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Mining the politics of corruption July 29, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

Retired Supreme Court Justice and now Karnataka Ombudsman (Lokayukta) Santosh Hegde has just lobbed a political bomb on the desks of that state’s Governor and Chief Secretary.  The bomb takes the form of a 25, 288 page report (943 pages of findings plus annexures) into illegal iron ore mining that, among other things, involved the arbitrary shifting of state boundary pegs between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in order to privilege some miners.

The most spectacular finding is that Hegde has recommended charges be laid against the current BJP  Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa on the grounds that his family received kickbacks from the illegal miners to the tune of Rs 30 crore (approximately $US 6.7 million).  Another former Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, is also set to have charges laid against him – Kumaraswamy formed the breakaway Janata Dal (Secular) backed by the BJP to take power briefly in 2006-7.  There is no rapport between Yeddyurappa and Kumaraswamy, the latter earlier this year describing his successor as a drunkard and a stray dog with lots of bark and no bite.  The mining issue has really eaten into the substance of state politics. (more…)

Reshaping India-Australia Relations July 22, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Revo, Rohit , comments closed

Rohit Revo

Rohit Revo is the Editor of  THE INDIAN publication (www.theindian.net.au) and also hosts a blog website at www.rohitrevo.com.au

There has been speculation that the relationship between this region’s largest democracies, India and Australia has lost its political traction and that the Labor government has had a different perception of the relationship, thanks to Kevin Rudd. The post-Howard era has seen a steady decline in interest of the top leadership towards each other. The banal and text book policy approach adopted by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has caused enormous damage to this bilateral relationship, caused Australia to forgo billions of dollars in lost uranium sales and eroded a huge amount of goodwill. His one-dimensional foreign policy fixation towards China has caused more harm than good.

At this moment there is also huge inertia in the Indian foreign ministry to establish a strategic partnership with Australia as it does not want to concentrate its limited foreign policy resources on a relationship which is refusing to peak. India is instead focussing more on US, Europe and Japan. The flurry of visits of Indian ministers into Australia has largely been symbolic and has not yielded any big announcements. The nature and size of partnerships announced during these visits is miniscule as compared to the deals signed by Indian ministers when they visit even smaller European countries.


India’s reprocessing revisited: the NSG’s new guidelines July 21, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

The forty-six member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed on 24 June to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR) that, at first glance, may affect India’s nuclear agreement with the United States.

The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes being used in nuclear weapon making.  To this end a raft of regulations bar the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that have not signed or do not comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and do not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full inspection rights and safeguards to be put in place.  India has IAEA approval for its commercial nuclear program, but remains outside the NPT although its nonproliferation record has NSG recognition.

Then US Secretary of State Rice introducing the 123 Agreement


Telangana redux July 15, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

It is now approaching two years since Home Minister P. Chidambaram, clumsily, at least seemed to offer up the idea that the Union Government would sanction formal recognition of Telangana and carve it out of Andhra Pradesh, India’s first specifically linguistic-based state. All round uproar surrounded the announcement: Telangana supporters wanted immediate action, the Rayalaseema region inside Andhra Pradesh reprised its case; the all-Andhra groups protested. From the Manmohan Singh government’s viewpoint there was immediate political fallout because Andhra Pradesh provided a key electoral base for its very existence, and now several of those members were compromised by this development.

The immediate response was to hive the issue off to the inevitable inquiry, this one headed by Justice B. N. Srikrishna who had earlier led investigations into the Mumbai riots and the Madras High Court riots. While his committee worked away, on the ground demonstrations, strikes, boycotts and the full range of oppositional political activities developed.


China, India: defence co-operation rapprochement offers potential for regional stability July 13, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article was first posted in Future Directions International on 29 June 2011


China and India have recommenced bilateral defence co-operation and exchanges, after nearly a year’s suspension since an Indian lieutenant-general was refused a visa to enter China in July 2010. The eight-member Indian delegation was headed by a major-general. It visited China from 19-23 June and engaged in discussions with Chinese officials in Beijing.


Karzai visit further strengthens Afghanistan-Iran ties July 8, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article first appeared in Future Directions International on 6 July 2011.


In another sign of growing ties between Afghanistan and Iran, Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended the Iranian-sponsored conference on counterterrorism co-operation in Tehran on 25-26 June, which was also attended by the Presidents of Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan and Tajikistan. The visit was indicative of the strengthening relations between Afghanistan and Iran, which share a 936-kilometre border, and see themselves as increasingly important to each other’s long-term interests.


Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar: the forgotten free market economist! July 1, 2011

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


On the 14 of April 2011, the Dalit community celebrated the one hundred and twentieth birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar for all possible reasons except for being a radical economist of his time, and that too a free market economist! In fact, several scholars have claimed otherwise, the most recent of them being Anand Teltumbde (Economic and Political Weekly, March 5, 2011), who said:

The protagonists of globalisation have tried to project him [Ambedkar] as a proponent of the free-market … Ambedkar, who publicly professed his opposition to capitalism throughout his life, was thus willfully distorted to be the supporter of neoliberal capitalism.

It is indeed a tragedy that some commentators continue to portray Ambedkar as an intellectual who wrote against capitalism and free markets, and advocated socialism. But a few well informed writers like Gail Omvedt have claimed otherwise. Ironically, one of the reasons for the prevailing misconception is Ambedkar’s own scholarship. With scholarly contributions in political science, sociology, law, and other fields spanning over four decades, much of his work on economics has been neglected.

The young Ambedkar