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In A G-0 World, Can BRICS Show Leadership?

February 19, 2013 1 comment

For the world now, instead of ‘G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0’ – per Joseph Stiglitz. Can BRICS offer that leadership – starting Afghanistan.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan?  |  Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer - 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan? | Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer – 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With NATO turning tail and leaving, Afghanistan is not much better off than before America’s invasion.

Pakistan, as the sole Islāmic nuclear power, has assigned itself the role of an arbiter of Afghan destiny – a hold over Afghanistan’s future. With its dubious distinction of being a failed State, should Pakistan have any role in Afghanistan?

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico - 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico – 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

The West, under NATO’s military command, is walking away from Afghanistan with nothing to show for this invasion.

After billions in dollars, with more than a million Afghans affected by death, combat injuries, manifold increase in corruption, and a Saudi-Pakistan financed Taliban is on the rise, Afghanistan is West’s biggest failure after Vietnam. Never before in the last 200 years has West’s leadership been in question so much.

In the current State of the world, in the memorable words of Joseph Stiglitz, why ‘talk about the G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0.’

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago - as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man's land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ - 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago – as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man’s land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ – 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan will be the test of BRICS.

Till 1980s, the Soviet Union bordered Afghanistan. Today, while Soviet Union’s successor, Russia no longer shares a border with Afghanistan, as a part of BRICS grouping, it may continue to play a role in post-NATO Afghanistan.

Will China-India tensions come in the way of BRICS to do what is good for Afghanistan? Will China work with BRICS to keep Pakistan out of Afghanistan? When it matters, can BRICS nations put aside their differences and work on common problems – like Afghanistan?

Straightening Pakistan is a matter of hours. What will take time is building capacity among BRICS nations to work together on common problems – and put aside differences, when these differences are not directly relevant.

One thing is for sure.

If BRICS cam make an Afghan solution stick, a new age will dawn in global diplomacy. The current void in global leadership will start getting filled.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years.  |  Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com - 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years. | Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com – 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With the US and the UK apparently conceding to Pakistan the lead role in reconciliation with Taliban, India is set to hold talks with Russia and China on emerging scenarios in Afghanistan ahead of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force’s withdrawal from the conflict-ravaged country by 2014.

New Delhi is also expected to air its concern over Pakistan’s role in the peace-process in Afghanistan during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India scheduled on Monday. Cameron recently hosted Afghan and Pakistan presidents Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari at his country residence Chequers Court. India will get another opportunity to discuss the issues when it will have a trilateral talk with the US and Afghanistan in New Delhi next week.

Sources said India is expected to drive home the point that Pakistan continues to be “a part of the problem” and it cannot yet be seen as “a part of the solution” in Afghanistan. Any hasty careless move to launch the peace process would in fact give an opportunity to Taliban to crawl back to power after 2014. New Delhi is likely to point out that the US itself, in 2011, publicly slammed Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence for its role in fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan.

What worries India is the Afghan High Peace Council’s five-step draft roadmap to 2015, would ultimately give Pakistan the “strategic depth” it always aspired to have in Afghanistan. New Delhi is apprehensive about Washington outsourcing to Islamabad the peace-process with Taliban, before and after the drawdown of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan.

The “draft road map” also seeks to give some key positions in post-2014 Afghanistan to the leaders of Taliban, including that of provincial governors, police chiefs and cabinet ministers.

To facilitate the peace-process, Pakistan, since November, released 26 Taliban prisoners from its jails, ostensibly on request from Afghanistan but without any oversight, triggering fear that some of them might go back to extremism.

When Menon broached the issue during a meeting of the BRICS high representatives for security in New Delhi last month, it was agreed that he and his counterparts from Russia and China would have a separate meeting to exchange views on the peace-process with Taliban and discuss the emerging scenarios in Afghanistan. Sources said the meeting might take place later this month.

New Delhi has made it clear that it is in favour an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process towards peace in Afghanistan but insisted that the “Red Lines” agreed in London Conference in 2010 were strictly adhered to and the extremists entering the process were made to severe all links with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

via India to talk to China, Russia on Pak role in Afghanistan.


 

Indian Polity’s Bigger Headache: BJP or Congress …?

November 13, 2012 5 comments

So-called internal matters of the BJP are in facts issues of importance. Global importance.

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration - compared to the BJP before gaining power  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011  titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness...

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration – compared to the BJP before gaining power | Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness…

There Is No Alternative

From 1947 to 1987, for the first forty years of modern India, Congress was the behemoth that dominated Indian politics. For a brief two years, a combined opposition had managed to unseat the Congress in 1977-1979 – only to fall apart amidst power-jockeying.

Probably, one man changed that.

Cutting Edge

Lal Krishna Advani.

In 1986, Advani a second rung leader of BJP, was appointed president, though not much was expected from him. BJP then, under the shadow of a lone-star leader,  AB Vajpayee, was a fringe party in national Indian politics, that had been without power for nearly forty years.

At the cusp of a changing world-order, BJP under Advani became the force in Indian politics. Instead of Congress aligning with a declining Soviet Union, BJP proposed closer ties with the West. Slow-paced reforms after Bombay High, by the Congress was challenged by BJP’s agenda for faster liberalization. The Congress stance of apologetic secularism, after granting Pakistan to Indian Muslims, was roundly lampooned by the BJP.

Events were on Advani’s side.

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari.  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari. | Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

When Things Go Right

Soviet Union collapsed. The Islamic world, under Western dominance rebelled. Starting with the Iranian Revolution under Khomeini, the Islamic world took a turn towards fundamentalism – unleashing a reactionary Islamic demonization by the West. Reforms and liberalization paid off – and Pakistan imploded.

A Partition-era refugee from what is now Pakistan, Advani had few pre-conceived notions on politics. Taking a leaf from an Andhra politician, NT Rama Rao, Advani went on his first rath yatra on Septemeber 25th, 1987. NT Rama Rao had earlier wrested AP from Congress strangehold with a nearly year-long mass-contact campaign, in his chaitanya ratham.

Two years after his rath yatra, BJP supported the formaton of a non-Congress government under VP Singh. BJP had arrived. Congress was decimated. After Advani, Congress has not won an electoral majority for 25 years now.

Post-Soviet World

Between 1986 to 1991, for the Indian Republic it was trial by fire.

In 1986, Advani became BJP party president and Rajiv Gandhi was a democratic dictator with a brute majority in the Parliament. ND Tiwari, Pranab Mukherjee and VP Singh were seen as dynamic Finance Ministers who were liberalizing India after Bombay High.

Licence Raj was being dismantled. Shoots of a new India could be seen – with Indian companies charging in all directions. Stocks markets were in a frenzy. The 1977 George Fernandes industrial policy was effective at buffering Indian companies from Big Brother multinationals.

Companies like HCL, WIPRO, pioneered Unix-based systems – among the first in the world.

Bofors and Soviet implosion changed India forever. Rajiv Gandhi lost the election in 1989 – with BJP helping form a minority VP-Singh government. In 1991, Soviet Union collapsed. Indian foreign policy lay in tatters. India itself was on the brink of a financial default.

Election results returned a hung parliament.

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting?  |  Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy - thehindu.com

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting? | Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy – thehindu.com

Crisis after Disaster

BJP under Advani’s leadership stablized a minority government. Finally, a BJP government was formed – from 19 March 1998 to 22 May 2004. These were crucial years. A stable coalition government, a first in India, lasted a full term. It presided over India’s affairs in a very fluid world.

It was during this period that India initiated, a different relationship with Russia. As the more stable partner, India defined this more equal relationship that saved Russia’s defence industry from ruin. In turn India itself benefited by getting defence products on the cheap, more suitable for India’s requirements.

India also created a global industry, in which semi-finished Russian armaments were fitted with advanced third-party technologies to make these products comparable to the best in the world. India’s frontline fighter, Su-30 MKI is one such example.

No surprises then when the Russian ambassador landed at Advani’s home, to wish him well on his 85th birthday.

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani's 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 |  Image source  PTI; courtesy - outlookindia.com

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani’s 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 | Image source PTI; courtesy – outlookindia.com

In a rare gesture, Russian ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin today broke away from diplomatic protocol and touched the feet of BJP veteran L K Advani while visiting the leader to wish him on his 85th birthday.

Such a gesture is virtually unheard of in diplomatic circles as most diplomats and heads of state or government only go to the extent of folding their hands in a ‘namaste’ to wish an Indian leader. Shaking of hands is the norm in such meetings.

Kadakin, an Indophile, conversed in chaste Hindi with Advani throughout his visit at the Prithviraj Road-residence.

via Russian ambassador touches Advani’s feet – Times Of India.

The Russian ambassador is not a private person, who can claim indulgence. He is governed by diplomatic protocol – and represents his country. So, when he pays respects to Advani, it is a gesture of far-reaching symbolism.

On one side.

Rubber Hits The Road

On the other side, when events conspire to show a different side of BJP, it become a matter of national importance – even though BJP is not in power.

Ever since anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal trained his guns on Mr. Gadkari for the alleged wrongdoings by a company owned by him, there have been murmurs within the BJP that an influential section within is targeting Mr. Gadkari. However, it is for the first time that any one has pointed fingers at Mr. Modi.

The rumblings within the BJP surfaced after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh Jethmalani went public saying Mr. Gadkari should immediately step down from his post as the charges against him were damaging to the party.

The senior Jethmalani claimed the backing of other party leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha. The campaign within the BJP against Mr. Gadkari is widely perceived as a power struggle among senior leaders with an eye on the 2014 elections.

via The Hindu : News / National : Gadkari rejects ‘insinuation’ made by RSS member, says party united behind Modi.

In fact not just national importance – but international importance. Unlike what Congress says, these are not the internal matters of the BJP.

Envoys from 20 Arab countries met BJP President Nitin Gadkari today to discuss his party’s plan in the forthcoming Parliament session, it’s agenda on the internal and external affairs if it comes to power, and relations with the Arab world and India’s neighbours.

The diplomats led by Moroccan Ambassador Larbi Reffouh, who is the acting president of the Arab Group, met Gadkari at his residence here.

The Arab Group met Gadkari to discuss the BJP’s plans for the forthcoming winter session of Parliament that begins on November 22, as also the party’s vision on the present internal situation in India.

The grouping was also keen on knowing the BJP’s internal and external affairs agenda in case it is voted to power in the next general elections.

The ambassadors also wanted to learn about the main Opposition’s attitude on relations with the Arab World and India’s neighbours.

via Envoys from 20 Arab countries meet BJP President Nitin Gadkari – Economic Times.

The BJP-RSS combine, popularly known as the sangh combine, have projected themselves as proponents of an akhand Bharat (Greater India), movers and shakers of Hindutva, and ultra-nationalists.

Imagine the surprise, when a national daily reports

Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012

Competitive politics will have some road-kills – like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi | Manjul’s Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi’s posters on 6.10.2012

For several weeks now that there is a grand Marathi versus Uttar Bharatiya divide a la Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray within the RSS and its organisational wings, with RSS sarsnaghchalak Mohan Bhagwat believing that north Indian leaders are skimming the cream for work really done by Maharashtrian pracharaks in various states that brought them to power (for example: Sanjay Joshi versus Narendra Modi in Gujarat).

That is why Gadkari is still supported by RSS leaders but he should know by now that this is a fight to the finish for leaders like LK Advani and Modi, who still hope to be prime minister.

It is very clear that the anti-Gadkari lobby in the BJP is trying to make the RSS’s position on their choice of BJP president unsustainable by the day and I wonder how long it will take for Reshim Bagh to cave in. But the pro-Advani-Modi lobbies in the BJP are making a serious mistake if they think a little thing like foot-in-the-mouth disease or some as yet unproven allegations, however serious they may appear, is going to deter Bhagwat from his chosen path So I would watch Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar rather closely – yes, the very same person who had called Advani a `rancid pickle’

via A season of gaffes – Hindustan Times.

This entire speculation gained credibility, when MG Vaidya, a unofficial spokesman of the RSS joined the debate weighing in on Gadkari’s side. Vaidya, the Nagpur-based ex-chief editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS publication, in his Marathi-blog asserted that the anti-Gadkari campaign started in Gujarat.

Original Marathi text

एकाच व्यक्तीच्या एकाच वक्तव्यात, गडकरींनी जावे आणि मोदींना प्रधानमंत्री करावे, असे उल्लेख आल्यामुळे, गडकरीविरोधी कारस्थानाचे केंद्र गुजरातमध्ये आहे, असा संशय कुणाच्याही मनात येणे स्वाभाविक आहे आणि गुजरात म्हटले की, मग नरेंद्र मोदी यांच्याकडेच संशयाच्या सुईचे टोक जाणार.

Hindi Translation provided by the author /publication on the original blog.

एक ही व्यक्ति के एक ही वक्तव्य में, गडकरी जाए और मोदी को प्रधानमंत्री करें, ऐसा उल्लेख आने के कारण, गडकरी विरोधी षड्यंत्र का केन्द्र गुजरात में है, ऐसा संदेह मन में आना स्वाभाविक है और गुजरात कहने के बाद, फिर संदेह की उंगली नरेन्द्र मोदी की ओर ही मुडेगी.

via RSS Veteran MG Vaidya blog article on BJP issue: भाजपा की अ-स्वस्थता: मा. गो. वैद्य | Vishwa Samvada Kendra.

English reportage

In his blog, Vaidya has said the “needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.”

He also noted that “Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

While both L K Advani and Gadkari have publicly stated that they don’t have Prime Ministerial ambitions, Vaidya, a former spokesman of RSS, said he “hasn’t read anywhere that Narendra Modi has denied reports of his ambition to become the Prime Minister.”

Vaidya today stood by his remark, saying, “It is my opinion and because Jethmalani has combined two things demanding Gadkari’s resignation and making Narendra Modi as PM, I think that the needle of suspicion goes to Gujarat.

“I did not say that, I just said that needle of suspicion goes to Modi and that raises suspicion if Jethmalani is entitled to his own point of view, I am also entitled to my point of view and RSS has nothing to do with it.”

via Vaidya blames Modi for “campaign” against Gadkari.

Narendra Modi may be a great demon or a superb chief minister. That question for this discussion is irrelevant. However, if his candidature is being decided on the basis of Gujarati vs Marathi axis, RSS deserves much greater contempt than what they have got till date.


The Scientist Who Wasn’t A Spy

October 4, 2012 4 comments

Similar to the deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists, were the deaths of Indian nuclear scientists – Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai.

For long

It has been whispered for more than four decades now, that the deaths of Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha were not accidents or medical incidents.

These were assassinations.

More recently, in the 90’s as India was struggling with a rampant West and a Soviet Union on the verge of collapse, a ‘scandal’ hit the ISRO. To an India struggling to develop cryogenic technologies for advanced rocketeering, this was a big set back.

More than 15 years later, these ‘spy’ scientists have been exonerated – but India’s space program was slowed down.

They began their scientific careers as the two bright stars of India’s space research programme . Later, of course, APJ Abdul Kalam‘s and S Nambi Narayanan‘s lives would go on separate trajectories and their stories would read very differently.

Kalam, who was working on the solid propulsion system in the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), went on to become a much-loved President of India. S Nambi Narayanan, who was working on the liquid propulsion system — the technology was successfully used in many satellite missions — during the same period, was branded a spy and traitor, his brilliant scientific career dented forever even as he fought against an unjust system to prove his innocence.

Narayanan, along with six others, including his Isro colleague D Sasikumar, was arrested on November 30, 1994 on charges of espionage and for selling defence secrets to two Maldivian women, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan.

He spent 50 days in jail after that and lived in anxiety and ignominy until the Supreme Court cleared him of the charges in 1998. But even after that he never got to work in the prestigious cryogenics field at ISRO.

“They framed me in a false case, perhaps to destroy India’s space research program which was moving at a fast pace,” he says in a soft voice, caressing his long, grey beard that shines in the morning sun.  “The state police pressured me to say that even the Isro top brass was involved,” says Narayanan.

The case was later taken over by the CBI which found no evidence, and said it was fabricated. This was later upheld by the Supreme Court. But it may not be closure yet for Narayanan as the identity of key players who fuelled the case still remains in the dark. Also, the question remains unanswered whether it was merely an unfortunate chain of events or if there was a larger game plan.

Narayanan, personally, believes in the role of some external agencies which wanted to halt India’s cryogenic space research programme. “We can now put the jigsaw puzzle together if we can look at what was happening internationally at that time as India was cutting into a billion dollar space industry poised to take off with its cryogenic engine research,” he says.

Police inspector Vijayan, who registered the first case against the two Maldivian women for overstaying, and the vernacular media which printed verbatim what the state police said, were perhaps minor characters in a larger international conspiracy.

India, by the early 1990s, had developed its own solid and liquid fuel and was able to put its satellites in orbits up to 800km. But the ultimate challenge was to develop a cryogenic engine that would propel heavy rockets with payloads of more than three tonnes to the geo-synchronous orbit, 36,000 km away from earth. These satellites would then provide accurate geo-spatial images of earth and would usher in a path-breaking revolution in telecommunication and media.

Cryogenics, the science of extreme low temperatures, has been a tricky one for rocket scientists across the world. “At stake was a 300 billon dollar space research and applications industry which was in the hands of five nations — the US, France, China, Russia, and Japan. Almost every major country wanted to put its own satellites in the orbit and they could do it only with the help of these five nations,” says J Rajashekaran Nair, who authored Spies from Space: The ISRO Frame-up .

In 1992, India signed an agreement with Russia for transfer of technology to develop cryogenic-based fuels. The agreement was signed for Rs 235 crore, when the US and France were offering the same technology for Rs 950 crore and Rs 650 crore respectively. “Documents show that US president George Bush (Sr) wrote to Russia, raising objections against this agreement and even threatening to blacklist the country from the select-five club,” Rajashekaran says. Russia, under Boris Yelstin, succumbed to the pressure and denied cryogenic technology to India.

To bypass this monopoly, India signed a new agreement with Russia to fabricate four cryogenic engines after floating a global tender without a formal transfer of technology.’ Isro had already reached a consensus with Kerala High Tech Industries Limited (Keltch) which would have provided the cheapest tender for fabricating engines . But this did not happen as the spy scandal surfaced in late 1994.

“If you look at the people who were arrested in the case, they were all connected in some way in developing or procuring the technology . We cannot rule out foul play by an external agency,” says Rajashekaran. The plot, says Narayanan, was to tarnish the image of a premier research institution.

“How could we have leaked out cryogenic missile technology when we did not even possess one? But what we lost in the process was years of hard work to revolutionise our space research, and the credibility and morale of our scientific community. And on a personal level, it ruined the lives of six families who were dragged into the case for no fault of theirs.”

via The scientist who wasn’t a spy – Times Of India.

Death of Bhabha

For decades now, there has been a speculation about the death of Homi Bhabha. To my mind, till today, these were ‘conspiracy’ theories – of a weak and poor nation, which probably saw ghosts under their beds.

Bhabha died in mysterious air crash near Mont Blanc in Swiss Alps, when Air India Flight 101, a scheduled Boeing 707 flight from Mumbai to New York, crashed on January 24th, 1966.

Officials investigated bombing that killed an Iranian scientist in January, 2010  |  Source: telegraph.co.uk

Officials investigated bombing that killed an Iranian scientist in January, 2010 | Source: telegraph.co.uk

The pilot did not report any problem with the aircraft, and was preparing to land at Geneva, when without any forewarning the plane crashed. All 106 passengers and 11 crew were killed.

A subsequent enquiry concluded that it was pilot error, who had miscalculated his position – and started descent for Geneva, while still in the mountains, only to crash in to the Swiss Alps.

Some other individuals concluded otherwise.

Two deaths in two weeks

Bhabha’s death was 15 days after Shastri died at Tashkent – again by mysterious heart attack.  Before that in 1955, in another Air-India crash, it was suspected that Chou En Lai was the intended victim.

Strangely, Vikram Sarabhai, also died in his sleep at Kovalam, even though he suffered from no signs of any heart disease. Before Pokhran in 1974, Nehru claimed from 1958 onwards, that India could produce a nuclear weapon in a few years time.

Game of Death – In Persia

In an attempt to delay the alleged Iranian development of nuclear weapons, top nuclear scientists from Iran have been assassinated.

In total, 5 Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed since 2007. Another has been wounded and one more has disappeared. In addition, the head of Iran’s ballistic missile programme has been killed and a deputy defence minister disappeared.

via Iran nuclear scientist dead: mysterious recent deaths and disappearances – Telegraph.

Iran claims that this is the handiwork of Israel and USA.

Iran says the attacks are part of a covert campaign by Israel and the West to sabotage its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

Iran has blamed Israel’s Mossad as well as the CIA and Britain’s MI6 for the assassinations, with support from some of Iran’s neighbors. The U.S. and Britain and denied involvement in the slayings. Israel has not commented.

The TV said closed circuit cameras in a Tehran street recorded one of the operations, providing clues for Iran’s intelligence agencies to identify and arrest the suspects.

One of the suspects, Behzad Abdoli, claimed that he received training in Israel, along with several others.

via Iran Scientist Assasinations: Confessions In Murder Of Nuclear Scientists Aired On State TV.

Not surprisingly, USA denies and Israel does not reject any involvement in these killings.

Like three previous Iranian scientists ambushed on their morning commute, the latest nuclear expert to die on his way to work was a victim of Israel’s Mossad, Western intelligence sources tell TIME. “Yeah, one more,” a senior Israeli official said with a smile. “I don’t feel sad for him.”

Wednesday’s attack followed the pattern of previous operations planned by Mossad and carried out over the past two years by Iranians trained and paid by Israel’s spy agency, according to intelligence sources. The targets were chosen from the ranks of scientists seen as crucial to Iran’s nuclear effort — the country’s top physicist, Majid Shahriari, was killed by a magnetized bomb in October 2010.

The similarities among the attacks were not lost on Iranian authorities, who immediately blamed both Israel and the U.S. for Wednesday’s attack. “The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists and is the work of the Zionists,” Tehran’s Deputy Governor Safar Ali Baratlou was quoted as saying by the Fars News Agency.

Israel is officially silent on the incident. However, its top spokesman for the country’s military posted this on Facebook: “Don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but for sure I am not shedding a tear.” The Obama Administration insisted it had nothing to do with the attack. “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor declared. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her denial of U.S. involvement “categorical.”

The contrast in responses reflects the good-cop, bad-cop roles the allies have assumed in the international effort to dissuade Iran from pushing ahead with its nuclear program. While Washington leads the global effort to press economic sanctions on Tehran, Israeli leaders frequently make thinly veiled suggestions that it may not be able to restrain itself from launching military action on Iran; they also never bother to deny a leading role in covert efforts to slow the nuclear program. In addition to the assassination campaign, Western intelligence sources say Israel was responsible for the massive explosion at a missile base outside Tehran in November.

via Who Killed an Iranian Nuclear Expert? Israel Isn’t Telling – TIME.

Most analysts believe as do

A lot of western security experts will say that the Iranians have some justification in their suspicions, at least as far as Israel is concerned. Mossad is expert at carrying out assassinations abroad and Israel has most to lose from Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

How effective the assassinations have been remains unclear. Experts generally agree that the most effective covert strike was the deployment of the Stuxnet computer virus, which caused the uranium-enriching centrifuges at Natanz to spin out of control and then blow up. Stuxnet, probably developed in a joint mission by Israel, the United States and Britain, allegedly set back the Iranian nuclear programme by more than 12 months.

via Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist is a familiar story – Telegraph.


 

A first: US allowed to check Indian warship

August 9, 2012 1 comment

US inspects defense equipment as per Indo-US agreement. Wonder what came of such ‘inspections’ in Pakistan?

Is India trying the Soviet dance steps with the 'American' partner? Things have changed ...  |  Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy - usnews.com.

Is India trying the Soviet dance steps with the ‘American’ partner? Things have changed … | Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy – usnews.com.

2ndlook Point Of View One Year Ago

To handle the China threat, India made, arguably, one of the best moves possible. An alliance with Soviet Russia.

Is India doing the same thing now. Cosying upto USA, to seek an US umbrella against Chinese thunder? Just one thing needs to be remembered.

US is no Soviet Union – as allies go.

India has for the first time permitted the US to inspect an Indian warship to ensure that the navy was not distorting its use, a senior source in the defence establishment has confirmed to The Telegraph.

This is the first time that India permitted an “intrusive” inspection of one of its key military platforms by foreigners.

Ironically, the first inspection in the country has happened under defence minister A.K. Antony’s watch even though he is particularly touchy on the subject of defence relations with the US.

But instead of allowing the US “Golden Sentry” team to board and examine the equipment, the Indian Navy removed the equipment from the warship ‘ also imported from the US ‘ and asked the inspectors from Pentagon to check them at a different location.

The navy is still queasy and uncomfortable about allowing foreign inspectors to check its platforms. But it was complying with the provisions of an End-User Monitoring Agreement that India standardised with the US in 2009.

An Indian navy source said: “We are complying with what was agreed between governments,” but he declined to call the inspection “intrusive”.

Queried by The Telegraph, a US embassy official said: “These (such inspections) are really in the domain of government-to-government relations between India and the US and in accordance with legal requirements.”

The inspection took place in late 2011. Since then, the Indian Navy has refitted the INS Jalashva ‘ formerly the USS Trenton. Much of the new electronic equipment such as navigational aids have been manufactured in India’s own defence public sector undertakings like Bharat Electronics Limited.

The INS Jalashva (L41) was known as the USS Trenton before the Indian Navy inducted it in its eastern fleet in June 2007 at a cost of about $50 million plus about $40 million for six helicopters.

The purchase of the USS Trenton was red-flagged by the comptroller and auditor general in a March 2008 report.

The equipment the US inspectors asked to check were night-vision devices used by the INS Jalashva landing platform dock and its six onboard UH-3H Seaking maritime utility transport helicopters.

Distinctly uncomfortable with the US request to inspect the equipment, the navy at first tried to fob it off. But then reached a compromise.

The navy told the US inspectors that it would remove the components from the Jalashva that is based at the eastern fleet headquarters in Vishakhapatnam where they could be checked.

It is understood that the devices were removed from the ship and the helicopters and taken to an airfield/helipad where the inspection was carried out.

India has signed or has in the pipeline $10 billion of US-origin military hardware. Each of the projects is liable to be inspected under the US’ Arms Export Control Act administered by the Pentagon’s DSCA that has to submit “annual compliance reports”.

The US has end-user agreements with about 80 countries but it is still politically unpalatable in many countries.

Military equipment, such as the INS Jalashva, purchased through a government-to-government foreign military sales programme are subject to inspections under the Pentagon’s “Golden Sentry” programme that dispatches “Tiger Teams” to do the job.

Direct commercial sales of military hardware by US-based companies to India are subject to inspections under a programme called “Blue Lantern”.

via A first: US allowed to check Indian warship – Yahoo! News India (embedded links supplied).


Did America really win the Cold War?

July 13, 2012 3 comments

Boer War, WWI, WWII. After each victory, the British Empire became weaker. Is that what is happening to Pax Americana.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states.  |  A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey  |  Published December 27, 2011  |  Click for image.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states. | A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey | Published December 27, 2011 | Click for image.

The presidents of Russia and Cuba signed a strategic partnership and several other documents on Friday aimed at rekindling an alliance that collapsed after the cold war. They pledged to expand cooperation in agriculture, manufacturing, science and tourism, but studiously avoided a public discussion of military ties.

It had been nearly a quarter century since a Cuban leader had set foot on Russian soil. President Raúl Castro’s visit to Moscow this week had little of the pomp and propaganda of the cold war days, when he and his brother Fidel were greeted with parades in Red Square and Soviet leaders affectionately referred to Cuba as the “island of freedom.”

But almost two decades after a crumbling Soviet Union hastily withdrew financial and ideological backing from Cuba, Russia is seeking to expand economic ties with the island and possibly forge stronger military relations in an echo, as yet still faint, of an alliance that lasted some 30 years.

It is part of a larger Russian push into Latin America to secure new markets, and also to swipe at the United States for what Moscow considers Washington’s meddling in Russia’s historic sphere of influence, particularly in Ukraine and Georgia, former Soviet republics.

via Russia and Cuba Sign Agreements During Raúl Castro’s Visit – NYTimes.com.

Tired Battles

As WWII ended, the Anglo-French alliance tried re-imposing their hold on their colonies – using Israel for local support. (In relation, Read on Indian Foreign Policy here).

But were soundly bested in each confrontation.

Across The World

In February 1946, Indian Naval Ratings raised the flag of independence. And lowered the Union Jack. Within a week, Clement Attlee announced a time-table for withdrawal from India – and this time there was no going back.

In the Middle East, Anglo-French forces in tandem with Israel tried to reinforce their writ in Egypt in the Suez War (1956). Roundly and soundly beaten, these forces had to retreat. Since the British were defeated, in English media and books, it was not a war but the Suez Crisis.

In Kenya, the Mau Mau War finally forced the British to vacate Kenya – after unprecedented brutality was used against Kenyan freedom fighters. Same story in Malaya – now Malaysia.

The French against the Vietnamese lost at Dien Bien Phu.

Birth of Pax Americana

But while the old powers were retreating – the US was rapidly building its own imperial system.

Using Communism as an excuse, nearly 1 million American soldiers between 1950-1975, killed 5 million Asians (Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand) and imposed Pax Americana in Asia.

Unlike the British or French colonies, the American Empire Pax Americana does not appoint Viceroys or Governors. Primarily covert, Pax Americana has subverted sovereign governments with war (Iraq, Libya in recent memory), regime changes (Kwame Nkrumah in Africa, Haiti) assassinations (Mossadegh in Iran, Allende in Chile, Lumumba in Congo), financial allurements (development aid).

Since the inner workings of the American Empire is hidden behind steel doors, for ordinary people, there is doubt if Pax Americana even exists.

20 years of celebrations

America has now been celebrating the fall of Soviet Union for nearly twenty years.

In the meantime, the successor State to Soviet Russia, freed of imperial obligations, is running with State debt at less than 5% of GDP – the only G-20 economy with such low debt levels. In contrast, the US government owes more than 100% of its GDP as debt.

Russia in the meanwhile, is gradually winning back old allies. Soviet allies, ignored by the US after the fall of USSR. With many allies and without an Empire, Russia may still be the last man standing.

The US did nothing for nearly twenty years to wean away Cuba from the Russians.

Why?

Was it hubris? Arrogance … Pride … Maybe, it makes the Inner Circle makes feel ‘more special’ if some countries, like Cuba are excluded. In some cases, more than their own inclusion in Pax Americana’s Imperial Court, the exclusion of the poor or the unconnected, is a source of satisfaction.


Superpower China: Emerging From 60 years Of American Shadow?

June 6, 2012 6 comments

The last 150 years has seen the rise of four world powers. Interestingly, in the same period four world powers were also eclipsed.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states.  |  A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey  |  Published December 27, 2011  |  Click for image.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states. | A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey | Published December 27, 2011 | Click for image.

Rise and Fall

In the last 150 years, we have the rise of four powers – Germany, Russia, Japan and USA. In the same period we have seen the eclipse of four powers. The Ottoman Empire, China, Spain – and India.

Some may want to include the Austro-Hungarian Empire – but it was an empire in eclipse by 1850 itself – plus its demise has had little effect.

Remarkably, Germany, Russia and Japan have been through many wars, defeats – and are nowhere near eclipse as yet. Though they have not achieved the ’eminence’ of the USA, their seat at the global power league is still not taken by any other power.

In a cloud of hubris

USA may congratulate itself in the demise of the USSR, but Russia has seen abolition of monarchy, a painful process in Russia also like in most countries. A 10-year civil war followed the abolition – with Kerensky leading the White Faction supported by the West, against the Communist Red Faction, under Lenin. Communism survived in Russia, from 1930-1990, surviving the German invasion during WWII.

After the break-up of USSR in 1990s, the last 10 years has seen Russian ship regain some sense of direction.

The best thing for Russia

In hindsight, the loss of the Russian Empire in Central Asia, Eastern Europe may have been exactly what Russia needed. Russia’s Empire in Central Asia and Eastern Europe was a huge drain on Russia. When commodity prices collapsed in the 1980-1990 decade, Russian earnings based on raw-material exports also collapsed. The cost of the Russian Empire brought down the USSR.

Without the burden of an empire, the world may see a more powerful Russia. It may even outlast the American Empire.

In the meantime, overcome with hubris, Americans have been thumping their own backs and chests in self-congratulation.

we have forgotten how countries behave as their power increases. We have been living so long in a world where one power has been so much more powerful than all the others. The existence of the American hegemon has forced all other powers to exercise unusual restraint, curb normal ambitions, and avoid actions that might lead to the formation of a U.S.-led coalition of the kind that defeated Germany twice, Japan once, and the Soviet Union, more peacefully, in the Cold War.

The Chinese, as good historians, are acutely aware of the fate that befell these others and have worked hard to avoid a similar fate, following as best they can Deng Xiaoping’s advice to “keep a low profile and never take the lead.” As relative power shifts, however, that advice becomes harder and harder to follow. We saw some early signs of what the future might hold in China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The response of the United States, which swung in behind the nervous powers in the region, has possibly convinced the Chinese that their moves were premature.

They may have themselves bought in too much to the widespread talk of America in decline. Were that decline to become real in the coming years, however, it is a certainty that Chinese pressures and probes will return. Greater relative power on China’s part might also lead Beijing to become less patient with Taiwan’s lack of movement toward acquiescing to the mainland’s sovereignty.

A situation in which U.S. power were declining, China’s power were rising, and the Taiwan issue became fractious is practically a textbook instance of how wars start — even if neither side wants war. That is why some have referred to Taiwan as East Asia’s Sarajevo. (via The Rise or Fall of the American Empire – By Robert Kagan, Gideon Rachman, and Daniel W. Drezner | Foreign Policy).

Is this what the Chinese think?



Behind Delhi Car Bomb Blast: Iran?

In the last 65 years, only the Soviet Union took payment in rupees for oil. And now Iran. Why would Iran trigger bomb blasts in New Delhi?

Israel will still blame Iran even if it's a CNG blast, Saying the gas is Iranian  |  Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; 15 Feb 2012; source & courtesy-mumbaimirror.com  |  Click for image.

Israel will still blame Iran even if it’s a CNG blast, Saying the gas is Iranian | Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; 15 Feb 2012; source & courtesy-mumbaimirror.com | Click for image.

An explosion on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi damaged an Israeli embassy car, and injured its occupants.Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of the defense attache at the Israeli embassy was seriously wounded. She is in critical care. She was on her way to pick up her children from their school. It is unusual for a diplomatic vehicle to be attacked on the streets of New Delhi. The Delhi police went into action. The international media wanted to know who had done the attack minutes after it was reported.The police was wary. Let us conduct our investigation, they said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went before his parliament and accused Iran of a terrorist act. “The elements behind these attacks were Iran and its protege, Hezbollah.” Iran, he said, is “the largest terror exporter in the world” and Israel “would act with a strong hand.” This was all the confirmation that BBC needed. It began to report the attack as an Iranian act against an Israeli diplomat on Indian soil.

Why would Iran conduct an attack on an Israeli diplomat in India, particularly as India is in the midst of trying to negotiate a delicate arrangement with Tehran to pay for Iranian oil? The question mystifies. (via Asia Times Online :: India’s dilemma: How to pay for Iranian oil).

For more on the Oil-India-Iran-USA matrix, read the first post in the related articles section below – titled Indian diplomacy: Heavy Lifting.


The lady doth protest too much …

FEMEN is globalized protest ‘corporation’. For the time being, their protests have content – and style. Wonder who is ‘behind’ FEMEN?

Femen activists preparing for a demonstration |  Image courtesy: rt.com; source: Reuters / Osman Orsal  |  Click for image.

Femen activists preparing for a demonstration | Image courtesy: rt.com; source: Reuters / Osman Orsal | Click for image.

The lady doth protest too much.

Shakespeare said that – and what many governments think about FEMEN.

FEMEN women activists, known for their topless style of protests, have been arrested in more countries, than anyone – in recent history at least. Milan to Istanbul, Davos to Moscow, Kiev to Switzerland, they have protested everywhere.

My favorite FEMEN protest was at Davos. Where über-rich talk as though the Rest of Us don’t exist – or matter.

The other level at which FEMEN protests are working, is against male-standards of how women should deal with their bodies. Clothing and coverings.

Inna Shevchenko, recently, with other

girls – all topless – barged into a polling station, where Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had voted. These young women were questioning the legitimacy of a vote they say is skewed to help the former KGB spy return as Russia’s president. Police officers dragged them out of the room by their hair. This was just another day at work for the activists of provocative Ukranian feminist group, FEMEN.

It was India’s turn to taste their venom, when topless activists sporting nose rings, maang teekas and mehendi climbed the balcony of the Indian ambassador’s residence in Kiev, Ukraine, in January. They knocked down the tricolour and carried banners that read, ‘Ukranians are not prostitutes’. They were reacting to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs directive to monitor the visa applications of Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakh women aged 15 to 40 to weed out sex workers. Earlier this month, a furious Indian embassy began criminal proceedings against the demonstrators, who now face up to five years in prison, and the possibility of a lock-down of their organisation.

“The reaction is strange,” says 21-year-old Inna Shevchenko, in a telephonic chat from Kiev. Her voice is sombre. That’s strange for someone with enough grit to go head-to-head with the KGB and Minsk police after a demonstration against the authoritative Belarusian president. The police reportedly stripped Shevchenko and two colleagues, doused them in petrol and threatened to burn them, before abandoning the girls in a forest near the village of Beka.

Excerpts from an interview: What is your reaction to India pressing criminal charges against FEMEN demonstrators? The Indian reaction is strange. We were protesting against what they said – that all women of the Soviet Union are prostitutes. And we did nothing wrong with the Indian flag. Their reaction indicates that they are wary of women activists and their opinion. It’s a comment on the mindset of the people working at the embassy. FEMEN’s role is to protect any woman, even if she’s an Indian. (via Off with her tee! – Times Of India; embedded links supplied).

Apparently, the Indian Government’s decision to ‘screen’ Ukrainian visitors to India, before the UP election rankled.

With some Ukranians at least.


The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME

March 18, 2012 1 comment

TIME magazine archives on the events in Tibet as the Dalai Lama left Tibet. Predictably, CIA and its failures are not mentioned. Not once. India and China are the ‘culprits.’

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and his mother  |  Source, courtesy & more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,864579,00.html#ixzz1pPPL4MwE  |  The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese - TIME

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and his mother | Source, courtesy & more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,864579,00.html#ixzz1pPPL4MwE | The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese - TIME

Night had settled upon the roof of the world. With a jingling of harness and the clipclop of hooves, a small caravan wound slowly up the 17,000-ft. pass. Ahead lay the snowy summits of the Himalayas, an ocean of wind-whipped peaks and ranges that have served Tibet as a rampart since time began. Cavalrymen with slung rifles spurred forward; state officials in furs, wearing the dangling turquoise earrings of their rank, sat tiredly in the saddle; rangy muleteers in peaked caps with big earlaps goaded the baggage train up the steep path. As they passed a cairn of rocks topped by brightly colored flags printed with Buddhist prayers, each pious Tibetan added a stone to the mound, murmured the traditional litany: “So-ya-la-so.”

Journey to Safety. As the Dalai Lama and his escort fled by night and hid by day in lamaseries, villages and Khamba encampments, the furious Red Chinese boasted that they had put down the three-day revolt in Lhasa that had served to cover the God-King’s escape. Point-blank artillery fire drove diehard lamas from the Norbulingka, summer palace on the city’s outskirts. Red infantrymen surged into the vast warrens of the Potala winter palace, rounded up defiant monks in narrow passages and dark rooms where flickering butter lamps made Tibet’s grotesque gods and demons seem to caper on the walls. The corpses of hundreds of slain Lhasans lay in the streets and parks of the city, from the gutted medical college on Chakpori hill to the barricaded main avenue of Barkhor. Rifle fire and the hammer of machine guns rattled the windows of the Indian consulate general, whose single radio transmitter is the only communication link with the free world. And Red Chinese columns and planes crisscrossed the barren plateaus and narrow valleys of Tibet in search of the missing Dalai Lama.

Last week word came that the Dalai Lama had reached safety in the village of Towang, just across the Indian border. His two-week march to the frontier, it was said, had been screened from Red planes by mist and low clouds conjured up by the prayers of Buddhist holy men. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

Aroused Asia. The 1956 rape of Hungary by the Soviet Union did not rouse the frustrated rage in Asia that it did in Western Europe and the U.S. White v. white colonialism does not stir Asians much. But the crime against Tibet has opened many Asian eyes. The independent Times of Indonesia warned that Red China was losing what few friends it had left. From Japan to Ceylon, Asians angrily recalled the fine words of Red China’s Premier Chou En-lai at the Bandung Conference in 1955, when he warmly embraced Nehru’s Panch Shila (Five Principles) and specifically promised to respect “the rights of the people of all countries to choose freely a way of life as well as political and economic systems.” India’s press and public demanded that Nehru be at least as forthright in denouncing Red China as he was in denouncing Britain and France during the Suez invasion, and were impatient with his bland impeachments of Peking. In Buddhist Cambodia, a newspaper that often echoes Cambodia’s neutralist royal family urged Red China to withdraw its troops from Tibet and prove “that it respects the hopes of all peoples for liberty and self-determination.”

Buffer State. Over the centuries, the mountain-locked nation of Tibet has often been overrun by invaders—Mongols, Manchus and Gurkhas, but most often Chinese. Whenever China was strong, it would send a garrison to occupy Lhasa. Whenever China was weak Tibetans would drive the garrison out. In 1904, uneasy about Russian encroachments in central Asia, the British launched an expedition from India and captured Lhasa with little difficulty. To keep each other at arm’s length, Britain and Czarist Russia agreed to make a buffer state of Tibet and signed the Convention of 1907 recognizing China’s “suzerainty” over Tibet. No one bothered to define suzerainty, nor did anyone consult the Tibetans.

Large chunks of Tibetan territory disappeared. The provinces of Amdo and Kham were taken by China, Sikkim ended up with India, Ladakh went to Kashmir. Today there are more Tibetans living outside Tibet than in it (1,700,000 to 1,300,000).

The Yellow Hat. The nation’s sole defense over the centuries was the Three Precious Jewels of Tibetan Buddhism: the Buddha, the Doctrine and the Community. Power lay with the contending monks and noblemen. The Red Hat sect, which allows its lamas to marry, was gradually overborne by the celibate Yellow Hat sect. This was made official in 1557 when a Mongol khan gave the seal of rulership to the leading Yellow Hat monk and named him Dalai (Ocean of Wisdom) Lama. The fifth Dalai Lama is famous for building the vast Potala. He also felt the need to honor his favorite teacher by naming him the Panchen (Teacher) Lama, and put in his keeping Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse. He thus created a rivalry that has plagued Tibet ever since. Generally, the Dalai Lama has had the support of whatever power is ruling in India, and the Panchen Lama of the ruling power in China. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

The Search. The present Dalai Lama’s predecessor was one of the greatest of his line. He lived long and governed well. In 1933, warned by the State Oracle that his end was approaching, he summoned a photographer all the way from Nepal to take a final picture, and shortly thereafter this most sacred Living Buddha shed the garment of his body in order to assume another. While by Lamaist teaching his soul went to dwell for 49 days in the famed Lake Chö Kor Gye before taking up residence in a newborn infant, his corpse was embalmed by being cooked in yak butter and salt, its face painted with gold, and the mummy seated upright facing south in a shrine of the Potala.

Who was the newborn infant in whom his soul was reincarnated? A four-year search began, and became another of the endless legends of Tibet. The regent, who ruled the state during the interregnum, journeyed to Lake Chö Kor Gye and, after gazing into its mirrored waters, reported a vision of a three-storied lamasery whose golden roof was necked with turquoise, and a winding road that led to a gabled farmhouse of a type unknown to Lhasans. Search parties went out in all directions without success. Finally the oracle of Samye monastery, Tibet’s oldest, went into a trance, recommended that the search be extended to the Chinese province of Tsinghai, whose Amdo region is largely populated by Tibetans.

In Tsinghai. the priestly caravan was met by the ninth Panchen Lama, who had fled to China after difficulties with the 13th Dalai Lama. Near death himself, the Panchen Lama was not bitter, and suggested the names of three young boys who might be possible candidates. The first child had already died when the lamas reached him; the second ran screaming at the sight of them. At the home of the third child, on the shores of fabled Lake Koko Nor, the monks were struck dumb. Just as in the regent’s vision, there was a peasant house with a gabled roof, there was a winding road and, beyond, a three-storied lamasery whose golden dome sparkled with turquoise tiles.

As the awed monks approached the farmhouse, a small boy rushed toward them from the kitchen crying, “Lama! Lama!” His name was Lhamo Dhondup; he was two years old; and one of his brothers was already a Living Buddha at Kumbum monastery. Interrogated, the child gave the correct title of every official in the party, even picking out those who were disguised as servants. The second test required that he examine duplicate rosaries, liturgical drums, bells, bronze thunderbolts, and teacups, and select the ones that had belonged to him in his previous life as the 13th Dalai Lama. He did it with ease. Overjoyed, the lamas also found that the child had the required physical marks: large ears, and moles on his body that represented a second pair of arms. Then, in the final test, he was offered a choice of identical walking sticks. To the monks’ horror, little Lhamo chose the wrong one—but at once threw it away. Seizing the right stick, he refused to be parted from it. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

Finding the Dalai Lama proved easier than getting him home to Lhasa. The Chinese warlord of Tsinghai demanded $30,000 before he would let the boy leave. Glumly, the lamas paid it and set out for Tibet. They were stopped at the border. The warlord wanted more money, and it took two years of negotiations and a further payment of $90,000 before the Dalai Lama, by then four years old, could go in triumph to the palace of Potala.

Polygyny & Prayer. The Tibet he would one day rule is a preserved relic of ancient oriental feudalism. Twice as large as Texas, lying in the very heart of Asia, it is a land of mountains and craterlike valleys that seem to have been ripped from the moon. Its people are handsome, cheerful and indescribably dirty. About four-fifths of them work to support one-fifth, who are shut up in lamaseries. What little land is not owned by the monks belongs either to the Dalai Lama or to about 150 noble families, who have kept their names and acres intact down the centuries by a mixture of polygyny and polyandry. To safeguard their ancestral estate, three brothers will often share a single wife, and all children are considered to be fathered by the eldest of the brothers. Recently, a highborn Lhasa woman was simultaneously married to a local nobleman, to the Foreign Minister of Tibet, and to the Foreign Minister’s son by another wife.

Religion is lived by all the people. Hundreds of lamaseries house thousands upon thousands of monks and nuns whose days are spent in meditation and prayer. There are nearly as many Living Buddhas as there are lamaseries, including one female incarnation whose name translates as “Thunderbolt Sow.” Prayer is everywhere, on the lips of men and on flags and bits of paper stamped with woodblock imprints of the sacred words: “Om mani padme hum [Hail, the jewel in the lotus).” The phrase flutters from tall poles outside villages, from trees and cairns; it is stuffed inside the chortens’ hollow towers at crossroads, and revolves constantly in the prayer wheels in every temple, nearly every house. There is gold in Tibet that cannot be mined for fear of offending the gods of earth, though panning gold from the river beds is permitted.

When a Tibetan dies, his body is carried to the top of a mortuary hill, hacked into pieces by body breakers and left to be picked clean to the bone by scavenger birds and beasts. Tibetan sons keep their fathers’ skulls and use them as drinking cups out of filial piety. On stormy days, when blizzards smother the high mountain passes, lamas cut out paper horses and scatter them to the winds to carry help to any poor traveler foundering in the deep snow. Meeting a stranger, a Tibetan sticks out his tongue in friendly greeting. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

Defender of the Faith. For the four-year-old Dalai Lama, arrival in Tibet meant an end to childhood. He was enthroned at Lhasa in 1940 and endowed with many names—the Tender, Glorious One, the Holy One, the Mighty of Speech, the Excellent Understanding, the Absolute Wisdom, the Defender of the Faith. He sat through the hours-long ceremonies without complaint, a slim, grave-eyed boy with protuberant ears.

The Dalai Lama’s peasant family came with him to Lhasa, and his father was made a noble, but he saw little of them. His days were spent with monkish tutors, in learning the Tantric texts of Lamaism and the complex religious ceremonials. At night he went to sleep in the enormous, fortresslike Potala, and could hear the palace gates close harshly and the ringing shouts of the watchmen as they marched through the long, twisting corridors. Without playmates or attending parents, the Dalai Lama matured early, and at 14 he visited Lhasa’s great monasteries of Drepung and Sera to engage in religious disputation with their learned abbots. This was a critical moment, for upon his intelligence and agility of mind would depend the future balance of power. He would not be deposed should he fail the examination, but he could be turned into a puppet—a Living Buddha who was easily manipulated by shrewd and able monks.

At Drepung monastery thousands of red-robed lamas crouched on their haunches in a graveled courtyard while the 14-year-old Dalai Lama preached to them on the Tantric texts in a clear, boyish voice, but with the composure and assurance of an adult. A Tibetan-speaking Westerner was there, an Austrian named Heinrich Harrer, who had escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in India and painfully made his way to asylum in Lhasa. The debate that followed between the abbot and the Dalai Lama was a genuine contest of wits, says Harrer, in which the God-King was “never for a moment disconcerted,” while the venerable abbot “was hard put to hold his own.” (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

But the Dalai Lama was still too young to govern, and his state was run for him by regents. Two of them quarreled, and Lhasa was rocked by a brief civil war in 1947, in which howitzers were used to end the defiance of the monks of Sera lamasery. More important to Tibet and the Dalai Lama was another civil war: that in China. As Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists were driven from the mainland to Formosa, it was inevitable that the Reds would soon attempt to assert the Chinese suzerainty that had been largely ineffectual for nearly 40 years.

In 1950 the test came. When a Red Chinese “liberation” army was poised on the Tibetan frontier, the nomad Khamba tribesmen asked Lhasa if it intended to fight. The Dalai Lama’s advisers could not make up their minds. The fortress of Chamdo surrendered with scarcely a shot fired, and the Khambas decided that Lhasa had lost its nerve, and made no move to stop the Reds.

The young Dalai Lama was seldom consulted in such matters. He passed his time in study and in a new absorption in Western gadgets. He took many photographs, often wandered on the terraces of the Potala armed with a telescope with which he could examine the busy life of his city without ever being permitted to join in it. Each spring he traveled in solemn procession through ranks of bowing, weeping people to the summer palace; each autumn he solemnly returned to the Potala. The Austrian Harrer tutored him in Western science and technology, found in the Dalai Lama an insatiable urge for learning, a fascination with modern matters such as the construction of jet planes, but a total acceptance of his own godhead. Once, remarking on his previous incarnation as the 13th Dalai Lama, he said musingly: “It is funny that the former body was so fond of horses and that they mean so little to me.”

As the Red Chinese pushed toward Lhasa, the Tibetan National Assembly sent an urgent plea to the United Nations for help against the aggressors. It was rejected with the pious hope that China and Tibet would unite peacefully. The uncertain Tibetan government called on the State Oracle to decide what the Dalai Lama should do. He urged flight.

Before leaving Lhasa, the Dalai Lama was hastily invested with full power as the ruler of Tibet and the regency abolished. In command of his country for the first time, just as it seemed on the point of dissolution, the Dalai Lama withdrew to the Indian border but did not cross over. Since it was clear that no power on earth was interested in aiding Tibet, the God-King opened negotiations at a distance with Red China. In May 1951, a 17-point agreement was signed between the two nations: Red China agreed that Tibet could retain autonomy and promised no change in the Dalai Lama’s status, function or power. Tibet surrendered control of its foreign relations to Red China. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

Journey to Peking. Returning to Lhasa, the 17-year-old Dalai Lama received the Red emissaries with frank curiosity. Much of what they proposed—schools, roads, hospitals, light industry—met his approval. Many Tibetans welcomed the break with the feudal past, argued: “We must learn modern methods from someone—why not the Chinese?” The Dalai Lama made a six-month visit to Mao Tse-tung’s new China, listened patiently to lectures on Marxism and Leninism, saw factories, dams, parades. Back in Tibet, Red technicians set to work. Some 3,000 Tibetan students were shipped off to school in Red China. But things went wrong from the start. The hard-driving Red cadres filled with Communist zeal made little impression on the individualistic Tibetans, who felt that the inner perfection of a man’s soul was more important than an asphalt surface on a road. Sighed the Dalai Lama: “China and Tibet are like fire and wood.”

His words were proved true in the border province of Kham, where the Reds had been longer in control. The lamaseries of Kham were looted of their treasure and their land collectivized. Nomad Khamba tribesmen were driven from the pastureland they had used for centuries. Tribal chiefs resented their loss of power te the commissars. The Khambas, great shaggy men often 6 ft. tall, with leather boots, 3-ft. swords and rifles they are born and die with, fought back. Snipers bushwhacked lone Red couriers on the new road to Lhasa. Khamba bands ambushed military convoys. The embittered monks drove off the Chinese farmers sent to take over their land. To teach them a lesson. the Chinese Reds sent bombing planes and leveled the intransigent lamaseries.

For four years the guerrilla war raged along the border. More and more dispossessed Khambas crossed over into Tibet proper and roused their fellow tribesmen in the Tsangpo valley to join the revolt. In Lhasa, monks grumbled at the religion-destroying teachings of the Red Chinese; Tibetans complained at soaring prices and the confiscation of grain and wool. The Reds applied pressure on the Dalai Lama to quiet his people. To an anxious crowd assembled in the Norbulingka gardens, the God-King said blandly: “If the Chinese Communists have come to Tibet to help us, it is most important that they should respect our social system, culture, customs and habits. If Chinese Communists do not understand the conditions and harm or injure our people, you should immediately report the facts to the government, and we can immediately ask that the guilty ones be sent back to China.”

When the rebel Khamba tribesmen began attacking Red outposts within 40 miles of Lhasa, the Red commander demanded that the Dalai Lama prove his “solidarity” by ordering his 5,000-man bodyguard against the rebels. It was a shrewd move, for in the past Lhasa had had its own troubles with the Khambas, who recognized the spiritual rule of the Dalai Lama but had a habit of killing his tax gatherers and robbing caravans. The God-King solved it neatly: he sent a message to the Khambas saying cryptically that “bloodshed was not the answer,” but flatly refused to lend Tibetan troops on a punitive expedition. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).

Unable to break the Dalai Lama’s will, the Red commander decided on a show of strength. Last month, while Lhasa was still crowded with monks, pilgrims and peasants who had attended the New Year’s Festival, the Red general sent a curt note ordering the Dalai Lama to appear, alone, at Communist headquarters.

Lhasa was appalled. It was unthinkable that a message should go directly to the Dalai Lama instead of being reverently submitted through his Cabinet. It was even worse to demand that the Living Buddha attend a meeting alone without his ceremonial train of senior abbots and court officials. On hearing the news, the Dalai Lama’s mother burst into tears. Thousands of weeping women surged around the Indian consulate general and begged the consul to accompany them while they handed a protest petition to the Red Chinese. The monks of the city’s three great lamaseries prepared to die before letting the Dalai Lama be taken from them. Hidden stores of arms were passed out to the furious populace. Khamba tribesmen with their rifles, swords and lean, savage dogs began to filter into Lhasa. The nervous Chinese set up machine-gun posts, trained artillery on the Potala and the Norbulingka palaces.

On March 17 the Dalai Lama, his mother, sister and two brothers, guarded by a fanatic escort, slipped out of Lhasa and moved north, where there were few Chinese patrols. Traveling only at night, the party carefully circled the city and headed south toward the Indian border. On March 19 the fighting started in

Lhasa, and only after three days, when the city’s whitewashed houses, its palaces and lamaseries were a smoldering shambles, did the Red Chinese realize they had been outwitted, and set up the propaganda cry that the Dalai Lama had been kidnaped and was being held “by duress.”

Asian Algeria. The smashing of the revolt in Lhasa was as brutal as the action of Soviet Russian tanks in Budapest. But Tibet is not another Hungary: it is more likely to become Red China’s Algeria, a festering war to the knife that can be neither won nor lost. The Communist garrisons should be able to hold the cities and the main roads. They can even find a handful of Tibetan collaborators, like their tame puppet, the tenth Panchen Lama, a wan young man of 22 who is unable to control the monks of his own lamaseries. But the Red troops, estimated at 60,000-80,000, must be supplied from a base 70 miles distant, over a single, hazardous road that can be easily cut by Khamba guerrillas.

At week’s end the Khamba rebels were reportedly joined by equally fierce Amdowa and Golok tribesmen, spreading the fires of revolt the length and breadth of Tibet, and putting into the field against the Chinese Reds an estimated 100,000 warriors, who were carrying the fight to the Chinese provinces of Szechwan and Tsinghai as well as Tibet proper. The Red radio protested plaintively that “reactionary elements” from China itself had joined the battle.

The rest of the world cheered the rebels and denounced their oppressors but made no other move. India, the biggest free neighbor, was giving shamefaced support to Premier Nehru’s reiterated insistence that “India was anxious to have friendly relations with Red China.”

When the Dalai Lama this week finally made his way through the jungles of Assam to the airfield at Bomdila, he was welcomed by officials of the Indian government before being flown to a mountain resort at a safe distance from the Tibetan border—so as not to give offense to Red China. He will be inundated by the good wishes of the free world, but for the foreseeable future, the Dalai Lama and 3,000,000 Tibetan patriots can only put their trust—as their ancestors did before them —in the Three Precious Jewels of Tibetan Buddhism: the Buddha, the Doctrine and the Community. (via The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese – TIME).


Managing China

May 27, 2011 3 comments

A sputtering economy with a strong yuan is not the same China anymore. How should India deal with a hesitant China.

Is India trying the same dance steps with a different partner? Things have changed ... (Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy - usnews.com/). Click for larger image.

Is India trying the same dance steps with a different partner? Things have changed … (Cartoon by Tom Toles; courtesy – usnews.com/). Click for larger image.

Flying dragon

The Chinese threat to India is something that occupies the minds of Indian defence strategists and every right-thinking Indian. Indian perception springs from the 1962 experience.

Last time China had a problem, it resulted in the India-China War of 1962. Just after the disastrous Great Leap Forward and before the equally disastrous Cultural Revolution.

The Great Leap Forward began in 1957-58, saw famine and hunger across China. After the Communist takeover of China, land seized from land owners, was given to peasants in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the Chinese State took away the same land from the same peasant. Food shortages, starvation followed. Western (questionable) estimates are that 30 million people died during this period.

War with India followed in 1962 – a diversion from the domestic Chinese catastrophe.

Crouching tiger

To handle this threat, India made, arguably, one of the best moves possible. An alliance with Soviet Russia.

As allies go, Soviet Union was in a different league, compared to USA. (Cartoon courtesy - siciliandefence.wordpress.com; artist attribution missing at source.). Click for larger image.

As allies go, Soviet Union was in a different league, compared to USA. (Cartoon courtesy – siciliandefence.wordpress.com; Source – from Chinese daily-Global Times; artist attribution missing at source). Click for larger image.

India tilted increasingly towards the Soviets in seeking protection from China. The Chinese humiliated India in 1962. The Soviets brutalised China in the late 1960s in a “border conflict” that may have been the biggest undeclared war ever. The US was wooing Yahya to act as via media to establish diplomatic relations with China on the basis of “enemy of my enemy” equations.

Mrs G was stampeded into the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty when she learnt from Kissinger that the US was pursuing diplomatic initiatives with China. The Chinese refrained from military action because the Soviets threatened to respond in kind. (via Cold facts about the Bangladesh war).

Is India doing the same thing now. Cosying upto USA, to seek an US umbrella against Chinese thunder? Just one thing needs to be remembered.

US is no Soviet Union – as allies go.

Can oil bring US, China and India together?

As things stand, oil is a good reason for China, India and USA to cooperate. US oil consumption is stagnant. But China and India are growing oil markets. Big Oil from US seeks to control flow of this oil to India and China. China is more mature power now. US power has its limits. India’s position is stronger.

Things have changed.


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