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India’s deepening relations with Japan February 26, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Guest Author: Nabeel Mancheri, Jawaharlal Nehru University

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on 25 February 2010.

The Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi on 29 December 2009 marked a stepping stone in the relationship between India and Japan. During the summit, Dr. Yukio Hatoyama and Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Ministers of Japan and India respectively, held discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues and reaffirmed that Japan and India share common values and strategic interests. They pledged to further develop their Strategic and Global Partnership in an effort to strengthen their bilateral relations and ensure peace and prosperity throughout the region and the world.

Until the 1990s, the relationship between India and Japan had been highly asymmetrical. The Cold War created a strategic-political void between the two countries. Economically, India was too inward-looking to be of any great interest to Japan. The post cold-war realities, however, have been forging new strategic bonds.


India’s growing problem with illicit drugs February 18, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

Readers of reports on the Pune bombing of the German Bakery will have noted that the venue was an alleged source of illicit drugs for foreigners. This is nothing new for India: the country has long been at the crossroads of drugs supply between the sources in South East and South West Asia and consuming foreign adventurers – once know as ‘hippies’, now called ‘backpackers’.  It seems, however, that India’s crime problem with drugs may be taking on a new, more sinister dimension.

Crime statistics in India, such as they are, do not tell the whole story concerning governance, crime and violence.  There is evidence that India’s crime problem is seriously under-reported, and worse, that this under-reporting occurs in part due to a loss of faith in policing in India.

It is impossible to know the extent of under-reporting of crime in any country, but there are ways we can explore the data to give an indication of the dimension of the problem.  Crime victim surveys are a useful tool in this regard, but are not sufficiently developed in the Indian context to enable us to draw country-wide conclusions.  One survey of four major cities in Tamil Nadu (notably a state with more effective policing than many others) found that “many crimes occurring in India are not reported and that police [crime] figures are only the tip of the iceberg.” (K. Chockalingham, ‘Criminal Victimization in Four Major Cities in Southern India’, Forum on Crime and Society, Vol. 3, Nos. 1 and 2, December 2003, p. 125). A victimisation survey of Rajasthan conducted by MIT on behalf of the Rajasthan Police found that only 29 per cent of crimes were ever reported, and that, of those that were, only 72 per cent received a First Information Report (FIR – the vehicle for setting the legal process in motion). Nevertheless, we need also to note that the more serious the crime (such as murder) the more likely it is to be reported. (more…)

India: Anna and the Dravidian Movement February 15, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Sundaram, Manu , comments closed

Manu Sundaram

Let Tamil be your dream of victory, let Tamil culture be your armour,

Let wisdom be your weapon. Let virtue be your guide and companion.

C.N. Annadurai (Former Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu)

C.N. Annadurai (or Anna for short), regarded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as one of the country’s finest Parliamentarians, was a stalwart of the Dravidian Movement. To his supporters and followers he was known as “Arignar Anna” (Arignar in Tamil means genius) for his outstanding intellect and razor- sharp wit. He was also the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu when he led his party to victory in the state assembly alections in 1967. Arignar Anna’s tenure as Chief Minister was all too brief: he died, while still in office, in 1969.  But during this stint, he managed to elevate and embolden the Dravidian Movement like no other leader.

The Dravidian Movement first started as a social reformist struggle against caste-based discriminatory practices in India during the 1920s. After Independence, the Union Government of India started phasing out English and instituting Hindi has the official language. Protesting against this, the leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) took to the streets to register their opposition. Students and activists turned up in great numbers in response to the clarion calls of Arignar Anna and other Dravidian leaders. Renowned for his oratorical eloquence and leadership abilities, Arignar Anna held numerous meetings and demonstrations to fight against the imposition of Hindi on the Tamil speaking population in the South. During one such meeting, Arignar Anna was told of the argument that Hindi should be made the official language due to its “numerical superiority” as it was spoken by the majority of Indians. To this, Arignar Anna responded: “If we had to accept the principle of numerical superiority while selecting our national bird, the choice would have fallen not on the peacock but on the common crow. Why should we then claim the tiger as our national animal instead of the rat which is so much more numerous?” (more…)

Sri Lanka: shed a tear for the teardrop island February 11, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

While no reasonable person would shed too many tears for the passing of the Tamil Tigers (except for the number of civilian deaths involved), we should, perhaps, shed some tears for Sri Lanka itself.

A generation ago Sri Lanka had an ambition to become another ‘Asian Tiger’.  And it had every prospect of so doing had not the vicious civil war intervened.

Since then, much has changed.  The Sri Lankan economy, beset by the costs and instabilities of war, has not expanded as hoped.  At least some of the ‘Asian Tigers’, such as Taiwan and South Korea, have liberalised their political dispositions.  Others, like Singapore and Malaysia, still run relatively ‘controlled’ versions of democracy. (more…)

FEATURE ARTICLE: Curry bashing? A Racist Australian Underbelly and the Education Industry February 6, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : D'Costa, Bina, Features, India, South Asia - General , comments closed

Bina D’Costa

Nitin Garg had arrived in Australia from Jagraon, in the northern Indian state of Punjab, expecting a promising future. Three years later, as a permanent resident and with a postgraduate degree in Commerce he left for India in a body bag. By the time the next ‘breaking news’ occurs, his violent death will be forgotten. But for his mother, his 98 year old grandfather and his siblings, Nitin’s violent stabbing at West Footscray in Melbourne will be forever remembered with the tears of losing a loved one and the guilt for making the decision to send him to the West, which is assumed to be safer than India. Nitin and perhaps his whole family’s future relied on his endurance, even if dreadfully lonely, in an alien metropolis. The south-eastern state of Victoria, one of the most multicultural locations in the world, is where 21 year old Nitin died alone on 2 January 2010. Violent deaths and assaults like his stabbing, racially motivated or not, have consequences, not only in political terms but for personal lives. (more…)

India: Mr Chidambaram’s security ‘revolution’ February 2, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

In a far-ranging speech on 23 December, the Indian Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, outlined his vision for India’s ongoing internal security reforms.  Mr Chidambaram has been in the position just one year.  In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks now known in India as 26/11, he had been briefed by the Prime Minister to fix up India’s arcane internal security structure in light of its poor performance at the time of the attacks. Since, he has been engaged in strenuous efforts to create a viable internal security architecture out of India’s complex federal structure and Byzantine layers of bureaucracy.

Reforms to date or those planned and announced in the speech of 23 December would amount to a virtual ‘revolution’ in India’s internal security architecture if fully implemented.

The reforms include: (more…)