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Does the Kashmir insurgency offer ISAF any tips? July 30, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , 2comments

Christopher Snedden

Indian paramilitary forces have been trying to end the anti-Indian insurgency in the Kashmir Valley since it began in 1988. Nevertheless, this insurgency continues, with ethnic Kashmiris currently agitated again. Overall, however, casualties are down, tourists have returned in large numbers to the valley, and many Kashmiris are less inclined to support the militancy. This is partly due to war weariness. It also is partly because the alternative of joining Pakistan is relatively unattractive, while independence is totally unattainable. The Kashmir insurgency is very different from what the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confronts in Afghanistan.  Yet there are some similarities from which ISAF could learn some lessons.

First, from the outset of its troubles in the Kashmir Valley, the Indian government’s commitment in Jammu and Kahsmir (J&K) has been open ended. India has never set a date for the departure of its security forces. Repeatedly, it has made it clear that these forces will stay in the valley for ‘as long as it takes’. Conversely, governments reluctantly associated with ISAF want to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible or have suggested dates when exit strategies might commence. This has given the Taliban a powerful reason to conserve their resources and await their enemies’ invariable departure from Afghanistan after which, presumably, they will really assert themselves. (more…)

Who should be Australia’s ICC representative? July 27, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Revo, Rohit , Comment

Rohit Revo

Fears of an Australian Indian confrontation were reignited again last month after John Howard’s bid for Vice President of International Cricket Council, as an Oceania candidate, was rejected. Had John Howard been elected he would have become the President of ICC after two years, when the current President and a powerful Indian cabinet minister Sharad Pawar steps down. However the controversy did not snowball into a media and a diplomatic tug of war, which partly showed how much John Howard is disliked these days even in Australia.

The Australian cricket board erred in its judgment by nominating Howard in the first place over NZ Cricket chairman Sir John Anderson who should have been the first choice as the Australia-NZ nomination for ICC. Howard’s criticism of Sri Lankan spinner Murali was too harsh. Prime Ministers in Asian countries don’t go about berating the sports persons of other countries. The image of John Howard using tough language after the Indian nuclear tests is more etched in Indian minds than John Howard’s decision to sell uranium to India. Remember John Howard’s treatment of Indian doctor Muhamed Haneef to get cheap votes. Howard also adopted an extreme hard line on Zimbabwe. No wonder opposition to John Howard was overwhelming and came from 6 cricketing nations and not just India. His political past would have never allowed him to be consensual candidate. There are just 10 countries which are qualified to play test cricket and a split amongst them would be disastrous for the future of the game. (more…)

K Kamaraj and the Midday Meal Scheme July 25, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Sundaram, Manu , Comment

Manu Sundaram

Kumarasami Kamaraj (1903 – 1975) was a political leader, freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Kamaraj is widely remembered in his home state of Tamil Nadu for the reform policies introduced during his tenure as Chief Minister (from 1954 to 1963) which  revolutionised the education system. In honour of his contribution, the Government of Tamil Nadu has declared that the birthday of Kamaraj (15 July) be celebrated as ‘Education Development Day’.

Kamaraj, admired for his simplicity and integrity, had a long and illustrious political career as Member of Legislative Assembly from 1954 to 1967 and as Member of Parliament initially from 1952 to 1954 and then from 1969 to 1975. He also served as President of Tamil Nadu Congress from 1940 to 1954 and as President of All India Congress from 1963 to 1971.

The story of Kamaraj’s political ascendancy mirrors the socio-political changes in Tamil Nadu. The rise of Kamaraj – a member of the backward Nadar caste – to the highest echelons of the Tamil Nadu politics took place alongside the growth of the Dravidian movement against caste-based oppression and the creation of opportunities for people from downtrodden classes.

As President of the Tamil Nadu Congress, Kamaraj oversaw the election of four Chief Ministers namely T Prakasam, Omandur Ramawamy Reddiar, Kumaraswamy Raja and Rajaji. During the tenure of Rajaji, the Government closed down nearly 6,000 schools citing financial constraints. Furthermore, Rajaji introduced a hereditary-based vocational education scheme which required students to learn the traditional caste occupation of their families. This scheme immediately met with strong opposition from all political quarters and Rajaji was forced to tender his resignation. Following this, Kamaraj was chosen to be the Chief Minister by the Congress Party. (more…)

India’s civil nuclear commerce: a foreign policy context July 23, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , Comment

Auriol Weigold

Media headlines tell the story of India’s wide appeal as a strategic level partner since the negotiations on the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement made way for the legitimisation of India’s status as a nuclear power.

Since the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) granted India a waiver in September 2008, allowing it to engage in nuclear commerce without signing either the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (the only country to be able to do so), the IAEA’s requirements are in place and the almost-final sticking point, the reprocessing agreements, have been finalised. This leaves only India’s Nuclear Liability Act outstanding, affecting civilian American nuclear start-ups at already identified sites.

While the U.S. set the process of resuming global nuclear engagement with India in train, India has civil nuclear energy agreements in place with a number of other countries including Argentina, France, Kazakhstan, Namibia, and the U.K. (more…)

Clinton ‘reads the riot act’ to Pakistan July 21, 2010

Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , Comment

Sandy Gordon

We all know that the US is balancing on a very high wire concerning its South Asia policy, caught between its long-term strategic interests with India and its shorter-term need of Pakistani support for the war in Afghanistan.

Given these circumstances, some of the outspoken comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during and immediately after her recent Pakistan visit are interesting.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani

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When will India attend to Naxalism? July 16, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , Comment

Vikas Kumar, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on June 25th, 2010.

According to the latest estimates, the Indian economy continues to grow at a rate of 8 per cent. But the question of whether this economic growth will create opportunities for all sections of society remains hotly contested.

In 2004, the National Democratic Alliance lost the parliamentary elections to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). This election was largely decided on the question of whether the fruits of economic growth were accessible to the poor, minorities, tribes, and socially underdeveloped communities. UPA subsequently won the 2009 parliamentary elections as well. Yet despite the ascendancy of the Indian centre-left, in the last five years, extreme left-wing insurgency, or Naxalism, which is opposed to the economic policies of New Delhi, has emerged as the single biggest challenge to the Indian state and economy.

This situation is historically unprecedented.

None of India’s historical insurgent movements ever encompassed more than 5 – 6 per cent of the population and area at any one time. By contrast, Naxalism currently affects 25 – 30 per cent of India. The Naxalism-affected areas include about 200 districts in more than 15 provinces. These districts account for almost the entire mineral wealth of India, and are responsible for a large share of India’s electricity generation and forest products. Naxalism has also engulfed two important ports and six major cities including Hyderabad.

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Is China or India ageing better? July 13, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , 1 comment so far

Guest Author: Amitendu Palit, ISAS, Singapore

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on 29 June 2010.

Chinese and Indian demographies will be rather different three decades hence. What kind of economic outcomes are the differences expected to create?

With 1.4 billion and 1.2 billion people respectively, China and India currently account for 37 per cent of the world population. Thirty years later, they are expected to account for roughly the same share of world population. The overall numbers, however, hide some fundamental changes that will have occurred by then.

In another 20 years, India will have caught up with China in terms of population. The UN projections of population indicate that in 2030 the two countries are expected to have around 1.4-1.5 billion people each, with India marginally ahead of China. The period 2025-2030 will be a significant time in terms of China’s demography, with the rate of population growth reducing to zero during that period. By then, China is no longer expected to have net addition to its population. The number of births will match the number of deaths, with the latter gradually overtaking the former to push China into a negative rate of population growth after 2030. This will be the culmination of a remarkable demographic transition in China. It will mark the end of a period comprising almost seven decades during which China will have reduced its rate of growth in population from 2.6 per cent (mid-1960s) to less than zero.

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India ‘Looks East’ as history July 7, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , 3comments

Sandy Gordon

This paper was presented  at a workshop titled ‘India Looks East’ hosted by the Australia India Institute and Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore, at the University of Melbourne, on 4 July 2010.

India’s Look East policy was initiated out of failure: the failure of India’s Cold War strategy of ‘playing both ends against the middle’ while at the same time attempting to adopt a pro-Soviet ‘tilt’; and the failure of India’s command economy, which by 1990 had managed to command only 0.4% of world trade – insufficient to cushion India from the 1989-90 oil shock.  While the collapse of the Soviet Union was no fault of India, it left New Delhi searching for an alternative set of economic and strategic approaches. The ‘Look East’ policy seemed to fit both needs.

India, however, initially had a hard job to claw its way back into those parts of Asia to its east.  ASEAN itself was borne out of concern about an encroaching communist bloc and tempered in the fires of the Vietnam War.  It viewed India’s still clunky economy and former Soviet bloc ‘tilt’ with suspicion. (more…)

John Howard and Australia: India and the World July 6, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , Comment

Brian Stoddart

At three levels the current brouhaha surrounding John Howard’s ‘loss’ of the Vice-Presidency within the International Cricket Council curiously, some might say peculiarly, attests to the superficiality of understanding about the workings of the machine.

Cricket itself provides the first level, because the affair has raised the old debate about the mix between sport and politics.  Howard and his supporters argue that the main players in the ICC and its constituent bodies are ‘politicised’ in that they contain current politicians.  India is the clear target here.  Yet Howard himself pointed to his political career and background as a major reason as to why he would have been a good person for the position.  The double standard stands confirmed when it is remembered that Howard’s nomination for the position from Australia and New Zealand emerged only after what was a formal arbitration/selection process chaired by Sir Rod Eddington who seems magically connected to all sides of the political prism (and who also played cricket for UWA and Oxford).  That was a tight contest with Eddington reportedly saying that the only difference between Howard and his opponent, Sir John Anderson of New Zealand, was that the former Prime Minister had “more time” for the task.  It is clear that had Anderson prevailed he would have walked into the Vice-President’s position, and that Howard’s political background has proved a stumbling block. (more…)

Kevin Rudd’s casualty to friendly fire: New Delhi’s concerns July 1, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Stoddart, Brian , Comment

Ashutosh Misra

On Thursday morning just when the Australia was coming to grips with the exit of Socceroos from the world cup, another drama was unfolding in Canberra which eventually led to the unprecedented exit of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from power. The drama marked a ‘first’ on many counts. While the Mandarin speaking Kevin Rudd earned the distinction of being the first Prime Minister to lose office even before his tenure came to an end, his deputy for four years, Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia to be sworn in by the first female Governor General Quentin Bryce. Wayne Swan, the treasurer was declared the Deputy Prime Minister

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In an extraordinary turn of events Prime Minister Rudd held discussions with the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Julia Gillard at a meeting on Wednesday 23 June and at about 10.30 that evening Rudd addressed the media and announced that a leadership ballot would be held the following morning. It is believed that sensing the lack of support within the ALP caucus, Kevin Rudd rejected the idea of ballot voting and instead offered to step down. Julia Gillard’s explanation in her first press conference as Prime Minister elect was the she had to step in to take charge of the situation because ‘a good government was losing its way…and the Rudd government did not do what it should have done and at times lost track’. It was a strong statement which vindicated the opposition criticism of the policies of the Rudd Government in which Julia Gillard herself has been a leading figure.  (more…)