराठे खरे, शत्रूला भरे कापरे| मर्द आम्ही मराठे खरे , शत्रूला भरे कापरे| देश रक्षाया, धर्म ताराया, कोण झुंजीत मागे सरे || धृ || वादळापरी आम्ही पुढेच चालतो , जय शिवाजी गर्जुनी रणांत झुंजतो | मराठा कधी न संगरातुनी हटे , मारुनी दहास एक मराठा कटे | सिंधु ओलांडुनी, धावतो संगिनी, पाय आता न मागे सरे || १ || व्हा पुढे अम्हा धनाजी ,बाजी सांगती, वीर हो उठा कडाडतात नौबती | विजय घोष दुमदुमे पुन्हा दिगंतरी , पूर्वजापरी आम्ही अजिंक्य संगरी | घेऊ शत्रूवरी झेप वाघापरी , मृत्यू अम्हा पुढे घाबरे || २ || भारता आम्ही तुलाच देव मानतो , हाच महाराष्ट्र धर्म एक जाणतो | राखतो महान आमची परंपरा, रक्त शिंपुनी पवित्र ठेवती धरा | ह्याच मातीवरी प्राण गेला तरी ,अमुची वीर गाथा उरे

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Full Headers Printable View · Brahma Chellaney | · Updated: Feb 17, 2015 11:10 IST After nuclear concessions to America on accident liability and parallel safeguards, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now opening talks with Pakistan, as sought by US President Barack Obama. The charade of sending the foreign secretary on a Saarc tour so as to create a cover for discussions in Islamabad cannot obscure the fact that Modi has reversed course and agreed to reopen talks with Pakistan unconditionally. His move, oddly, came right after hostile statements on India by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his foreign policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz. The sequence of events leading to the resumption of talks undergirds the Obama effect: Separately in January, US secretary of state John Kerry at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and Obama in New Delhi exhort Modi to reopen talks with Pakistan. Then this month, Modi sends his petroleum minister to Pakistan for discussions on the planned US-backed gas pipeline from Turkmenistan. Soon thereafter, Obama telephones Sharif, who rails against India. Just hours later, Modi calls Sharif and sings peace, conveying his decision to send his foreign secretary to Islamabad. At the chai per charcha with Modi, Obama focused largely on one issue: Pakistan. A defensive Modi, instead of questioning the US policy of propping up Pakistan with munificent aid and arms and thereby emboldening its hostility toward India, explained to Obama that he wanted to open talks with Pakistan after the Peshawar killings but was compelled to put off the decision due to continued Pakistani ceasefire violations and the attempt to free UN-designated terrorist Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Modi even pointed out that, as a friendly signal, he telephoned Sharif after the Peshawar attack and made Indian schools honour the victims with a two-minute silence. Among Obama’s first actions after returning home from India were to unveil more than $1 billion in fresh aid to Pakistan in his budget proposals and to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping on a State visit, while his ambassador in India made clear that the US will work with India and Pakistan to promote “constructive dialogue” between them. Pakistan remains a top recipient of US aid. Unable to certify to Congress that Pakistan is preventing its territory from being used for terror attacks, Obama has used a national-security waiver to keep aid flowing to the world’s Terroristan. Such aid has encouraged Pakistan’s generals to nurture terrorist surrogates, rapidly expand their nuclear arsenal, and call the shots in domestic policy. Consider this jarring paradox: Obama twice lectured a secular and diverse India in recent weeks on religious tolerance, only to get Modi to open talks with the Islamic republic where non-Sunni minorities are methodically being decimated. But what prompted Modi — who has projected a nimble, non-doctrinaire foreign policy with pragmatism as its trademark — to yield to pressure that he could have resisted? Modi is opening talks at a time when the Sharif government is very weak. Pakistan’s power balance has titled decisively in favour of the other Sharif, who is the army chief, with the military savouring its triumphs in a series of bruising clashes with the government. The politically impotent Sharif is in no position to pursue rapprochement with India. Yet Modi has yielded ground even on the issue that led to the cancellation of the last round of talks, with his government conveying to Pakistan that its high commissioner in New Delhi can meet Hurriyat separatists on any occasion other than when official talks are about to begin. Modi’s zigzag suggests that, despite his proactive diplomacy, he has yet to fully fix the broken Pakistan policy that he inherited from Manmohan Singh, whose 10-year tenure was marked by escalating cross-border terrorism even as Singh sought peace with Islamabad at any price. The Pakistani military, as its intense ceasefire violations since last summer have shown, is intent on shining an international spotlight on the Kashmir issue, not on altering the India-Pakistan dynamic through improved bilateral relations. Talks with India under a tottering civilian government that is in no position to compromise on any issue suit the generals’ agenda. By reviving pairing with India, bilateral talks allow the country that risks failing to regain strategic relevance, including by highlighting the issue closely tied to its generals’ extraordinary power and privilege — Kashmir. In this light, the renewed “peace process” can produce more process but no peace. Fresh talks are unlikely to alter the calculus of the Pakistani establishment, which is determined to checkmate India’s rise by whatever means — fair or foul — it deems advantageous. Terrorism is one favoured instrument. In statecraft, talks are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. However, the Modi government is focusing just on the process of talks — knowing well that India can secure no end in a situation where Pakistan’s generals are wielding increasing power and the Pakistani foreign ministry is a weak actor. Opening talks without any prospect for meaningful progress is not sound diplomacy. It risks sending the wrong message and inviting greater aggression. Modi’s Pakistan gambit could embolden the sponsors of terror to step up cross-border attacks, as happened under the cover of previous “peace” talks. Army chief Dalbir Singh recently cautioned, “The terror infrastructure in Pakistan is still intact,” with new terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir showing “Pakistan’s desperation.” Modi’s dynamism and motivation in diplomacy in the past months has spurred hope of Indian foreign policy finally gaining a distinct geostrategic imprint and direction. His recent actions, however, highlight what has long blighted foreign policy — ad hoc and personality-driven actions that confound tactics with strategy. To advance long-term national interests, Modi must embrace institutionalised, integrated policymaking


Dear Mr Prime Minister, First let me tell you that many a times, I felt that some Divine Force was inspiring you – the way Sri Aurobindo said that Churchill was guided by Him to fight the Nazis… But then, I have to say, as someone who travels extensively in India & has spent a lot of time in Delhi for the last 40 years (I have interviewed 7 Indian PM’s), that nothing much has changed. Your ministers are still as unreachable as the Congress ones, functioning in the same system with four layers of secretaries. Even if you have an important work – there is no way you can meet one of your ministers unless you have some pull. Your MP’s, as the Congress ones before them, once they come to Delhi, with their cars, bungalows, countless aides, and so many sycophants coming for favours, quickly lose sight of why they were elected. You need to send them BACK to their constituencies the way Mao Tse Tung sent back all his cadres to the countryside. Delhi is a microcosm of India and you seem to have lost there some of the Hindu electorate who voted for you UNITEDLY, from the Dalit to the businessmen. Some of us had seen this coming for a few months already. You need to have around you people who will tell you what the mood of the people is – without ANY FEAR – for I have seen, even with gurus, that their followers always want to please them, flatter them and thus shield them from the truth. It is something inherent to the Hindu psyche. If this had been done, maybe we could have told you that the middle class and lower class Hindus who voted for you, want a change at the grass root level. They are not concerned about Obama and nuclear energy, or the way you are skillfully loosening the Chinese encircling grip, or the remarkable unifying of intelligence and their agencies you are doing with Mr Doval, but about the daily problems and the constant bribes that are asked by petty bureaucrats and policemen. I myself experience this in Maharashtra as I am asked bribes for getting permissions for a Museum, which is free, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj and a sewa project ! Also they do not understand why you were so fiery and outspoken while campaigning – and now that you are elected, you do not seem any more to be promoting their Hindu causes. They cannot fathom, for instance in their simple minds, why you are being so friendly to Sonia Gandhi, who wanted you in prison or even dead – and why you are keeping away from those who supported you in your darkest hours, when nobody thought that you would become PM. These old friends of yours are still keeping quiet, out of respect for your work, but I know many who are bitter. The common Hindu man does not comprehend either why no one in your Government stands by reconversions of Christians or Muslims to Hinduism. During the last Tsunami, at least 10% of the Tamil Nadu fishermen were converted by Christian missionaries, using financial baits, such as free boats. I was there and SAW it. Or why when one of yours says that Hindus must produce more children, he is booed down. We know that Muslims produce seven to eight children per couple and in some areas of India they are now in majority and will NOT vote for you. It is true that there have been vandalizing of churches in Delhi, whether intentional, or just by some common thieves. But this is an old trick of Indian Christians to evoke sympathy from Obama and C° and bring pressure & discredit upon you. You should know better than that: Christians have been the aggressors in this country & the Pope still thinks that India is a fair target for mass conversions. We understand that you must be the Prime Minister of all Indians and that you have to rise above sectarism, but there has to be in the public a perception that you are the PRIME MINISTER OF HINDUS BECAUSE IT IS THEY WHO VOTED FOR YOU – not the Muslims – whatever Ram Madhav told you before the Kashmir elections, which is going to be another thorn in your heel (and if you do not remove article 370 soon, most Hindus will lose faith in your government). To cultivate the Muslims, thinking that they will like you in the end, as Mr Vajpayee did, under the influence of the nice but misguided Suddeendhra Kulkarni, is not only a waste of time, but also may ALIENATE YOU HINDU VOTERS, whom you are going to need in four years again and at different state elections. Let the Muslims of India know that they possess the same rights as any Hindus, Sikhs or Christians, which they actually have, including total freedom of worship, that Hindus have neither in Bangladesh, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, but do not go out of your way to please them. When the common man of Delhi sees that you received Aamir Khan, whose film PK is a deliberate insult to all Hindu gurus & Hindus, they think something is not right. Also they do not understand why so many Hindu gurus and activists such as sadhvi Pragya and Colonel Purohit, whose innocence has been proved, are still languishing in jail. Congress had no qualms in favouring their people and flouting all decent rules. This isn’t about ethics, but if your aim is just, dharmic, and I believe it is, it does not matter what means are used. The Congress got elected and elected again with mostly the Muslims votes, till Kejriwal came, You need to CULTIVATE THE HINDU ELECTORATE Sir, by making gestures, even if you let your people do them and stand back. And that has to be done QUICKLY. If they are convinced that you are working for them, you will have the two or even three terms you need to achieve a real Renaissance of India. Democracy is a beautiful but skewed system, easy to hijack by adharmic forces. To realise all the great things you have undertaken, YOU NEED A UNIFIED HINDU VOTE. The trap now is to listen to the Media which says that your party lost in Delhi because of ‘communal’ reasons – vandalizing of churches, statements by your people about reconversions, or your so-called ten lakh suit. This will prod you and your government to go more secular, let go of more of the pledges you made for the Hindu cause during your campaign, the same way the Vajpayee Government veered away gradually from its Hindu ideals – and lost the elections to Sonia Gandhi. But think of it like that : you got elected in May last year with a massive mandate BECAUSE of your dedicated, sincere and fiery HINDU promises. There is no reason why it should not work the same way now that you have the power. You need to stick by what your pledged Sir – whatever the Media, Obama, your bureaucrats or the Foreign Press says


:// February 18, 2015 00:38 IST SUBA CHANDRAN The ongoing sectarian war in Pakistan is different from its earlier avatars, and more difficult to combat Three major sectarian attacks (in Rawalpindi, Punjab, earlier in January; in Shikarpur, Sindh, recently; and in Peshawar) after the horrific Peshawar attack in December in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa highlight the other war within Pakistan. Though there has always been a sectarian fault line within the country, what is happening today is much more lethal than the earlier violence witnessed primarily in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. There are at least five factors, which should make the ongoing sectarian war in Pakistan different from its earlier avatars, and more difficult to combat. Geographic spread First, the sheer geographic spread of the sectarian violence. Sectarian violence during the 1980s and 1990s was centred in a few districts of Punjab (in and around Jhang), select pockets of Karachi city, and in Khurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Today, incidents of sectarian violence cover the entire country. From attacks on the Shia pilgrims visiting Iran in Balochistan to bus passengers on the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan, and from Khyber and Khurram Agencies in FATA to the city of Karachi, the new sectarian war in Pakistan is not restricted to any one geographic region. The nature and extent of violence against the Hazara community in Balochistan is also a new phenomenon. In fact, Balochistan has always witnessed violence on separatism but never on a sectarian basis. Intensity and violence The second major difference in Pakistan’s sectarian war today is related to its intensity and violence. Today, militants use suicide bombing in mosques belonging to the Shia and Ahmadiyya communities; the extent of human and material damage is substantial today when compared to the past. Emergence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during the last decade seems to have provided a bridge in linking the dots in this violence. In fact, the TTP and the erstwhile sectarian groups based in Punjab have become symbiotic today. The presence of Punjabi sectarian groups in the violence against Shia communities in FATA and Balochistan is no coincidence. Had it not been for this link, the sectarian groups would not have had access to either weapons or training, including training for suicide bombers. The third major difference in the sectarian war is related to its external linkages. During the 1980s and 1990s, the sectarian differences within the country were primarily fuelled by the Cold War between Pakistan and Iran. President General Zia’s zealousness led to the emergence of sectarian groups such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lahkar-e-Jhangvi during this period, as a counter to groups in Iran and Afghanistan. Today, the primary external driver of Pakistan’s sectarian violence is no longer limited to the differences between Tehran and Islamabad. The larger Shia-Sunni Cold War led by Iran and Saudi Arabia, and more importantly the rise of the Islamic State in the Iraq-Syria region have unleashed a new sectarian war elsewhere. Sectarian groups within Pakistan are no more dependent on local and state sources for their survival. They are well endowed, thanks to the unregulated funds pouring in primarily from the Gulf region. In the near future, dangers of the IS providing an ideological lead to sectarian groups within Pakistan cannot be completely ruled out. If that happens, the sectarian war within Pakistan may escalate even further. The fourth major difference between the sectarian war in Pakistan today and then is related to the ability of the state to control it. It was no secret that in the 1980s and 1990s, the sectarian groups in Punjab had the support of the establishment. With funding support from outside and with TTP linkages, sectarian groups in Pakistan no longer need the establishment; their survival is secure and expansion assured. Perhaps, the state may still retain some contacts and influence over the sectarian groups in select pockets, for example in Balochistan. But in Punjab today, the state may neither be able to control nor calibrate the sectarian violence. Worse, the state — both political and military establishment — seems to be afraid in targeting these sectarian groups. Consider the case of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab. How to explain the disappearance of case records from the courts, witnesses not turning up, and the government turning a blind eye to pro-Qadri lawyers carrying him on their shoulders in full view of the courts? The fear of sectarian war expanding and becoming centred in Pakistan’s heartland (read Punjab), is the biggest nightmare for the country today. As long as the fighting takes place in the FATA, the state can use the military, air force, and even U.S. drones to target the militants. When it comes to the heartland, it cannot use any of the above, and will have to be heavily dependent on the police force. How confident is the establishment today that the local police will be able to combat sectarian militants? Change in discourse Sectarian militancy is also a new phenomenon in terms of its ability to neutralise the erstwhile ethnic and nationalist movements in Balochistan and Sindh. With no outlets to reach out to the state and with the governance process worsening day by day, the sectarian groups may be able to project themselves better than the nationalist movements — either of Sindhi or Balochi varieties. In the short term it may yield a dividend for the central government, as it is happening in Balochistan; as the sectarian war here has substantially changed the discourse from when it was led by the tribal Baloch Sardars. In the long run, however, it will hurt Pakistan even more. Sectarian violence in Pakistan is no more a déjà vu. It is a new war. (D. Suba Chandran is Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

MUST READ-PAKISTAN CHINA RELATIONS -BEST YET TO COME February 16, 2015 10:24 IST 'Whether it's investments in Kashmir, building naval facilities, or selling top-of-the-range military equipment, Pakistan could well benefit more under Xi's watch.' 'Do Chinese concerns about the 'Islamisation' of Pakistan give it pause about how quickly to move forward with security and economic projects? At the moment the indication is quite the opposite: China is doubling down on its support to Pakistan, partly because of its fears about where the country is headed.' Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Pakistan this year, his first visit to Beijing's 'all weather friend' since taking office two years ago, and the first visit by a Chinese president to Islamabad in nine years. Xi was scheduled to visit Islamabad after he visited New Delhi last September, but the trip was put off because of Imran Khan's then onslaught against Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. There is talk that Xi will visit Pakistan as early as next month and be the chief guest at a joint Pakistan military parade (shades of Barack Obama's presence at India's Republic Day parade!) on March 23, the first time such a parade has been held in seven years. The China-Pakistan relationship and its durability has been one of the lesser discussed themes in international affairs. Even though both nations have been at the centre of consistent strategic attention -- for different reasons, of course -- their association which has withstood the swift eddy currents of the many complex issues swirling about them this half century and more has neither been probed or scrutinised as it should have. Andrew Small's much praised book, The China-Pakistan Axis intends to change all that. Researched painstakingly over six years, not merely in the ministries and think-tanks in Beijing and Islamabad, but also in places like Kashgar in Xinjiang province, where China combats an increasingly assertive insurgency, Small explains in apparently breathtaking detail the China-Pakistan axis and its role in Asian geopolitics. Beijing has never abandoned or isolated Islamabad over the years, and continues to provide it sustenance in many forms -- armaments, nuclear know-know, intelligence gathering, strategic support, money when Pakistan needs it, important projects, and other things the world does not know enough about. In this e-mail interview with Nikhil Lakshman/, Andrew Small -- a Transatlantic Fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United State's Asia programme, which he has helped lead since 2006 -- discusses the China-Pakistan relationship, the challenges it poses for India, a common adversary for both nations, and the direction it is likely to take under the watch of Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader in more than 20 years. How has the China-Pakistan relationship evolved over the years? Do you believe it is as strong and resilient as ever? Has there been a re-evaluation of the association on the Chinese side in view of the concerns about Pakistan lurching towards being a rogue State? Or are the 'unshakable bonds of friendship,' as Islamabad deems the relationship, as strong as ever? The relationship today is clearly very different from that of the 1960s -- China's economic take-off, the rise of Islamic militancy in the region, the nuclearisation of South Asia, and the shifting geopolitical dynamics between the United States, China, India, and Pakistan over the last few decades put it in a very different context. But there are consistent features -- India still provides the strategic glue, and it remains a relationship dominated by security calculations, despite efforts to add a stronger economic component. The intention was that some of the grand economic projects would provide greater depth and balance to China-Pakistan ties, but in recent years that has been overshadowed by the militancy question. There have been tensions over the issue of Uighur militant safe havens, as well as major problems facing Chinese investments, and naturally China has its concerns about Pakistan's broader trajectory. But that certainly hasn't led to a fundamental reassessment on Beijing's part. The relationship has weathered an impressive array of challenges, and its resilience matters all the more over time given how few reliable friends either country has, as recent elections in Sri Lanka and Myanmar's foreign policy rebalance illustrate. At the moment it appears that China is pressing ahead with its investments despite -- and in some respects because of -- Pakistan's internal challenges, in the hope that these will help to address some of those problems. If you had to plot a graph of the China-Pakistan relationship over the years, what do you believe was the apogee and what was the nadir? If you had to identify five reasons for this relationship lasting as long as it has, what would they be? What have China and Pakistan respectively gained from this relationship? There is a temptation to assess the relationship by looking at the behaviour of the two sides during moments of crisis -- China offers to intervene on Pakistan's behalf in 1965, sits things out in 1971, and actively pushes back in 1999. But the most important phases of the relationship have been away from the spotlight: Chinese support to Pakistan's nuclear programme in the early 1980s, for instance, or its missile programme in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There has always been a sense that even though the two sides come from very different strategic cultures, and may not agree tactically, a strong, capable Pakistan is a Chinese asset in its own right and Beijing will provide consistent support to ensure that some degree of balance in south Asia is maintained. There was certainly pressure on the relationship in the 1990s, when the China-India relationship was normalising and China was prioritising economic goals in its international diplomacy. That was the period in which talk of developing greater balance in ties between India and Pakistan took off in Beijing, and Jiang Zemin's visit to the two countries in 1996, when he appeared to pull back from Chinese commitments on Kashmir, is seen by many on the Pakistani side as something of a low point. The phase after (Pakistan military ruler Pervez) Musharraf's fall was also tricky -- China struggled to get a handle on Pakistani politics during a period where they couldn't just channel everything through a single, dominant army figure. But although all the twists and turns are interesting, the underlying aspects of military cooperation have persisted and deepened. In the years ahead, reliable security partners become even more important as China takes off as a global military power and needs quasi-bases it can count on, as well as intelligence services it can trust to navigate the world of Islamic militancy. For Pakistan, China now matters far more to its economic future than it used to, and the PLA (People's Liberation Army) can increasingly supply the Pakistani army with advanced defense equipment, where it once depended entirely on the United States. If certain problems between the two sides are addressed, there is a good chance that the best period of the relationship is yet to come. The China-Pakistan relationship was spawned by their common antipathy for India. The China-India association is perhaps better today than it was, with improving trade and India and China finding themselves together in formations like BRICS. Has the improvement in India-China relations adversely affected the China-Pakistan relationship in any way? Why not? Is it because China needs Pakistan to be a strategic balance to India? Does Beijing enjoy using Islamabad as a pawn to needle and unsettle India from time to time? China believes that it can maintain these tracks simultaneously -- it can improve economic ties with India, and some coordination on global issues, even as strategic competition grows. That is exactly what has happened with the US-China relationship. It doesn't diminish Pakistan's role on the strategic track if the economic track and the global diplomatic track with India are on an upward arc. Especially as India's 'Act East' policy moves forward and ties with Washington and Tokyo strengthen, the utility of Pakistan for China is clear: It still provides a means to tie India down in its own neighborhood. But Beijing hasn't used Islamabad as a pawn -- Pakistan has pursued policies vis-a-vis India as it sees fit, which benefit China without it having to do anything to encourage them. If anything, China has pressed Pakistan to develop more stable, predictable and economically beneficial relations with India, even as its role as a strategic balancer persists. China-Pakistan ties also have a momentum that transcends India -- the economic relationship between the two sides and the handling of counter-terrorism and militancy issues don't hinge on Beijing's relationship with New Delhi. In your research for your book, did you discover any insights about China playing some sort of role in trying to improve the India-Pakistan relationship? China has never provided Pakistan with unconditional support against India -- the degree and nature of Chinese backing has always depended on the context. In particular Beijing has been reluctant to provide comprehensive support when it has felt that the problems are of Pakistan's making -- Kargil in 1999, Mumbai in 2008, or Abbottabad in 2011, for instance. But it is possible to hypothesise scenarios in which China would swing in behind Pakistan militarily if it felt that India were the culpable party, some of which I cite in the book. Economic ties with India are unlikely to be the determining factor, in my view -- it is still not that big an economic relationship by comparison with China's other major partners. And in recent years, if anything Beijing has been more willing to swallow economic costs for the sake of political and security goals. You need only look at China-Japan relations to see that, and it's a much more important economic relationship for Beijing. Privately, China certainly encourages Pakistan to improve its ties with India, particularly on the economic front -- it thinks Pakistan should be able to benefit far more from trade relations with its neighbour without jeopardising the essence of its strategic calculations. Did the Chinese officials you spoke to for your book nurse any doubts about elements in the Pakistan establishment and their encouragement of Islamist elements? Are there concerns in Beijing that separatists in Xinjiang are being trained by Islamists in Pakistan? Are the Chinese apprehensive about the ongoing battles with the Islamists within Pakistan? In what ways has China engaged Pakistan on terrorism? Has there been any Chinese initiative to nudge Pakistan to rein in the Islamists? China has its worries about the long-term future of the Pakistani army, and Islamist elements within. That isn't to say that those fears are well-founded, but there are developments in Pakistan that Beijing finds uncomfortable to navigate -- the more secular-minded the army, the more the PLA can go drinking with their Pakistani counterparts, the more at ease they are. Historically Beijing has at least acquiesced to Pakistan's use of militant proxies, and has been able to take advantage of Pakistan's relationships in this regard: The ISI could discourage Islamist groups from offering support to Uighur militants and deter them from attacks on China. Beijing has had an extremely narrow set of concerns on counter-terrorism -- the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and its backers, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan -- and hasn't much cared what went on with other groups. The concern for Beijing now though is that the whole situation has run outside the Pakistani army's control, providing risks to China and to the Pakistani State itself. Uighur groups have found safe haven in FATA (Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas) over the last decade, and China has certainly pushed Pakistan to crack down harder on them. The recent (Pakistan army's) operation in North Waziristan operation, for instance, was something the Chinese were keen to see. But they are also cautious about pushing too hard, too broadly, or too openly -- the Lal Masjid siege, for instance, which came about partly due to Chinese pressure, was clearly a disaster for Pakistan and for perceptions of China among militant groups in Pakistan. And it's important not to over-emphasise the degree to which Chinese concerns about Pakistan's handling of the Uighur issue mirror, for instance, the sort of problems that the United States has faced with Pakistan on this front. For the most part Pakistan is willing to do as China asks, not least because its requests are so specific and restricted, and mostly don't impact on the army's broader strategy. How do you perceive the Chinese projects in Pakistan going forward? Will we see real momentum or incremental acceleration? How do these projects really help China? We keep hearing of China promising Pakistan help in setting up more nuclear facilities. Is this mere talk, as a counterweight to the India-US nuclear agreement or are we going to see real assistance on this front? We are in a different phase in the economic relationship now -- at times one side has been pushing while the other has been more reluctant, but now there is real momentum from Beijing and Islamabad. The PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) government has been easier for China to work with than its predecessor, and Xi's plans for a Silk Road Economic Belt, as well as the broader stabilisation and development of China's western periphery, mean that there is more Chinese political capital behind these initiatives. The push to develop China's interior provinces through better infrastructure connections to the neighbourhood is genuinely important as the Chinese economy slows and return on investment in China for such projects diminishes. China is also concerned that the Pakistani economy is struggling and needs external support, especially for its energy sector. This doesn't mean that Chinese investments are purely a matter of goodwill, but there is a strategic calculation -- don't let Pakistan fail -- that helps to underpin them. The nuclear facilities are certainly moving ahead -- Chashma 3 and 4 were agreed in the aftermath of the US-India nuclear deal, partly as a tit-for-tat, but construction of a new phase of 1000 MW Chinese reactors is also underway, and will have a far greater impact on Pakistan's energy situation. These are a serious showcase for the Chinese nuclear industry, not just a political play. Whether some of the more ambitious infrastructure projects come off -- the Kashgar-to-Gwadar link -- is another question, but the existing initiatives that are underway will amount to a substantial increase in Chinese investment in Pakistan regardless. In recent months we have seen China taking a larger role on Afghanistan. How will the China-Pakistan relationship play out in this arena? Will China and Pakistan work to diminish India's interests in Afghanistan after the Western forces leave? Will Washington work with China to push Pakistan to rein in the Taliban so that it does not undermine President Ashraf Ghani's government? Greater Chinese involvement in Afghanistan has advantages and disadvantages for Pakistan. On the one hand, the diplomatic and economic engagement of its closest partner reduces the risk that its interests won't be accommodated. On the other hand, it means that it has a less free rein to pursue its own strategy there without taking China into account. The two sides will certainly coordinate closely, but they don't entirely see eye-to-eye -- China prizes stability in Afghanistan more highly than does Pakistan, and is particularly concerned about the prospect of safe havens for Uighur militants. It is also far more sanguine about India's role, and sees value to New Delhi's political and economic engagement if it helps to stabilise the country. The China-Pakistan relationship is too close to be prised apart over this, and any expectation that China will squeeze Pakistan hard on the Taliban issue is likely to be disappointed. But coordination between Washington and Beijing over Afghanistan has grown much closer in recent years, and China is no longer willing to outsource its policy there to Pakistan. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be the chief guest at Pakistan's military parade when it is held for the first time in seven years next month. What does this symbolism tell you? Is it at one level telling the Indians that if you can get President Obama for your Republic Day, we have our friends too? :) Xi is the most powerful Chinese leader in 20 years or more. How do you expect the China-Pakistan relationship to evolve on his watch? Will we see greater Chinese pragmatism towards Pakistan under Xi? Or will it much the same as before? We'll see whether that actually happens -- there is a bit of a debate underway about whether this like-for-like symbolism is entirely sensible, as that's certainly the signal that the two sides would be sending. China wasn't above receiving the chief of army staff, Raheel Sharif, on the same day as Obama's visit to India, but that was considerably less visible. From Xi, Pakistan can certainly expect pragmatism -- he is unsentimental about old principles and hang-ups in Chinese foreign policy, and if Pakistan doesn't get its act together on certain issues, he could push them quite hard or simply de-prioritise the relationship. But Xi is also far more comfortable with China's position as a great power than his immediate predecessor, which means less nervousness about other countries' reactions to Chinese strategic moves and greater willingness to work with friends and allies. Whether it's investments in Kashmir, building naval facilities, or selling top-of-the-range military equipment, Pakistan could well benefit more under Xi's watch. What can India expect from the China-Pakistan relationship going forward? What must the strategists in Delhi watch for in the signs coming from Beijing and Islamabad? What can the world expect from the China-Pakistan relationship? In the event that Islamists take power in Islamabad, what role will China take in subduing their expected hostility towards India and anyone else it considers an enemy? In the highly unlikely scenario that Islamists took power in Islamabad it would have extremely far-reaching consequences for the relationship, and China would do its very best to help head off such an eventuality. More important is whether Chinese concerns about the 'Islamisation' of Pakistan give it pause about how quickly to move forward with other security and economic projects, though at the moment the indication is quite the opposite: That China is doubling down on its support to Pakistan, partly because of its fears about where the country is headed. A few aspects of interest to follow in the coming years are: Will the strategic economic projects come off, and how quickly? A lot will hinge on whether they actually happen, or just get embroiled in another set of political, security and logistical problems. Will China-Pakistan ties move more openly in the direction of a quasi-alliance? Of course, Beijing doesn't want to take on treaty obligations, but there are various aspects in which Pakistan could de facto become China's only real ally (North Korea doesn't count...); the development and use of facilities for the PLA navy, whether at Gwadar or Karachi, will be an interesting indicator. How much of the PLA;s very best equipment will Pakistan get its hands on? This mattered less in the past when the PLA was still relatively technologically backward in many areas, but in the next decade and beyond it will start to have more of an effect on the conventional balance. Will China move from its extremely narrow focus on Uighur groups to look at the enabling conditions for terrorism in the region? The North Waziristan operation and China's shifting stance in Afghanistan is an indication of the sort of pressure that could be brought to bear if the terrorism problem in China continues to worsen and if Beijing decides that its previous approach is no longer working. Broadly speaking, this whole region of the world is one where a more assertive Chinese stance in looking out for its interests would be beneficial to all parties, including India. Please tell us about your book. You spent six years researching the China-Pakistan relationship, not only in the ministries in Beijing and Islamabad it is said, but also in places like Kashgar and Gilgit. What did you discover? Did you encounter a loquaciousness in Islamabad and a reticence in Beijing to discuss the association? What can we expect to find in your book that we have not known before? It is somewhat true that there is more openness on the Pakistani side about the relationship than from the Chinese, but when it comes to the most sensitive aspects both sides keep pretty tight-lipped. Chinese officials and analysts did grow more willing to talk about the relationship though -- especially as their worries about developments in Pakistan grew, alongside the need to start coordinating more closely with the West over the militancy situation in the region. The book benefits from some of that frankness, which made it easier to give behind-the-scenes accounts of a host of different episodes in the relationship, and probe more fully into current issues between the two sides than had been possible in the past. Much of the book focuses on recent political history -- from the Red Mosque to the present day, and ranges from China-Taliban relations to the story of the Obama administration's effort to solicit Chinese cooperation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of the early reviews have focused on the previously unreported levels of tensions between China and Pakistan, whether over kidnappings, Pakistan's handling of Uighur militant groups, or even the PLA's worries about major contingencies that it might have to address in Pakistan. The book goes further back through the history of the relationship too -- at almost every important juncture for Pakistan in recent decades, somewhere in the background the Chinese have been present, and that parallel set of stories have rarely been laid out before. The book was also intended to pull together in one place a lot of the disparate material that is out there -- on China's support to Pakistan's nuclear programme, on China's involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s, or on Pakistan's role in the Saudi-China relationship. These all help to place in context the current debates in Beijing about the future role that Pakistan should play in Chinese foreign policy: There are some wild rumours that the book refutes, but the China-Pakistan relationship has been at the heart of some of the most dramatic and strategically consequential developments in Chinese policy in recent decades and that is likely to remain true. Nikhil Lakshman/

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


A seminar jointly arranged by M. I. T College, Pune & Jammu Kashmir Study Centre Pune, Western Maharashtra 22nd February 2015 10.00am to 5pm Venue : Dnaneshwar Sabhagriha, M. I. T. Kothrud Topics and speakers Registration 10.00am to 10.30am 1 Strategic importance of J&K in present happenings in the neighbourhood 10.30am to 11.15am Brig. Hemant Mahajan 2 Making of Constitution of India 11.15am to 12.00 Adv. Nitin Apte Tea break 12 to 12.15 3 Article 370, Clause 35 A of the Constitution of India 12.15 to 1.15pm Adv. Anirudhha Rajput Lunch break 1.15pm to 2.00pm 4 Tourism in Jammu and Laddakh 2.00pm to 2.30pm 5 POK and COK Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu 2.30pm to 3.30pm Shri. Raka Sudhakar Rao Kasturi Tea break 3.30pm to 3.45pm 6 Present situation in Jammu & Kashmir 3.45pm to 4.30pm Shri. Kashinath Pandita 7 Concluding remarks 4.30pm to 5.00pm

Friday, 6 February 2015

‘अग्नी ५’ आणि हिंदुस्थानी क्षेपणास्त्रसिद्धता

‘अग्नी ५’ आणि हिंदुस्थानी क्षेपणास्त्रसिद्धता देशाची युद्धक्षमता वाढण्याच्या आणि सुधारण्याच्या दृष्टीने अनेक महत्त्वाच्या घडामोडी गेल्या आठवड्यात घडल्या. अमेरिकेशी झालेल्या करारामुळे अत्याधुनिक शस्त्रास्त्रे, विमाने तसेच आण्विक, जैविक तसेच रासायनिक युद्धाच्या दृष्टीने सैनिकांना आवश्यक कपडे आता आपल्या देशात तयार होतील. त्याशिवाय जपानकडून आपल्याला पाणबुड्यांचे संशोधन आणि निर्मिती यासाठी सहकार्य अपेक्षित आहे. त्याशिवाय आपण स्वदेशी बनावटीच्या ‘अग्नी ५’ या अण्वस्त्रवाहू आंतरखंडीय क्षेपणास्त्राची यशस्वी चाचणी केली. या सर्व गोष्टी आपल्या युद्धक्षमता वाढीच्या निदर्शक मानाव्या लागतील. स्वदेशी बनावटीच्या अण्वस्त्रवाहू आंतरखंडीय क्षेपणास्त्र ‘अग्नी-५’ या क्षेपणास्त्राची आपण नुकतीच यशस्वी चाचणी केली. अग्नी-५ क्षेपणास्त्राची उंची १७ मीटर आणि वजन ५० टन आहे. अग्नी-५’चा पल्ला पाच हजार किलोमीटर असल्यामुळे संपूर्ण चीन, आशिया आणि युरोप खंडातला बहुतेक भाग तसेच आफ्रिकादेखील अग्नी-५च्या टप्प्यात आला आहे. या क्षेपणास्त्राचा वेग आवाजाच्या २४ पट जास्त आहे. ‘अग्नी-५’ची चाचणी घेताना टाट्रा ट्रकवरून कॅनिस्टर पद्धतीने त्याला आकाशात प्रक्षेपित करण्यात आले. ‘अग्नी-५’ हे टाट्रा ट्रकवरून फायर करता येते. त्यामुळे देशाच्या कुठल्याही भागात त्याची वाहतूक होऊ शकते. कॅनिस्टर तंत्रज्ञानामुळे या क्षेपणास्त्राचे प्रक्षेपण रस्त्यावरून वा रेल्वेवरूनही करणे शक्य आहे. नव्या तंत्रज्ञानामुळे ‘अग्नी-५’ची गोपनीयता आणि मारक क्षमतादेखील वाढली असल्याने ते अधिक प्रभावी आणि अधिक परिणामकारक ठरणार आहे. आतापर्यंत लॉंचर प्लॅटफॉर्मवरूनच क्षेपणास्त्र डागण्याची सोय होती. तथापि नव्या तंत्रज्ञानामुळे ‘अग्नी-५’ एका ठिकाणाहून दुसर्‍या ठिकाणी वाहून नेणे सोपे झाले आहे. त्यामुळे हिंदुस्थानने अतिशय महत्त्वाचा पल्ला क्षेपणास्त्र युद्धामध्ये गाठला आहे. त्यासाठी आपण आपल्या शास्त्रज्ञांचे नक्कीच कौतुक केले पाहिजे. आज हिंदुस्थान-चीन किंवा हिंदुस्थान-पाकिस्तान युद्ध तीन पद्धतीने होऊ शकते. पहिल्या पद्धतीत दहशतवाद्यांच्या घुसखोरीच्या माध्यमातून. सध्या चीन पाकिस्तानच्या मदतीने कश्मीरमध्ये गडबड करण्याच्या प्रयत्नात आहे. मध्य हिंदुस्थानमध्ये पसरलेल्या माओवाद्यांना आर्थिक आणि शस्त्रास्त्रांची मदतही चीन करत आहे. दुसरी पद्धत असेल पारंपरिक युद्धाची. हिंदुस्थान आणि पाकिस्तान यांच्यात १९४७, १९६५, १९७१ आणि १९९९मध्ये तर चीनशी १९६२मध्ये युद्ध झाले. अशा प्रकारचे युद्ध आता पुन्हा २०२० ते २०२५मध्ये सीमावादामुळे चीनशी होऊ शकते. सध्या आपली शस्त्रे जुनाट आहेत. दारुगोळा कमी आहे. सीमेवर रस्ते आणि रेल्वे मार्गांची कमतरता आहे. विद्यमान सरकारने यावर अनेक पावले उचलायला सुरुवात केली आहे. मात्र या त्रुटी भरून यायला पुढील १० ते १५ वर्षे लागतील. अर्थात या संभाव्य पारंपरिक युद्धामध्ये वापरण्याकरिता आपल्याकडे पृथ्वी, ब्रह्मोस आणि अग्नी-१ आणि २ अशी क्षेपणास्त्रे आहेत. क्षेपणास्त्र अणुयुद्ध केव्हा होईल याचा अंदाज बांधणे सोपे नाही. १९४५नंतर अणुबॉम्बचा वापर जगात कुठेही झालेला नाही. तरीही पाकिस्तान आणि चीनकडून वेळोवेळी मिळणार्‍या धमक्यांमुळे आपल्याला अणु तसेच क्षेपणास्त्र युद्धाकरिता जय्यत तयार राहणे आवश्यक आहे. अणुबॉम्ब टाकण्याकरिता दोन गोष्टींची गरज असते. एक म्हणजे अणुबॉम्ब आणि दुसरे म्हणजे त्याला घेऊन जाणारे वाहन (कॅरिअर). आकाशातून अणुबॉम्ब टाकण्याकरिता आपल्या हवाई दलात सुखोई आणि मिराज अशी विमाने सध्या आहेत. सध्यापुरती तरी ती पुरेशी आहेत. मात्र पाणबुडीतून अणुबॉम्ब टाकण्यासाठी जी क्षमता लागते ती आपल्याकडे नाही. त्या सज्जतेसाठी अजून १० ते १५ वर्षे लागू शकतात. जमिनीवरून क्षेपणास्त्र डागण्याकरिता आपल्याकडे पृथ्वी आणि अग्नी ही दोन क्षेपणास्त्रे आहेत. पृथ्वी क्षेपणास्त्राचा पल्ला १०० ते ७५० किलोमीटर आहे. सध्या हे हिंदुस्थानी सैन्यामध्ये कार्यरत आहे. आज पाकिस्तानमध्ये १०० ते १२० अणुबॉम्ब असावेत. याशिवाय त्यांच्याकडे शाहीन आणि घौरी ही चीन आणि दक्षिण कोरियाच्या मदतीने तयार केलेली क्षेपणास्त्रे आहेत. ‘शाहीन-२’चा पल्ला २५०० किलोमीटर तर ‘घौरी-२’चा पल्ला १८०० किलोमीटरच्या आसपास आहे. थोडक्यात, मध्य हिंदुस्थान आजच पाकिस्तानच्या क्षेपणास्त्र टप्प्यात आहे. सध्या पाकिस्तान नासीर नावाचे ६० किलोमीटर पल्ल्याचे एक क्षेपणास्त्र तयार करत आहे. याचा वापर पारंपरिक युद्धात करता येईल. चीनकडे २५०च्या आसपास अणुबॉम्ब असावेत. त्यांच्याकडे विमानातून फायर करणारी, जमिनीवरून फायर करणारी आणि समुद्रातून किंवा पाणबुडीतून फायर करणारी क्षेपणास्त्रेही आहेत. अणुबॉम्बच्या युद्धात याला ट्रायेड असे म्हटले जाते. शक्तिशाली देशांकडे जमिनीवरून, पाण्यामधून आणि आकाशातून फायर करण्याची क्षमता असते. ही क्षमता चीनकडे आहे. हिंदुस्थानकडे ९० ते ११० अणुबॉम्ब असावेत, जे सध्याच्या गरजेला पुरेसे आहेत. अणुबॉम्ब जमिनीवरून फायर करण्याकरिता ‘पृथ्वी-१,२’ (३५० कि.मी.), ‘अग्नी-१’ आणि ‘अग्नी-२’ (२००० कि.मी.), ‘अग्नी-३’ (३००० कि.मी.) आदी क्षेपणास्त्रे हिंदुस्थानी सैन्यात आहेत. ‘अग्नी-४’ची (४००० कि.मी.) मागच्या वर्षी चाचणी घेण्यात आली होती. ते हिंदुस्थानी सैन्यात येण्याकरिता अजून २-३ वर्षे लागू शकतात. ‘अग्नी-५’ची चाचणी यशस्वी झाली असली तरी जमिनीवरून फायर करण्याकरिता (५००० किलोमीटर) या क्षेपणास्त्राला प्रत्यक्ष सैन्यात येण्याकरिता ५-७ वर्षे लागतील. थोडक्यात आज आपल्याकडे जी क्षेपणास्त्रे आहेत त्यांच्या मदतीने आपण पाकिस्तानशी युद्ध करण्याकरिता सक्षम आहोत. मात्र चीनशी अणुबॉम्ब युद्धात मुकाबला करण्यासाठी आपल्याकडे पुरेशी क्षेपणास्त्रे नाहीत. ‘अग्नी-५’च्या यशस्वी चाचणीमुळे ही गरज मोठ्या प्रमाणात पूर्ण होण्याची शक्यता आहे. ‘अग्नी-४’ आणि ‘अग्नी-५’ यांचे उरलेले संशोधन आपल्या शास्त्रज्ञांनी लवकर पूर्ण करावे आणि ही क्षेपणास्त्रे शस्त्र म्हणून आपल्या सैन्याला लवकरात लवकर मिळावीत. कमीत कमी अणुबॉम्ब आणि क्षेपणास्त्रे (Minimum Deterrence ) तयार करावीत. ९० ते १०० अणुबॉम्ब आणि २५ ते ३० अग्नी क्षेपणास्त्रांची आपल्याला गरज असू शकते. चीन आणि पाकिस्तानशी युद्ध करण्याकरिता आपल्या देशाला सगळ्या प्रकारचे लष्करी सामर्थ्य वाढवणे जरुरीचे आहे, पण गेली १० वर्षे सैन्याचे आधुनिकीकरण पूर्णपणे थांबले होते. आपण लष्करी तयारीत चीनच्या मागे आहोत. आपल्याला शांतता हवी आहे, पण आर्य चाणक्याने म्हटल्याप्रमाणे आपण लढाईकरता सदैव तयार राहणे गरजेचे आहे

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sandeep Sinha, the Sindhuratna commander facing court martial-'Scapegoats' to cover battery leak:

'Scapegoats' to cover battery leak: Officers Samyabrata Ray goswami Mumbai, Jan. 30: Sandeep Sinha, the Sindhuratna commander facing court martial, and the others have been made "scapegoats" as the fire was caused by "expired" batteries, officers at the Western Naval Command said today. "These people came back from the jaws of death and now, they are being made the scapegoats as it is too tough for the bureaucrats in the defence ministry to accept that they messed up by forcing the navy to use expired batteries on its subs," said an officer. The inquiry found the seven officers, including Commodore Commanding S.R. Kapoor, guilty of "dereliction of duty". The charge against them: they mistook the first fire alarm for simulated alarms set off by an inspection team on the sub and did not take the alert seriously. The moments lost in the process - though less than a minute according on some accounts - led to the tragedy, said the board of inquiry set up by the navy to investigate the accident. Resentment was high today especially on the court martial ordered against Sinha, 41. "Sinha had commandeered the vessel for nearly two hours after the accident despite inhaling deadly gases that nearly killed him. It (the court martial announcement) has made the atmosphere at the naval command here very tense," said the officer. Sinha had to be put on ventilator later along with some of the other officers who have been indicted by the inquiry. It all began after the battery leak started a fire and poisonous extinguisher fumes filled two compartments of the Sindhuratna. Sinha and some others rushed into Compartment Three of the sub after learning that two officers - Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar who died in the blaze - were trapped inside. "Sinha had gone in to try to rescue them, not thinking once about of his own safety. But his heroic efforts failed to save the two juniors' lives," said a navy source. Despite taking in the gases and fully aware that they could be fatal, Sinha manned the controls personally and brought the submarine to the surface. He then stood by till every sailor had climbed out and revived themselves. "Sinha insisted he wouldn't leave till every person on board had done so. Then, after ensuring shutdown of the controls, he was the last to go," the source said. Sinha was very ill but still refused to be air-lifted with the first lot of seven critically ill crew members. "He agreed to go only when a ship came after three hours to evacuate 22 more sailors and officers. This worsened his condition," said the source who was on the board of inquiry that probed the accident. Sinha is the son of a retired naval commander of the logistics directorate and the son-in-law of a retired rear admiral from the naval armament inspectorate. The Sindhuratna, a Kilo-class submarine, was on a "Task 2" mission to check whether the refitted vessel was fit to be deployed at sea when the blaze broke out on February 26 last year.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Col MN Rai at the Last Post-MUST READ

Col MN Rai at the Last Post : 02 Feb , 2015 “Listen to me…. Are you listening…. I am saying something to you…” As the mortal remains of Late Col Munindra Nath Rai were finally being lifted for performing last rites at the capital’s Brar Square cemetery, these were the last words of Priyanka Rai, the ill-fated wife of the colonel. She wanted to touch her tricolor-clad husband for the last time. “I want to touch him… allow me,” pleaded a bewildered Priyanka, realising last stages of preparations. The otherwise crumbling Priyanka swiftly gathered courage to elevate her body and rolled her wavering fingers on the face of her husband. “Listen to me…. Are you listening…. I am saying something to you,” she cried hoping against the hope to hear a response. It was the treacherous betrayal of trust which cost the 39 year old colonel his life, 24 hours after he was honoured for his bravery with a Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) on Republic Day. For a second, Priyanka revisited each moment lived with her brave husband. A short while earlier, relatives helped her stand with (a handful of) wreaths/ flowers in her hands but she collapsed before laying them. Bereaved family members and close relatives struggled to console Priyanka all this while at Brar Square where the wreath laying ceremony was performed. It was the treacherous betrayal of trust which cost the 39 year old colonel his life, 24 hours after he was honoured for his bravery with a Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) on Republic Day. The officer made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists in Kashmir. The Army received an input about two terrorists hiding in Hardoona village of Tral in Pulwama district. The valiant and high-spirited commanding officer decided to lead the operation and his troops surrounded the village. The Army reached the home of the militants. Col MN Rai was told by the family that the military need not kill the ‘boys’ as they would instead, surrender. It is part of Army’s widely known tradition in Kashmir that it tries its best to provide an opportunity to surrender, barring notorious and hardcore terrorists. It was when the so-called ‘surrender’ was being discussed, that the militants emerged and fired at the officer. Both the terrorists, Abid Khan and Shiraz Dar, were killed in retaliatory fire by the Army. But the officer too could not be saved. Abid Khan, son of Jammu and Kashmir police constable Jalaluddin Khan, joined Hijbul Mujahideen in September 2012. Tral, a known militant hotbed, had witnessed growing engagements of youngsters in cricket and football tournaments in recent times, thanks to the initiatives taken by Col MN Rai. When the mortal remains of the tricolor clothed Col MN Rai were brought in at Brar Square, the six year old son of Rai was saluting the martyr. Unable to comprehend the loss, he was not weeping. Eight year old Richa sat close to her father embracing his portrait and holding his medals in hands. Alka rose in a flash, saluted and shouted Gurkha war cry- ‘Hoyke hoyena….’ with a choked throat. The Gurkhas responded several times over ‘Hoyke Hoyena…. Honu Hi Parchha’. Tears were ceaselessly rolling own the cheeks of eleven year old Alka, who was very young to bear the excruciating pain. She rose in a flash, saluted and shouted Gurkha war cry- ‘Hoyke hoyena….’ with a choked throat. The Gurkhas responded several times over ‘Hoyke Hoyena…. Honu Hi Parchha. This means- ‘Will you be able to accomplish the task…. Yes, surely we will…’ Alka may have thought her father will respond to the war cry like earlier times. But this time it was not to be. The Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived to meet the family. He hugged colonel’s ageing father tightly. To find the chief approaching at her, an already inconsolable Priyanka burst into a fresh spell of tears. “They killed…. they killed…. My husband,” she cried. “Madam you please don’t worry, we will take care of everything. This is our duty. I am here my child,” replied Gen Suhag looking at the children. “He always believed in leading from the front,” recalls Maj DP Singh, one of the course mates of Col Rai. “He had the ability and guts to simplify tough situations with sound planning,” he adds. Maj Rajesh Arora, who pursued Battalion Weapon Support Course with the martyr, remembers him as a simple, courageous and fun-loving officer. Col Rai, originally belonging from 9, Gurkha Rifles, was on deputation with 42, Rashtriya Rifles. Maj Gen Anil Bhatt, colonel of the regiment, 9 Gurkha Rifles, has seen the martyr from close quarters. He remembers Rai as an officer who had the passion to lead such operations. …it is the valour of soldiers like Col Rai that all of us sleep peacefully, everyday, all the year and throughout over lives. “Last year Col Rai killed three terrorists in an operation in Kashmir,” recalls Maj Gen Bhatt. He, along with his wife and some officers, went to inform the irreversible loss to the family. The Major General was surprised to take note of the firmness and grit of Col Rai’s daughter. “My father has laid down his life for our motherland and I am proud of him,” she said to the senior officer showcasing her nerves of steel. Col Rai was the youngest in the family of three brothers. His eldest brother, Lt Col Dhirendra Nath Rai too serves in the Army. The other, Yatindra Nath Rai, is a Commandant in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Yatindra too sustained bullet injuries in the infamous Raghunath Temple attack in Jammu in 2002. The last status update of Col Rai on whatsapp illustrates heroism in his personality. The screenshot displays, “Zindagi mein apna kirdar aise nibhao ki; Parda girne ke baad bhi taaliyaa bajti rahein.” The couplet means: “Let’s perform the assigned role in life in a manner that it keeps others clapping even when the show gets over.” As the cremation comes to a close, we will be left with only memories of Late Col MN Rai. What needs to be reminded/ realised is the fact that it is the valour of soldiers like Col Rai that all of us sleep peacefully, everyday, all the year and throughout over lives. Else, the enemy never halts attempts to annihilate this country.

China is placing key generals on India border near Ladakh

China is placing key generals on India border near Ladakh JAYADEVA RANADE 01 February 2015 New Delhi As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to visit Beijing to build bilateral relations and explore additional economic opportunities, it is the right time to analyse China's ambitions and intentions. The unceasing intrusions by Chinese troops especially in the Ladakh sector are one area that merit attention. Pertinent are the intrusions by Chinese troops especially in the Depsang plains just days prior to the visit of Premier Li Keqiang in April 2013, and in the Chumar area of Ladakh last September. The latter, very unusually, broke with pattern and continued throughout Chinese President Xi Jinping's stay in India and for many days thereafter. Some observers at the time sought to suggest that either these were solitary actions by a local commander, or that Xi Jinping's control over the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is lax. While credible reports clearly indicated that the actions were planned and deliberate in both cases, additional confirmation is available from the latest round of promotions in the PLA. The recently announced promotions in the PLA not only further consolidate Xi Jinping's grip over the PLA as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, but are also of relevance to India. Nine officers in the Lanzhou Military Region, which along with the Chengdu Military Region has operational responsibility for the Sino-Indian border, made the significant jump from senior colonel to the rank of major general on 12 January 2015. Among them, the promotions of particular significance for India are the appointments of Hālǐmùlātí Ābùdōurèhémàn as Deputy Commander of the Southern Xinjiang Military District; Liu Lin, as Chief of Staff of the Southern Xinjiang Military District; and Zhang Limin, as Director of the Political Department of the Southern Xinjiang Military District. All are from the Southern Xinjiang Military District, which exercises front-line responsibility and jurisdiction over the Hetian and Ali Military Sub-Districts. The Hetian Military Sub-District (MSD) has front-line responsibility and jurisdiction over the areas of Daulet Beg Oldi and the Depsang Plains. The PLA's Ali Military Sub-District (MSD) includes the three Chinese counties of Ritu (Rutok), Gar (Gartok) and Zhada (Tsamda). Chusul and the Indian portion of Pangong Lake are opposite Ritu (Rutok) County, Indian Demchok is opposite Gar (Gartok) County and Chumar and the Shipkila Pass are opposite Zhada (Tsamda) County. The commanders of the Hetian and Ali MSDs both hold the rank of senior colonel in the PLA. The commander of the Hetian MSD is Senior Colonel Kuang Dewang and the commander of the Ali MSD is Senior Colonel Liu Geping. The two have been in position since at least late 2013 and, as senior colonels are on the verge of the big promotion to the rank of major general. Both the Hetian MSD and Ali MSD report to the South Xinjiang Military District based in Kashgar, which, in turn, reports directly to the Lanzhou Military Region Headquarters. Their action orders come from Lanzhou, via Kashgar, where the generals are based. At least as far as the border with India is concerned, the South Xinjiang Military District does not channel its reporting through the Xinjiang Military District headquartered in Urumqi. The commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, presently, is 55-year-old Lt Gen Li Haiyang. He assumed command between late December 2013 and early January 2014. Li Haiyang spent six months in 2003-2004 studying in a Russian military institute and later, in mid-2010 after only six months as chief of staff in the South Xinjiang Military District, Li Haiyang was suddenly transferred to the PLA's General Staff Department (GSD) in Beijing as director of its Combat Rapid Response Office. After two years in this post, he returned to his previous job as chief of staff in the South Xinjiang Military District. This experience makes him an officer who is known, and probably trusted, in Beijing and Lanzhou. He additionally has the requisite experience and knowledge about rapid troop deployments. Maj Gen Zhang Jiansheng, Li Haiyang's predecessor, was promoted and posted as a deputy commander of the Lanzhou Military Region. He was the first officer from the South Xinjiang Military District in the last 22 years to be promoted directly to Lanzhou. He was also commander of the Ali MSD a decade ago. He can be expected to oversee all matters concerning the South Xinjiang Military District (including the Hetian and Ali MSDs) on behalf of Lanzhou Headquarters. It is interesting too that the South Xinjiang Military District now has one lieutenant general and seven officers of the rank of major general posted at its headquarters. A few other indicators point to Beijing's increased interest in the Sino-India border. One is the upgrading of China's defence attaché in Delhi to the rank of major general, with effect from January 2015. Of the 113 countries where China has defence attaché, it has posted Major Generals only in 12. These appointments suggest Beijing's increased interest in the Sino-Indian border and consequent growing importance of the South Xinjiang Military District. This was substantiated by an article in the influential Communist Youth League (CYL) newspaper Zhongguo Qingnian Bao on 14 May 2013, which implicitly laid claim to Ladakh and described it as part of Tibet. Jayadeva Ranade is a former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India and is president of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, New Delhi. The views expressed are personal. ------------------------------ -------------------- RELATED PLEASE : High on rhetoric, but ill-prepared on ground Claude Arpi 29 January 2015 If we are to be prepared to counter Chinese designs along the Line of Actual Control and China’s claim over States like Arunachal Pradesh, we need to dramatically ramp up road infrastructure at the borders columnists/edit/high-on- rhetoric-but-ill-prepared-on- ground.html