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Back to the future? Australia’s re-newed relationship with India October 26, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Returning to former Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s policy on uranium exports – to sell to India despite its standing outside the NPT as it still does, emphasises the years lost in negotiating and developing the required agreements and safe-guards, a process yet to commence following Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s brief visit to India in mid-October.

BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam site which contains the largest deposit of uranium on the planet

Uranium sales to India were taken off the bilateral table when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd dropped what has been aptly described as ‘a bomb’ over uranium exports to India, setting the Australia-India relationship back – and further back, following the attacks on Indian students in Australia. (more…)

The unresolved Kashmir dispute: Let the people decide October 25, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

The Kashmir dispute is alive and (un)well, as statements made in September at the United Nations General Assembly by Pakistan’s President Zardari and India’s Foreign Minister Krishna show.  These came almost 65 years after the accession to India by Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).  Singh’s accession on 26 October 1947 was contentious.  He was reluctant to join India or Pakistan as he favoured independence for ‘his’ princely state.  Singh primarily acceded to India in order to obtain military help to defend J&K from Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan who invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October 1947.  Their plan was to capture J&K for Pakistan.  India accepted the accession, promised a plebiscite so the people of J&K could decide their future, then sent its military to J&K.  It secured Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh for India.

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Pakistan government pressured by Imran Khan’s anti-drone rally October 23, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Andrew Manners

Imran Khan’s anti-drone protest march did not reach its final destination, but it may well heap pressure on the Pakistani Government to take a stronger stance against US drone deployments, especially ahead of the 2013 election.

Background

A protest march against US drone strikes in Pakistan, led by former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, ended on 7 October 2012, when authorities prevented the marchers from entering the South Waziristan region. While the march of some 20,000 people failed to reach its final destination, it has renewed pressure on the United States and may force the Pakistani Government to take a stronger stance against US drone attacks, especially ahead of the 2013 election.

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Creative destruction: Schumpeter, Shiva and the great Indian mobile phone October 19, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Doron, Assa, India, Jeffrey, Robin , comments closed

Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey

To explain the unnerving and unstoppable march of capitalism in the mid-20th century, Joseph Schumpeter coined the term ‘Creative Destruction’. Capitalism’s engine was fuelled by a voracious impulse to devour yesterday’s commodities and thus clear the way for new products for the insatiable appetite of the consumer to feed on.

In India, ‘Creative Destruction’ once referred to the cosmological realm occupied by the King of Dancers, Shiva-Nataraj, whose continuous dance of creation and destruction governs the universe. In Nehru’s newly independent India, the idea of inducing consumption for the sake of updating to the newest model was almost sacrilege. During the first few decades of independence, material pursuits were frowned upon, while progress and industrialization were founded on ideals of self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Mobile repair shop in Lucknow's bustling Hazratganj (Credit: A. Doron)

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Mining protest in Andhra Pradesh: silence, then bursts of noise October 16, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Oskarsson, Patrik , comments closed

Patrik Oskarsson

Bauxite mines in the so called Jerrela group of hills received environmental approval by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in 2009 to provide ore for the upcoming aluminium complex of ANRAK Aluminium nearby in the foothills of Visakhapatnam District. But the opposition to mining is significant in the local area with a lot of support in larger civil society as well as from certain parts of the national government such as the Tribal Welfare Minister Kishore Chandra Deo. Despite all statutory clearances having been received, apart from a final approval to remove forest, it is this pressure which continues to prevent the mines from opening or even preparatory work from commencing. A day before our visit to the nearest town Chintapalli and Jerrela in June 2012 Maoists rebels (usually known as Naxalites) had added to the otherwise peaceful protests by beating up road workers who were in the process of widening a road to allow ore trucks to carry their heavy loads from the mines to the refinery.

Protesting CPM activists in front of the APMDC mining office in Chintapalli, Visakhapatnam

Protesting CPM activists in front of the APMDC mining office in Chintapalli, Visakhapatnam. Source: Photo published in the Andhra Pradesh newspaper Eenadu, Visakhapatnam rural edition on 1 July 2012

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The missing and unacknowledged Qurans October 12, 2012

Posted by auriolweigold in : Kumar, Vikas, South Asia - General , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

The Quran has received a lot of attention in recent times. On the one hand, alleged desecrations of the Quran by NATO forces in Afghanistan or citizens of NATO countries have more than once triggered massive protests across the Islamic world. On the other, critics of ‘Islamic’ extremism have tried to trace its roots to the Quran.

The second kind of attention is of interest to us here. Two points are worth noting in this regard. The core Islamic theology cannot be causally related to violence involving Muslims. And, even if portions of the Quran that are not part of the core theology can be linked to religious violence, we need a more nuanced understanding of such links. In the ancient world knowledge was one seamless realm and means of preserving it were scarce. Religious texts often served as intergenerational carriers of whatever communities found worth preserving, including advice on warfare and statecraft. In short, the ‘theological’ roots of complex modern socio-political developments like Islamic terrorism/extremism are nebulous. But there is a largely ignored aspect of the Quran, potentially related to Islamic extremism and religious violence involving Muslims outside the Arab world, which would bear closer examination. (more…)