Next 100 Years For India, Pakistan and the World

Amidst Pakistan's current troubles, Indian officials and mainstream media continue to display unconcealed delight in painting Pakistan as a "Failed State". And as they offer unsolicited advice to their neighbor, they ignore the ground reality that if Pakistan is a failed state, then India is as failed a state as Pakistan, if not more so.

Why is India a Failed State?

The reality of the failure of Indian state is as obvious as daylight. The Indian state's abject failures in delivering bare minimum services to its people, and its inability to solve India's basic problems are there for everyone to see.

Not unlike North Korea, India is engaged in a massive arms buildup while almost half of its children are near starvation. A nation-state like India that fails to take care of 46% its children's basic nutrition needs has to be a failed state. In fact, George Friedman of Strafor raises serious doubts about India's viability as a modern nation-state, and dismisses the talk of its emergence as one of the great powers of the 21st century. Friedman does not accept that any of the four BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will achieve great world power status in this century. Instead, he believes that Turkey, Poland and Japan will join the United States as the most important world powers in the next 50 years.



Here are some shocking statistics shedding light on India's failures:

One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.

One out of very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.

Almost one out of two Indians lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 32% this year.



Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:

Poverty:

Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009

Education:

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pak istan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pak istan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF

Economics:

GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100

Child Protection:

Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pak istan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF

Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF

In spite of the grim statistics above, India is ranked the fourth biggest military spender in terms of purchasing power parity.

The poverty and hunger situation in Pakistan is only a bit less serious than in India.

The myth about Pakistan being a failed state is being pushed by people who are either ignorant about Pakistan, or have an ax to grind.

Here's a video clip of British writer William Dalrymple comparing India and Pakistan:



Do any serious analysts challenge the poverty and hunger figures for India, or the strength and scope of the Maoists insurgency? Absolutely not! Even Indian officials, including Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, agree with the data on hunger, poverty and malnutrition, as well the Maoists threat assessment.

In terms of the challenges to the writ of the state, India is host to some of the fiercest conflicts in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 have died in insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeastern states. About 25% of the Indian territory is outside the control of Indian authority.

Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence. In fact, the Maoists in India, led by the left-wing intellectuals with many urban sympathizers, have a greater chance of success in India than the poor, rural Pakistani Taliban, or other Islamic radicals in Pakistan, whose heavy handed tactics in Swat, and suicide bombings in Pakistani cities have destroyed whatever sympathies they had among the urban middle class.

Talking about failure to deliver minimum assistance to India's people, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged in 2008 that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.

Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".

"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.

Is Pakistan a Failed State?

Do any serious analysts challenge Pakistan's place on failed state index? Absolutely! Not just one, many analysts do!

Dalrymple, a self-declared Indophile, is not alone in rejecting the myth of Pakistan being a failed state. Others who know South Asia and other parts of the world, such as Prof Juan Cole, Peter Bergen, and others, also reject this myth.

My reasons for saying that India is a failed state are simple: More than Pakistani state, the Indian state has miserably failed in meeting the very basic needs of its people (particularly children) for food, clothing, shelter and basic sanitation. In addition, India has larger swaths of its territory in central and eastern where state authority does not exist.

India-A Failed Democracy:

India is also a failed democracy and a bad poster child for democratic form of government. It's pervasive hunger, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, a huge and growing rich-poor gap, and a well-established system of caste-based Apartheid, and its terrible governance make its democracy a joke. And its history of widespread persecution of its minorities makes its secular label ludicrous.

Here's an American researcher and professor emeritus of University Washington explaining anti-Muslim riots in his 2003 book "Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India":

Events labeled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and towns in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/ rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation.1 In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally.

At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them.


Busting Myths of India as Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous":

Here's Indian writer Pankaj Mishra busting the myth of "Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India":

Apparently, no inconvenient truths are allowed to mar what Foreign Affairs, the foreign policy journal of America's elite, has declared a "roaring capitalist success story". Add Bollywood's singing and dancing stars, beauty queens and Booker prize-winning writers to the Tatas, the Mittals and the IT tycoons, and the picture of Indian confidence, vigour and felicity is complete.

The passive consumer of this image, already puzzled by recurring reports of explosions in Indian cities, may be startled to learn from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Washington that the death toll from terrorist attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007 was 3,674, second only to that in Iraq. (In the same period, 1,000 died as a result of such attacks in Pakistan, the "most dangerous place on earth" according to the Economist, Newsweek and other vendors of geopolitical insight.)


I agree with India's Dalit leader, constitution architect and first law minister Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's statement that "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic."

As someone described it recently, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest strata of the country’s enduring caste system, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid. But after 62 years of independence, over 250 million Indian Dalits are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

India's Secularism Is a Myth:

Regarding secularism, here's how Kapil Komireddy demolishes the myth of Indian secularism in a piece he wrote for the Guardian newspaper:

For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.

The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.

The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognize and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.


The Next 100 Years:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, George Friedman, Chairman of Stratfor, and author of "The Next 100 Years", sees the United States, Turkey, Poland and Japan as the great powers of the 21st century.

Friedman raises serious doubts about India and China staying united as modern nation-states, much less emerge as great powers of the 21st century. He says India and China are regionally fragmented and it's very difficult to govern the vast nations from from Delhi or Beijing. He does not foresee Brazil or Russia emerge as great powers of the 21st century either, essentially dismissing all four members of the the much-hyped BRIC countries.

Talking about the emergence of South Korea and Israel as modern industrialized states, Friedman singles out the value of the transfer by the US of F-16s as a catalyst for recipient countries' development of skills and technical know-how. He makes no mention of Pakistan's development of the F16 maintenance and training infrastructure at Kamra PAC for its F16s in this context.

Friedman says the Islamic World will recover from the current chaos imposed by the United States in its conflict with al Qaeda. He also argues that Turkey, not Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, or Egypt, will emerge as a great world power, and the leader of the Muslim world.

Here's how Friedman describes the four great powers of the twenty-first century:

Japan, Turkey, and Poland will each be facing a United States even more confident than it was after the second fall of the Soviet Union. That will be an explosive situation. As we will see during the course of this book, the relationships among these four countries will greatly affect the twenty-first century, leading, ultimately, to the next global war. This war will be fought differently from any in history—with weapons that are today in the realm of science fiction. But as I will try to outline, this mid-twenty-first century conflict will grow out of the dynamic forces born in the early part of the new century.

"BRIC" is an acronym coined by Goldman Sachs to bracket four disparate nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China together just because of their large populations. Similar logic is used in GS's "Next 11" group of emerging nations which include Pakistan and Turkey.

I think population alone can not be used as a determinant for the future, although nations with higher than replacement fertility rate (TFR of 2.1 or greater) will have some advantage in the 21st century. Conversely, the nations with aging populations and sub-replacement fertility rates, such as Japan, Poland and Russia, will be disadvantaged.

I also think that the predictive abilities of most analysts, including Friedman, are limited by the present. Future is often seen as a highly exaggerated version of the present.

As Friedman himself says, Germany was predicted to be the greatest power of the 20th century. All that changed after two world wars, when America emerged as the most important world power, and the Soviet Union its biggest competitor. The same could happen in this century. We could see new players by 2050, such as Turkey and Poland, emerge in addition to US and Japan, rather than the much hyped BRICs. Only time will tell how the new world order emerges in the 21st century.

As to the nukes, I don't think we ought to be constrained in our thinking by the current status of nuclear weapons technology. New weapons and technologies can emerge to potentially make the possession of the current generation of atomic weaponry irrelevant. Space-based weaponry, and remote cyber warfare could determine the winners of future conflicts.





Related Links:

Dalit Victims of Apartheid in India

FAQs on India's Massive Arms Buildup

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

Haq's Musings

Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Talks

India 's Sane Voice Warns Against Smugness

Hindutva Terror to Spark India-Pakistan War?

Failed state? Try Pakistan's M2

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

India and Pakistan Compared in 2010

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Middle Class Clout Rising in Pakistan

Panka j Mishra Busts the Myth of Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India

US Afghan Exit: Trigger For India-Pakistan Talks?

China's Growing Role in Kashmir

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting commentary by Sudha Ramachandra about India's future prospects:

The populations of Europe and Japan are already graying, and the working-age populations of the United States and China are projected to shrink too in the next two decades. By 2020 the US will be short 17 million people of working age, China 10 million, Japan 9 million and Russia 6 million. However, India will have a surplus of 47 million people, giving the country a competitive edge in labor costs, which will be sustainable up to 2050, according to a study by Goldman Sachs.

Economists say India will catch up with the Chinese economy beginning in 2030, when the latter could cool off as the result of an aging population. "The window of opportunity offered by a population bulge has clearly opened for India," points out noted economist C P Chandrasekhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. After decades of evoking despair, India's demographic profile is finally beginning to stir hope.

But not everyone views the population bulge with such optimism. Some analysts say it is not enough to have a young population. The working-age population needs to be healthy and literate.

India's score on this, while improving, is certainly not inspiring. About 50% of all Indian children are undernourished, a large percentage of them born with protein deficiency (which affects brain development and learning capacity, among other things). This is hardly the ideal foundation for a productive workforce, as the likelihood of a malnourished child growing up to be an able adult is rather dim.

There is also the question of whether the population has the skills and knowledge to take on India's future work. Literacy has improved dramatically over the years - just 14% of the population was literate in 1947 versus about 64.8% today - but many who are classified as literate can barely read or write. And 40% of those who enroll in primary schools drop out by age 10. The curriculum in the schools, especially the government-run ones, does not prepare the child for the domestic job market, let alone the global one. The huge "workforce" might not be qualified to do the work.

Moreover, India's rich and educated classes are preferring to have small families, so the additions to the population are coming largely from the poor, illiterate sections in society. Nicholas Eberstadt, who researches demographics at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, points out that while India's overall population profile will remain relatively youthful, "this is an arithmetic expression averaging diverse components of a vast nation. Closer examination reveals two demographically distinct Indias: the north that stays remarkably young over the next 20 years, and a south already graying rapidly due to low fertility."
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Times of India report today comparing nuclear arsenals of the two South Asian neighbors:

LONDON: Pakistan has 60 nuclear warheads and with two new plutonium reactors nearing completion in Khusab, its weapons grade plutonium production will jump seven-fold, according to latest figures released by Swedish institute SIPRI.

"Our conservative estimates are that Pakistan has sixty warheads and could produce 100 nuclear weapons at short notice," the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its latest annual report.

SIPRI also said that Islamabad was developing an air launched cruise missile Ra'ad and had also carried out four tests of its land launched sub-sonic cruise missile Babur. But said it was not clear whether these missiles would be developed to carry nuclear warheads.

The Swedish think-tank said that Pakistan's Khusab I reactor was giving the country 10 to 12 kgs of weapons grade plutonium.

Islamabad had earmarked 32 US supplied F-16 fighters along with short-range Ghaznavi I and Shaheen I missiles as the delivery systems for its nuclear weapons, it said.

SIPRI said while 400-km range Ghaznavi I and 1,200-km Shaheen I missiles were operational, Pakistan's other two potent missiles — medium range ballistic missile Ghauri I and Shaheen II were still in development stage.

In comparison India had also 60 to 70 nuclear warheads, the think-tank said.

New Delhi had only short-range surface to surface Prithvi I (with the range of up to 500 kms) and medium-range Agni I (upto 700 kms) missiles deployed as nuclear weapon delivery system, it said.

The Swedish institute said India's two other missiles Agni II (with the range of 1,200 kms) and Agni III (3,000 kms) were still under development, though Agni II had been handed over to the Army for user trial.

SIPRI also said that New Delhi was also developing a 1,000-km range sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay and had also test fired land-based version of the undersea missile K-15 which is being called Shourya.

It said that the deployment of warship-based Dhanush missile was underway.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are excerpts from a review of "Why The West Rules – For Now", by Ian Morris, published in Daily Mail:

I grew up in a golden age – I just didn’t know it. Things didn’t always feel golden in the Midlands during the Sixties.

And yet the West – a handful of nations clustered around the North Atlantic, plus their colonists on other continents – bestrode the world like a colossus. Westerners, on average, earned ten times as much as Asians or Africans and lived 25 years longer.

‘You’ve never had it so good,’ Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told us in 1957, and we hadn’t.


Westerners had televisions, cars and clean drinking water; unlike most of the rest of the world. European and American armed forces dominated the land, sea, and sky; Americans had even walked on the Moon. The West’s wealth and global domination had no parallels in history.

My oldest family Christmas photos, taken by my dad with a little Instamatic at our home in Stoke-on-Trent in the early Sixties, are crowded with this bounty – overflowing with toys, Cadbury’s selection boxes and bicycles.

But behind the beaming boy and the plastic Daleks, a shadow was already falling. Each passing year, more and more of the things we bought came not from the West but from the factories of the East.

First came Japan, which made the toys I loved; and as Japan, with bewildering speed, moved up the ladder to transistor radios and cars, new Asian manufacturers – South Korea, Taiwan and then China – filled the rungs it vacated. Japan’s economy outgrew Britain’s in 1963, and by 1967 was second only to America. Japan stayed in that spot until this summer, when China displaced it.

How did things change so much?
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In the 20th Century the American-dominated global economy drew in the resources of Asia just as Britain had once drawn in those of America.

Japan cashed in first, doubling its share of world production between 1960 and 1980. Next came the so-called Asian Tigers: the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

And then, most spectacular of all, the People’s Republic of China. Its share of world production tripled in the 30 years after Mao’s death in 1976; rare indeed is the Westerner who does not now put on at least one piece of made-in-China clothing every morning.

Chinese industry has sucked 150 million countryfolk into cities – the biggest migration in history. According to Businessweek magazine, ‘the China price’ now represents ‘the three scariest words in the English language’.

So, whatever the analysts may think, the West’s global dominance and ongoing crisis have precious little to do with flukes, great men, or bungling idiots – and nothing at all to do with racial or cultural superiority.

Rather, they are the entirely predictable outcomes of the complicated interaction of geography and social development across the last 15,000 years – an interaction which, in just the past 200 years, has given the West unprecedented wealth and power. And which, within our own lifetimes, has begun tilting the playing field in China’s favour.

Things will never be the same again.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323200/Western-society-rules-longer.html#ixzz13K5CZqSm
Riaz Haq said…
Here is a description of documents leaked by WikiLeaks about Turkey as reported by pro-Israel Washington Post:

Davutoglu is something of an antihero of the WikiLeaks cables, described as "exceptionally dangerous" and "lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies." Having arrived in Washington a few hours after those descriptions were released, he accepted an apology from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, played down the damage - and embraced at least part of the embassy's analysis. "Britain has a commonwealth" with its former colonies, he reminded me. Why shouldn't Turkey rebuild its leadership in former Ottoman lands in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia?

It's fascinating to follow the emotional swings in U.S. analysis of this rapidly changing partner. Erdogan is acidly described by former ambassador Eric Edelman as having "an authoritarian loner streak"; Edelman's successor, James F. Jeffrey, concludes that Erdogan "simply hates Israel" and that his drive for regional authority "has not achieved any single success of note." Yet the dispatches also include admiration for Erdogan's political skills and for Turkey's role in Lebanon, Pakistan and even Syria.

In fact, as a would-be leader of the "Arab street," Erdogan looks much more attractive than competitors such as Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. In the end Turkey depends on European trade and investment; it wants a democratic Iraq, a non-nuclear Iran and NATO's success in Afghanistan. It still recognizes Israel. It is, in essence, a genuine Muslim democracy - which means that it is both more difficult and, in a way, more of an ally than it used to be.

"At the end of the day we will have to live with a Turkey whose population is propelling much of what we see," Jeffrey wrote in a penetrating dispatch. "This calls for an issue-by-issue approach and recognition that Turkey will often go its own way." "The current cast of political leaders," he noted, have a "special yen for destructive drama and rhetoric. But we see no one better on the horizon, and Turkey will remain a complicated blend of world class 'Western' institutions, competencies and orientation, and Middle Eastern culture and religion."

No wonder Davutoglu was grinning. In the end, State's reporting had captured the new Turkey rather well.
Riaz Haq said…
In spite of all of Pakistan's genuine problems and "failed state" nonsense, investors have remained fairly sanguine about Pakistan's future prospects.

KSE-100 has outperformed Mumbai Sensex and other BRIC stocks over the last 10 years, 5 years and 1 year.

Pakistan's key share index KSE-100 was just over 1000 points at the end of 1999, and it closed at 12022.46 on Dec 31, 2010, sgnificantly outperforming BRIC markets for the decade. Pakistan rupee remained quite stable at 60 rupees to a US dollar until 2008, slipping in 2008-2009 to a range of 80-85 rupees to a dollar. In spite of the currency decline, Pakistan's KSE-100 stock index surged 55% in 2009 in US dollar terms and 65% in rupee terms. During the same period of 1999-2009, Mumbai Sensex index moved from just over 5000 points to close at 17,464.81.

If you had invested $100 in KSE-100 stocks on Dec. 31, 1999, you'd have over $1000 today, while $100 invested in Mumbai's Sensex stocks would be worth about $400. Investment of $100 in emerging-market stocks in general on Dec. 31, 1999 would get you about $300 today, while $100 invested in the S&P500 would be essentially flat at $100 today.

Last year, there was over half a billion $$ worth of foreign buying at KSE. And remittances by overseas Pakistanis are approaching $10 billion and rising every year.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is not alone in being targeted by the doomsayers, many othrers, including India's cheerleader Fareed Zakaria, have also been betting against the United States for decades. Here's an excerpt from a Time Magazine Op Ed by David Von Drehle:

Poor U.S. of A., forever in decline. the arrival of public theaters in Boston circa 1790 caused Samuel Adams to despair for the cause of liberty in the face of such debauchery. "Alas!" he wrote. "Will men never be free!" Charles Lindbergh fretted, "It seems improbable that we could win a war in Europe." Long before baseball, hand-wringing was the national pastime. We've never been virtuous enough, civilized enough, smart enough or resolute enough.

I was born into a country reeling from Sputnik, which revealed to the whole world that Americans are as dumb as rocks. John F. Kennedy had just been elected President, in part by bemoaning the "missile gap" between the mighty Soviet arsenal and our paltry few bottle rockets. "The United States no longer carries the same image of a vital society on the move with its brightest days ahead," Kennedy said in his final debate with Richard M. Nixon. That's the same Nixon who declared eight years later, "We are worse off in every area of the world tonight than we were when President Eisenhower left office." Hard to believe we could sink further, but we did, as the nightmare of Vietnam segued into the nightmare of Watergate, while the Japanese exposed the insufficiency of American enterprise. As I stumbled off to college, President Jimmy Carter was warning us about "a crisis of confidence ... that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will." Thanks to our horrible schools, we were — according to the title of a major 1983 report — "A Nation at Risk." Then our family values went down the toilet.

You'd think America would be as washed up by now as the Captain and Tennille. So how come we're so much stronger than we were 50 years ago? Somehow, in the 235 years since we got started, Americans have weathered Boston theaters and Soviet science prodigies, violent lyrics and sex out of wedlock. We've survived a Civil War, two world wars and a Great Depression, not to mention immigrant hordes, alcohol, Freemasons and the "vast wasteland" of network television. We've dodged the population bomb, the coming ice age, acid rain and the domino effect. America is to nations what Roberto Clemente was to right fielders. The Pirates legend fretted endlessly about how poorly he felt and how sick he was — while vigorously spraying hits and vacuuming fly balls.

So don't reach for the defibrillator paddles or the rosary beads quite yet.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2056582,00.html#ixzz1Fk9nsZR9
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Maplecroft risk warning for investing in India, according to Times of India:

LONDON: The United Kingdom-based Global Risks Atlas 2011 on Friday described India as the 16th riskiest country to invest in for the security hazards it poses and rather embarrassingly clubs it with Niger, Bangladesh and Mali. The Atlas is published by Maplecroft, a consultancy founded by Alyson Warhurst, chair of strategy and international development at Warwick Business School.

The evaluation is structured on seven key global risks including macroeconomic risk and threats around security, governance, resource security, climate change, social resilience and illicit economies.

Maplecroft assessed India faces simultaneous threats of terrorist attacks from Islamists and Maoists. It also points at India's lack of social resilience despite a robust economic growth and cites its poor human rights record. It says large sections of the population lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and sanitation, and highlights its less productive workforce, greater susceptibility to pandemics and susceptible to social unrest.


A press release by Maplecroft lumps Pakistan with Russia on investment risk:

Dynamic political risks constitute immediate threats to business and Maplecroft rates 11 countries as ‘extreme risk.’ Most significantly, the emerging economy of Russia has moved up five places from 15th to enter the top ten for the first time, whilst Pakistan has also moved two places up the ranking to 9th.

The ‘extreme risk’ countries now include: Somalia (1), DR Congo (2), Sudan (3), Myanmar (4), Afghanistan (5), Iraq (6), Zimbabwe (7), North Korea (8), Pakistan (9), Russia (10) and Central African Republic (11).

Russia’s increased risk profile reflects both the heightened activity of militant Islamist separatists in the Northern Caucasus and their ambition to strike targets elsewhere in the country. Russia has suffered a number of devastating terrorist attacks during 2010, including the March 2010 Moscow Metro bombing, which killed 40 people. Such attacks have raised Russia’s risk profile in the Terrorism Risk Index and Conflict and Political Violence Index. The country’s poor performance is compounded by its ‘extreme risk’ ratings for its business environment, corporate governance and the endemic nature of corruption, which is prevalent throughout all tiers of government.
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Jim O’Neil, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, states: "Growth is happening where political risk is most challenging. So, meticulous monitoring and mitigation now will enable business to flourish and benefit from the opportunities presented by the future growth economies of the BRICs and Next 11".

Looking to the longer term, the BRICs countries are witnessing increasingly worse structural political risk trends for 2011. China (25), India (32) and Russia (51), rated ‘high risk’ and Brazil (97) medium risk, have all seen risks increase compared to scores from last year’s Atlas.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
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The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
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Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
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One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
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The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
---------------
The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article1568273.ece
Riaz Haq said…
China poised to surpass US in research papers publication, according to The Guardian:

China could overtake the United States as the world's dominant publisher of scientific research by 2013, according to an analysis of global trends in science by the Royal Society. The report highlighted the increasing challenge to the traditional superpowers of science from the world's emerging economies and also identified emerging talent in countries not traditionally associated with a strong science base, including Iran, Tunisia and Turkey.

The Royal Society said that China was now second only to the US in terms of its share of the world's scientific research papers written in English. The UK has been pushed into third place, with Germany, Japan, France and Canada following behind.
------------
In the report, published on Monday, the Royal Society said that science around the world was in good health, with increases in funding and personnel in recent years. Between 2002 and 2007, global spending on R&D rose from $790bn to $1,145bn and the number of researchers increased from 5.7 million to 7.1 million.

"Global spend has gone up just under 45%, more or less in line with GDP," said Llewllyn Smith. "In the developing world, it's gone up over 100%." Over the same period, he added, the number of scientific publications went up by around 25%.
-----------
Projecting beyond 2011, the Royal Society said that the landscape would change "dramatically". "China has already overtaken the UK as the second leading producer of research publications, but some time before 2020 it is expected to surpass the US." It said this could happen as soon as 2013.

China's rise is the most impressive, but Brazil, India and South Korea are following fast behind and are set to surpass the output of France and Japan by the start of the next decade.
-----------
The overall spread of scientific subjects under investigation has remained the same. "We had expected to see a shift to bio from engineering and physics [but] overall, the balance has remained remarkably stable," said Llewellyn Smith. "In China, [the rise] seems to be in engineering subjects whereas, in Brazil, they're getting into bio and agriculture."

As it grows its research base, Llewellyn Smith said that China could end up leading the world in subjects such as nanotechnology. "The fact is they've poured money into nanotechnology and that's an area where they are recruiting people back from around the world with very attractive laboratories – that's my feeling."

In addition, there are new entrants to the scientific community. "Tunisia in 1999 had zero science budget – now it puts 0.7% of GDP into science," said Llewllyn Smith. "This isn't huge but it's symbolic of the fact that all countries are getting into science. Turkey is another example. Iran has the fastest-growing number of publications in the world, they're really serious about building up science."

Turkey's R&D spend increased almost six-fold between 1995 and 2007, said the Royal Society, and the number of scientists in the country has jumped by 43%. Four times as many papers with Turkish authors were published in 2008 as in 1996.

In Iran, the number of research papers rose from 736 in 1996 to 13,238 in 2008. Its government is committed to increasing R&D to 4% of GDP by 2030. In 2006, the country spent just 0.59% of its GDP on science.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Wall Street Journal story titled "India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire":

BANGALORE, India—Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer's experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

In the nation that made offshoring a household word, 24/7 finds itself so short of talent that it is having to offshore.

"With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees," says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. "Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny."

India's economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. Government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What's more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys," says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country's fifth graders can't read at a second-grade level.
Asadi said…
It is the year 2099, Amreeka has long passed from the scene of super powers, after using India as a cheap whore to play it off against China and forming a hundred million strong market, the US has let it go, toilets are still rare facilities in India, the banyas still squat by the railroads as they contemplate about entertaining themselves to the lattest bollywood production with twenty minutes worth of dialogue and two hundred minuts worth of song and dance, women are still being burned at the pyre and bought and sold as cattle in their society, but in the higher circles of the consumption class, the 100 million strong that have now been reduced to 35 million out of a population of 2.3 billion two obsessions prevail: how to make Pakistan vanish into thin air and how come this upstart power of Islam did in a few short decades what Hindus couldn't do over millinea..Horses now compose poems and robots manage all air traffic and fly planes....the banya still squats by the old railway tracks...
Riaz Haq said…
Asadi: "It is the year 2099, Amreeka has long passed from the scene of super powers, after using India as a cheap whore to play it off against China..."


There are at least two books that paint a somewhat similar picture of India in the 21st century:

1. The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

http://southasiainvestor.blogspot.com/2010/02/next-100-years-for-india-pakistan-and.htm

2. "The Godfather Doctrine" by John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/05/godfathers-vito-corleone-metaphor-for.html

The first argues that, given India's fault lines and growing insurgencies, India will not amount to much in the 21st century.

The second talks about US co-opting India to advance its own agenda.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an MSN report about US Defense Sec Leon Panetta talking about "checking rising powers" in an address at US Postgraduate Naval School:

Washington, Aug 25 (PTI) Noting the rise of powers like China, Brazil and India, the US has said it would make sure that America continues to be a force to be reckoned with and these emerging nations do not threaten stability in the world.

"We try everything we can to cooperate with these rising powers and to work with them, but to make sure at the same time that they do not threaten stability in the world, to be able to project our power, to be able to say to the world that we continue to be a force to be reckoned with," US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in his address to the Naval Postgraduate School Location.

"We continue to confront rising powers in the world - China, India, Brazil, Russia, countries that we need to cooperate with. We need to hopefully work with. But in the end, we also need to make sure do not threaten the stability of the world," Panetta said in his another address to the Defense Language Institute in California.

"We''ve got to be able to project our power in a world in which we make clear that we are a force to be reckoned with.
All of this comes at a time when we are facing budget challenges in this country, challenges that all of us have a responsibility to confront," he said.

"We are facing the largest deficit in the history of this country, a debt that now approaches USD 14 trillion, an annual deficit of USD 1.4 trillion. We do have to roll up our sleeves and discipline our budget for the future. And defense has to play a role in that," he said.

"But we do not have to choose between fiscal responsibility and protecting our national security. The Congress has enacted some budget savings in the debt ceiling agreement," he said.

"It''s my view that while those decisions are going to be tough, that we have the opportunity to make some very important decisions that not only shape defense for today, but the future; that make us an agile force, a deployable force, a force that can confront the threats in the world that has the weapons to be able to do that effectively, that we can project our presence throughout the world and make clear to others that we care about peace in the world," he said. .


http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5391167
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Guardian story on nuclear weapons spending by several nations including India and Pakistan:

..For several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Israel and France, nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence, says the report. In Russia and Pakistan, it warns, nuclear weapons are assigned "war-fighting roles in military planning".

The report is the first in a series of papers for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by Basic. Its leading members include former Conservative defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Liberal Democrat leader and defence spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell and former Labour defence secretary Lord Browne.
--------
Pakistan and India, it warns, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter nuclear warheads so they have a greater range or can be deployed over shorter distances for tactical or "non-strategic" roles. "In the case of Israel, the size of its nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet is being increased and the country seems to be on course, on the back of its satellite launch rocket programme, for future development of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM)," the report notes.

A common justification for the new nuclear weapons programmes is perceived vulnerability in the face of nuclear and conventional force development elsewhere. For example, Russia has expressed concern over the US missile defence and Conventional Prompt Global Strike programmes. China has expressed similar concerns about the US as well as India, while India's programmes are driven by fear of China and Pakistan.

Pakistan justifies its nuclear weapons programme by referring to India's conventional force superiority, the report observes.

In a country-by-country analysis, the report says:

• The US is planning to spend $700bn on nuclear weapons over the next decade. A further $92bn will be spent on new nuclear warheads and the US also plans to build 12 nuclear ballistic missile submarines, air-launched nuclear cruise missiles and bombs.

• Russia plans to spend $70bn on improving its strategic nuclear triad (land, sea and air delivery systems) by 2020. It is introducing mobile ICBMs with multiple warheads, and a new generation of nuclear weapons submarines to carry cruise as well as ballistic missiles. There are reports that Russia is also planning a nuclear-capable short-range missile for 10 army brigades over the next decade.

• China is rapidly building up its medium and long-range "road mobile" missile arsenal equipped with multiple warheads. Up to five submarines are under construction capable of launching 36-60 sea-launched ballistic missiles, which could provide a continuous at-sea capability.
-----------
• Pakistan is extending the range of its Shaheen II missiles, developing nuclear cruise missiles, improving its nuclear weapons design as well as smaller, lighter, warheads. It is also building new plutonium production reactors.

• India is developing new versions of its Agni land-based missiles sufficient to target the whole of Pakistan and large parts of China, including Beijing. It has developed a nuclear ship-launched cruise missile and plans to build five submarines carrying ballistic nuclear missiles..


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/nuclear-powers-weapons-spending-report?INTCMP=SRCH
Riaz Haq said…
Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, who coined BRIC, says India's performance most disappointing, according to Economic Times:

LONDON: Growth in all four BRIC economies has surpassed expectations in the decade since the term came into existence but India's record on productivity, FDI and reform has been the most disappointing, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Jim O'Neill said on Tuesday.

O'Neill, who coined the term, BRIC, in December 2001 to jointly describe the four biggest developing economies, Brazil, Russia, India and China, was speaking at the London leg of the Reuters 2012 Investment Outlook Summit.

"All four countries have become bigger (economies) than I said they were going to be, even Russia. However there are important structural issues about all four and as we go into the 10-year anniversary, in some ways India is the most disappointing," said O'Neill who oversees almost a trillion dollars in assets at Goldman.

Just this week, India's government caved in to opposition pressure and put on hold a landmark reform of the retail sector that was seen opening the doors to billions of dollars in foreign direct investment in the supermarket sector.

The long-awaited measure, passed earlier this month, had been hailed as ending the government's economic reform paralysis that is widely seen as the root cause of high inflation, shrinking capital inflows and a wider current account deficit.

"India has the risk of ... if they're not careful, a balance of payments crisis. They shouldn't raise people's hopes of FDI and then in a week say, 'we're only joking'," O'Neill said. "India's inability to raise its share of global FDI is very disappointing," he said.

United Nations data shows that India received less than $20 billion in FDI in the first six months of 2011, compared to more than $60 billion in China while Brazil and Russia took in $23 billion and $33 billion respectively.

The glacial reform pace has hit India's hopes for double-digit economic growth, O'Neill said, adding: "India is as bad as Russia is on governance and corruption and, in terms of use of technology, Russia is in fact much higher than India."

On the other BRICs, O'Neill said Brazil's main problem was an overvalued currency which puts the country in danger of "Dutch disease" - a term first used to describe how North Sea oil discoveries in the 1960s triggered a surge in Dutch energy exports but also in the Dutch currency, pummelling much of the country's manufacturing. China's challenge was to effectively manage a transition to a higher-consumption economy with slower growth, he said.

O'Neill remains positive on Russia but said much depends on what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin can deliver in terms of reform following an election at the weekend that left his ruling party with a much reduced parliamentary majority.


http://m.economictimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/india-most-disappointing-among-bric-nations-goldmans-oneill/articleshow/11008228.cms
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Hindustan Times on Mukherjee's anxiety over Indian economy:

"The economy is in a difficult situation but that does not mean that we
shall have to start eating lizards,” Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.

India's economic growth slumped to 6.9% in the July-September quarter against the budgetary target of 9% growth for 2011-12. During the first half of the fiscal, the economy grew by 7.3%.

Mukherjee said the projection of 9% growth during the budget was not a pipe dream, but the unexpected high prices of oil and other commodities coupled with a slowdown in global economies, notably in Europe and the US, had hit the Indian economy hard.

"The hard fact is there are certain situation on which you do not have a control but you have to face the consequences,” he said.

The finance minister said because of the high oil and other commodities prices in the international market, expenditure on oil, fertiliser and food subsidies has increased exponentially, widening the fiscal deficit. He said fertiliser subsidies were likely to increase to Rs 90,000 crore against the budgetary target of Rs 40,000 crore.

"During the budget in February, average oil price of Indian basket I assumed $90 per barrel. However, oil price has been consistently at around $110 per barrel,” he said.

However, Mukherjee emphasised that the basic fundamentals of the Indian economy were strong. “Basic fundamentals of the Indian economy are still strong. Rate of savings is high. Yes, it is not as high as 35-36% but it is around 33-33.5%. Rate of Investment is around 34-35% despite depression.”

He said the proposed reforms could help improve the situation.

“I do believe that things can improve if the institutions strengthened, if Parliament functions, if this house debates, discusses and decides for which it is meant, you will see the atmosphere will change,” he said.

Mukherjee said the slowdown in growth was a cause of anxiety.

“From 2004-05 to 2007-08, we grew at 9%. Therefore we placed our standards high and from there we have come down. That's why it is my anxiety,” he said.

Indian economy grew 8.5% in 2010-11. In the union budget, Mukherjee said growth target was 9%, plus minus 0.25% for 2011-12. However, the growth declined to 7.7% in first quarter and it slumped further to 6.9% in the second.

"There was a time when these%age could have been an object of celebration when we place it in perspective on the economic development and growth of this country. From 1951 to 1979 we grew at a rate of 3.5%, whole of 1980s we grew at 5%, whole of 1990s we grew at 5.6%, even in the first half of the last decade we grew at around 6%,” he said.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/WorldEconomy/Indian-economy-in-a-difficult-situation-Pranab/Article1-779105.aspx
Riaz Haq said…
Whys is India not a scientific power, asks an Op Ed in The Hindu:

.....It is the robustness of scientific research and innovation that sets apart great powers from the mediocre ones.

We have good scientists, but why has India not produced outstanding scientists who make path-breaking discoveries that will make the world sit up and take notice? Should we continue to be satisfied with tweaking borrowed technologies? Is reverse engineering an innovative phenomenon?

All debates about scientific research inevitably end up zeroing in on the deficiencies of our educational system as the root cause of the abysmal record in scientific research. This is only part of the story.

A nation's culture — belief systems, values, attitudes — plays a significant role in determining the quality of scientific research. The Oriental attitudes differ from the Occidental values in many respects. Asian societies are basically collectivist, that is, the collective good of society ranks higher than individual happiness and achievements. People do not ask what they can do for their country; they are always asking what the country will do for them. They look up to the state for guidance, leadership and direction. There is no burning individual ambition to excel and achieve something new.

In the West, individuals try to achieve their potential through their own efforts, aided and facilitated by enabling laws and institutions. Self-reliance is the key objective of life. An independent life requires a free and questioning mindset that takes nothing for granted and constantly challenges conventional wisdom. Children are encouraged to push the frontiers of knowledge by self-examination and open-minded enquiry. It is only a sceptical and dissenting mind that often thinks out of the box to explore new vistas of knowledge.

Collectivism promotes conformism and deference to authority whether it is parents, elders, teachers or the government. It is heresy to question established values and customs.

We pass on our passivity and uncritical attitudes to our children. No wonder, the educational system encourages rote learning and unquestioning acceptance of what is taught in the classrooms and stated in the textbooks. How can we expect our children to suddenly develop an enquiring and inquisitive attitude when they have been brought up in a milieu that discourages ‘disruptive' thoughts?

India and China were once advanced nations before foreign rule drained their resources and sapped their willpower and scientific traditions. Cultures tend to become conservative and defensive when subjected to long spells of colonial exploitation.

Indians are great believers in destiny. But our tradition does not frown upon free will and individual excellence. We must realise that our ability for free action remains unhampered despite what destiny may hold in store for us.
Fear of failure

Another flaw in our culture that prevents individual excellence is the fear of failure. The stigma associated with failure makes our children risk-averse while choosing their courses and careers.

Scientific research is a long-drawn war on received wisdom that requires many battles before it can be won. Science was not built in a day. Some of the battles can end in defeat. In the West, they celebrate failure as a stepping stone to success.

Educational reforms must be preceded by mental deconditioning of parents, teachers, educationists and policymakers — throwing away the cobwebs of uncritical submissiveness to conventional knowledge. Let us bring up a generation that will not hesitate to ask inconvenient questions. This generation will be the torch-bearer of a scientific revolution that will unleash cutting-edge research to make the Nobel Prize committee sit up and take notice....


http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/article2704625.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Asia Times piece on the importance of GCC Arabs to US power and US dollar:

There's no way to understand the larger-than-life United States-Iran psychodrama, the Western push for regime change in both Syria and Iran, and the trials and tribulations of the Arab Spring(s) - now mired in perpetual winter - without a close look at the fatal attraction between Washington and the GCC. [1]

GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - UAE), founded in 1981 and which in no time configured as the prime strategic US backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, for the long-drawn battle in the New Great Game in Eurasia, and also as the headquarters for "containing" Iran.

The US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain and Central Command's forward headquarters is based in Qatar; Centcom polices no less than 27 countries from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia - what the Pentagon until recently defined as "the arc of instability". In sum: the GCC is like a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf magnified to Star Trek proportions.

I prefer to refer to the GCC as the Gulf Counter-revolution Club - due to its sterling performance in suppressing democracy in the Arab world, even before Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia over a year ago.

Cueing to Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, the Rosebud inside the GCC is that the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars - thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar - and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - after all they're the world's largest oil producer - to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds.

For decades virtually the whole planet has been held hostage to this fatal attraction. Until now.

Gimme all your toys
-----------------
It's true that whoever dominates the GCC - with weapons and political support - projects power globally. The GCC has been absolutely key for US hegemony within what Immanuel Wallerstein defines as the world system.

Yet let's take a look at the numbers. Since last year Saudi Arabia is exporting more oil to China than to the US. This is part of an inexorable process of GCC energy and commodity exports moving to Asia.

By next year foreign assets held by the GCC could reach $3.8 trillion with oil at $70 a barrel. With all that non-stop "tension" in the Persian Gulf, there's no reason to believe oil will be below $100 in the foreseeable future. In this case GCC foreign assets could reach a staggering $5.7 trillion - that's 160% more than in pre-crisis 2008, and over $1 trillion more than China's foreign assets.

At the same time, China will be increasingly doing more business with the GCC. The GCC is increasingly importing more from Asia - although the top source of imports is still the European Union. Meanwhile, US-GCC trade is dropping. By 2025, China will be importing three times more oil from the GCC than the US. No wonder the House of Saud - to put it mildly - is terribly excited about Beijing.

So for the moment we have the pre-eminence of NATOGCC military, and USGCC geopolitically. But sooner rather than later Beijing may approach the House of Saud and quietly whisper, "Why don't you sell me your oil in yuan?" Just like China buying Iranian oil and gas with yuan. Petroyuan, anyone? Now that's an entirely new Star Trek.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NA20Ak02.html
Riaz Haq said…
Economist and former US Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith called India a "functional anarchy" some 30 years ago, reports the BBC:

Now Ramachandra Guha, renowned historian and author of India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, says instability is India's destiny.

In a perceptive article in the latest issue of Prospect, Mr Guha explained why.
-------
Mr Guha argues that democracy and nationhood in India face six complex challenges. They are:

Large sections of the population in the restive north-eastern states and in Indian-administered Kashmir want to break away from India
The festering Maoist insurgency threatens to further undermine territorial integrity in vast swathes of central and eastern India
Religious fundamentalism is "receding but by no means vanquished." A "sullen peace rather than an even-tempered tranquillity" prevails in the country
Public institutions are getting corroded. Political parties are increasingly resembling family firms; the police and bureaucracy are heavily politicised; corruption is rife and patronage triumphs over competence
Massive environmental degradation is promoting scarcity of resources and leading to discord and inequality. The poor suffer most from land grabs, deforestation and soil and water pollution
Growing economic inequities. One example: India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is worth more than $20bn, and his new home is a 27-storey high, 400,000 sq ft building in Mumbai, where 60% of the population live in grimy slums

"These cleavages reflect the revolutions underway: the national, democratic, urban, industrial and social," writes Mr Guha....


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16926103
Riaz Haq said…
LSE study finds India can not become a superpower, reports The Hindu:

Despite India’s "impressive" rise, its ambition to be a super power may remain just that—an ambition, according to an authoritative new study by the London School of Economics to which several Indian scholars have contributed.

It pointedly dismisses what it calls the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s "unequivocal verdict" during her India visit in 2009 that "India is not just a regional power, but a global power’.

The study, India: the Next Superpower? acknowledges India’s "formidable achievements" in fostering democracy, growth and cultural dynamism but concludes that these are nullified by its structural weaknesses, widespread corruption, poor leadership, extreme social divisions, religious extremism and internal security threats.

India, it argues, still faces too many "developmental challenges" to qualify for "super power" status, or to be considered a serious "counterweight" to China, a role sought to be thrust on it by some in the West. Some of the report’s authors wonder whether India should even aspire to be a super power given its institutional weaknesses and social and economic divisions.

Historian Ramachandra Guha, currently the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE, suggests that rather than being seduced by the bright lights of great power diplomacy, India should instead focus on reforming its institutions and repairing the social fabric that seems to be coming off its seams.

“We need to repair, one by one, the institutions that have safeguarded our unity amidst diversity, and to forge the new institutions that can help us. It will be hard, patient, slow work,” he writes.

The study, a summary of which was released on Wednesday, starts off by acknowledging that" India’s rise has certainly been impressive, and warrants the attention that it has commanded".

"India has been one of the world’s best-performing economies for a quarter of a century, lifting millions out of poverty and becoming the world’s third-largest economy in PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) terms. India has tripled its defence expenditure over the last decade to become one of the top-ten military spenders. And in stark contrast to Asia’s other billion-person emerging power, India has simultaneously cultivated an attractive global image of social and cultural dynamism," it says. But then come the "ifs" and "buts".

Plunging the knife into Indian ambitions, the report says:"Still, for all India’s success, its undoubted importance and despite its undisputed potential, there is cause for caution in assessing India’s claim to superpower status. India still faces major developmental challenges. The still-entrenched divisions of caste structure are being compounded by the emergence of new inequalities of wealth stemming from India’s economic success. India’s democracy may have thrived in a manner that few ever expected, but its institutions face profound challenges from embedded nepotism and corruption. India’s economic success continues to come with an environmental cost that is unsustainable."

These problems are compounded by India’s "pressing security preoccupations" arising out of "insurgent violence" affecting large parts of the country and long-festering cross-border disputes.

The best that India can hope for—the study offers as a consolation-- is "to continue to play a constructive international role in, among other things, the financial diplomacy of the G20".

"Yet the hopes of those in the West who would build up India as a democratic counterweight to Chinese superpower are unlikely to be realised anytime soon," it concludes....


http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2969252.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas Op Ed on "Why India will not become a superpower":

India will not become a superpower, says Ramachandra Guha, renowned historian and author of India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy.

Taking the lead in a special report by the London School of Economics, Mr Guha outlines seven reasons to support his thesis.

The challenges which will hold India back, he writes, are the Maoist insurgency, the "insidious presence" of the Hindu right wing, degradation of the "once liberal and upright" centre, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, trivialisation of media, the sustainability of "present patterns of resource consumption" and the instability and policy incoherence caused by multi-party governments.

More importantly, Mr Guha believes that India should not even attempt to become a superpower.

"In my view, international relations cannot be made analogous to a competitive examination. The question is not who comes first or second or third, whether judged in terms of Gross National Product, number of billionaires in the Forbes or Fortune lists, number of Olympic gold medals won, size of largest aircraft carrier operated, or power of most deadly nuclear weapon owned," he writes.

"We should judge ourselves not against the achievements, real or imagined, of other countries, but in the light of our own norms and ideals... We are a unique nation, unique for refusing to reduce Indian-ness to a single language, religion, or ideology, unique in affirming and celebrating the staggering diversity found within our borders (and beyond them)."

In fact, as Mr Guha's teacher, the late historian Dharma Kumar, once said, Indians should applaud the lack of homogeneity.

"Instead of regarding India as a failed or deformed nation-state we should see it as a new political form, perhaps even as a forerunner of the future. We are in some ways where Europe wants to be, but we have a tremendous job of reform, of repairing our damaged institutions, and of inventing new ones," Ms Kumar had once written.

India, as the participants in the LSE study say, should strive to become a more inclusive and efficient society, rebuild its broken institutions and engage with the egregious problem of state corruption. Superpowerdom can wait.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17350650
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a piece in a Russian newspaper on Putin's visit to Pakistan:

>Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin will, on his first foreign tour after taking office, make his first stop in Pakistan. It symbolizes not just Pakistan’s importance in the region, but the shift in relations which means that the two countries, kept apart for so many years because of Russia’s espousal of Communism, are trying to come together. Russia seeks a new ally in the region, to substitute for India, now in the American lap, after the collapse of the USSR. Mr Putin’s visit shows that Russia intends to play a more proactive role in world affairs. It must do so, because by ceding to US supremacy, it has seen it not just invade Afghanistan physically, but threaten Iran. Russia has found its own physical space threatened by US expansionism, with the expansion of Nato threatening it in the West, the snatching away of India and the occupation of Afghanistan threatening it in Asia. The visit is a result of the successful visits to Russia by President Asif Zardari, in August 2010 for the Quadrilateral Summit, and by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar earlier this year.

Russia had previously tried to make headway in Pakistan through the Steel Mills project, and now it has offered to be involved in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. This is an offer that Pakistan must not hesitate to take up. While Pakistan's official 'ally' has done its best to sabotage the project, and has insisted India withdraw from it, Russia is extending a helping hand. Unlike the steel mills, the pipeline from Iran is existential, providing as it will, gas not just for domestic and industrial users, but also for power production. Thus not just for strategic concerns, but national interest should incline Pakistan towards Russia. However, as strategic concerns include Afghanistan, which Russia has been deeply interested in for a very long time, Russia would also be interested in how Pakistan sees the future of Afghanistan.

It should also be recognized that Russia has a deep interest in the reset in relations between the USA and Pakistan that is presently being discussed by the joint sitting of Parliament. Russia too has seen that the US has not just gained access to South Asia through Pakistan, but also Central Asia. As Russia is seeking an ally in the region to substitute for India, and as Pakistan is distanced from the USA, Russia is naturally more interested in Pakistan than ever before. President Putin’s visit, the first ever by a Russian President to Pakistan, reflects that.


http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_04_13/71586559/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has formulated a comprehensive strategy for 'New Democratic Revolution' through a combination of military and political tactics to create base areas in the country side and gradual encirclement and capture of urban areas.

The CPI (Maoist) vision for it's 'protracted people's war' against the Indian state is elucidated in its strategy paper titled 'Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution'. This Maoist document contains a comprehensive plan of action to capture political power and usher in the 'New Democratic Revolution' in India.

According to a PIB press release, union minister of state for Home R P N Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) was the largest left wing extremist organization operating in the country and it was also response for almost 80 % of Naxal violence reported during the current year.

He said the objective involving creation of 'base areas', gradual encirclement and capture of the urban areas is sought to be achieved through armed warfare by the 'People's Liberation Guerilla Army' cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

Political mobilization through its 'front organizations' and alliances with other insurgent outfit, which in CPI (Maoist) parlance is called the 'Strategic United Front'.

Chhattisgarh has consistently remained the worst Naxal affected State with the rebels being active and have their presence in nearly half of the state's 27 districts. The Maoists are hyper active in tribal Bastar region, where they have established their liberated zone of 'Dandakaranya', spread over the forest regions of Bastar and parts of Andhra Pradesh. However, the state and security forces describe this region as "areas dominated by the Maoists".


http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-17/raipur/35869535_1_tribal-bastar-region-maoist-document-new-democratic-revolution
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of an NPR story on Google Glasses which have been sold to a select few developers this week at $1,500 for a pair:

When the screen is off, it's completely transparent and out of my line of sight. When on, it looks — well, I'll let Steve Lee, who helped create Google Glass, explain it: "Imagine you are sitting on your couch at home and you look across the living room and you look at your TV. That's roughly the size of what the display looks like with Glass."

Glass understands some voice commands, like giving directions and answering questions you'd normally Google. It reads your texts aloud in your ear and lets you respond just by talking.

But, first and foremost, Glass is a camera mounted right above your eye.

"Let's say I'm not very good at cooking and I might need to call ... Mom to get some help," Lee explains. "While I'm in the kitchen with my hands busy preparing the food ... my mom can actually see what I am doing" to coach him through dinner.

Glass does almost everything a smartphone does, hands-free. But Google is not selling it to the public yet. Just 10,000 people have won the right to pay $1,500 for a pair. Most of them earned this privilege by telling Google the creative things they'd like to do with Glass.

Dan McLaughlin, who picked up his set Tuesday, has about 30 or 40 ideas, he says, including creating a personal teleprompter. And Monica Wilkinson says getting Glass feels a little like getting a superpower....


http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/04/17/177557810/Seeing-The-World-Through-Google-Colored-Glasses
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a NY Times blog on Google Glass Apps:

SAN FRANCISCO — The allure of the iPhone was not its brushed metal or shiny touch screen, but the apps that turned it into anything from a flute to a flashlight. Now, Google hopes that apps will do the same thing for Glass, its Internet-connected glasses.

On Monday night, Google released extensive guidelines for software developers who want to build apps for Glass. With those guidelines, it is taking a page from Apple’s playbook, by being much more restrictive about the glasses than it has been with other products, particularly its Android operating system for phones, and controlling the type of apps that developers build.

Analysts said that was largely because Google wanted to introduce the technology to the public slowly, to deal with concerns like privacy.

“Developers are crucial to the future of Glass, and we are committed to building a thriving software ecosystem for them and for Glass users,” Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesman, said in a statement.

To begin, developers cannot sell ads in apps, collect user data for ads, share data with ad companies or distribute apps elsewhere. They cannot charge people to buy apps or virtual goods or services within them.

Many developers said they expected Google to eventually allow them to sell apps and ads. But Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester who studies wearable computing, said Google was smart to limit advertising at first.

“What we find is the more intimate the device, the more intrusive consumers perceive advertising is,” she said. Still, she said many consumers had said they would like to interact with brands on Glass in certain ways, like a bank showing a balance while a user is shopping or a hospital sending test results.

On Tuesday, Google sold its first glasses for $1,500 to developers who had signed up last year.

Some developers said they were disappointed by the limits.

“It gives them a lot of control over the experience,” said Frank Carey, a software developer and computer science graduate student in New Paltz, N.Y. “My hope is they make it as open as possible so that we can really test the limits of what this type of device would look like.”

Mr. Carey built an app at a Google hackathon for taking photos of people you meet at cocktail parties and tagging them with their names and details to discreetely pull up the information when you see them again.

Other developers said it made sense for Google to be more cautious than it was with mobile phones because Glass was always in a user’s field of vision.

“You don’t carry your laptop in the bathroom, but with Glass, you’re wearing it,” said Chad Sahlhoff, a freelance software developer in San Francisco. “That’s a funny issue we haven’t dealt with as software developers.”

Mr. Sahlhoff said he wanted to build apps for carpenters so they could see schematics without lifting their eyes from machines, and for drivers to see the speed limit and points of interest without taking their eyes off the road.

Just as the iPhone ushered in a new wave of computing on mobile phones, Glass could be the beginning of wearable computing becoming mainstream. But the question is whether people are ready to wear computers on their bodies, and to interact with others wearing them.

“Glass could be the next great platform for app development, like the iPhone,” Ms. Epps said. “But the variable is whether consumers will want it or not, and that is a real unknown.”


http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/google-releases-details-about-glass-for-app-developers/
Riaz Haq said…
Coming to Terms With the American Empire

World War II and the Birth of an Empire

The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.

The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to the occupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy.

The United States found itself with an extraordinary empire, which it also intended to abandon. This was a genuine wish and not mere propaganda. First, the United States was the first anti-imperial project in modernity. It opposed empire in principle. More important, this empire was a drain on American resources and not a source of wealth. World War II had shattered both Japan and Western Europe. The United States gained little or no economic advantage in holding on to these countries. Finally, the United States ended World War II largely untouched by war and as perhaps one of the few countries that profited from it. The money was to be made in the United States, not in the empire. The troops and the generals wanted to go home.

--------------

The geography of the American empire was built partly on military relations but heavily on economic relations. At first these economic relations were fairly trivial to American business. But as the system matured, the value of investments soared along with the importance of imports, exports and labor markets. As in any genuinely successful empire, it did not begin with a grand design or even a dream of one. Strategic necessity created an economic reality in country after country until certain major industries became dependent on at least some countries. The obvious examples were Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, whose oil fueled American oil companies, and which therefore — quite apart from conventional strategic importance — became economically important. This eventually made them strategically important.

------------
It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn't an empire, certainly looks like one. Empires can be far from oppressive. The Persians were quite liberal in their outlook. The American ideology and the American reality are not inherently incompatible. But two things must be faced: First, the United States cannot give away the power it has. There is no practical way to do that. Second, given the vastness of that power, it will be involved in conflicts whether it wants to or not. Empires are frequently feared, sometimes respected, but never loved by the rest of the world. And pretending that you aren't an empire does not fool anyone.

The current balancing act in the Middle East represents a fundamental rebalancing of American strategy. It is still clumsy and poorly thought out, but it is happening. And for the rest of the world, the idea that the Americans are coming will become more and more rare. The United States will not intervene. It will manage the situation, sometimes to the benefit of one country and sometimes to another.


https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/coming-terms-american-empire
Riaz Haq said…
US Strategies in the Middle East
Feb. 8, 2017
Washington must choose sides.

By George Friedman Stratfor


https://geopoliticalfutures.com/us-strategies-in-the-middle-east/


From the beginning of American history, the U.S. has used the divisions in the world to achieve its ends. The American Revolution prevailed by using the ongoing tension between Britain and France to convince the French to intervene. In World War II, facing Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union, the United States won the war by supplying the Soviets with the wherewithal to bleed the German army dry, opening the door to American invasion and, with Britain, the occupation of Europe.
Unless you have decisive and overwhelming power, your only options are to decline combat, vastly increase your military force at staggering cost and time, or use divergent interests to recruit a coalition that shares your strategic goal. Morally, the third option is always a painful strategy. The United States asking monarchists for help in isolating the British at Yorktown was in a way a deal with the devil. The United States allying with a murderous and oppressive Soviet Union to defeat another murderous and oppressive regime was also a deal with the devil. George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt both gladly made these deals, each knowing a truth about strategy: What comes after the war comes after the war. For now, the goal is to reach the end of the war victorious.

In the case of the Middle East, I would argue that the United States lacks the forces or even a conceivable strategy to crush either the Sunni rising or Iran. Iran is a country of about 80 million defended to the west by rugged mountains and to the east by harsh deserts. This is the point where someone inevitably will say that the U.S. should use air power. This is the point where I will say that whenever Americans want to win a war without paying the price, they fantasize about air power because it is low-cost and irresistible. Air power is an adjunct to war on the ground. It has never proven to be an effective alternative.
The idea that the United States will simultaneously wage wars in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and emerge victorious is fantasy. What is not fantasy is the fact that the Islamic world, both strategically and tactically, is profoundly divided. The United States must decide who is the enemy. “Everybody” is an emotionally satisfying answer to some, but it will lead to defeat. The United States cannot fight everyone from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush. It can indefinitely carry out raids and other operations, but it can’t win.
To craft an effective strategy, the United States must go back to the strategic foundations of the republic: a willingness to ally with one enemy to defeat another. The goal should be to ally with the weaker enemy, or the enemy with other interests, so that one war does not immediately lead to another. At this moment, the Sunnis are weaker than the Iranians. But there are far more Sunnis, they cover a vast swath of ground and they are far more energized than Iran. Currently, Iran is more powerful, but I would argue the Sunnis are more dangerous. Therefore, I am suggesting an alignment with the Iranians, not because they are any more likable (and neither were Stalin or Louis XVI), but because they are the convenient option.
The Iranians hate and fear the Sunnis. Any opportunity to crush the Sunnis will appeal. The Iranians are also as cynical as George Washington was. But in point of fact, an alliance with the Sunnis against the Shiites could also work. The Sunnis despise the Iranians, and given the hope of crushing them, the Sunnis could be induced to abandon terrorism. There are arguments to be made on either side, as there is in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said…
Meghnad Desai: A country of many nations, will #India break up? #Hindu #Hindi #Beef #Dalit #Muslim #Naga #Tamil Quartz

https://qz.com/1156242/meghnad-desai-a-country-of-many-nations-will-india-break-up/


Excerpts of Baron Meghnad Deai's book "The Raisina Model"

India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalised, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.

The issue, however, is that India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India. It is obviously a large part of India and is contiguous. Of course, ideas of secularism and Hindu nationhood capture the imagination in other parts of India too, but even so, there is a lot of India outside this.

In the agitation to establish Hindi as the sole national language in 1965, India came close to a rupture between the north and the south. It was the Chinese debacle which united the country. But the idea of the south seceding was openly discussed. The north-east is a region which has long felt alienated from what it calls the “mainland.” It has never been woven into the national narrative, just as the south has been ignored. Privileging the Hindu-Muslim divide has left the numerous other minorities and linguistic nations outside the idea of the Indian nation. The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.

But that apart, the idea that beef eating is anathema to Hindus across India is just wrong. Hindus, with the exception of Brahmins, have been known to eat meat, even beef. South Indian Hindus, for example, eat beef. The lower castes and Dalits openly do. Then we come to the tribal people. They have no reason to be deprived of their food sources because some upper caste Hindus in Awadh feel strongly about beef eating.


Across India, Hindus and non-Hindus eat beef. No one has the right to impose a uniform eating culture on others. Just because the BJP has won a large vote in UP, it does not license vigilante attacks on beef eaters. There will be other elections and Indian voters are known for expressing their displeasure through the ballot. The democratic process has bound the different regions and nations together because everyone has a hand in the election of governments.

The idea that India has just two “nations,” Hindu and Muslim, is far too simple.



There are many nations. Across the Dandakaranya are tribes whose names are unknown even to most Indians.

The recent incident at a Delhi club where a woman wearing a north-eastern dress was denied entry as someone in the management decided she was “improperly dressed” tells all. This relative isolation of the peripheral, low-density areas of India is a worry. It has not taken an agitational form as yet. But the integration of the tribal people in India as bona fide citizens has yet to be achieved. The categories of Hindu or Muslim may not apply to them. They may have their own religion, some form of animism or worship of the land. They could be Christians. There are, after all, a number of Christian sects in India as Christianity has been practised in India since the first century ce, before Islam was even preached. The many tribal languages have yet to gain recognition.

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