Dr. Adityanjee 

Dr. A Adityanjee, CSA President & Chairperson, Board of Directors, Cleveland, OH, USA


November 2023


Rattled some Western right wing political commentators like Isabel Oakeshott to write an opinion piece in The Telegraph demanding that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shelve any efforts to have a free trade agreement with Bharat. She decried that India is not a true democracy and their new friend is Russia! Her argument is that Modi is a best friend of Putin, the dictator. Using the same logic, perhaps, Margaret Thacher was the best friend with Pakistani dictator General Zia Ul-Haq! Isabel Oakeshott accuses Bharat of being more concerned about money than values. She does not realize that the US and UK supped with the worst dictators in the world. Both these countries condoned the Tiananmen Square brutal killing of democracy activists and students in China by the PLA. 

Where was the talk of values then, my dear? Where were the values of US and UK in 1971 when a genocide was being committed in Bangladesh by their blue-eyed boy Pakistan? The former USSR came to help Bharat during those trying times! The relationship between Russia and Bharat is not new. It is a time-tested relationship between the two nations and friendship between two peoples.

Introduction to new agreements to bond Bharat Russia Relations

Recently concluded five days visit on December 29th, 2023, of the external affairs minister Dr. S Jayashankar to Russia friend-sized the neglected bilateral relationship. Both optics and chemistry of the visit seemed to be good. He not only met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, but also the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov. There is more optimism now and compliments were very effusive.

President Putin chose to have a meeting with India’s EAM on a small and cozy round table and formally invited the Prime Minister Modi to visit Russia in 2024. It is said that, The Indian-Russian bilateral trade is growing and is expected to top $50 billion in 2023 because of energy purchases by Bharat despite western sanctions on Russia. With several bilateral agreements signed there is also a talk of Bharat building more nuclear power units in the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu with Russian assistance and in addition, Russian also floated a proposal for joint weapons production in Bharat.

In latest visit to Russia, Dr. Jayashankar mentioned that New Delhi was keen to sign a bilateral investment treaty with Russia as well as a free trade agreement with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Outlined Scenarios of Bharat & Russia relations and agreements 

Soviet Dis-Union, CIS and the CSTO: After dissolution of the former Soviet Union, a nebulous arrangement called CIS-Commonwealth of Independent States was created. It was never a unified entity like the Soviet Union. There was a new security arrangement, CSTO (Collective Security Treaty organization) among six post-soviet states, replacing the old Warsaw Pact which was also dissolved. But the CIS and CSTO never had any influence in international affairs. While Bharat had good relations with the USSR, during the Yeltsin era, the relationship with Russian Federation nose-dived. Boris Yeltsin was a known alcoholic, and his sole aim was to continue to stay in power and find a successor who would not prosecute him for corruption. Yeltsin years witnessed not only the humiliation of Russia and other Slavic countries but also the nose-diving of time-tested relationship with Bharat. Yeltsin tolerated the US contrived forced break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Yeltsin did not utter a word during the Madeliene’s (Albright) war and bombing of civilians in Serbia for 78 days. Yeltsin wanted to ingratiate his western handlers and neglected relations with Bharat. Western sanctions on Bharat were supported by Yeltsin led Russia. Cryogenic engines were denied to Bharat under Western influence causing delay in the Agni missile program.

Primakov Doctrine & the RIC Trilateral: Former Russian Prime Minister and foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in late 1990s had enunciated the Primakov doctrine. One of the pillars was creating a multipolar world. Primakov also visualized Russia, China, and India (RIC) trilateral working together to manage the sole hyperpower in a unipolar world. China was beholden to the US at that time and was lukewarm to the idea. However, after Chinese accession to the WTO in 2001, China started a predatory mercantile policy. Emboldened by the economic success, predatory mercantilism, and massive foreign exchange cash reserves, it became the votary of the RIC trilateral process. In the mid-2000s, China became a strong votary of the RIC trilateral with Russian acquiescence.

BRICS, SCO, Eurasian Union and beyond: Both the BRICS and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) are China’s alternative geopolitical institutions to replace the US hegemony. Russia is a junior partner in both these groupings along with Bharat. China hijacked the Indian initiative of the New Development Bank (The BRICS Bank) and got it headquartered in Shanghai. Russian sponsored Eurasian economic union (EAEU) does not have the economic teeth and has not fulfilled the true potential. The EAEU has an integrated single market. As of 2023, it consists of only 183 million people and a GDP of over $2.4 trillion, much less than that of Bharat. Time has come for Russia to look beyond these mechanisms and embrace Bharat for an economic relationship.

Russia as a junior Partner of China in post-Ukraine war: Russia has, indeed, emerged as a junior partner of China in the post-Ukraine war era. While Chinese strongman Xi Jinping professes all weather relationship with Russia, he will not get involved directly in this war in Ukraine. Russia is heavily sanctioned and a pariah state as far as the West is concerned. China will facilitate Russia duking out US and NATO in Ukraine for an extended period, exhausting both the parties. That helps China to build up its military muscle eventually to take over Taiwan, Senkaku islands and all the islands and shoals in the South Champa Sea, West Philippines sea and the North Natuna sea. How convenient is that for the shrewd dragon! China is also learning from Russian mistakes in Ukraine and is not likely to start a hot conflict in Taiwan in the next couple of years.

Chinese intentions in Russian Far East and Siberia: Chinese dragon’s appetite for land is voracious. It is seeking to Sinicize Russia’s Far East and the Siberian region which is distinct from the European landmass of Russia. The dragon’s lust for land is still not fulfilled with occupying Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang). The same formula of demographic invasion of Russian Far East is in the offing presenting a fait accompli to Russia in 50 years’ time. Xi Jinping is leading Russia to a garden path of eventually becoming a vassal state of China.

Challenging the Dialogue 

What Russia should do? Russia should ensure that the war with Ukraine is brought to a logical conclusion soon enough. It should not become a quagmire like Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that lasted more than a decade with disastrous consequences for the USSR. Putin should not become another political re-incarnation of Leonid Brezhnev. Russia also needs to give security guarantees to the Baltic republics that they would not be invaded in exchange for neutrality vis-à-vis NATO. Though Finland has been de-Finlandized, three Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania should be Finlandized to bring some peace and stability in Russia’s European flanks.

Russia should again re-emerge as a responsible state in the comity of nations and not perceived as a war-mongering behemoth. The generic West (including US and NATO) does not understand that the real threat to world peace is from China, not Russia. Russia needs to distance herself from the rising hegemon China instead of taking short-term comfort from Chinese economic help. Russia should stop transfer of technology to China whether regarding nuclear ballistic missiles or SSBNs or fighter aircrafts.

Bharat as the savior? Bharat is marching towards a $5 trillion economy that is three times the size of Russian economy. Bharat can play a role in bringing détente between Russia and the US on one hand and Russia and the EU on the other hand. The deep distrust between Europeans and Russians can be managed with the diplomatic efforts of Bharat in a new oligo-polar world.

Bharat can provide adequate human resources to Russia as there is shortage of workers in Russia. Russian factories need not be shut down in 2024 for shortage of skilled workers. Russia can build factories in Bharat because of the advantage of cheap labor. Bharat can assist Russia in providing more disciplined and law-abiding workers in the Russian Far East and Siberia instead of Russia welcoming Chinese immigrants in those regions. Bharat can also provide service personnel to Russia in computer sciences, information technology and other fields.

Fostering more people to people (P2P), business to business (B2B) and government to government (G2G) relations between Bharat and Russia will prevent Russia from inadvertently sliding into a fatal Chinese embrace. Bilateral trade between Russia and Bharat should be increased many folds and should go beyond energy and defense acquisition. Russia must import “Made in India” fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), durable goods, household appliances, mobile phones etc.to replace the Western brands thereby helping to balance the trade imbalance.


However, To Conclude, In essence Bharat has the fortitude and capability of saving Russia from the slow strangulation to death by the dragon. When will Russian bear realize this? When will the West remove blinkers from its eyes and acknowledge that the true enemy is Communist China, and not Russia?

ONE BHARAT, ONE CITIZENSHIP – Dialogue of Dual Citizenship

December 2023


Bharat, that was India, is a civilizational state. There are very few civilizational states currently. Some have disappeared from the face of the earth. The mighty Persian state has gone, replaced by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mayan and Incan civilizations are extinct. Civilizations don’t die. They commit suicide. No one wants Bharat to commit civilizational suicide. That will happen exactly if Bharat were to approve dual citizenship. Indian constitution does not allow for dual citizenship. There has been chatter in official circles about deliberations on approving dual citizenship for Bharat. Some of it is encouraged or triggered by the Indian business groups and by the non-resident Indian lobby.

Dr. S. Jaishankar while interacting with entrepreneurs at the TAKEPRIDE 2023 summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) stated that there are challenges to the notion of dual citizenship in Bharat while the debate is still going on. There are economic arguments as well as philosophical arguments in favor of approving dual citizenship in Bharat.

Introduction to Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Human migration is a complex, multi-determined process ongoing for thousands of years and it cannot be controlled or stopped as it is dependent on a multitude of factors that include demographic, economic, religious, climatic, wars, famines etc. However that said, citizenship is a tightly regulated legal process by the Westphalian nation state that has bearing on the national security.

Philosophically speaking, if Bharat’s motto is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, there is no reason not to grant dual citizenship. Liberal argument would be to allow dual citizenship to anyone who has relinquished Indian citizenship because the borders don’t matter. Emotionally, this is a seemingly correct liberal approach but rationally it would open a can of worms.

Historically, persons of Indian origin (PIOs) were taken as indentured laborers by the British colonialists to their former colonies to work in the sugarcane farms and rubber plantations. Most of the NRIs who left Bharat are arguably economic migrants. Others went for higher studies abroad and got jobs overseas and chose to stay there. Some could not get jobs or academic placements locally in Bharat because of a culture of corruption, connections, and caste-based reservations. Since the transfer of power happened in 1947, the new rulers of Bharat adopted a regime of license, permit and quotas that did not encourage innovation or fair play, forcing citizens of Bharat to migrate abroad looking for opportunities that were not available locally. There is also a recent concern that many high-net-worth Indians (HNWIs) have chosen to give up Indian citizenship and acquired foreign citizenship for tax purposes.

Recent Statistics claim that as many as 6,500 high-net-worth Indians are likely to leave Bharat in 2023, according to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023. This makes Bharat the second-highest country in terms of HNWI outflow, with China taking the lead with a net loss of 13,500 individuals. The report reveals that the top destinations for HNWI migration in 2023 are predicted to be Australia, the UAE, Singapore, and the US. Allowing dual citizenship will probably prevent such individuals from relinquishing Indian citizenship.

Having dual taxation agreements with some key countries can prevent this partially. Countries like the US, tax their citizens on their worldwide income. Hence, dual citizenship will not help such individuals because taxation rates in the US are high. There is an ongoing global discussion about some countries making money by selling their Golden passports and citizenship to high-net-worth individuals by investment schemes for citizenship.

A recent book by Kristin Surak suggests a $4 billion industry of worldwide network of lawyers, consultants and advisors who facilitate investment migration by selling such golden passports to millionaires. In fact, the US spearheaded this new phenomenon much earlier by starting a program of granting green cards by investment that leads to path to US citizenships after five years. Wars, political stability, higher taxes, and personal freedom to travel have always been key reasons for millionaires to migrate.

The priorities of high-net-worth individuals are metamorphosing to their children’s prospects, the quality of their lives, and the legacies they leave. Wealthy Indians want to ensure that their children get higher education in top-notch academic institutions to pave the way for their success instead of being rejected locally in Bharat owing to caste-based reservations. 

Narayan Murthy famously stated in a CBS 60 Minute interview that it is more difficult to get admission in an IIT as compared to the MIT. HNWIs from war-torn countries always look for safe havens where they can raise their families. Half of the population of Ukraine has emigrated owing to the war. HNWIs are looking to migrate to places that are more resilient to climate change and that offer a good quality of life. Such economic citizenship may suit these persons temporarily, but such betrayal must not be rewarded by granting dual citizenship provisions.

To point a dialogue, The likes of Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, and Mihul Choksi who fled Bharat after committing white collar economic crimes and embezzling bank loans should not be beneficiaries of dual citizenship.
Mother India lost her independence because of betrayal by domestic actors like Raja Jaichand, Raja Man Singh and Mir Jafar. There are serious security risks to Bharat as there are enemies states next door. People of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins should not be routinely able to acquire dual citizenship of Bharat owing to the grave security risk they pose. Similarly, one would not approve the agents of foreign intelligence agencies, like David Headly (Doud Gelani), Tahawwur Rana and Patwant Singh Pannun to be able to acquire dual citizenship of Bharat.  Similarly, there are too many enemies and strategic adversaries of Bharat and they may exploit the granting policy of dual citizenship making them to open the flood gates, creating a vacuum scenario and run the scheme quote dry.

We Bharat are already facing Chinese intelligence agents masquerading as Tibetan refugees in Bharat. China has managed to bribe Indian journalists into writing favorable media articles and provide sensitive information. We have had bad experiences with espionage operations by superpowers trapping intelligence personnel like Rabinder Singh and Colonel Ratan Sahgal. During the nineteen seventies, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi raised a serious concern that a cabinet member was working for a foreign intelligence agency. Declassification of the infamous Mitrokhin archives from the now defunct USSR’s KGB records suggests that Indian government was seriously compromised because of the bribes paid by the KGB to the ruling party functionaries and numerous leftist organizations. Intelligence operatives of another super-power admitted their role in assassination of former Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri and renowned nuclear scientist Dr. Homi J Bhabha to prevent India from becoming a nuclear power.

In the last fifteen years, hundreds of nuclear scientists have died in India for unexplained reasons. Incidentally, the cook of the Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri allegedly responsible for poisoning him; Tashkent fled to Pakistan and was being paid his pension by the Government of India. It might become easier for these foreign intelligence agencies to maintain and sustain their espionage operations routinely in Bharat if dual citizenship were to be allowed. Every counter-espionage action of monitoring agencies will lead to law-suites in the Supreme Court about discrimination and harassment on grounds of dual citizenship. Once dual citizenship is allowed, can one ever prevent a dual citizen from claiming the high constitutional posts like Prime Minister or President of the republic? Usually, the precedent of the US in allowing dual citizenship is invoked while advocating for the same in Bharat. In the US, that allows for dual citizenship, only a natural born citizen can become the President. Make no mistakes, the US with its strong-arm tactics and power for extra-territorial prosecutions can force other nations to extradite anyone for its own national security needs. Bharat is not in that league, yet. The “whole birther” movement instigated by Donald Trump was to deny legitimacy to Barak Hussain Obama from becoming the President. Similarly, doubts were cast on Senator Ted Cruz when he was contesting primaries again Donald Trump. Politicians like Governor Jennifer Granholm and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could not hope to become the US president because of foreign birth/origin. Countries like the US allow dual citizenship and traditionally encourage migration from other countries. Interestingly, the US also taxes heavily its own citizens who want to relinquish their US citizenship and must pay a whopping 28% of their estate’s value to leave the country and relinquish US citizenship.

In Bharat also, this issue of birth of origin came to the fore when Antonia Maino (aka Sonia Gandhi) was tom-toming her credentials to become the Prime Minister of the Republic with the famous statement “Two Seventy-Two” after Vajpayee government was defeated by one vote in a no-confidence motion! Dual citizenship will allow Manchurian candidates to usurp the high political offices in Bharat while pulling the strings for their masters sitting abroad. There are serious questions about dual citizenship of a leading politician of an opposition party in Bharat who spends perhaps more time abroad than in Bharat under questionable circumstances. It is pertinent to question as to how these trips abroad are financed in the absence of any legitimate source of income. The question will inevitably arise; dual citizenship for whom? Will it be only for PIOs and NRIs or for any Tom, Doud or Hui?

We saw the specter of hordes of young Muslim males from West Asia descending upon western Europe in a preplanned manner to colonize Europe and alter demography. Conceivably, we could see a similar situation in Bharat. We already have millions of Bangladeshis, Afghans and Rohingya Muslims illegally squatting in Bharat. While the government of India still has not been able to implement the CAA for the persecuted minorities from India’s near abroad, there is no sense opening the flood gates of potential immigrants under dual citizenship scheme. There is already a mechanism for people of Indian origin (PIOs) to have the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards and the NRI credit cards. Benefits of the OCI card are threefold: i) Multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India; (ii) Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and (iii) Parity with NRIs in financial, economic, and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

To end the dialogue in right of vote and run for office; OCI cardholders, unlike NRIs, cannot vote in Indian elections and cannot run for high constitutional offices. And there is no rational reason why PIOs having relinquished Indian citizenship and would like to vote & run for higher offices in Bharat


However, To Conclude,  A bridge to dual citizenship from OCI cards is being talked about by the Government of India. It is advisable to take a more restrained and conservative viewpoint instead of succumbing to the demands by a rich NRI and PIO lobbies or for that matter by the CII or FICCCI for their demand of dual citizenship as it is likely to prove inimical to national interests. Mother India cannot be subjected to the betrayal by fifth columnists under control of the foreign spying agencies. Government of India must not become an inadvertent ally of the enemies of the nation by approving a dubious dual citizenship scheme.

To contest the thought, Dual citizenship is not beneficial for Mother India. There is only one Bharat and there should be only one citizenship in Bharat. If you stand on two stools, you are liable to fall. Let us save Mother India from the perils of dual citizenship and fifth columnists while there is still time.

VENEZUELIZATION OF GUYANA? – The Dialogue of Dictatorship and Sovereignty of a Country

December 2023


Nicolas Maduro is facing elections again in 2024 and is known to be deeply unpopular in Venezuela. He was noted and known to have won two presidential terms earlier in disputed and rigged elections that were highly questioned by international observers. Since 2015, seven million Venezuelans have left the country out of a total population of 28 million. The only issue on which Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition agree is annexation of Essequibo province of Guyana. By invoking jingoistic fervor and nationalistic passions in Venezuela, Maduro is trying to win the third term that otherwise would be elusive. Hence the timing of the sham referendum in Venezuela on December 3rd, 2023! It was a tactical move by Maduro to improve his winnability in 2024 elections. Maduro government claims that 95% of the Venezuelan people voted for the referendum but international observers question the results and the level of participation.

Introduction to International Community & Flawed Politician

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” ,said a famous English lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson in 1775. A deeply flawed politician, in a deeply flawed election in a deeply dysfunctional country claimed to have won the presidential elections with the help of institutionalized rigging. The international community questioned the authenticity of the elections and at present that deeply flawed politician is facing another presidential election in the year 2024. Aware that he is facing huge unpopularity, he is taking recourse to the time-tested route. That aphorism by Dr. Samuel Johnson seems to be true for Nicolas Maduro, the dictator cum President of Venezuela.

To Further the dismay of  Venezuelization of Guyana

The issue of sovereignty of the Essequibo province is sub-judice in the International Court of Justice in the Hague. The ICJ earlier dismissed Venezuela’s appeal in April 2023 regarding lack of jurisdiction of the court in this dispute. The 1899 arbitration panel clearly voted in favor of Guyana and since then the sparsely populated Essequibo province is part of Guyana and constitutes 2/3rd of Guyana’s landmass. Since discovery of oil offshore in that province, Guyana has become an oil exporter with almost 14 billion barrels of oil reserves compared to 304 billion barrels of oil reserves of Venezuela.

The match between Guyana and Venezuela is akin to the proverbial David versus Goliath story. The entire population of Guyana is only 800,000 with only125,000 Guyanese citizens living in the Essequibo province. 

Venezuela is much bigger country with a population of 28 million.

Venezuelan armed forces have 343,000 soldiers on active duty while Guyana Defense Forces are a puny 5000 strong contingent. 

There is no way currently for Guyana to deal with a military invasion of the Essequibo province and although the terrain of Essequibo province is very inhospitable and full of dense jungles. Analysts suggest that it is very difficult to invade, one cannot rule out this possibility. After all, Maduro is learning very fast from his socialist and leftist friends internationally. Likewise, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has distracted the US. The Hamas Israeli war is already the current focus of international attention and because of the international oil market issues, US under Biden administration relaxed the sanctions of Venezuela which can export oil again in international market.

Venezuela’s other Communist friend China has increased its belligerence in relation to the Philippines over Scarborough shoals, with Japan over Senkaku islands and with many ASEAN countries by claiming the entire South China Sea as its private lake. Maduro is trying to ape both Putin and Xi Jinping in its aggressive postures towards Guyana

Fortunately, both Caricom and the Organization of American States (OAS) have taken strong exception to Venezuelan brinksmanship. The International Court of Justice while not commenting on the referendum has castigated Venezuela about employing military means to occupy Essequibo and the final verdict in the case in the ICJ, will still take more than a couple of years. The regional power Brazil has tried to mediate between the two countries without any results and US which historically invoked the Monroe doctrine in the nineteenth and twentieth century in favor of Venezuela is now forced to support Guyana’s moral and legal case in this dispute. Support has also come from the former colonial power, UK, that is strongly in favor of Guyana’s case. The bilateral meeting between Guyanese President Mohammad Irfan Ali and Nicolas Maduro did not resolve the issue despite the rhetoric to maintain peace. Guyanese President Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro agreed to meet again in Brazil within three months or at another agreed-upon time; Last Thursday, according to an 11-point declaration read at a press briefing it was mentioned that no questions were allowed and 

To interpret the dialogue of no questions

Maduro should not forget to learn from the lessons of history. We know what happened to Iraq under Saddam Hussain when it invaded Kuwait in 1991 and claimed it to be its 31st province. UNSC authorized a multilateral coalition of the willing that reversed the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

To point the resolve, Guyana has very limited options but it can try to improve the racial harmony in the country and unify the muti-ethnic nation with a strong voice against aggression by the neighboring giant. That said, Guyana does hold the highest oil reserves per capita in the world and comparing barrels of oil reserves with Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia has 1900 barrels per person, Guyana has 3900 barrels per person. While, the oil wealth can be used to improve the level of development, standard of living and eliminate poverty from Guyana and prevent exodus of its Indo-Guyanese population to the US and other regional countries; Guyana should focus on increasing its comprehensive national strength, modernizing and mantling up its minuscule armed forces. 

Efforts must be made to make Guyanese armed forces multi-ethnic to resolve domestic conflict between various ethnicities and racial groups. They should also consider out of box solutions like entering in bilateral or plurilateral friendship and mutual assistance treaties with non-colonial countries like Brazil, Argentina and India as a deterrence to invasion by Venezuela.


However, To Conclude,  More likely, Venezuela will keep the pressure on Guyana short of a full-scale invasion. Venezuela has already started to offer its own citizenship and identity cards to the Guyanese citizens living in the Essequibo province. Venezuela will soon start a wave of migration to the Essequibo province changing the demography of the province in its favor. In the long run, a small country like Guyana will not be able to resist the changed demography of the Essequibo province. Will Essequibo province remain part of Guyana or become Venezuelized eventually is an important question of geopolitical significance in that region. One thing is for certain. After losing two-thirds of its resource rich territory, Guyana will not be able to survive as a sovereign and independent nation! The choices for Guyana are stark!.

The Great Game Of NATO And The White European Tribal Wars

January 2023


Europe historically has had a penchant for wars. The geopolitical games European nations played led to two world wars in the 20th century. The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay once famously stated that the ostensible purpose of NATO was “to keep Russians out, Americans in and Germany down”. At the time of its founding on April 4th, 1949, in Washington DC NATO comprised of only ten European nations and two North American countries. It was conceptualized as a military alliance of European countries to defend Europe while deterring Soviet expansionism. Headquartered in Brussels, it now comprises of 30 European countries and two more nations, Finland and Sweden, joining in near future.

Ironically, the former Soviet Union, fearing the restoration of German militarism in West Germany, had suggested in 1954 that it join NATO, but this was rejected by the US. Last Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev also proclaimed on multiple occasions his desire for the Soviet Union/Russia to be integrated into the common European home. In 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev was invited to meet with members of the G7 on the sidelines of the summit in London. By 1994, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was participating in the G7 summit in Naples. Russia became a full member of what became known as the G8 in 1997 and went on to host the 2006 summit in St. Petersburg. Boris Yeltsin had gatecrashed into earlier closed G7 meetings before it was formally G-8 with a hope of being part of the ideological “West”. Interestingly, Vladimir Putin after becoming President of the Russian Federation had expressed interest in joining NATO in 2000 but did not wish to wait in line as an applicant. George Robertson, then NATO Secretary General (1999 and 2003), said Putin made it explicit that he wanted Russia to be part of western Europe. Robertson recalled an early meeting with Putin, who became Russian president in 2000. “Putin said: “When are you going to invite us to join NATO?’ Reportedly Robertson replied: ‘Well, we don’t invite people to join NATO, they apply to join NATO.” Putin ostensibly countered: “Well, we’re not standing in line with a lot of countries that don’t matter.”

The dissolution of Warsaw Pact (The Treaty of Warsaw) finally in 1991 demolished the Soviet threat forever in Europe. It should have automatically resulted in the disbanding of NATO. Alas! That did not happen. The US Military Industrial complex that gets oxygen of dollars and hefty profits from each war did not allow NATO to be disbanded. US Secretary of State James A Baker, the 3rd gave verbal assurances to Mikhail Gorbachev prior to German reunification that NATO will not expand further an inch. Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” The same pledge was repeated by the then German Chancellor Helmut Josef Michael Kohl to Gorbachev.

Break-up of Soviet Union, Formation of CIS and CSTO

After the Slavic Summit of Russian Federation, Byelorussia (Belarus) and Ukraine, Soviet Union was formally dissolved in 1991, and all the Soviet Republics became independent. Ukraine became one of the founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991. However, Ukraine did not ratify the charter of the CIS and continued to attend CIS meetings. Ukraine was accepted as an Associate member of the CIS in 1993. Meanwhile, in 1992, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) treaty was signed owing to the refusal by NATO to disband itself. CSTO treaty came into force in 1994; Ukraine did not join CSTO suggesting an independent course from former Soviet Republics. In 2008 Ukraine expressed its intent to join NATO. Later on, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko told a newspaper in 2010 that Ukraine does not plan to become a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) because it is opposed to membership in any blocs. He further emphasized that the declaration of Ukraine’s opposition to membership in any blocs, as well as Ukraine’s decision to abandon plans to join NATO open new opportunities to promote partnership and good neighborhood relations with Russia.

NATO Hegemony and Clinton’s follies:

In 1990s, in a triumphant victory dance, US President William Jefferson Clinton and his administration started the process of NATO expansion while not keeping the pledge of his predecessor not to do so. Many strategic experts including the infamous Henry Kissinger and Prof John Mearsheimer repeatedly forewarned that mindless eastward expansion of NATO will provoke a war with Russia. The US was the sole hyper-power at that time and gloated the victory in the cold war as the license for expanding NATO eastward.

Balkan Wars and Break of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY):

During the 1990s, the Clinton regime warred against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), and its successor state Serbia. After Slovenia and Croatia seceded from FRY with active support from the EU and NATO, separatist succession movements were fomented in the rump state of FRY where civil war was going on between 1992-1995. Under the garb of protecting human rights, the EU and NATO fanned these fires further and sanctions were imposed on Serbia. Dayton peace accord of 1995 legitimized the break-up of FRY. Bosnia and Herzgovina was allowed to secede from FRY, but República Srpska was not allowed to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina. To appease their friendly middle eastern oil rich Sheikhdoms and Turkey, Clinton administration continued to encourage anti-Serbian revolt in Muslim majority Kosovo province of Serbia. The infamous Madeline’s War in 1998 involved illegal bombing of civilian infrastructure in Serbia, especially Belgrade for seven weeks when civilian infrastructure including bridges, electric power stations and water reservoirs of Serbia were bombed to ground. NATO that was formed as a defensive military alliance overnight metamorphosed into an aggressive military force dictating its will in the Balkans. Forced separation and secession of Kosovo from Serbia resulted in total NATO domination in the Balkans and retreat of Slavic nations that were Russian allies.

All this while, Clinton administration supported to the hilt an alcoholic, perennially inebriated opportunist President Boris Yeltsin in the Russian Federation under the garb of spreading democracy. Clinton did not utter a word when Boris Yeltsin turned against his own parliament, sacked his vice-president, eliminated the post of vice-President, and brought out tanks to destroy the Russian parliament building. Clinton also supported Boris Yeltsin to the hilt while Boris Yeltsin rigged the 1996 presidential election in Russia. It was absolute and unconditional support to Boris Yeltsin that resulted finally a former KGB man Vladimir Putin being anointed as Yeltsin’s chosen successor. Essentially, by not holding Yeltsin to pledges of democracy, US administration facilitated Putin’s transition to power in the Russian Federation. The policy of NATO expansion continued to be followed by successive US presidents including George Bush and Barack Obama. Only one former US president questioned the raison d’etre for NATO existence during his election campaign but changed tunes after electoral victory.

2008 Russo-Georgia War:

In a counter-reaction to US and NATO interference in the Balkans, an alarmed and provoked Russian Federation started to support secessionist movements in Moldova and in Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions). In 2008, while Vladimir Putin was attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing summer Olympics, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili started armed operations against the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The inherent assumption was that the international attention to Olympics will deter Russian Federation from retaliating. However, the number two person in Kremlin hierarchy Dmitry Medvedev decided to take swift military action and Georgian military were forced to retreat. Russian, South Ossetian and Abkhaz victory resulted in loss of territory for Georgia. Russian Federation recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations and established military bases there. Finally, owing to criminal prosecution and defeat of his party in 2013 Georgian elections, Mikheil Saakashvili had to flee Georgia in 2013. At this juncture, Ukraine poked the Russian bear in the eye. Shelter, political asylum and a cabinet position was given to former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili by Ukraine.

Ukraine Nationhood Conundrum:

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly proclaimed that Ukraine is not a nation state. Once can dismiss the statement as that of a delusional maniac but the historic issue of Ukraine’s sovereignty is more nuanced. Kievan Russ was the center of origin of the Easter Slavic Civilization from which modern-day Russia emerged. Ukraine was part of various European empires and never a free nation. Ukraine Declared independence in 1917 and remained so for the next four years. The short-lived Unification Act was an agreement signed on 22 January 1919 by the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian People’s Republic. In 1922, Ukraine was incorporated by Lenin and other Bolsheviks as Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Subsequently after Stalin’s death, General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, gifted Crimea from Russian Federation to Ukraine in 1954.

On 16 July 1990, the new Ukrainian parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine and in 1991, Ukraine became an independent nation following dissolution of the USSR. Ukraine renounced nuclear weapons after getting security guarantees from US, UK, Russia and France in 1994 in the famous Budapest agreement. In 1994, Ukraine entered into alliance with NATO under Partnership for Peace agreement. In 2008, Ukraine made its intention known to join the NATO.

In 2010 presidential elections, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych was elected as the fourth president of Ukraine until he was removed from office 2014 following a CIA sponsored coup. It is alleged that $5 billion was spent by the CIA on the Euromaidan revolution and pro-Russian but duly elected President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych was deposed and had to flee Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, Deputy Asst secretary of State was recorded in a telephone conversation with US diplomat Jeff Pyatt berating the EU “Fxxk the EU” for going slow on the CIA sponsored coup in Ukraine that led to ouster of a democratically elected President Yanukovych.

Geneva Pact signed in 2014 to disarm the armed militias in Ukraine. In March 2014, Crimea was annexed by Russia in a swift military operation that was welcomed by the residents of that region. Next month, in April 2014: Easter Republic of DONBAS was created. In 2015, the Minsk Accords were signed to avoid further conflict between Ukraine and Russia but unfortunately never implemented. On 1st January 2016, Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union. Ukraine was gradually moving into the NATO camp instead of remaining a neutral buffer state between NATO and Russia.

In the early hours of 24 February 2022, Putin announced a “special military operation” apparently to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine and launched a large-scale invasion of that country. Putin was mistaken about the outcome of the war hoping for the repeat of 2014 Crimea war when local population welcomed the Russian forces. Russia had alleged that US was carrying on biological weapons research in Ukraine in hospitals and labs. Putin threatened repeatedly that the Ukraine might lose its statehood if it continues to harbor joining NATO as its intention. Finally, in 2022, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State accepted that Ukraine has 26 Biological Research labs owned by the US. There is escalation in the war with involvement of NATO countries in war efforts. UK was allegedly behind the underwater bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to harm and damage Russian energy exports. Russian agents had hacked into the mobile phone of the former British PM Liz Truss. It was indeed ludicrous to blame Russia for sabotaging its own gas pipeline!

Vladimir versus Volodymir:

The Ukraine conflict is being perpetuated because of an egoistic and personalized conflict between the two men with morbid minds, Vladimir versus Volodymir. One is a Comedian and actor who is playing to the gallery of his European puppet masters and the other is delusional about his historic role in restoring the Soviet empire. It is a truth that the current war could have been totally averted if the US had not done regime change by fomenting the Euro Maidan coup leading to forced ouster of a democratically elected president of Ukraine. In 2013, Russia had supported Ukraine with a grant of $15 billion along with export of natural gas and hydrocarbons on heavily discounted terms. The only condition was that Ukraine will remain neutral state between NATO and Russia. If the West (NATO, EU and US) and Ukraine’s corrupt ruling elite had adopted Finlandization of Ukraine as a neutral and buffer state role model, we would not be seeing the current tribal European war.

Role of the Asian Regional Powers:

Japan being a treaty ally of NATO must support NATO in Europe in the current European war. Japanese PM Kishida has already stated that there will be next Ukraine in Asia hinting at Chinese expansionism. Japan has increased its defense budget and beefed up the Japanese defense forces. China’s strongman Xi Jinping on the other hand is a known ally of Russian President Putin and has broadly supported the Russian interests while frowning on the possibility of use of the nuclear weapons. India does not have any skin in this game and can neither support Russia nor Ukraine for various reasons. However, India will not subject herself to the Western sanctions on trade with Russia. India will maintain her posture of strategic independence despite being part of the Quad. India’s trade with Russia will continue to increase despite PM Modi publicly reprimanding Vladimir Putin for waging war in Ukraine during sidelines of the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan. India will continue to ask for a negotiated and peaceful settlement of the conflict without taking sides. Australia, though technically not an Asian power, will have to follow the NATO line as it is treaty ally and now a part of both Quad and the AUKUS. South Korea again a NATO ally will be forced to support NATO war while Pakistan clandestinely is sending armament to Ukraine. Other Asian countries in general do not want to get enmeshed in another European White tribal war that has potential of enlarging into World War III.

Future Geopolitical Scenario:

Ukraine has become a geopolitical hot potato for Vladimir Putin who can neither swallow it nor throw it out of his system. The war is stalemated, and Russia has stupidly got bogged down into a military quagmire. Between 100,000 to 300,000 Ukrainian soldiers are dead; similarly, 100,000 Russian soldiers are dead. NATO despite sending latest armor and ammunition may not be able to bleed Russia into a total defeat. The Russian Federation does not have an explicit “no first use doctrine’ unlike India and China. Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly hinted possible use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine in case of Russian defeat owing Western intervention. Russia has already lost the information war. Ukraine has been ably assisted by the Western media’s sophisticated propaganda warfare machine. At this juncture, it is essentially a NATO-Russia war that is being fought on the soil of Ukraine. Ukraine because of its desire to merge with NATO and EU has inadvertently chosen a very costly path for its sovereignty and nationhood. History will perhaps, remember Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the “useful idiot” of NATO and EU who managed to get his country destroyed and wrecked while playing the NATO game. Zelenskyy is now overtly threatening that this war with Russia will evolve into the 3rd world war if his desired outcome is not achieved. His proposed 10-point peace plan is likely to be a non-starter for making outrageous demands on the Russian Federation.

NATO is ready to admit Finland and Sweden on a fast track to become 31st and 32nd members. NATO has shifted from its original mission of the defense of Europe to aggressive and offensive postures all over the world as reflected in protracted Afghanistan war and in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Invoking article 5 of the NATO charter for 32 individual countries certainly increases the possibility of future wars. By joining NATO, Finland is actually getting de-Finlandized. This single thoughtless act might result in the future Ukrainization of Finland which the current Finnish PM Sanna Marin does not realize. Continued instability in Ukraine and lack of peace treaty may finally result in an analogous situation of the armistice as in the Korean peninsula. The reverberations of this permanent war might echo in the Balkans. NATO’s creation of artificial countries like Kosovo is likely to be challenged by aggrieved Slavic parties like Serbia and República Serpska. Permanent conflict in the Balkans will be the ultimate defeat of NATO. Time has come for NATO to be disbanded in the interest of promoting world peace.

The European war is causing food shortages and rising inflation worldwide. We are witnessing food riots in Africa and in countries like Pakistan. Even in the US, food prices have surged in an unprecedented manner. De-dollarization has become an irreversible process because of US/NATO sanctions on Russia. With the weakening of both the Russian and US economies, the supremacy of the dollar as an international currency has been challenged. The Bretton Woods institutions are becoming less relevant as bilateral barter trade and currency exchanges become the norm. The weakening of Russia and the weakening of the US will lead to the emergence of China as the Hegemon of the world. The outcome of the current European war will be a lose-lose-lose-lose situation for Ukraine, Russia, NATO, and the US. The only winner of the geo-political European tribal conflict will be China. Hopefully, Asian countries will survive this senseless White tribal war in Europe without getting involved in a hot conflict. Asia is not Europe. Asia must stay away scrupulously from Europe’s incessant white tribal wars and the great game of erstwhile and modern empires.

January 2023


The modern Indian nation state has a long history that sometimes conveniently gets forgotten. India did not arise or start or was created in 1947 when the transfer of power from the colonial British government took place. India is a historic civilizational state with thousands of years of history, culture, civilization and philosophy.  No one can deny the unique cultural history of Indian nationhood from ancient times as there are enough pieces of evidence from various streams, including archeological, historical, literary, cultural, and geopolitical.

Our ancient Indian civilization proudly believed in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam bringing a universalist dimension to humanity and statecraft. Such philosophical notions are not found in any other civilizational nation states. Indian kings were always governed by a code of conduct for the ruler called Raj Dharma which took care of the human rights of the subjects. Such advanced cognitive and humanistic notions from ancient times mark India apart from other nation states! Marxist historians and Western academics for narrow purposes have adroitly tried to deny the ancient nationhood of India.

During the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the boundaries of Indian nation included the modern-day transient states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The influence of Indic civilization was so widespread to the west that the ancient Kingdom of Mittani in West Asia had Indo-Aryan rulers with Sanskrit-based names. In the East, Indic influences were present all over Southeast Asia up to the Philippines. On the North, Indic culture, artifacts and influences are still seen in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, China and up to Korea, Japan and Siberia. That was the unique history of the Indian nation and Indic civilization when some of the modern day hyperpowers were not even born! Mother India has stood tall as a civilization for thousands of years despite barbaric invasions and onslaughts from marauding armies. The moderating and civilizing influence of India on the world in ancient and medieval times can not be denied despite intellectual gymnastics by colonialists and their minions.

Geopolitical History of India since 1947

As an emerging democracy post-colonially, India for various reasons tried to not get involved in military blocks. India has maintained her independent posture in international relations. The doctrine of Non-Alignment was enunciated and adhered to since 1955 onwards. India’s strategic choices since 1947 were very limited because of the hostile attitudes of the erstwhile colonial power the UK (Britain) and the newly emergent super-power of the USA. Both found a convenient ally in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and armed it to the teeth over many decades against India.

Over the years, the non-alignment doctrine got revised into the Doctrine of Genuine Non-Alignment followed by the Doctrine of Polyvalent Alignment. India is a founding member of the UN. India is also the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping forces but does not find a place in UNSC P5. Indian Government has taken a principled stand that India should not be part of any international treaty, convention, covenant, charter or agreement that tends to jeopardize her national interests.

India is the only country in the entire world where Jews were never persecuted. India gave shelter to Persians (Parsees) fleeing medieval Iran from the religious persecution and murderous onslaught of Islamic invaders. India, despite her history of giving shelter to various refugees for humanitarian reasons, has refused to be a signatory to the 1954 UN Convention provides the definition of a “stateless person” and the foundation of the international legal framework to address statelessness. Similarly, India has not signed or ratified the 1961 UN Convention, the international instrument that sets rules for the conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent statelessness.

While India has signed various international human rights covenants, charters and treaties, India has scrupulously avoided getting trapped in the Western imperialist and Woke rhetoric that is inimical to India’s national interests. India as a member of the UN is a party to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.  However, India is neither a state party nor a signatory to the International Criminal Court because it impinges on India’s strategic autonomy. India can not allow persecution and prosecution of her leaders and officials by the ICC when the Indian judiciary is vibrant and over-reaching in its influence.

Though India was a signatory of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and ratified it the same year; India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 owing to its discriminatory standards.  Similarly, India refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996 for the same reasons. India is a responsible nuclear weapons state that is not part of the Western orchestrated nuclear regimes that impinge on India’s strategic autonomy. India has never been accused of horizontal nuclear proliferation because of strong internal measures and controls. Similarly, India is not a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction of 1997, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or often simply the Mine Ban Treaty, that aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines around the world (International Landmines Treaty). India did not sign the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) of 2013 because of strategic and security reasons despite pressure from the US.

India, which had worked hard during the negotiations, had expressed its deep concerns about the final draft. At the commencement of this Conference India had made clear that the ATT should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illicit use, especially by terrorists and other unauthorized and unlawful non-state actors. The provisions in the final draft on terrorism and non-state actors were weak and diffused and found no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty.

While India has negotiated in good faith and in an open and transparent manner with respect to our essential interests, the final draft had the tell-tale marks of behind-the-scenes carve outs of exclusive interests of a select few countries, such as egregiously excluding non-state actors or arms transfers as gifts or loans, thus seriously diminishing the value of a multilateral Treaty negotiated in the UN. India had stressed consistently that the treaty should ensure a balance of obligations between exporting and importing states. India emphasized that the treaty could be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states parties without consequences.

Sanction Regime Galore

During this post-1947 era, the imperial West has persistently continued to indulge in India-bashing and attempted to diminish her role by a regime of multi-layered sanctions. Though most of the sanctions were triggered by the 1974 Pokhran-I “Smiling Buddha” Nuclear explosion, the refusal to sign the 1968 NPT had already resulted in a regime of tough dual use export controls and sanctions on India. There were sanctions on India’s space program and missile development program. India could not buy jet engines for her prototype fighter aircraft because of these multilateral sanctions. Despite all these sanctions, targeted killings of Indian nuclear scientists, and contrived entrapment of Indian Space scientists into a legal blackhole, India has survived. Regimes of sanctions were calibrated and finetuned multilaterally to bend Mother India.

Strategic Autonomy

For any Indian government irrespective of party affiliation, India’s strategic autonomy is paramount.  If a government deviates from that path, it will lose power in the national elections. There is a strong reaction among the Western policy circles about India’s continued refusal to kowtow to the Western policy position and prescription regarding Europe’s latest tribal war that ostensibly started on February 24th, 2022. However, this slow-walking war started much earlier. The seeds of this war were sown after the break-up of the Soviet Union when NATO started aggressive eastward expansion despite the fact that Warsaw Pact had dissolved.

India took a principled stand in the UN while trying to work with all the parties involved instead of selectively condemning one party only. Every war is unfortunate but there are antecedents to each war. This mindless eastward expansion of NATO from 12 countries to now 30 countries has resulted in another European white tribal war. For the Western policymakers and their acolytes to condemn India for refusing to play Western geopolitical games is the height of hypocrisy. While Europe keeps buying Russian gas and hydrocarbons, why India should restrict her imports from Russia? India is not at war with Russia and cannot and should not sanction Russia. India will jealously guard her own geopolitical and commercial interests despite all the pressures and will not join any bandwagon like a sheep. India shall not be a camp follower of either US, Russia or China, or Europe.

US-India Tango

The US considers itself an exceptional country not subject to any international law. There is a doctrine of American Exceptionalism. Proponents of American exceptionalism argue that the United States of America is exceptional in that it was founded on a set of republican ideals rather than on a common heritage, ethnicity, or ruling elite. The idea that the United States of America is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans but it’s not true. For a young country born yesterday to try to dictate terms to a civilizational nation state is the height of geopolitical and moral stupidity. These strong-arm tactics have not worked in the past and will not work in future. India is too big to be dictated by the US.

In the process, the US will lose the goodwill of the Indian people and the Indian government. As the US declines in its comprehensive national strength and faces the eight-hundred-pound Gorilla, Communist China, the US needs more friends rather than enemies. A friendly India is in long-term US geopolitical interests. Perhaps, it is true that the US needs India more currently than India needs the US.

However, the US continues to play the game of sanctions. The Sword of Damocles in the form of CATSAA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions is brandished from time to time. The US domestic law can not change India’s international relations. The unilateral abrogation and cancellation of the Tarapore Atomic Power plant nuclear fuel deal by the US did not change the trajectory of India’s nuclear weapons program.  

The curmudgeonly US tactics towards India since 1947 have not changed India’s behavior or aspirations, merely slowed down the rise. India and US cannot be genuine allies but mere friends as India will not agree to be a junior partner. In this US-India dance, India will reserve all the possible dance moves without being intimidated by the hyper-power.

Indian Diplomacy

India has helped developing countries by contributing to their growth and development without trapping them in high-interest debts. Unlike China which practices debt-trap diplomacy, India has given soft loans, grants and aid to neighboring countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives, without any profit motive.

India’s vaccine diplomacy was appreciated during the Wuhan virus pandemic when far-off countries like Jamaica thanked India in the UN for vaccine help. This was at a time when US companies like Johnson & Johnson allegedly demanded military bases in Argentina for providing vaccines. There is increasing realization in African countries that China is trying to control their natural resources and the infrastructure built by China does not last long. African countries are now more receptive to developmental aid from India. The only country that was able to evacuate its own nationals and citizens of other countries also from war-torn Yemen was India.

Similarly, in the current war in Ukraine, India was able to convince both Russia and Ukraine to extend help in the evacuation of Indian students. India has provided food aid and other humanitarian and medical assistance to Ukraine without fanning the fire of the war. India will not provide military aid to Ukraine because it prolongs the unnecessary war. India has called all the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table to seek a peaceful resolution to the European war.

India’s Strategic Independence

India is now moving from an era of strategic autonomy to an era of strategic independence. The world must take note of the change in India’s strategic posture as India’s comprehensive national strength gradually increases. As usual in Indian history, it is the traitors within the country that are putting obstacles in India’s rise. Paid journalists on foreign payroll are adroit at bowing to their masters and periodically write on dotted lines. Global leftist and liberal media networks have been reflexively critiquing India at every opportunity.

Taking the cue from their masters, a minuscule portion of the matricidal Indian diaspora have taken it upon themselves to humiliate and slander Mother India and her government. These buffoons try to discriminate between Mother India versus Government of India without realizing that in today’s geopolitical scenario, Mother India is represented by the Government of India. These Nattering Nabobs of Negativism represent foreign interests of deep states while camouflaging themselves as sons and daughters of Mother India. No amount of saber-rattling by a nexus of foreign agents will slow down the emergence of India as a rising power in the comity of nations.

Indian Exceptionalism

India is a democracy but not part of Western clubs like G-7. India is a secular nation, not part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. India is not part of NATO, nor it is part of the CSTO. India is not a signatory to the NPT and CTBT, yet she is a responsible nuclear-weapon state. India’s entry to the NSG has been blocked by China but she is a member of the voluntary export control regimes MTCR, Australia Club and the Wassenaar arrangement. India is an Asian country but not part of the ASEAN.

India stands alone during critical times like 1971 when only India took on the UN and US about the liberation of Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds. India is part of the BRICS, RIC and SCO while simultaneously being a member of the QUAD, I2U2 and the IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Forum). India has chosen to stay away from multi-lateral free-trading blocs like RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), and CPTTP (Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership). India cannot be categorized easily into a particular genre. India cannot be pigeonholed into any specific box or block or military alliance.

India will remain an independent, uniquely exceptional country, a pole by herself in the comity of nations, a rising and shining star, unparalleled and unmatched. India has defied the contrived and discriminatory “so-called global” norms always without compromising on principles. India has survived, flourished and advanced despite the nay-sayers. India belongs to a club called G-1. No one will be able to bend Mother India and its representative Government of India including the mighty superpowers! That is, indeed, the Doctrine of Indian ExceptionalismJanuary 

Alliance of democracies must put a stop to Xi’s China dreams

January 2023


Washington, DC: Following the 20th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping consolidated his position as the core leader or the paramount leader for life of the Chinese Communist Party. In a highly scripted, staged and choreographed act, he humiliated publicly his predecessor Hu Jintao. By doing so, Xi achieved his twin objectives of silencing domestic critics and signalling the international community that he is in absolute and total control. Xi Jinping fancies himself as the modern-day divine emperor of China, the real son of heaven or Devaraja.

However, Xi’s megalomania does not end here. His China dream enunciated in 2013 envisages the Middle Kingdom repossessing its ancient glory, with all other states as vassal states or supplicants. Xi Jinping views himself as the core leader of the entire world or the supreme emperor of the world. In his megalomania, Xi believes that is he is on a divine mission to rule not only China but the entire world.

Questions are being asked if Xi Jinping will invade Taiwan soon. Xi is very astute and is learning all the right lessons from Putin’s mistakes. Traditionally, CCP has learnt from mistakes of the Soviet Communist Party. Gorbachev introduced both Glasnost and Perestroika at the same time, resulting in dissolution of the Soviet empire. CCP mandarins learnt from that mistake and adopted Perestroika without adopting Glasnost and fended of the people’s revolution in Tiananmen square and in later years. Xi will definitely act and invade Taiwan but at the time of his choosing when other nations are preoccupied with serious international crisis. Meanwhile psychological warfare and intimidation of Taiwan will continue while China builds up its lethal arsenal.

As usual, Xi Jinping will not stop playing the “salami slicing” games on the LAC with democratic India and then ask for a “mutual compromise”. There will not be any change in Chinese behaviour till India improves her comprehensive national strength at par with China. There is no other way of engaging China. All the Indian Prime Ministers since 1947 have been naïve enough to believe in rationality of the CCP leadership willing to accommodate a democratic India. India is the last bulwark against an authoritarian China that prevents it from achieving total hegemony in Asia. It is well-known that Chinese spies masquerade as journalists and Buddhist monks in India. China has infiltrated a large section of civil society and Indian polity. Chinese secret societies and international networks are well-known historically. Multiple acts of industrial sabotage have been done in India to safeguard Chinese business interests. There have been cyberattacks on Mumbai electric grid and AIIMS electronic medical records. A strike by Communist Party-supported employees’ union in a Taiwan-owned Foxconn chip factory in Bengaluru was orchestrated to prevent India from emerging as a major chip manufacturer. During the second wave of the Wuhan Virus epidemic, there was an unexplained fire in the Pune plant of the privately owned Serum Institute of India so as to halt the production of Covishield vaccine.

Communist parties and cultural outfits in India have traditionally been the mouthpieces of the CCP. India faces a situation that a prominent Indian political party still has not made open the contents of a secret memorandum of understanding signed with the CCP in 2008. Analogous to bribing all the third world leaders through BRI projects, CCP gave the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation political donations to do research to promote India-China trade. During the Doklam crisis, the scion of a political family-owned firm was secretly dining with the Chinese ambassador in the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. The same worthy had unauthorized meetings with the CCP leadership during an ostensibly staged “pilgrimage” to Mount Kailash. Fifth generation descendants of the Nehru-Gandhi family are now openly acting as Chinese agents. Xi Jinping will continue to exploit Indian political faultlines to his advantage interfering in the future elections just like they do in Nepal. Despite the loss of Nepalese Communist parties in recent elections, Prachanda becomes Nepal’s Prime Minster due to Chinese influence. China treats Nepal as a vassal state. Chinese nationals masquerading as tourists have been arrested from Nepal for trafficking young Nepali girls in Laos and other Southeast Asian countries for prostitution.

The US has been acting as the world policeman since the end of World War II. Xi’s dream essentially involves replacing the US hegemony with Chinese hegemony. That has implications for the entire world. Essentially, the US despite its faults, is a democracy and has fostered a “liberal world order”. Replacing the current democratic and liberal world order with an autocratic and authoritarian order under a totalitarian Communist China with Xi Jinping as the divine emperor of the world is fraught with serious problems.

Xi’s dream involves building a transcontinental Chinese empire by hook or by crook. China will continue to use three warfares to unsettle the current liberal and rule-based global system. China is past master of utilizing so-called ancient and medieval maps to make maximalist claims on other countries and territories. Already having gobbled up Tibet, Outer Mongolia, Manchuria and East Turkistan on the periphery, China wants to expand further southwards into Indian territories. Xi Jinping is using the so-called “nine dash line” to justify conversion of the entire South China Sea into a domestic Chinese lake. On the other hand, China’s mouthpiece, the Global Times keeps questioning India’s locus standi in the Indian Ocean by stating that Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean. China’s recent Indian Ocean summit without India is a pointer in these directions. Maritime domination in the Indo-Pacific is the Chinese goal. Under CPEC, Pakistan has already been converted into a Chinese colony. BRI and debt trap have helped China to convert several African and East European countries into Chinese colonies. For the last decade or so, under Xi Jinping’s leadership China has proclaimed itself into a “Near Arctic State”—whatever that means.

China wants to have its finger in every territory on land, sea, ocean, air or space. China is the first nation to establish a post office in space on a Chinese space station named “heavenly place” in Mandarin. The Chinese lust for empire building might metamorphose from transcontinental empire to trans planetary empire if Xi’s dreams have to be fulfilled.

A genuine alliance of democracies using all the available international cooperation mechanisms including UN, WTO, APEC, G-7, G-20 must put a stop on Xi Jinping’s wet dreams. Unfortunately, the current hegemon, US, still under cold-war hangover does not see the Xi Jinping’s game and is bent upon further NATO enlargement, thereby transforming Russia into China’s junior partner. Only by isolating Communist China the world can be saved from a looming disaster, especially at a time when US economy is faltering, and it continues to be in a state of terminal decline. Fostering democracies worldwide should be the agenda for the next G-20 summit.

Puncturing Xi Jinping’s Wet China Dream

December 2022


Following the 20th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping consolidated his position as the core leader or the paramount leader for life of the Chinese communist party. In a highly scripted, staged and choreographed act, he humiliated publicly his predecessor Hu Jintao. By doing so, Xi achieved his twin objectives of silencing domestic critics and signaling to the international community that he is in absolute and total control. Since becoming the party chairman in 2012, Xi has systematically eliminated his political rivals. Starting with the life imprisonment in 2013 of Bo Xilai, the charismatic party chief of Chongqing on corruption and embezzlement charges, Xi Jinping has either executed or imprisoned his potential challengers irrespective of fact whether they were princelings or from the communist youth league faction (CYL) or the Shanghai clique. He had worked hard since 2017 to eliminate the two term limits that were placed by Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin for orderly succession of leadership in the CCP.

Xi Jinping fancies himself as the modern-day divine emperor of China, the real son of heaven or Devaraja. However, Xi’s megalomania does not end here. His China dream enunciated in 2013 envisages the middle kingdom repossessing its ancient glory with all other states as vassal states or supplicants.  Xi Jinping views himself as the core leader of the entire world or the supreme emperor of the world. In his megalomania, Xi believes that is he is on a divine mission to rule not only China but the entire world.

Xi is very astute and has learnt all the right lessons from Putin’s mistakes. Traditionally, the CCP has learnt from the mistakes of the Soviet Communist Party. Soviet leader Gorbachev introduced both Glasnost and Perestroika at the same time resulting in dissolution of the Soviet empire. CCP mandarins learnt from that mistake and adopted Perestroika without adopting Glasnost and fended off the people’s revolution and democratic uprisings in Tiananmen square in 1989 and also in later years.   Similarly, Xi Jinping learnt from Putin’s example of subverting the Russian constitution to make him President for life. By eliminating term limits and by eliminating his domestic rivals under anti-corruption drive, Xi Jinping has ensured that there is no credible challenge to him in the CCP. With Jiang Zemin deceased and Hu Jintao publicly humiliated, all other mandarins quietly fell in line. Observers believe that Xi will not relinquish political power till he dies because he is very afraid of his personal security and safety. The lurking fear in his mind is of being arrested or assassinated by his successor if he were to retire earlier. He has become paramount leader of the Communist China for life.

Questions are being asked if Xi Jinping will invade Taiwan soon or learn from Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine. It is not a question of if; it isa question of when! Xi will act surely and invade Taiwan but at the time of his choosing when other nations are preoccupied with some serious international crisis. With Putin’s blunder in Ukraine, Xi Jinping is likely to bide for his time. There will not be an immediate invasion and occupation of Taiwan. Xi is likely to wait till 2026-2027 when the current focus on Ukraine has died down, and the US is entering another messy presidential election contest with possibly a lame-duck president in office. Successful invasion of Taiwan will bolster his domestic credentials for another five years’ term in 2027. Meanwhile psychological warfare, air and ocean boundary violations and intimidation of Taiwan will continue while China builds up its lethal arsenal.

As usual, Xi Jinping will not stop playing the “Salami Slicing” games on the LAC with democratic India and then ask for a “mutual compromise”. The recent incidents of intrusion and illegal occupation in Dokalam trijunction in 2017, Galwan valley (2020) and more recently in Yangtse region of Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh are indicative of a sustained pattern of Chinese expansionist behavior. The PLA transgression in Yangtze plateau is an annual affair, since the PLA intruded into Somdorong Chu in 1986-87, as a part of Chinese plan to show that the territory is disputed. Just like the then Indian Army Chief Gen K Sundarji launched a counter to Somdorong Chu without even informing the then government, the Indian Army this time too was prepared for the PLA and repelled them. Chairman Mao wanted Chinese expansion southward with Tibet as the palm of its hand and five fingers (Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, formerly NEFA) under Chinese control. Xi believes that he is the true inheritor of Mao’s legacy.  China under Xi Jinping will not settle the larger boundary issue with India on the LAC because it suites them to keep India rattled and on tenterhooks.

Therefore, we will not witness any change in Chinese expansionist behavior till India improves her comprehensive national power (CNP) and military strength at par with China. There is no other way of engaging China except from position of strength. All the Indian Prime Ministers since 1947 including the current one, have been naïve enough to believe in rationality of the CCP leadership willing to accommodate a democratic India. India is the last bulwark against an authoritarian China that prevents it from achieving total hegemony in Asia. It is well-known that Chinese spies masquerade as journalists and Buddhist monks in India. China has infiltrated a large section of civic society and Indian polity. Chinese secret societies and international networks are well-known historically. Multiple acts of industrial sabotage have been done in India to safeguard and promote Chinese business interests. There have been cyberattacks on Mumbai electric grid and AIIMS, New Delhi electronic medical records. A strike by communist party supported employees’ union in a Taiwanese-owned Foxconn chip factory in Bengaluru was orchestrated to prevent India from emerging as a major chip manufacturer. During the 2nd wave of the Wuhan Virus epidemic, there was an unexplained fire in the Pune plant of the privately owned Serum Institute of India apparently to halt the production of Covi-shield vaccine in India.

Communist parties and their cultural outfits in India have traditionally been the mouthpieces of the CCP. India faces a situation that a prominent Indian political party still has not made public the contents of a secret memorandum of understanding signed with the CCP in 2008 under the watchful eyes of Xi Jinping, who happened to be China’s Vice-President at the time. Analogous to bribing all the third world leaders through BRI projects, CCP did bribe the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation with political donations to conduct research to promote India-China bilateral trade. During the Dokalam crisis, scion of a political family-owned firm was secretly dining with the Chinese ambassador in the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. He and his party initially denied this infamous dinner till the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi spilled the beans. The same worthy had unauthorized meetings with the CCP leadership during an ostensibly staged “pilgrimage” to Mount Kailash in Tibet though the pilgrimage was given up halfway following these political meetings. Fifth generation descendants of the Nehru-Gandhi family are now openly acting as Chinese agents and hobnobbing with the fifth generation of the leadership of the CCP. The same leader was seen partying in a disco in Nepal in a wedding where Chinese ambassador to Nepal was present. Xi Jinping will continue to exploit Indian political fault lines to his advantage interfering in the future elections in India just like they do in Nepal routinely. Despite the loss of Nepalese Communist parties in recent elections, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda became Nepal’s Prime Minster due to Chinese influence and machinations! China treats Nepal as a vassal state. Chinese ambassador to Nepal acts as a de facto regent of China to Nepal and summons various politicians and constitutional functionaries of that country. Chinese nationals masquerading as tourists have been arrested from Nepal for trafficking Young Nepali girls in Laos and other Southeast Asian countries for prostitution.  Whether it is Maldives or Sri Lanka, Pakistan or some poor African country like Djibouti, BRI has become a debt trap or One Debt One Road (ODOR). Tiny Montenegro in the Balkans realized that one-billion-dollar investment of China in the road to nowhere left that country hanging in the air. Malaysian government had to cancel and renegotiate certain contracts with China because of exorbitant costs. Bribes have been paid to small island nations that were willing to withdraw diplomatic recognition from Taiwan.

US has been acting as the world’s sole policeman since the end of World War II governing with its Bretton Woods financial system. Xi’s China dream essentially involves replacing the US hegemony with Chinese hegemony. That has implications for the entire civilized world. Essentially, US despite its numerous faults, is a liberal democracy and has fostered a “Liberal Rules Based world order”. Replacing the current democratic and liberal world order with an autocratic and authoritarian order under a totalitarian Communist China with Xi Jinping as the divine emperor of the world is fraught with serious problems.

Xi’s dream involves building a transcontinental Chinese empire by hook or by crook. China will continue to use the tactic of three war fares (lawfare, information warfare and psychological warfare) to unsettle the current liberal and rule-based global system. China is past master of trumpeting and utilizing the so-called ancient and medieval maps of doubtful veracity to make maximalist claims on other countries and territories. Already having gobbled up Tibet, Outer Mongolia, Manchuria and East Turkistan on the Chinese periphery, China wants to expand further southwards into Indian territories. Xi Jinping is using the so-called nine dash line to justify conversion of the entire South China sea into a domestic Chinese lake. On the other hand, China’s mouthpiece the Global times keeps questioning India’s locus standi in Indian Ocean by stating that Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean. China’s recent Indian Ocean summit without India is a pointer in these directions. Maritime domination in Indo-pacific is the ultimate Chinese goal. Under CPEC, Pakistan has already been converted into Chinese colony. BRI and debt trap has helped China to convert several African and east European countries into Chinese colonies. For the last decade or so, under Xi Jinping’s leadership China has proclaimed itself into a “Near Arctic State” whatever it means.

China wants to have its fingers into every territory on the land, sea, ocean, air or space! China is the first nation to establish a post office in the space on Chinese space station named “heavenly place” in mandarin. Chinese lust for empire building might metamorphose from transcontinental empire to trans-planetary empire if Xi’s dreams have to be fulfilled. Chinese control of the Space Commons would be disastrous for the entire mankind.

Unfortunately, the current reigning hegemon, US, still under cold-war hangover does not see through Xi Jinping’s game. Current US regime under a geriatric and cognitively impaired Biden is bent upon further NATO enlargement thereby antagonizing and isolating Russia as the primary strategic adversary. In this mistaken attempt, the US is transforming Russia into China’s junior partner which Russia does not want. Accommodating Russia into a European common home and acknowledging and guaranteeing its security interests will drive away Russia from a lethal embrace of China. When Putin came to power in late 1999, he had even suggested that Russia be made a member of the EU and NATO but he was rebuffed. Similarly, the last Soviet leader Gorbachev wanted Russia to be part of the common European home. Continued eastward expansion of NATO has soured the US-Russia relationship. US needs to do a serious exercise in strategic threat analysis and threat perception and must decide as to which country is more detrimental to long-term US interests, Russia or China.

Similarly, the Biden regime is antagonizing a fellow democracy India by rewarding Pakistan with a grant of $450 million to upgrade the F-16s apparently for “counter-terrorism” activities! Post 2020, US, under Biden Administration has indulged in a series of anti-India actions. US refused to provide support to India through vaccine ingredients during the second wave of Wuhan Virus Epidemic (aka COVID-19) because of Defense Production Act. Biden administration refused to send to India delivery of 60 million doses of Astra-Zeneca vaccine (COVI-Shield) that US had purchased but were not approved for domestic use in US. US diplomats kept the pressure on India by invoking repeated threat at that time of CATSAA sanctions. US Navy indulged in violation of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone in early 2022 and made a public announcement to the effect. The reason for that public posture that they did Freedom of Navigation (FON) operations in Indian Ocean violating India’s EEZ was to try to ingratiate themselves with China. Biden administration has almost completed its two years out of the four and has not yet appointed a US ambassador to New Delhi. There has been inordinate amount of delay in visa processing for Indian students, business professionals and visitors. US Ambassador to Pakistan in recent months visited Pak Occupied Kashmir and talked about this as a disputed territory. USCIRF, an instrument of the Us Department of State brings annual reports targeting India targeting India as a country of special concern based on flimsy reports. Luckily, the State Department refused to heed this report in year 2022.

US essentially suffers from a serious case of Clientitis since 1947 and continues to support Pakistan against a democratic India.  Even prior to the current regime in US, there have been historical issues that have soured bilateral relations. US has placed India on the Super 301 PRIORITY WATCH list for IP issues and Copyright issues. Most of these issues are generated when Democrats are in the White House. Bilateral relations between US and India are better during Republican administrations. For example, during eight years of Obama administration there were multiple anti-India postures. Indian ambassador to US Meera Shankar was subjected to body frisking at airports by TSA because she wore a Saree. Many Indian diplomats of Sikh faith were mistreated at US airports owing to wearing turbans, a cultural symbol of Sikh faith. Obama himself lectured Prime Minister Narendra Modi during visit to India in 2014. Indian diplomat to UN, Devyani Khobragade was targeted, arrested and subjected to body cavity searches despite having diplomatic immunity. All these irritants happen because of India’s posture of strategic autonomy and strategic independence. Activists and lobbyists close to the current US administration opine that US under Biden is trying to punish India and teach her a lesson for her posture of strategic autonomy.

Under these strategic conditions, the ball ultimately lies in the US court to prevent emergence of Communist China as the sole hyper-power. It is the US actions that will decide if Russia falls further into a tight embrace with Beijing. Similarly, by antagonizing India and supporting Pakistan, US does not help in building an alliance of democracies world-wide. A novel strategic idea that we propose is a new trilateral cooperation mechanism between USA, Russia and India. Imagine the strategic strength of this powerful trilateral, called RIUS if the US can get its strategic vision and act together. US will have to shed its cold-war hang-over and hostility towards Russia and its cussed attitude towards India to make such a strategic vision and cooperation possible. Such a grouping can help defeat Communist China and specially Xi Jinping’s imperialist dream of conquering the whole world.

In conjunction with that novel trilateral mechanism, a genuine alliance of democracies needs to be built afresh. We advocate using all the available international cooperation mechanisms including UN, EU, NATO, CSTO, WTO, APEC, ASEAN, G-7, G-20, BIMSTEC, Quad, BRICS, IBSA, SCO, IPEF, I2U2, UKUS, ANZUS etc. to contain Communist China. A unified alliance of democracies MUST put a full stop on Xi Jinping’s wet dreams! Only by isolating Communist China, the world can be saved from a looming disaster especially at a time when US economy is faltering, and it continues to be in a state of slow but terminal decline. Fostering an alliance of democracies worldwide should be the agenda for the Indian government, US government and others.

Pulwama is the New Pearl Harbor!

February 2019


The dastardly malicious terrorist attack in Pulwama district of Jammu & Kashmir killing 42 CRPF soldiers is the latest calculated act of war by the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of the Jihadistan, aka Pakistan, to provoke civilian unrest in India prior to 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Attempt to disrupt India’s democracy is a brutal assault on the heart of democracy! 

On February 14, around 42 CRPF personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in a Jihadi terror attack orchestrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a semi-military outfit nurtured by Pakistan. The CRPF convoy comprised of 78 buses in which around 2,500 personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar. Around 42 martyred soldiers were in a bus, into which the terrorist rammed his vehicle with over 100 kg explosives. It was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Jammu & Kashmir. This is a well-planned and calculated military operation orchestrated by the ISI, an intelligence agency of Jihadistan and not of a lone wolf Aadil Ahmed.

Pulwama terrorist attack is a game changer for the psyche of the Indian nation! Time has come for the Government of India to take proper military and police action against the terrorists, their backers and the terror infra-structure in the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir. India must show her resolve as a hard state and not as a “lamb state” and take the challenge head-on. We must not be thwarted in our duty and dharma to protect our nation state from Pakistani onslaught owing to pressure from USA and UK, the historical backers of Pakistan. Being a rentier state, Pakistan has new sugar daddies including Saudi Arabia and China that will continue to blindly support the Jihadistan. Nothing must come in the way of action that is the need of the time now! Political leadership of India must show a firm resolve to decimate terrorism instead of looking towards the UNSC to declare certain individuals as terrorists. Any territory that harbors terrorists wanted in India must become a lawful target for military action and total annihilation.

Government of India should declare immediately a state of internal and external emergency in the state of Jammu and Kashmir owing to the law and order situation created post Pulwama Jihadi terror attack. Armed forces must be, now, given free hand to neutralize the terror assets of Jihadistan working under the garb of Hurriyat Conference. The decision to withdraw security cover to Hurriyat leaders is a welcome first step. The bank accounts of all Hurriyat leaders and their assets must be frozen immediately. The flow of money from Pakistan to terrorist organizations and terrorists through Hawala transactions must be stopped immediately so that stone-pelters are not paid to disrupt the security combing operations. The stone-pelters are agents of terrorists and an important part of the never-ending war being waged against the Indian state. The war like situation must be dealt with war-footing only. If the Lok-Sabha elections need to be postponed in the state of J&K, so be it. National security comes first, elections come later. The local elections in J& K can be delinked from the national elections. The state can remain under the President’s rule till the security situation is controlled satisfactorily and all the strategic assets of ISI and Jihadistan are completely eradicated from the soil of J&K in its entirety. Pakistan financed Hurriyat leadership must be arrested and sent to Tihar jail while the military combing operations take place in the J&K. After the successful completion of national general elections in 2019, the six J&K Lok Sabha seats can go for polling at a later more convenient date when security forces can be freed up for election duties.

Military action must deploy a massive and overwhelming force that should lead to an end objective accomplished in sight. The Line of Control (LoC) is not a holy cow and security operations must be taken across the LoC. Military action must decapitate the Jihadi Leadership based across the LoC in the Jihadistan-Occupied Kashmir (JOK) using killer drones. All the terror infra-structure, Jihadi training camps, terror launch pads, military assets of state sponsored actors, ammunition depots, ordinance factories, and civilian infra-structure in permanent support of Jihadi operations in the Jihadistan-Occupied part of J& K must be destroyed by precision airstrikes, killer drones and hypersonic missiles. The legitimate targets for military action and aerial bombardment include power plants, military hospitals, water plants, military bases and other supportive infra-structures including terrorist launch pads, bridges, airports, military runways and highways that transport military supplies across the JOK. Muzaffarabad is an appropriate target for military action and retaliation for providing financial backing, political cover and material support to terror organizations. The same holds true for the CPEC infrastructure being developed and militarily deployed in the JOK by Pakistan. Government of India would not be violating any international law or treaty by taking law and order actions in Indian territories under adverse possession by the Jihadi forces across the LoC. Under international law, India has every right to self-defense. Entire state of Jammu & Kashmir including Gilgit and Baltistan are part of India. Indian security forces have every right to go anywhere in the state of J&K under international and national law.

Revocation of the most favored nation (MFN) status is the first action in a series of economic sanctions against Pakistan. We must impose strong economic costs on Pakistan both bilaterally as well as regionally. Pakistani artists and players must not be allowed to earn money in India. No more medical visas to Pakistanis for free treatment in Indian hospitals should be granted. The flow of water to Jihadistan from the six rivers originating in J& K must stop during the war situation. If the diplomatic relations have to be downgraded or severed, so be it. We must recall out High commissioner from Islamabad and send packing Pakistani High commissioner as persona non grata (PNG).

ISI is punching too much above its weight regionally by having simultaneous terror operations in India, Afghanistan and Iran by its state sponsored proxy actors and strategic assets. On February 13, a total of 27 members of Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed after an explosive-laden vehicle targeted the bus which was ferrying the military personnel in Khash-Zahedan sector of Sistan-Baluchistan province in south-eastern Iran.  The Iranian bombing also injured 17 others. According to Iranian media, Jaish-al-Adl, a separatist militant group claimed responsibility for the deadly assault.

While the Government of India has the immediate obligation to take stern and effective counter-military action to respond to this latest attack in the asymmetrical war by thousand cuts; time has come for a regional approach to neutralize the Jihadistan by a three-way pincer like military movement by the three countries directly affected by the fountainhead of Jihad. These three countries located in South-West Asia are namely India, Afghanistan and Iran. A common military alliance for the tactical purpose of defeating Jihadi forces once for all is in the strategic interests of all the three countries that are ancient civilizational brothers. India and Afghanistan have had civilizational and matrimonial alliances from the time of Mahabharata more than five thousand years ago. India and Iran are the two civilizational nations torn asunder by the colonial machinations of the British empire that created a wedge state of Jihadistan, aka Pakistan, dividing the land-based access between India and Iran. Government of India must offer bilateral Friendship and mutual assistance treaties to both Afghanistan and Iran. As the US starts abandoning Afghanistan, under Trump, there is going to be a security vacuum in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to use Taliban proxies to acquire strategic depth in Afghanistan. The strategic partnership agreement (SPA) with Afghanistan signed in October 2011 needs to be upgraded to include military, mutual defense and security cooperation. India will need to develop an Army and an Airforce base in Afghanistan, having invested $3 billion in civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan. Both President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah should have no hesitation in signing a bilateral friendship and mutual defense assistance treaty with India for next ninety-nine years. This should be followed by negotiations of a trilateral regional security framework involving India, Afghanistan and Iran (IAI). Such regional security framework must allow Indian armed forces access to land bases in Afghanistan and use of Chabahar port as a naval base for security and maritime action against Pakistan. India has to be in the driver’s seat this time to safeguard her national and regional geo-strategic interests without looking for permission to act from Washington, DC, New York, Geneva or from London! Pulwama is the new Pearl Harbor for the modern day India. The entire world must understand this!

China’s MTCR Envy, Pakistan’s Oedipus complex and India’s Road to the NSG

July 2016


Published Originally on July 23rd 2016 on MyInd.net

China’s recent dragon dance to block India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by hook or crook has brought out interesting geo-political insights. China’s fig-leaf of rhetoric of “principled adherence to the international laws” is just that, a fig-leaf, because China has never adhered to the spirit of international law whether it is UNCLOS or the NSG or the NPT itself. China is currently in violation of the NSG rules by building additional nuclear reactors at Chashma, Pakistan without seeking formal NSG exemption or waiver. China has been the worst horizontal as well vertical proliferator of nuclear weapons having been the fountain-head of the CHIPNOKISS nuclear proliferation network. Chinese nuclear weapons designs showed up in Libya when that country turned in the nuclear program documents to IAEA. 

China had doubled down its efforts to hyphenate India with its “all-weather friend” Pakistan regarding India’s entry into NSG in cahoots with Pakistan. China articulated three main pseudo-arguments against India’s entry into the NSG; mainly that India is not a signatory to the NPT of 1968 and allowing India to join will send a wrong message to the non-proliferation agenda, that India’s entry will disturb the strategic balance in Indian sub-continent and will further encourage Pakistan to take more desperate measures to seek strategic parity with India and lastly that the NSG should have criteria-based for enlargement of membership for non-NPT members instead of making country-specific decisions.

On one hand China stated that India is not ready to join NSG simultaneously giving hints that China would allow India’s entry to NSG provided its Asian concubine Pakistan is given the same privilege. China wants to use the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) “model” for joint and simultaneous entry of both India and Pakistan into the international diplomatic groups in order to continue hyphenation of India with Pakistan in the international arena. China maneuvered this strategy successfully in the SCO summit at Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23-24th 2016 because it has controlling voice in the SCO.

After the Seoul NSG meeting was over, other deeper geo-political reasons for China’s refusal to budge became obvious. China became a member of the NSG in May 2004 while it applied for the membership of the MTCR, the same year. China’s membership of the MTCR was denied because of international concerns about China’s proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Weeks before the October 2004 MTCR meeting, the US had imposed proliferation sanctions on eight Chinese companies. India became the 35th member of the MTCR on June 27th 2016 and China is now green with envy.

China openly argued that India has just negotiated for last eight years for entry to the NSG while China has waited for more than ten years for entry to the MTCR without success! Implication is that India has to wait several more years for the NSG membership like China has waited for the MTCR. China is afraid that India within the MTCR might block China’s membership efforts to be part of the MTCR which it has desperately sought. China is using India’s membership application for the NSG as a double-bargaining chip or a quid quo pro for China’s own admission to the MTCR and Pakistan’s membership of the NSG.

Chinese hostility towards India is superbly reflected in a recent editorial in the state-run Communist Party English language mouth piece the Global Times, lecturing “Indian nationalists” saying “they should learn how to behave themselves” and name-calling Indians as “self-centered and self-righteous people”!

Pakistan’s perfidy

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz and other government functionaries have openly gloated over the fact that Pakistan in cahoots with China was able to kill India’s membership to the NSG. PM Nawaz Sharif reportedly wrote to 17 countries exhorting them to block India’s entry into the NSG. At the same time, Pakistan has started breast-beating that it is being discriminated against India in the NSG membership.

What should the US do?

Unfortunately, prior to the June 2016 meeting of the NSG in Seoul, Korea most of the heavy -lifting was done by India and the Indian PM Narendra Modi. Though the US made supportive and positive statements, the performance of the team Obama-Kerry was no match to the standards set by the team Bush-Rice in 2008. If Obama-Kerry team had emulated the example set by Bush-Rice team, and had worked the phones personally, the outcome might have been different. If President Obama wants to leave his foreign policy legacy shining for the posterity, he will have to work very hard by the end of the year to have a special meeting of the NSG convened by December of 2016 and get India’s membership approved without hyphenating it to Pakistan’s last minute application for NSG membership sponsored by the rogue Chinese regime.

What should be India’s response?

The Government of India should disregard the motivated and partisan domestic criticism about the so-called foreign policy failure. On June 2nd 2016, India had already pipped China by acceding to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, aka, The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC). In the month of June 2016, India got entry into the HCOC, the SCO and the MTCR.  The MTCR membership will allow India to buy high-end missile technology and predator drones from the US while strengthening its joint ventures with Russia on missile development and research.

India should continue to work in tandem with the US, Mexico, Japan and Australia to get the NSG membership closed by the end of the 2016. A panel for informal consultations on India’s membership headed by Argentine ambassador Rafael Grossi has already been set up by the NSG. Both Mexico and Australia have argued for a special session which the US government has supported. It would require intense Indian diplomatic outreach to the dissenting countries including New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Austria and Switzerland. India should let the US work on two countries namely, China and Turkey. Turkey is part of the Islamic brotherhood of Pakistan and would continue to place road-blocks for India on behest of Pakistan. Sooner the Government of India understands it, the better it would be for eventual success. The only country that can exert pressure on China and Turkey is the US.

Simultaneously, India should work towards picking up the low-hanging fruits of the memberships of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies and the Australia Group on export control to prevent spread of chemical weapons. China is not a member of either of these export control groups.  India should formally seek the entry before China becomes members of these two export control arrangements. The Indian diplomatic juggernaut should not end there. India must convince the Obama regime, once for all, about genuinely supporting India’s membership of the APEC instead of providing mere lip-service. Both the US and India must also prepare for possible Chinese opposition to India’s membership in the APEC in 2016. President Obama has a golden opportunity to leave a foreign policy legacy by ending India’s diplomatic isolation by calling the Chinese bluff and organizing a special meeting of the NSG to approve India’s membership of the NSG.

Supporting India’s Entry to The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

June 2016


Published Originally on June 23rd 2016 on Real Clear Defense 

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a 48-nation exclusive export control regime dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation while promoting safe international nuclear commerce for civil nuclear energy. After receiving a country-specific waiver for the India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement from the NSG in 2008, most western nations advocated for India’s inclusion into the NSG, even Russia has expressed unconditional support for India. The sole outlier for the major powers remains China, though China could benefit from supporting India’s membership.

Instead, China has spearheaded a diplomatic campaign to thwart India’s entry into the NSG. Doubling down on efforts to link India with China’s all-weather friend Pakistan, China has grasped at rationales to prevent India’s NSG membership.

China has articulated three main pseudo-arguments against India’s entry into the NSG.  The first is that India is not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT) of 1968 and allowing India to join does not comport with the greater non-proliferation agenda. Also, India’s entry might disturb the strategic balance in the Indian sub-continent, further encouraging Pakistan to take more desperate measures to seek strategic parity with India.  Lastly, China argues that the NSG should be based on specific criteria, rather than selectively choosing suitable nations for entry.

On all three counts, China is using clever sophistry to block India’s long overdue entry into the NSG. Whereas the roots of China’s obstructionist view stems from China’s strategic insecurity and fears of another rising Asian nation in the international geo-political theatre.

Let us discuss China’s pseudo-arguments point by point. France’s NSG membership, in 1975, despite not being a signatory of the NPT until 1992, thus creating precedence for a non-signatory of NPT becoming a member of the NSG. China’s second argument, again fallacious, attempting to adjoin Pakistan’s nuclear program with that of India. Pakistan’s aggressive assertions regarding the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons against India, is a vast departure from India’s peaceful and defensive nuclear posture. Particularly considering India’s need for nuclear energy to support a burgeoning economy and population, and to minimize the use of fossil fuels to support current climate change initiatives.

Currently, there are only four countries that are non-signatories to the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan. North Korea, having withdrawn from NPT is obviously not a candidate for NSG.  Israel and South Sudan are not seeking NSG membership, leaving just India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan have starkly contrasting non-proliferation records. Pakistan and China’s nuclear cooperation lacks a great deal of transparency, and is obviously a mix of civilian AND military applications, which should be cause for alarm.

China, worried about growing India-U.S. strategic cooperation, sees Pakistan as a mechanism to contain India in a perpetual regional conflict. China provided Pakistan with 50 kg of free weapons grade HEU and allowed Pakistan to test its first nuclear weapon of Chinese design in 1990 at China’s own Lop Nor nuclear test range.

Essentially, China is a rising hegemon that can not countenance a rising India, systematically placing roadblocks to India’s entry into the diplomatic world, commensurate with India’s size and economic maturity. The time has come for the 5th generation leadership of communist to do the prudent thing by diplomatically supporting India’s entry into the NSG. China should remember that India had supported communist China’s entry into the UNSC as a permanent member in 1971 despite having bilateral border issues. Diplomatic hegemony by China cannot arrest a rising India’s entry to NSG, UNSC, APEC or any other international body. Continued attempts to limit India’s participation in the international community will actually cause China harm rather than goodwill.

China was a brotherly country to India until the occupation, and eventual annexation, of Tibet. The following attack on India in 1962 is still ingrained in the minds of the international community. India’s industrial base and growing economy is on pace to rival that of both the United States and China.  If China wants the 21st century to be remembered as an Asian century, China must learn to recognize and accept India’s vital role.

China as a nation must do some self-introspection regarding its hegemonic behavior and expansionist policies since 1949.  China has no allies worth naming on the twin issues of its imperialistic behavior in the East and South China Seas. Peoples’ Republic of China can gain immense goodwill from a peaceful and rising India if it stops obstructing India’s entry into the NSG on June 24th 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.

India, Taiwan and China Triangle: Opportunity for Strategic Balancing

January 2016


History, despite Francis Fukuyama’s prediction of it having ended, was made on Saturday, January 16th 2016  in the  “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu”,  aka Chinese Taipei, aka Republic of China or the de facto Republic of Taiwan. Tsai Ing-Wen of the Democratic Progressive Party was elected President with 56% of the vote defeating Kuomintang’s Eric Chu. Besides, electing its first ever female president from the Democratic Progressive Party, the citizens of this island nation thoroughly defeated the President Ma Ying-Jeau’s Kuomintang Party for excessively placatory and deferential postures towards Beijing. The people of the Republic of Taiwan democratically slapped the Communist China on the face despite its repeated catastrophic warnings. History was also made because per analysts, “A new Taiwanese identity won” in the elections. A new generation with pro-independence mind gave a resounding defeat to the status quoist KMT. The 59 years old Tsai, a former law Professor is an alumnus of the University of Cambridge. She made the history as being elected the first female leader of an Asian nation without having any prior family connections or following the path of dynastic succession. 

It was the 6th direct election for the President of Taiwan since 1988 when Taiwan became a de facto and de jure democracy.  The Democratic Progressive Party, also secured a majority in the legislature, marking the first time that the DPP can govern alone with over a 50% majority. Results on the Central Election Commission’s website showed Ms. Tsai receiving 6.9 million votes, around 56% of the total, with her main rival, KMT candidate Eric Chu, getting 3.8 million, or 31%. A third-party candidate took the remainder. It is the first time the ruling KMT and its allies have lost control of the legislature since Chiang Kai-shek moved his Nationalist government across the Taiwan Strait after its defeat on the mainland by Communist forces in 1949.

Government of India should send a large official delegation for inauguration of the President-elect Tsai on May 20th 2016. India needs to exploit this democratic opportunity of government transition in Taiwan to engage it strategically besides deepening the economic and mercantile ties. Over the years, this analyst has made case for deeper economic, mercantile and strategic engagement with Taiwan in an effort to balance Communist China (1, 2). India’s civil society and the hyperactive NGOs need to make their presence felt in the Republic of Taiwan. There are several levels at which Indian civil society should engage the Taiwanese people. Since our ruling party the BJP has party to party relations with the Communist Party of China and has sent several party delegations to China, it should seriously consider sending an official party delegation for the inaugural of President Tsai. From a more pragmatic perspective, the BJP delegation should consist of former heavy weight cabinet ministers like Yashwant Sinha, Dr. Subramanian Swami and Dr. Arun Shourie. Building party to party relations with the Democratic Progressive Party will serve India’s long-term strategic interests.

The easy way forward would be for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to send large delegations to drum up more business, investments and joint ventures with their Taiwanese counter-parts. Indian business houses must invest in the tourism and hospitality sector in Taiwan especially in the strategically important island of Penghu in the Taiwan Straits.  Newer business entities like Patanjali Yoga Trust should consider exporting their organic consumer items in Taiwan.

Besides the business leaders, Indian Think-tanks, civil society, cultural and religious organizations should step up to the plate to foster people to people relations. Dharmic organizations should foster the Buddhist-Hindu brotherhood using Dharma-Dhamma paradigm. Since the time of Asoka, the great, India has exercised cultural and Dharmic diplomacy. Perhaps, His Holiness Dalai Lama should grace the occasion of inaugural function of the President-elect Tsai with his divine presence and blessings. In the same analogy, one of the Shankaracharyas should be persuaded to travel to Taiwan for blessing the new woman president of that nation! Organizations like Dharmacharya Sabha, Art of Living and Bharat Swabhiman have a role to play in promoting Yoga, meditation and other instruments of India’s soft power in Taiwan. Even ex-servicemen organizations should be encouraged to send delegations to Taiwan for the presidential inaugural.

India needs to focus on developing religious tourist facilities in the islands of Matsu and Penghu especially shrines to the Mazu (Matsu) Guardian Goddess of the sea whom Taiwanese revere. Because Taiwan is an island and relies on the sea for sustenance, the “sea goddess” Mazu (Matsu) is very important for the seafaring Taiwanese people.  Taiwanese and Chinese Goddess Guanyin (Kuanyin) began her divine existence and origin in India as the male bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara, but is usually described in Chinese communities as the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Worshipped by people of Chinese origin – including many who don’t explicitly identify themselves as Buddhist – since the 12th century, her full name is translated as, ‘she who hears all of mankind’s cries’. Reciprocally, India should hard-sell the Buddhist circuit for the Taiwanese tourists to India. Owing to historical Indian cultural influences in the East Asia, we need to remember and reinforce our soft power diplomacy while engaging Taiwan.

We both nations are the legitimate trading partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Chinese Taipei has been a member of the WTO since 1 January 2002. Taiwan is also a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) where India’s application is pending for membership for the last twenty years (3). Taiwan is an aspiring candidate country for membership of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Officially, since we have trade and commerce going on with the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei), the official Indian delegation should be headed by the Commerce Minister or by the Finance Minister. Communist China has intense trade and investment relations with Taiwan, so it can’t possibly object if India adopts the same course (2). India must deepen economic engagement with Taiwan on a war footing. Taiwanese investments should be sought aggressively and tapped voraciously for the #Make-In-India Campaign. Cash-rich Taiwan is sitting on foreign exchange reserves of $425 billion as of December 31st 2015. Instead of letting this money be invested across the straits in the Communist China, India should raise the economic costs for China by providing an attractive alternative destination for the Taiwanese surplus capital for investment in India’s infrastructure.

The only country that currently exports arms to the Republic of Taiwan is the US. Taiwan is desperately trying to modernize its armed forces in view of continued military threat from the Communist China. India is trying to enter the lucrative arms export market. India has 3-4 defense items/armament systems ready in its inventory that can be exported to Taiwan in the near future. These armaments include the Tejas fighter aircrafts, Dhruva attacks helicopters, Arjun battle tanks and Brahmos hypersonic missiles. Taiwan would be delighted to buy Indian hardware for its defense. India should also take future orders from Taiwan for supply of frigates and submarines. Since Communist China is exporting and supplying arms to Pakistan and building its capacity continuously, we should do the same with Taiwan.

India’s strategic establishment must adopt diplomatic and strategic pragmatism and must learn to strike when the iron is hot! Our soft power and hard power must be complimentary to each other for sake of furthering our strategic interests.


Talk, Don’t Trust

January 2016


Published Originally on January 23rd 2016 on Council for Strategic Affairs India HQ blog 

While intensive post-mortem reports are being written by self-proclaimed  strategic experts about the Government of India’s supposed (mis-) handling of the terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase, not much has been written on the antecedents of the terror attack and the suggested future course of action. Instead of continuing to self-flagellate and indulge in yet more chest beatings, the focus should be on the way forward for the nation to deal with the continuing terror threats that challenge national security.

Looking at the recent history, it was expected that the state-supported actors of the Pakistani security establishment [read ISI/GHQ/Army/Jihadi complex] will strike soon after PM Modi’s sudden and unplanned stop-over in Lahore for birthday and wedding celebrations. It was not anticipated that the terrorists will strike so soon. By that brilliantly staged photo-op meant for the consumption of international community, India’s reasonable attempts to engage civilian Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif were appreciated all over the world. There was a subtle signal to the Pakistani security  establishment [Read General Rahil Sharif ] that India will continue to engage the civilian leaders and civil society of Pakistan and not emulate the despicable behavior of the US Government in wining and dining the uninvited military leader as it did in November of 2015.  The brief Lahore stop-over did achieve its ostensible goal reassuring everyone that India is not a war-mongering nation and diplomacy will be given full chance while dealing with Pakistan. General Rahil Sharif by sending  Jaish-e-Muhammed terrorists to Pathankot airbase reinforced the notion that Army with the country called Pakistan will not allow peace with India at any cost. The raison d’ etre for this Army that controls the country called Pakistan, is anti-India scare-mongering.  Any putative move towards peace with India generates survival instinct and behavior patterns so as to disrupt the gains of the peace overtures.

All that is history and no amount of intellectual contortions and gymnastics will change the sequence of events in resolving the terror attack. What matters most is India’s posture in dealing with the terror threat and response to complex geo-political situation that the Government of the day is handling very adroitly. US has not decided to change its policy regarding Pakistan despite it having achieved the honor of being terror central of the world. US  will continue to coddle Pakistan. Obama administration will continue to label terrorism as violent extremism as if it will magically disappear by changing the name. Pakistani backers like China will continue to hold UN to ransom by not allowing universal acceptance of a definition of the terrorism. The OIC group led by Saudi Arabia will continue to support Sunni/Salafi/Wahabi terror groups world-wide while claiming to be supporting anti-terror operations. India must reconcile herself that it will remain alone in its fight against the Jihadi terror and will have to continue to fight her own battles single-handedly. – 

For any complex geo-political problem, the solution has to be multi-dimensional and well-thought out. Instead of reflexively calling off the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue or instantaneously mounting a maximal military response the Government of India is advised to initiate a basket of well-calibrated responses in next few weeks to send a message across to Pakistan and to the international community in general that we mean business while we defend the security and sovereignty of India. Our responses need not be sequential and can be done in parallel as they may have more effectiveness if deployed concurrently. The hotline between the two PMs must continue to remain active as both will need to talk. 

A number of diplomatic responses, albeit symbolic, must be taken to express our displeasure at the terror attacks. First and foremost should be the pressure on Pakistani government to take prompt and meaningful punitive action against the state-supported entities and their Military backers. The foreign secretary level talks must be postponed till such action is taken. Meanwhile we can still talk to Pakistan but on NSA level to discuss the Pakistani efforts to control terror groups and attempts to prevent recurrence of similar attacks in future. Pakistan must be asked to submit a detailed action taken report during the NSA level talks. NSA  level terror talks can assure Pakistan that will jointly support them in taking punitive actions against terror groups hiding in their territory.

Meanwhile, a dimarche’ must be sent to Pakistani High Commissioner to visit the MEA and hear our opinion about the this terror strike. We must consider declaring the Pakistani Army and Defense Attache’ posted in New Delhi as a persona non-grata [PNG] as the evidence suggests clear cut involvement of Pakistani military in orchestrating this terror attack. India should recall her High Commissioner from Rawalpindi for further consultations while the Pakistani counter-part goes back leaving the diplomatic missions to be managed by the DCMs. Perhaps, one of the Pakistani consulates outside New Delhi must be closed as a retaliatory measure. These symbolic diplomatic responses from the tool-kit will send the message to Pakistani civilian leadership that while India continues to engage with them, they have an onus to take concrete action to satisfy Indian concerns. The MEA  and the PMO must convey to their counterparts in Pakistan that participation of the PM in the SAARC meeting later this year will be contingent upon satisfactory security environment in the Indian subcontinent in general and in Pakistan in particular. On an international front, India must engage the UN  and the international community in taking common stance against terrorism. Freezing financial assets of terror backers and identifying Pakistani military handlers for international travel ban are reasonable steps that will help in generating an international coalition against terrorism. Granted that China will sabotage any such efforts and the US  will provide only lip-service. Most of the heavy lifting will have to be done by India by reaching out to all the civilized countries of the world in the next few months.

We must also engage regional countries for a united front against state-supported terrorism emanating from Pakistan. A formal forum for sub-regional mechanism for intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism activities should include countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan [A.I.B.B]. A sub-regional summit against terror must be organized within next three months by the Government of India seeking harmonization and commonality of preventive approaches and response. This mechanism should subscribe to the mantra that terror attack on one country would be considered as terror  attack on all the four requiring joint response. At this stage all these 4 countries are facing with terror challenges of their own, notably with origins from Pakistan. We can continue to engage West and US diplomatically in an effort to reshape attitudes and opinions but action must start from the region. Later on, if needed China, Myanmar and Srilanka can be invited as observers for this anti-terror front.Since India’s economic leverage with Pakistan is minimal, we cannot rely on economic sanctions at this time. Yet symbolic economic sanctions will include suspension by India of the MFN [most favored nation]  status granted to Pakistan in mid-nineties following our accession to WTO. Any upgrade back to the MFN status should be subject to bilateral, reciprocation by Pakistan. India should fast-track the proposed Iran-India undersea gas pipeline instead of focusing on the TAPI pipeline as it will give economic dividends to Pakistan. India must not show any eagerness to sell electricity to Pakistan while we ourselves are a power-deficient nation. India must caution China about advisability of going ahead with CPEC construction activities in the POK which is Indian sovereign territory. In other words, without Indian participation and approval,  any construction in the CPEC segment in POK and northern territories will be an act of war against India. As part of our economic response, we must fast-track the development of the Chabahaar port in Iran giving us connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Covert action has to be re-deployed along with other appropriate measures to effective send a message to Pakistan. Pakistan has a weak soft under-belly in Baluchistan. Sectarian differences and divide in that country can also serve as a fertile soil for activities against Pakistani security establishment. India, unfortunately, gave up her strategic assets in Pakistan under the infamous Gujral doctrine. Time has come for India to re-establish her strategic assets in Pakistan and elsewhere including the West. India must encourage Afghanistan Government to promptly retaliate militarily against Pakistan for terror strikes against Indian consulates in Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharief. Initiating covert actions will act as a warranty against future terror attacks short of full-fledged military response. India must not hesitate to transfer offensive weapon capabilities to  Afghanistan for punitive strikes. On a more muscular level, India should consider taking preparatory steps for a full-fledged military response if need be. The fact that Pakistan has tactical nuclear weapons should not deter us from taking an appropriate military response. We should not succumb to Pakistani nuclear blackmail and bluff. We should no longer agree to treated as punching bags. We should acquire killer drones from Israel while the DRDO is assigned money for fast-tracking a domestic predator drone development and deployment program. Having that precision strike capability, we should be able to target Maulana Hafiz Sayeed and Maulana Masood Azhar for surgical operations. We do have hypersonic, land-based Brahmos missiles that can be used for precision strikes against the headquarters of Jaish-e-Muhaamed, LET, Al Rashid Trust and similar terror organizations. Since the terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Pathankot breached the international borders we should consider surgical strikes against terror training camps in both POK and elsewhere in Pakistan.

A broad array of diplomatic and other options goes in support of policy of engagement with Pakistani civilian leadership while simultaneously containing and degrading the terror infra-structure in Pakistan with the help of sub-regional allies. It is important to talk to the civilian leadership but we don’t have to trust the Pakistani Army/GHQ/ISI/Jihadi Terror Complex. Dialogue does not mean defeat. Engagement does not exclude containment. Both can go hand in hand. As Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghan-American diplomat  articulates it, we have to deploy CONGAGEMENT strategies against Pakistan.

WTO From Doha to Nairobi: India leads the Developing World

December 2015


Published Originally on December 2015 on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Tenth Ministerial Conference was recently held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015, the first such meeting hosted by an African nation. The conference was chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed and had to be extended by an additional day owing to lack of consensus and sharp divisions. There were tough negotiations and bargaining till two hours before the final package was approved despite a majority of 162 participating countries having serious doubts about the final five page long “Nairobi Ministerial Declaration” (NMD) or the so-called “Nairobi package”.  India’s trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman covered herself with glory when she firmly pointed out the manner in which the final declaration ignored India’s long-held viewpoints.

The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries. These include a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, which the Director-General Roberto Azevêdo hailed as the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the WTO’s 20-year history. The achievements of the “Nairobi package” are very controversial depending upon which side of the international divide one belongs to. On one hand, the western block gloats over the final nail put in the coffin of the Doha Developmental Agenda (DDA), India expressed deep disappointment over the Nairobi Declaration saying its concerns were not addressed adequately. The Nairobi package by its failure to reaffirm the DDA again yielded to the US line. Prior to the meeting, the US had called for the WTO to remove the “stricture of the Doha round”.  The developing countries were left feeling that once again the agenda of the developed countries prevailed despite being in minority at the expense of the developing countries.

Because the WTO functions by an opaque consensus modality, the US achieved what it wanted by highlighting the divisions between the US/EU/Japan on one hand and China, India, the African Union and the LDCs on the other side. Failure to have consensus on reaffirmation of the DDA led to essentially jettisoning the DDA and paving the way for newer agenda issues like e-commerce, digital economy and investments besides a preference for narrowly focused limited sectoral arrangements. Mike Froman, the US trade representative crowed: “While the opinions remain divided among the WTO membership, it is clear that the road to a new era for the WTO began in Nairobi”. US having comparative advantage in those new areas would be able to dictate terms in future ministerial meetings as the new issues are allowed for the first time in last 14 years.

The other agricultural decisions taken during the NMD cover public stockholding for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries, and measures related to cotton. Decisions were also made regarding preferential treatment for the least developed countries (LDCs) in the area of services and the criteria for determining whether exports from the LDCs may benefit from trade preferences. The only non-controversial achievement of the 10th Ministerial meeting was the inclusion of Afghanistan in the WTO whose application for membership was languishing for the last 11 years!

There is a stringent domestic criticism of the Government of India by the Congress party and specifically by Anand Sharma, the former UPA Minister for Commerce for failure of the final declaration to reaffirm the DDA. These nay-sayers who suggest that India should have walked away and take the blame for the failure do not understand why China or any of the LDCs or African countries did not block the final “Nairobi Package”. None of these players including China had the anatomical fortitude to pull the plug from the final ministerial declaration! African countries had already started to blame India as they did not want the first WTO conference held in an African country to be deemed as failure! On the social media, West inspired anti-India campaigns were started to badmouth India as an enemy of free trade. If India had blocked the “Nairobi Package” the international consequences would have been disastrous for India. India is already the “bad boy” or the “whipping boy” of the international trade negotiations. India is still negotiating for entry into a number of regional and multi-lateral trade blocks and would have been “black-balled”. Already the US and China have delayed India’s entry into the APEC.

To Government of India’s credit, India won four years of reprieve from legal challenges if the subsidy limit for procurement for public distribution were breached. The Government was able to get the “peace clause” inserted in place till a permanent solution in the form of a reworked formula is arrived at. Congress party must realize that there are multitude of legacy issues regarding the WTO functioning for which the former Congress party government is responsible. At the time of the acceptance of the Marrakesh Declaration of 15 April 1994 which called for transformation of the GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariff) into the WTO, former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao led Congress party government was in power. It acquiesced to a very opaque system of international rules under the WTO sacrificing India’s trade and mercantile interests forever. In the name of consensus, The Director-General of the WTO has considerable discretion and say in arriving at the final negotiated text of the ministerial declaration. There are a lot of back-room negotiations that sometimes can stymie the majority of the participating countries.

At this juncture, India must focus on further harm reduction and damage limitation to our own national trade interests. India must stop mouthing empty “third world” rhetoric for the LDCs and safeguard her own interests. India must give up the sermonizing, moralist international trade policy and adopt real-politick approach that safeguards  India’s narrow national trade and mercantile interests irrespective of whatever happens to the trade interests of the LDCs and Africa. When push comes to shove, these countries habitually either abandon India or fail to show spine in presence of US/EU/Japan pressure. The only business of the Government of India is to promote Indian interests alone and not African or the least developed countries’ interests.

The only way for India to exercise influence in international trade negotiations is from a position of power and strength as an insider. India should throw her hat in the ring and should announce her candidature for the position of the next Director General of the WTO when the post becomes vacant in September 2017. On September 1, 2013, the WTO selected and welcomed a new Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, of Brazil ostensibly as a token of solidarity of the developing countries.  India whole-heartedly, threw her lot behind Brazil. Sadly speaking, Roberto Azevêdo, of Brazil did not whole-heartedly work for the interests of the LDCs or  for the “third world” and let the US hijack the final “Nairobi declaration”  despite being in minority along with the EU and Japan.  This should be a lesson learnt for India. The election or selection process will become live nine months before the vacancy. India should work towards building a plurality and possibly a majority in her favor by openly contesting the election of next Director General of the WTO.

India must also work towards renegotiating the rules of WTO functioning from consensus approach to a more democratic decision making by 2/3rd majority vote. Having position of the Director General will help India facilitate changes in the WTO as an insider rather than as a perpetual outsider.

From Kyoto to Kashi: Is Sky Really the Limit for India-Japan Cooperation

December 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that India and Japan are, indeed, civilizational brothers. India gave Japan the Zen-Buddhism through China. Even prior to that Shinto religion had coopted a number of important deities from Sanatana Dharma. River goddess Benten or Benzaiten is mother Saraswati reincarnated. The worship of Ganesha or Vinayaka or Kangiten, as he is popularly called in Japan, is a distinguishing feature of Japanese Buddhism. There are hundreds of temples and shrines dedicated to the goddess Benten in Tokyo.  A 12th-century temple of Ganesha in Asakusa suburb of Tokyo has been declared a national treasure of Japan.

In more recent times, a monument to a learned and wise Indian was erected in the Yasukuni shrine in Japan.  Most of the Indians have forgotten this wise man but the Japanese still revere him profusely. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a visit to India in 2007 paid tribute to him in a speech to the Indian Parliament in New Delhi and then traveled to Kolkata to meet the learned man’s then 81-year-old son Prasanta. Radhabinod Pal, an Indian judge, was the only one out of 11 Allied justices who handed down a not guilty verdict for Japan’s top wartime leaders at the post-World War II International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or the so-called Tokyo trials.  Justice Pal had courageously described the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States as the worst atrocities of the World War II, comparable with Nazi crimes. No wonder, last week during his second visit to India as the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe was perfectly at home participating in Ganga Aarti with Narendra Modi on the Dashashwamedha ghat of Varanasi (Kashi). How beautifully India’s soft power and cultural diplomacy was at display for the entire world! For the hard-core pragmatist, going back to ancient past does not serve current strategic interests. This has been a monumental failure and a Himalayan blunder of Indian diplomacy and foreign policy establishment in the post-1947 era.

Recently independent India with a Fabian socialist Prime Minister and penchant for so-called non-alignment forgot the cultural roots and regional influences and Japan after having been subjugated in World War II and having been occupied by the US had no independent foreign policy voice for decades. Both nations are now emerging from the dark clouds of the colonial past and rediscovering the unspoken bond they share! Election of nationalist politicians as Prime Ministers in both countries has helped cement the relationship. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Junichiro Koizumi shared a very cordial and close relationship. And now both Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe do not have to carry that unwanted burden imposed on their nations by history! A new economic and strategic relationship has emerged between the two nations after the just concluded three-day visit of Shinzo Abe.

Not only Japan has decided to participate in the “Make in India” campaign in a major way, it has become one of the most sought after investor in India’s infra-structure growth with soft loans under multiple mechanisms. India will, no longer, be bullied by China in dis-inviting Japan for the annual Malabar Naval exercises. Japan will keep its anti-nuclear rhetoric at bay and finally agreed to sign a civil nuclear energy deal with India. Both countries are harmonizing their approach to the issues of transnational terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, freedom of navigation and overflights, access to sea-lanes for trade and commerce in international waters, peaceful resolution of disputes without use or threat of force, participation in regional economic and security forums and enlargement of the UNSC.

Interestingly, India has started to export Maruti-Suzuki cars back to Japan. There is a lot more scope for Japanese tourists to visit India for religious pilgrimage if India’s tourism infrastructure can be upgraded. India has already announced visa-on arrival facility for Japanese citizens from March 1st 2016.

Looking at the seven page long joint statement that was released, the relationship has indeed matured. The relationship has become indeed multi-dimensional with strategic, economic, technological, educational, academic, healthcare cooperation. In near term India will need all the help and unequivocal  support it can from Japan for India’s entry into the four international export control regimes, mainly Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia group with the aim of strengthening the international non-proliferation efforts. India also needs Japan’s help becoming a member of the APEC. Both Indian and Japan need each other’s help for expansion of the UN Security Council. Japan is a member of the newly proposed Trans-pacific partnership. Perhaps, it is too early for India to consider TPP membership but when the time comes, Japan’s assistance would be needed.

India will continue to need massive infusion of Japanese investment into infra-structure. It is unlikely that China or US will be able to provide for investment. Japan is willing to pitch in with soft yen loans for such projects.  Both countries should aim for co-production of military hardware in India with Japan for domestic needs and also for third country export markets. India and Japan can be the joint providers of security and strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Both nations have already cooperated in the field of disaster relief during the Asian Tsunami. Since both nations have agreed to sign a civil nuclear energy deal, both could jointly supply nuclear reactors to other Asian countries under IAEA safe-guards. 

Japan has demographic challenges and its population is rapidly aging. Japan needs more workers to sustain its industrial economy. Shinzo Abe is incentivizing entry of Japanese women and retired persons back into the workforce. However, Japan’s need for more workers can be easily fulfilled by India by government to government import of labor and services. Aging Japanese population needs more healthcare providers which Japan is getting from Indonesia and Philippines. Indian healthcare professionals can easily fulfill that role despite language issues. Japanese universities do not have Indian students owing to language barrier. Compared to the US, UK, or Australia, university education may be cheaper in Japan for Indian students. A three month intensive Japanese language course for students and professionals may eliminate the linguistic barrier!

It is just the dawn of a new beginning. History has not been written yet. India and Japan together can change the future history of the Asia, nay, of entire world. It a win-win-win proposition!

ASAT Weapons Program with Chinese Characteristics

November 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

No longer in the realm of science fiction, space could be the battle field for the future world war III. It is well-known that both the US and Russia have space weapon programs developed over the 1970s and 1980s. These capabilities of cold-war adversaries were directed mutually at each other and India certainly would not have been a target. There was some vertical proliferation but no horizontal proliferation till 2005. More recently, China has been developing a wide array of space-based weapons. Flush with $3.5 to 4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China has evolved into a 21st century space super-power. Proliferation of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons was on the fringes of academic discussions in 1990s and 2000s till China started to develop its ASAT weapons program.

ASAT weapons, broadly speaking belong to three categories. The direct ascent ASAT is carried by a missile launched from ground, sea or air and reaches its target directly without reaching the orbit.  The co-orbital ASAT is carried to orbit by a space launch vehicle and then reaches its target after one or two orbital evolutions. The third category include directed energy ASATs that can be deployed on ground or in space and involve projection of powerful energy beams that can kill the target. The most proven of the anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons are the ground based, long-range missiles that could shoot down satellites from afar.

After China conducted its successful test of an ASAT weapon on Jan 11 2007, even the US perceived it as a new strategic threat. Since then, the Pentagon has been discussing ways to deter and counter China’s ASAT weapons, which can threaten US C5ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Combat systems, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) network. US military and national security officials acknowledged the Chinese ASAT test was part of China’s asymmetric warfare capabilities and represented a new strategic weapon that could cripple the US military in a future conflict by giving Beijing the capability to shoot down most low-earth orbit  (LEO) satellites. The US officials indicated that US missile defenses can be used to counter China’s strategic anti-satellite weapons. Consequently, after a lull of two decades, a secondary race for both vertical and horizontal proliferation of ASAT weapons has ensued since China’s ASAT test in 2007. Currently, three superpowers have demonstrated ASAT weapon capabilities. These countries are testing an array of ASAT weapons to take out the benefits and access to space to the adversary. Brian Weeden of the Secure World foundation has written a detailed review of Chinese, American and Russian ASAT testing in 2014.

China secretly started conducting ASAT tests in 2005 and has conducted a total of 8 ASAT tests so far (see Table-1). In January 2007, China tested an anti-satellite weapon against one of its own ageing weather satellite orbiting at 850km above the earth. The anti-satellite weapon was a non-explosive “kinetic kill vehicle,” which destroyed its target by colliding with it. This was the third Chinese ASAT test. There was a total silence from the Chinese political leadership initially.  China, subsequently, claimed a communication gap between the PLA and the government. That was for public consumption only. It is impossible for the PLA to conduct an ASAT test without the Chinese government being aware of it. China has been preoccupied with space warfare activities since the first gulf war.  The US had an asymmetrical advantage against its opponents in satellite technology in Gulf War I, the Afghan war and Gulf War II. China has developed navigation satellite jammers that are equipped to disrupt GPS.  On several occasions, the Chinese secretly fired powerful laser weapons to disable US spy satellites by “blinding” their sensitive surveillance devices and preventing spy photography when they passed over China. The US did not condemn this Chinese action as it did not want focus on its own space program and was afraid of “losing China” in its various diplomatic initiatives.  China justified its ASAT tests on multiple grounds. In case of conflict with Taiwan, China was concerned about the US superiority with US spy satellites keeping vigilance over the Taiwan Straits. China also expressed its concern about massive Japanese investments in military space technology. China claimed that its test was a defensive and was undertaken to check its technical capabilities. China considered the ASAT as ‘deterrence’ and stated that it will continue to adhere to its ‘no first use’. The Chinese accused that the US was not trustworthy in the area of space activities.  Since China could never match the US in terms of numbers and technology its best option was to develop asymmetrical space warfare advantages.

Since then China has mastered a broad array of counter-space-capabilities including direct ascent anti-satellite missiles, co-orbital anti-satellites systems, computer network operations, ground based satellite jammers and direct energy weapons. These weapons systems include a satellite armed with an explosive weapon, fragmentation device, kinetic energy weapon, laser, radio frequency weapons, jammers or robotic arms etc. China is investing heavily into developing anti-satellite capabilities because Chinese analysts justify and opine that their main adversary, US relies upon satellites for 70-80% of its intelligence collection and 80% of its communication. In 2014, US Government directly accused China of conducting another non-destructive Anti-satellite missile test on July 23rd 2014. On October 30th 2015, China conducted a test of Dong Neng-3 missile at the Korla Missile complex in Western China in the upper atmosphere. DN-3 is a direct ascent missile designed to collide with a satellite and destroy it. The Chinese are currently developing two direct-ascent missiles (SC-19 and Dong Neng series) capable of hitting satellites in both lower and higher orbits in the range of 10,000 to 30,000 km altitude. China has two powerful space launchers called KZ-1 and KZ-11. A DN-3 missile launched from KZ-11 launcher would be capable of hitting targets in higher orbits.

Since 2005, the Chinese space weapons program has shrouded in complete opacity. The only reason it got outed in 2007 was the space debris caused by satellite destruction. China has repeatedly used deception to camouflage its ASAT weapons program. China has also repeatedly denied its intentions of developing ASAT weapons program and  professed its desire to keep space peaceful as the Global Commons while developing space weapons in full blast. China has used the political cover of ballistic missile research to tests its anti-satellite weapons. In private conversations with Chinese researchers and officials with this author in 2013, Major General Yao Yunzhu of the China Academy of Military Sciences, Beijing stated that China will continue to develop its ASAT weapons till a legally binding multi-lateral treaty banning weaponization of the space is signed and ratified. She attributed this change in Chinese strategic postures to the US actions.

Although officially China’s public policy does lip service to the notion of peaceful Global Commons, the unofficial position has evolved to be more hardline. An editorial in China’s state run English language newspaper Global Times on Jan 6th 2013 asserted that Beijing had the right to carry out ASAT tests as it was the “trump card against the US”.  It further elaborated that China should continue substantive research on striking satellites. In the foreseeable future, gap between China and the US cannot be eliminated by China’s development of space weapons. A more recent PLA’s assessment of Chinese military thinking report states that “war in the space is inevitable”.

China has an ongoing space collaboration with its military client state and “all weather friend” Pakistan. Pakistan launched its first satellite Badr-1 in 1990 from China as it does not have its own space launch vehicle. In 1991, both nations formally signed an agreement to boost cooperation in peaceful application of space technology. China launched in August 2011 Pakistan’s advanced communication satellite Paksat-1R. China signed a bilateral agreement with Pakistan in 2008, provided a loan of $34.7 million and provided the technical knowhow and expertise in satellite building. Pakistani Scientists gained hands-on training and experience while working with Chinese scientists while building this satellite. China’s constellation of 35 satellites that makes up the Beidou/Compass navigation network gives China and its military client state Pakistan their version of GPS with a military accuracy of 10 cm.

China has proliferated nuclear weapons & missile technology directly to Pakistan and also through its client state North Korea. China is co-producing 5th generation fighter aircrafts with Pakistan. China recently agreed to provide 8 submarines to Pakistan to beef up its second strike capability boosting Pakistan’s “Full spectrum Deterrence” doctrine. With Chinese assistance, Pakistan has already developed the 2750 km range Shaheen3 missile to prevent India from using her second-strike nuclear capability from Andaman & Nicobar Island. China has ostensibly pledged not to proliferate the ASAT technology. Since China has shared advanced dual-use technologies with Pakistan in the past, in all probability, China will proliferate the ASAT technologies stealthily to Pakistan while brazenly denying it.

Chinese space capabilities pose serious strategic challenge to India owing to history of Chinese roguish behavior and adverse land-grabbing by China. Indeed, independent observers have noted that the US will not be the probable target of Chinese missile defense system but China’s neighbors including India and Japan. A new study by the Federation of American Scientists asserts that the “the prime impact of Chinese missile defense would be on India’s confidence on its ability to deter China with its nuclear weapons as well as sending a message to Japan. China can now use its advanced ASAT capabilities to hit Low, Medium and High Earth Orbit Indian satellites. China can also utilize jamming technology and laser technology to jam India’s satellites. India’s space infra-structure is around $12 billion and expanding rapidly. The Chinese ASAT weapons pose a direct challenge to India’s C5ISR architecture. India‘s efforts to establish her own GAGAN (GPS) network with MEO and LEO satellites can be compromised by China. China’s DN-3 direct ascent missile system can ram into and destroy GSAT-15, India’s latest communications satellite that was launched on November 11, 2005.

In 2008, we were the first to suggest that India must match China with its own direct ascent ASAT tests. This analyst had exhorted then government and future Governments of India to seek technological parity with China and not box India again into a situation analogous to the NPT conundrum.  We had speculated in 2008 about the possibility of Japan, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea also developing ASAT capabilities. We are fast reaching an alarming situation of gross asymmetry between China’s offensive ASAT capabilities and India’s ability to defend her space assets. India also needs to learn from her experiences during the negotiation of the NPT and its subsequent extension in perpetuity. If India had tested its nuclear device in 1968 instead of 1974, she would have been grandfathered into the NPT as a nuclear weapon state. India would have successfully negotiated any strategic challenges and would not have been boxed into the current situation she is in. Since China has already developed an ASAT weapons program and it pursues the doctrine of strategic parity with the US, it will continue to advance its cyber and space war capabilities. It is understood that the benefits from an ASAT attack are limited and would not confer decisive military advantage in every plausible conflict, however, each weapons system has its strategic value in case of a protracted war.

China is using the cloak of BMD research to give a political cover for testing its anti-satellite weapons under the guise of missile defense. Chinese ASAT weapons research and development has triggered a secondary ASAT proliferation race. Both the US and Russia have retooled their ASAT programs after the Chinese ASAT test of 2007. US went to the extent of destroying its apparently own out-of-control spy satellite (USA-193) in 2008 using a missile launched from Aegis cruiser. US analysts like Dr. Ashley Tellis agreed privately that this was nothing but a disguised ASAT test.  Iran and Pakistan are projected to be next in line to develop ASAT capabilities.

Indian response, so far, has been tardy, half-hearted, feeble and inadequate. Seeking to guide India’s responses to the Chinese threats, Space Security Coordination Group (SSCG) was set up in 2010 under the chairmanship of the former National Security Advisor SS Menon. SSCG had representation from the DRDO, IAF and NTRO. In 2012, the then DRDO Chief VK Saraswat emphasized a defensive strategy for India in the space domain. Following the trial of Agni V IRBM, Dr. Saraswat declared that the DRDO will field a full-fledged ASAT weapon by the end of 2014 based on Agni and ad-2 ballistic missile interceptor without resorting to actual testing. He projected the view that space security entailed the creation of “gamut of capabilities” without weaponizing. These capabilities included the protection of satellites, communications and navigation systems and denying the enemy access to their own “space systems”. India has mastered technical expertise over all the components of ASAT capabilities without actually testing an ASAT weapon. Unfortunately, having the technological capability without actually having tested has no deterrence value.

India must cure herself of the 6th nation syndrome in every advanced technological field. For a period of 14 years from 1974 to 1998, successive Indian governments kept the facade of not testing nuclear weapons while the international regulatory regimes hardened. Not only the NPT was extended into perpetuity by the P5 but also the CTBT was negotiated by the backdoor and its entry into force was made contingent upon India’s accession and ratification. It is imperative at this stage that India formally declares her-self to be a space weapon power and formally tests her ASAT capabilities prior to successful negotiations of multi-lateral space weapon control regimes. India must declare presence of her independent civilian and military space programs for strategic deterrence value. Owing to the nature of the power games being played, it is unlikely that we will have successful   multilateral treaties signed soon. Meanwhile, the big three actors, USA, Russia & China will continue to enhance their space weapon programs. It is incumbent upon the current Government of India to take this issue seriously, for once, in a proactive manner instead of reacting to international demands. There is still time for India to test, demonstrate the technology, acquire the capability and thereby safeguard our long-term strategic interests. The window of opportunity for India will not last very long in case the US decides to force the issue of an internationally verifiable space weapons regime.

Some analysts like Arvind John have suggested that India should conduct an ASAT test after seeking prior permission from the US. That is an absurd notion because the US is not going to give its blessings to an Indian ASAT test and program as is amply evident from the US response to India’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998. The US is a status quo superpower that will preserve its technological superiority and would not allow any other nation to share the exclusive expertise. If India needs to develop her strategic space capabilities, India will need to develop the spine and deal with the consequences for ASAT testing later on. India must test a direct ascent ASAT weapon now while simultaneously minimizing the space debris by lowering the orbit of the target satellite.

Russia and China have pushed for years for a PAROS treaty (Treaty on the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space).  A draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space (PPWT) was also submitted. Russia insists that it constitutes another multilateral measure in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and thus would be a real contribution to strengthening the NPT regime.  These proposals do not include the ground based ASAT weapon systems. The US initially refused the need for arms control agreements in outer space as it considered they are not a verifiable tool for enhancing the long-term space security interests of the US. The draft treaty on preventing arms race in outer space provides for a ban on placing any arms in space, a ban on the use of force or a threat of force against space objects as well as is called upon to remove the present lapses in the international space law as well as to ensure preservation of space property and strengthening of universal security and control over armaments.  The PAROS treaty aims to fill gaps in existing law, create conditions for further exploration and use of space, and strengthen general security and arms control, The US responded to the proposal saying it opposed any treaty that sought “to prohibit or limit access to or use of space.” The US insisted that such a treaty would also be impossible to enforce and verify because “any object orbiting or transiting through space can be a weapon if that object is intentionally placed onto a collision course with another space object.” The EU has suggested a voluntary, non-binding international code of conduct in space.

India needs to look at the military uses of space technologies and be prepared with its own ASAT weapon program. After ASAT testing, India should propose her own draft of a treaty and should become an active party to the outer space disarmament agenda. One of the reasons for a proactive stance is that India can ill-afford an expensive outer space arms race with China. Furthermore, we need to able to influence the treaty negotiations as an insider rather than as an outsider. India must factor in the worst case strategic scenario of an emerging hegemon China metamorphosing as a “rogue” outer-space superpower. The twin possibilities that China either will proliferate to Pakistan or will threaten to shoot down Indian satellites should be factored into the decision making process.

The US has started to talk of multilateral, verifiable treaty that includes both ground based and space based ASAT weapons. Before that is negotiated, India needs to preserve her strategic parity and balance of power by developing her own anti-satellite kinetic-kill capability. Other countries are likely to develop these space weapon capabilities and India should not remain far behind. Time has come for India to assertively proclaim its military space program after formally testing ASAT capability so as to avoid being marginalized again due to newly emerging international control regimes.


Adityanjee, (2008) Pining for PAROS or Parity. C3S paper No.111 dated February 23, 2008   http://www.c3sindia.org/us/193

Adityanjee, (2008) Securing space on the table: Responding to a new strategic arms race.


Adityanjee (2013) “No first use doctrine with Chinese Characteristics – http://www.vifindia.org/article/ 2013/may/02/no-first-use-nuclear-doctrine-with-chinese-characteristics#sthash.jWCUaA3J.dpuf

Weeden, Brian (2013) Ant-satellite tests in space. The case of China


Weeden, Brian (2014) Through a Glass, Darkly. Chinese, American, and Russian Anti-satellite testing in Space. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2473/1

Image Credits: By U.S. Navy. (http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/040170.htm) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

India, APEC and the US

November 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

The major focus during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila, Philippines on November 18th and 19th would be on the Paris terror attacks though it is a trade promotion group that does not delve into security issues. The regional tensions in the South China Sea would be coming to some sort of attention indirectly despite Chinese efforts to block any discussion.  The issue of enlarging the membership and India’s pending membership application will most probably again be relegated to the background. Both China and the US will raise their pitch to sell their version of free trade blocks. China will try to sell its proposal for the Free Trade Area for Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which excludes India and the US will do the same for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which currently excludes China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of Indian membership in the APEC with President Barack Obama in January 2015, when Obama visited India as the guest of honor for India’s Republic Day parade. President Obama expressed verbal support for India’s membership in the APEC at that time.

The APEC was initially floated in 1989 by an Australian initiative and had 12 founding member economies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. In 1991, China, Hong Kong, China and the Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) joined the APEC as a regional package. Mexico and Papua New Guinea followed in 1993. Chile was allowed to join the APEC in 1994.  Peru, Russia and Viet Nam joined the APEC in 1998, taking its full membership to 21 economies. The group acts with consensus in making decisions. APEC is more a trade promotion group and its recommendations are not binding on the member economies.

 The APEC’s mission statement reads: “Our primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We are united in our drive to build a dynamic and harmonious Asia-Pacific community by championing free and open trade and investment, promoting and accelerating regional economic integration, encouraging economic and technical cooperation, enhancing human security, and facilitating a favorable and sustainable business environment. Our initiatives turn policy goals into concrete results and agreements into tangible benefits.”

The APEC put a moratorium on new memberships in 1997 for a period of 10 years though India’s membership application was pending. The moratorium was extended for another three years in 2007. However, for inexplicable reasons the APEC economies have not bothered to deal with the issue of further enlargement.  Especially India’s application for the membership has been pending with the APEC for last 20 years without approval. Every year since 2010, India has been looking expectantly for the APEC to consider India’s application for membership but nothing concrete has materialized owing to passive obstruction and stonewalling.

Mainly, two arguments are used against India’s membership that India is not part of Asia-Pacific region and that India has proved to be an obstacle during negotiations in various international trade reforms/regimes. India had bargained tough during the Doha round and the Bali round of the WTO negotiations. Both these arguments are fallacious and self-serving. One fails to understand where countries like Thailand and Brunei have either land or sea borders with the Pacific Ocean? Or being a member of the ASEAN qualifies these two countries for the APEC membership! One also needs to ask a rhetoric question if India is an Asian country or not?  India is not located on the moon! Since the concept of Asia-Pacific has already been substituted by a larger strategic concept of the Indo-Pacific, there is no reason to continue to withhold India’s membership of the APEC on geographical grounds alone. Without India’s participation, there is no Indo-Pacific economy and hence no Asia-Pacific economy!

India introduced market reforms initially in 1991 when China was allowed to join as a member. India has gradually introduced more market reforms & liberalization and that is the reason India applied for the membership of the APEC. It is true that Indian economy was largely socialistic prior to 1991 but so were China’s, Russia’s and Vietnam’s. Indian membership of the APEC would provide an incentive to continue further deeper economic liberalization. India has been a founding member of the WTO as well as of its previous incarnation of the GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) since its inception. Interestingly, Russia is a part of the APEC since 1998 though it still does not qualify for the WTO membership as a market economy. China was allowed to join the WTO only in year 2000 despite being a member of the APEC since 1991. There seems to be some sort of unstated cooperation between both the US and China to continue to go slow on India’s membership of the APEC.

A number of US based analysts have exhorted the US to champion India’s cause in the APEC for membership as a step toward eventual inclusion in the TPP.  Kevin Rudd, the former Australian PM and head of the CII-Asia Society Task Force opined that the APEC misses much by not having India on board. Clarifying that APEC is not a free-trade body, Rudd said, “APEC is not a platform for market access negotiations, or a trade negotiating forum, but voluntary association of economies”. We, in India, can understand China’s reflexive and habitual pattern of opposition to India’s membership for any international arrangement with strategic implications because China is an adversary and a strategic threat. India does not perceive the US as an adversary in the post-cold war scenario. In fact, Pew Research on public opinion has consistently shown Indian public considering the US as one of the most  friendly nations.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Official for the APEC Matt Matthews on November 2nd 2015 dampened cold water on India’s membership by categorically stating that it is not on the agenda of the APEC meeting in Manila in Philippines, on November 18 and 19. He further stated: “I do not believe there is any active consideration within APEC for expanded membership in the current time”. When reminded that President Obama had “supported” India’s desire for membership of the APEC during his 2015 visit to India on Republic Day, Matthews said the US had so far only welcomed “India’s interest” in joining the APEC. “It is important to be careful and accurate about describing President’s comment. President welcomed India’s interest in the APEC. That speaks for itself. We welcome India’s examination of APEC. We have not entered [into any] discussion about it. I do not believe India is formally pressing for actual membership now in APEC,” he said.

India needs to hold the US to its words. The US must stop playing word games like China. The US expects too many unilateral concessions from India without delivering anything in return. The US, after signing the civil nuclear deal in 2005 and after ratifying the same in 2008, has not been able to shepherd India’s membership of the NSG, the MTCR, The Australia Group and the Wassenaar arrangement. The US has also made verbal promises to support India’s permanent membership of the UNSC. However, there is no concrete effort or will to make it implemented into reality despite a lot of rhetoric from the US. The proof of the US goodwill should reflect in active and actual support for India’s membership for the most benign of these international arrangements. Being an active member of the APEC will help India transform its domestic economy into full-fledged market economy. It will also prepare India for additional economic reforms so to obtain eventual membership of the RCEP or the TPP or the FTAAP.

India and the US have had a legacy of trade disputes within the WTO. US trade representatives have invoked the Special 301 Priority Foreign Country designation for India. If the US continues to show a pattern of passive indifference and obstruction to India’s membership of the APEC while using the flowery rhetoric akin to China, India may have to utilize more aggressive marketing and trading strategies. Let it be known to everyone including the US that trade wars and denial of market access is as a detrimental as a hot war in the modern context. If you don’t support us, you are against us in our pursuit of market access. Since India and the US have now formalized an annual Strategic and Commercial dialogue, perhaps, the US performance in its active support to India’s membership of the APEC needs to be carefully monitored annually. Preferential trade access to Indian market for the US must be made contingent upon US behaviors towards India’s membership in the APEC and other free trade groups. 

To paraphrase and plagiarize Carla Anderson Hills, the former US trade representative: We (India) will be ready to open the APEC and other trade-blocks with a crowbar if necessary, but with a Namaste if possible!

Rewarding the Rogue Regime

October 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

The cat is finally out of the bag! As a very much diminished Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif  arrived for a much truncated  summit with Barack Obama on October 22nd, initial Pakistani denials about a civil nuclear deal gave way to admission that Pakistan has already developed India-centric tactical nuclear weapons. The US side was more frank in admitting that a civil nuclear deal was being discussed with Pakistan for last few months but it will not be signed during the current visit owing to lack of agreement.

Initial US postures:

The first inkling about any possible civil nuclear deal between Pakistan and the US was a beautifully staged interview of General Khalid Kidwai, the former director of Pakistan’s Strategic Planning division. The interview was done during Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Biennial Nuclear Policy Conference in March 2015. Peter Lavoy, a foremost Pakistan expert threw softballs at General Khalid Kidwai who took a very anti-India aggressive posture in the presence of still practicing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Ayatollahs of the American think tanks in Washington, DC. General Kidwai got away with regurgitating stark lies about the so-called “Cold Start Doctrine” of Indian Army and half-truths about India’s nuclear posture.

This was followed in August 2015 by a 48 page long joint report by Carnegie Endowment and Stimson Center authored by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon. Titled a “Normal Nuclear Pakistan”, it advocated putting four brackets on Pakistani nuclear program in exchange for some concessions by the US and a carrot of the NSG membership and other international regimes. The report exhorted mainstreaming of Pakistan’s nuclear program if it agreed to sign and ratify the CTBT without waiting for India, agreed to limit production of fissile material and stop blocking FMCT, agreed to separate civil and military nuclear programs and agreed for limits in production of short range missiles and tactical nuclear weapons. In essence the report exhorted Pakistan to implement a paradigm shift back to “Credible Minimum Deterrence” from the “Full Spectrum Deterrence” in exchange for mainstreaming!

US Debate:

This was followed by selective disclosures and pleadings from former CIA officers like Kevin Hulbert and journalists including David Ignatius and David Sanger. Characterizing Pakistan as “Too big to fail”, Kevin Hulbert emphasized the nuclear threat posed by Pakistan.  Labeling Pakistan as probably the most dangerous country for the world, he enunciated his case for more nuclear engagement with Pakistan as that country poses triple threats of terrorism, failing economy and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal. David Ignatius, the Washington Post columnist disclosed the ongoing exploratory discussions of civil nuclear deal with Pakistan on October 6th 2015. Ignatius reported that Pakistan has been asked to consider accepting “brackets” on its nuclear program and delivery systems without weakening the Pakistani nuclear deterrence towards India! David Sanger in his October 15th piece clarified that Pakistan is not being offered the civil nuclear deal similar to India. He reported that US is trying to explore ways to relax NSG rules for Pakistan with a long-term goal of allowing it to join the NSG. Apparently China’s flagrant violation of the NSG rules and nuclear commerce and proliferation with Pakistan is the reason necessitating relaxation of rules. Essentially, US bureaucracy is searching for a fig-leaf to hide its shame in not being able to control the nuclear proliferation activities of China and Pakistan! US is too weak economically and militarily to confront China & Pakistan for both vertical and horizontal nuclear proliferation activities as part of the CHIPNOKISS network.

A lively debate has ensued in the US about inadvisability of the WH initiative of rewarding this rogue state. US think tanks have taken pro-Pakistani positions while politicians oppose it. Lisa Curtis a respected analyst has urged not rewarding the rogue state. George Perkovich, the vice-President for Carnegie Endowment used the sales pitch that “If Pakistan would take the actions requested by the US, it would essentially amount to recognition of its rehabilitation and would essentially amount to parole”. The phrase “rehabilitation and parole” used by Perkovich angered the Pakistani establishment.

Congressman Ted Poe, who is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade, in a strongly worded letter to Obama urged the POTUS to not engage in any negotiations regarding a US-Pak civilian nuclear agreement because “Pakistan has repeatedly proven itself to be deceptive and deceitful!”

Daniel Markey, a senior research Professor at the John Hopkins SAIS and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the CFR summarized his crisp opinion by stating that “there is simply no time for nuclear deal” because Pakistan’s current condition raises other fundamental questions about its long-term relationship with the US. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal continues to pose serious threats like insider theft, onward proliferation, accidents, sabotage or unauthorized use by rogue Jihadi officers!

Senator John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip for the 114th Congress, said “it is ill-advised” to pursue any type of civil nuclear agreement with Pakistan. Senator Cornyn,   founder and Co-Chair of Senate India Caucus, reminded that the issues surrounding Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal are of significant concern, and serious doubts persist regarding the security of its nuclear weapons. He also focused on Pakistan government’s clandestine nuclear proliferation network that provided nuclear weapons technology to rogue regimes in Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Cornyn’s reminder about this illegal network that has been dubbed as Nuclear Walmart or the CHINOKISS network is indeed a very timely reality check.

Pakistani Postures:

The initial inkling of any possible US-Pakistan nuclear deal came from Saira Bano, a Pakistani visiting fellow at the Stimson Center on June 22nd 2015. She disclosed that Pakistan had again demanded an India-style civil nuclear agreement under the auspices of the US-Pakistan dialogue during the 7th round of the US-Pakistan Security, Strategic Stability and non-Proliferation Working Group in June 2015. Advising Pakistan that the road to civilian nuclear cooperation begins in Islamabad, she exhorted Pakistani government to emulate India by focusing on economic growth and increasing trade relations in order to minimize the political temperature. Creating a soft international image of Pakistan with responsible behavior was her mantra for Pak establishment.

Following the disclosure from the White House, the ostensible Pakistani response was a vehement denial coupled with assertions that Pakistan will never accept any “brackets” on its nuclear and delivery system program.  Pakistan is focusing on IRBMs and nuclear-powered submarines supplied by China for second strike capability.

 Munir Akram, the disgraced former Pakistani Permanent Representative to the UN gave the initial defiant response that Pakistan will not negotiate its nuclear assets and will not accept any brackets in view of it doctrine of “Full Spectrum Deterrence”. This was followed by a frank admission by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry that Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons that are primarily India-Centric. Appointment of recently retired General Nasser Khan Janjua as the new national security advisor is indicative of the fact that General Raheel Sharif wants to negotiate directly with the WH without the constraints of dealing with the civilian administration of Nawaz Sharif.

Shahzad Choudhry, a retired Pakistani air-marshall acknowledged that the suicidal threats of “Full Spectrum Deterrence” should be the leitmotif for a dance drama by Nawaz Sharif before Obama. He opened the window for Pakistan to bite the bullet and reverse back to doctrinal shift to credible minimum deterrence. It is again rationalization of nuclear blackmail by the rogue state with a gun pointing at one’s own head. Following the good cop, bad cop tactic, Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, director, School of Politics and International Relations at the Quaid-e-Azam University characterized the reported offer of waiver for Pakistan for admission into NSG as “lollipops”. While Pakistan wants to be member of all the export control regimes, it is not willing to accept restrictions on its nuclear weapons program. Zahir Kazmi of the Strategic Vision Institute of Pakistan dubbed these expectations of Pakistan agreeing to “brackets” as wishful thinking! He opines that Pakistan should reject any such deal because the cost of “mainstreaming” is too high in terms of accepting conditions. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, the president of Strategic Vision Institute demanded parity and hyphenation with India in accepting any nuclear deal. Dr. Cheema rejected demands for reversion from “Full Spectrum Deterrence” back to “Credible Minimum Deterrence”.

Indian Response:

While the Government of India has remained very restrained and measured about any possible nuclear deal between US and Pakistan, the hyperactive Indian press and analysts have discussed it threadbare. The Ministry of External Affairs responded in the following words: “We’ve seen these reports and it is not for the first time this issue has surfaced. Whosoever is examining that particular dossier should be well-aware of Pakistan’s track record in the area of proliferation. When India got this particular deal it was on the basis of our own impeccable non-proliferation track record. That is the reason the U.S. gave us 123 Agreement in 2005 and that is why we got a NSG waiver in 2008. Pakistan’s track record is completely different, so we hope that will be taken into account in making any such decision”.

Happymon Jacob who teaches Disarmament and National Security at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.in his op-ed piece in the Hindu takes the pro-US views about “Mainstreaming Pakistan” and wants New Delhi to offer conditional support to Pakistan’s inclusion in the global nuclear order. He enthusiastically wants the U.S. and other stakeholders to press Islamabad to stop stalling the FMCT negotiations, and agree to a nuclear ‘No-first-use’ agreement with India, which is already part of the Indian doctrine. He advocates obtaining firm commitments from Pakistan on clamping down on terrorism in the country in order to reduce the likelihood of nuclear terrorism in the region. He suggests re-hyphenation of India with Pakistan, as part of the deal, and to negotiate nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) with that country. What he totally forgets is that any commitment by Pakistan in the past have been worth the used toilet paper! Pakistan’s strategic behavior does not change with engagement strategies. C Mohan Raja another pro-US analyst cogently highlighted the inherent contradictions in the proposed deal that make it very difficult to sell to both US and Pakistan.

Seema Sirohi, a Washington based journalist analyzed the behaviors and motives of the US actors behind the sudden blockbuster proposal and characterized the proposal as part revenge and part grandstanding. Peter Lavoy, the point person for South Asia in the US National Security Council is the chief architect of this blockbuster plan has deep links to Pakistani army. She further highlights that the joint think tank report states that India should not be allowed to join the NSG before Pakistan thus re-hyphenating India with Pakistan. The US deep state still romanticizes the Pakistani allies of the cold war era and are pining for the return of the intimate relationship.

Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary, in a very detailed analysis explicitly states that US-Pakistan nuclear deal will be a threat to India’s security. Noting the historical US soft spot of Pakistan, the China Pakistan Nuclear Axis the proposed deal, he argues  would be a reward for Pakistani military as the nuclear program is under control of military without any civilian input.

The most cogent analysis was done by Dhruva Jaishankar, who has inherited Indian strategic genes. He bluntly described America’s Pak-Af policy as the definition of insanity! The real reason for Pakistan’s nuclear expansion isn’t India — it is for blackmailing the US to collect more rent. He argues that the US has been so fearful of Pakistan’s nukes being sold, stolen, lost, sabotaged, or accidentally used that during George W. Bush’s administration, $100 million was spent trying to secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Since 2001, the Pakistan Army has also received more than $20 billion in military support from the US, even though it has continued to support terrorist groups like the Haqqani network that have killed hundreds of Americans. US has been gullible to trust successive Pakistani rulers who have adroitly shook down the superpower without US realizing that it has been conned! Rakesh Sood, India’s former representative at the Conference on Disarmament highlighted the shortcomings of previous US administrations when Reagan deliberately overlooked Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear activities. Pakistan’s obsession of nuclear parity with India encourages the US non-proliferation lobby to attempt re-hyphenation of India and Pakistan thereby rewarding that rogue nation.

The US-Pak Joint Statement:

While the US-Pakistan joint statement released on October 22nd is silent about any possible civil nuclear deal mainstreaming Pakistan immediately, it does comment on strategic stability, nuclear security, and nonproliferation. Using banal Diplomatese jargon the statement is high on rhetoric and low on content. Advising maximum restraint the statement exhorted Pakistan to work toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia. The statement acknowledged the importance of regional balance and stability in South Asia. The joint statement highlights the continuing threat of nuclear terrorism and the need for Pakistan to work with US on Nuclear Security Summit.  The joint statement noted Pakistan’s efforts and aspirations to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export control regimes. Recognizing the importance of bilateral engagement in the Security, Strategic Stability and Non-Proliferation Working Group, the joint statement hinted that both sides will continue to negotiate on a future “mainstreaming deal”.

The Aftermath:

Post the summit, Nawaz Sharif gave the ultimatum to the US to take Pakistan’s side in its long-standing dispute with India or run the risk of escalating nuclear conflict. He stated that Pakistan was ready to help US and Afghanistan revive peace talks with Taliban rebels. Seeking a quid pro quo he made it clear that his main priority was seeking international support to compel India to negotiate over the future of Jammu & Kashmir.

The US, on the other hand, has categorically ruled out any kind of negotiations with Pakistan on India-type civil nuclear deal (123 Agreement), nor are they seeking country specific waiver for Pakistan from the NSG. The US insists that they have ongoing discussion on Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security along with promotion of strategic stability. What is not ruled out is a future deal that Pakistan may choose in near future if it does not insist on nuclear parity with India.

Gazing the Crystal ball:

Pakistani politicians and military take pride in brandishing their nukes at drop of a hat. Sartaj Aziz, the outgoing NSA of Pakistan boasted recently: “We are a nuclear armed country and we know how to defend ourselves”. From an Indian perspective, any civil nuclear deal between US and Pakistan would be strategically dangerous because it will further embolden the GHQ/ISI/Jihadi/Wahabi terror complex in Islamabad in staging acts of terrorism utilizing the services of non-state actors against India. It will be perceived as endorsement of Pakistan’s anti-India postures by the rogue military elite of that country.  Having said that, how much India would be able to influence the POTUS remains very questionable because in the 1980s Reagan administration brushed aside India’s concerns.

WWOD (What Would Obama Do)?

Obama’s legacy factor may trump all the rationale courses of action for the US. Obama is now a lame duck President hobbled by a dysfunctional Republican Congress who is looking for his foreign policy legacy. Despite his domestic failures, he has already made history by starting reengagement with Cuba and signing of a nuclear deal with Iran. However, he has proven ineffective and mediocre while dealing with the strategic chaos in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and in ending Pak-Af terrorism challenges. His administration is trying to offer a candy to Pakistan to cajole it to cooperate with the US’s and Obama’s deeply flawed Pak-AF strategy. Following into the footsteps of George W Bush, Obama regime has offered 8 new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan ostensibly to deal with the insurgency in Balochistan besides the 70 F-16’s that Pakistan already has. Whom is Obama administration trying to fool?

There is limited time window of only 14 months between now and January 2017 when a newly elected US President will take office. Obama’s lame duck regime is likely to go on a fast track to finalize a nuclear deal with Pakistan at the cost of India in order to glorify Obama presidency for the posterity! Although negotiations for such a deal takes months and years, both parties are eager to win the trophy before January 2017. The US think tanks have an incestuous relationship with Pakistan from the cold-war era. They are, indeed, cheering for Pakistan and egging on the Obama administration to reward the rogue nation.

Pakistan may reluctantly consider signing the nuclear deal with “brackets” having no intention of sticking to the limits or caps or brackets. Reneging agreements and treaties  has been the persistent behavior pattern of the Pakistani state. A future POTUS may disregard Pakistani nuclear indiscretions reflexively in “larger US strategic interests” as Reagan had done in the past. In this regard it is important to review Pakistan’s past performance. Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistani Ambassador to US and currently the Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute makes a candid confession that US policies have aggravated Pakistan’s dysfunction; reignited and reinforced the magnificent delusions that the US cannot simply manage the world without Pakistani help. He makes a point that Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons while promising the US it won’t go nuclear if it gets US economic and military assistance in 1970s and 1980s.

Internally, because of the deep divisions in the US policy establishment, this issue may get dragged into the presidential electoral politics. Obama and his acolytes forget that any legitimization of Pakistan would embolden Saudi Arabia and other gulf monarchies to develop their own military nuclear programs. Since Saudi Arabia has been the paymaster for the Pakistani nuclear program, post-deal Pakistan will indulge in nuclear commerce again albeit legally instead of through clandestine CHIPNOKISS network. Furthermore, Pakistan is not a normal state. It is an artificially contrived transitional entity which has been facetiously dubbed as an ideological Islamic Army with a country. Nothing else is farther from the truth than this blunt statement. There are major ideological similarities between the Daesh/ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic state and the GHQ/ISI/Jihadi complex of Islamabad. In both cases, an ideologically driven fighting force is holding civilians to ransom in the land they control. Welfare of the citizens is not the concern. Retired Pakistani military officers and nuclear scientists in past have volunteered their services to Al Qaeda. Leakage, theft, diversion and sabotage will remain serious limitations of Pakistani nuclear arsenal even if gets “mainstreamed”!

The current Republican party dominated US Congress may not approve any civil nuclear deal (123 Agreement) with Pakistan because of Pakistan’s consistently stellar record of duplicity and cheating forever on bilateral and multilateral agreements. America’s India-bashing cold-warriors who serve as the high priests and Ayatollahs of the US non-proliferation industry will make a last-ditch effort to reward the rogue state of Pakistan in order to further humiliate India for strategic autonomy and for her principled stand on NPT and CTBT. India must watch out for her strategic interests.

Image Credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9364837@N06/22173388130/

China’s Ocean Hegemony and Implications for India

October 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

The fifth generation of CCP leadership under Xi Jinping has de facto abandoned the Deng doctrine of keeping low profile internationally. China has become more ambitious of becoming a superpower and has been extending its sovereignty claims on the land and the sea. As a rising hegemon, China has started to challenge the existing international strategic order. China has been in the news recently for building artificial islands with air-landing strips in the South China Sea. It has demanded 12 nautical miles exclusive economic zone around these artificial, man-made reefs. China is a signatory to the law of the Seas (UNCLOS). Chinese attempts to claim the bulk of the South China Sea goes against both the letter and the spirit of the law of the sea. Beijing will invoke its EEZ for its own economic benefits while denying the same rights to other claimants. Brushing aside the ASEAN Code of Conduct in the SCS, China claims sovereignty over all of the SCS which is disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. 

For the last several years, Chinese official media has been harping on safeguarding China’s “Ocean Sovereignty”. The PLA navy’s goal is to have a “Thousand Ships Navy”. This stated “TSN” Goal is to further Chinese supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region and exploit the mineral & hydrocarbon wealth in the international sea-beds. PLAN has been entrusted to fight future wars for China’s security as per the former President Hu Jintao. On December 6th 2011, while addressing the PLA Navy, Hu Jintao pronounced that PLAN should make “extended preparations for warfare in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security”. China unilaterally declared an air-defense identification zone in the East China Sea in November 2013. Recently, a Chinese admiral declared similar intentions of setting up an air defense identification zone in the future above the disputed areas of the South China Sea if Beijing thought it was facing a strategic threat.

China has created not only facts on the ground but also facts on the Ocean in a very predictable manner of claiming sovereignty with the “Chinese Characteristics”. China always makes maximalist claims against other countries, disputes sovereignty, and alters the facts on the grounds of medieval history or economic reasons, bullies the smaller adversaries into submission, demands mutual concessions while later on sending its armed forces. China has constructed a couple of lighthouses in the South China Sea to provide a fig-leaf for its naked hegemony and sea-resources grabbing activities. China has successfully converted the South China Sea into a virtual private lake affecting the freedom of navigation for the entire world. India has vital maritime interests in the South China Sea. 55% of Indian maritime trade passes through the South China Sea. China has objected vehemently to ONGC’s oil drilling in collaboration with Vietnam in the South China Sea and PLAN ships have started to harass the Indian drilling rigs.

 Once the heat of the South China Sea is gone and Beijing has de facto acquired the marine resources of the South China Sea, the dragon will spread its strategic tentacles into the Indian Ocean. Warning bells are already ringing in the Indian Ocean. PLAN started its naval forays in Indian Ocean up to the Gulf of Aden in 2010 under the garb of anti-piracy operations to control Somali pirates. China’s string of pearl initiative got absorbed in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China did acquire significant naval facilities in Hambantota, Chittagong, Maldives, and listening & communication facilities in the Coco Islands in Myanmar besides building the naval port in Gwadar. Incidentally, India has gifted the Coco islands to Myanmar in Nehru’s realm. Gwadar port was offered to India by Oman but Nehru declined and Pakistan became the owner and the beneficiary. China also acquired naval facilities for recuperation and re-fueling in Seychelles in December 2011. China has already signed an agreement with the UN backed International Seabed Authority to gain exclusive rights to explore poly-metallic sulfide ore deposits in 10,000 square-kilometers of international seabed in Indian Ocean for 15 years. China has been sending nuclear powered submarines to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pakistan will receive eight Chinese nuclear powered submarines effectively neutralizing the Indian second strike capabilities in case of a nuclear attack on India.  China plans to buy an island from the Maldives for $ 1 billion under the current Maldivian Government of President Abdulla Yameen.

China’s response to Malabar naval exercises in 2007 when trilateral format included Japan was very negative leading to non-invitation to Japan later on after 2007. India plans to invite Japan in the upcoming Malabar exercises and Chinese reaction would be worth watching. China remains very paranoid about the US “Pivot to Asia” doctrine. Chinese paranoia about the Asian Quadrilateral led to Australia pulling out of that mechanism for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. China had sent trial balloons to US for a G2 condominium by which US will take over the Atlantic Ocean whereas China will have rights over the Pacific Ocean. Unlike Tibet, Indo-Pacific is too important to be given to China on a platter. As a trading nation with vital economic and maritime interests, India will have to safeguard the sea-lanes of communication, ensure freedom of navigation and take the strategic ownership of her maritime interests. China’s foreign exchange reserves were at the peak of almost $4 trillion in June 2014. Despite a recent decline in Chinese economy, China’s foreign exchange reserves totaled $3.514 trillion at the end of September 2015. China still has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world.  China will continue to extend its strategic footprints under the much enlarged One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project because it has plenty of spare cash. China also proposes to use the Beijing sponsored AIIB as the financing arm for the OBOR which will ultimately require $ 1.4 trillion in investments. China has already sanctioned $46 billion on China-Pakistan Economic corridor as part of the OBOR connectivity without taking India’s sensitivities about CPEC passing through the POK. While India has cooperated with China in the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar) Corridor project, the GOI has been deliberately silent about any synergistic cooperation with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road project.

In contrast to China, India’s foreign exchange reserves were only $352 billion in September 2015. Despite willing to take remedial action, New Delhi does not have the hard cash to take upon Chinese naval strategic threat in Indian Ocean. The strategic asymmetry vis-à-vis China will require some cool-headed long-term strategic and economic planning. Diplomats like Shyam Saran have rightly advocated limited but pragmatic cooperation with China on the OBOR while shoring up our own connectivity projects including the Chabahar port in Iran and Andaman and Nicobar island naval command.

India must, first and foremost, increase her Comprehensive National Power to deal with continued Chinese threats. The only way forward is to rapidly speed up Indian economy, ensure permanent economic reforms, develop domestic infrastructure, reenergize the Indian manufacturing sector and solidly promote the Make in India initiative. With a projected growth rate of 7.5% in 2016, India can restore her share of the world GDP and reduce the economic and strategic asymmetry with China while safeguarding her strategic & maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Does India’s nuclear doctrine need a revision?

October 2015


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

India’s first nuclear test in 1974 called smiling Buddha in Pokhran desert was, for tactical reasons, characterized as “Peaceful Nuclear Explosion”. The second series of five nuclear tests in 1998 (Pokhran II) was again accompanied by a statement from the then PM Vajpayee attesting to lack of aggressive intent. The 2003 Indian nuclear doctrine went a step forward and made a written unilateral concession about India’s adherence to “No First Use” Doctrine. Since then a lot of debate has gone into the rationale, the need and the necessity for India to revise her Nuclear Doctrine and posture. Some foreign policy mandarins have tried to argue that India does not need to make any changes in the 2003 version of the doctrine. Though the election manifesto of the BJP prior to May 2014 Lok Sabha election noted the need to take a relook at India’s nuclear doctrine, subsequent statements by the PM nipped it in the bud.

While looking at the nuclear scenario, India has to take the contemporary threat perception and other geo-political factors into account while revising her strategic nuclear policy. It will be a good idea for India to periodically revise her nuclear doctrine every 10-15 years based on the geo-political situation. A lot has already changed since 2003. There is nothing sacrosanct about revising a document that was essentially tactical in nature. Newer nuclear threats have emerged from both the nuclear neighbors, China and Pakistan that mandate that India revise her nuclear doctrine and posture in order to avoid future nuclear blackmail.

China has significantly diluted its “No first use” nuclear doctrine over the years. China has no intention of exercising restraint in the growth of its nuclear weapons program till the other two nuclear weapons superpowers (US and Russia) have brought down their number of nuclear weapons to China’s level. China has started deploying its nuclear powered submarines in the Indian Ocean region.

Pakistani Nuclear program was initiated in 1970s by ZA Bhutto after Pakistan’s defeat in Bangladesh war of independence in 1971. His famous statement in 1965 in UNSC was about waging a thousand years war against India. Later on he talked about eating grass and obtaining Nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has been, is and will remain an India-centric nuclear toy in the hands of ISI/GHQ/Pakistani military as the civilians do not control the program. From the beginning Pakistani nuclear program has had Chinese footprints all over. While Pakistan’s economy goes south, it remains a rentier state having extorted $31 billion from the US since 9/11. Pakistan keeps on getting tranches of money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under an all-weather Sunni Alliance. Pakistan and ZA Bhutto had proudly proclaimed Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as “Islamic bomb” having been financed by Islamic money from KSA. Last year, Pakistani PM was able to obtain $ one billion from Saudi Arabia at a time when Pakistan’s economy took a hit. Money will never be a problem for Pakistani nuclear establishment as it grows at a disproportionate rate.

Pakistani ballistic missile program has also heavily borrowed from China and North Korea since the 1990s. Hatf IX (Vengeance-IV) Nasr was purpose built to carry tactical nuclear weapons (sub kiloton yield) over short range of 60-90 kilometers. On March 9 2015, Pakistan successfully tested the Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads to a range of 2,750 km. Shaheen III nuclear capable missiles increase the range of Pakistani nuclear missiles to include the entire Indian land mass and the Indian Eastern naval command based in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Pakistan has recently become the beneficiary of Chinese nuclear powered submarines that definitely pose a threat to India for her second strike capabilities.

General Khalid Kidwai who was the director of Pakistani Army’s Strategic Planning Division (SPD) for a period of 15 years, in an open meeting in March 2015 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington DC aggressively articulated Pakistan’s new offensive nuclear doctrine and posture. He brazenly threatened India with the first use nuclear attack threats painting a new picture.  From the initial posture of credible minimum deterrence, Pakistan has moved to the concept of “Full Spectrum Deterrence” which envisages aggressive and offensive use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan against India in a number of scenarios. Not only Pakistan has linked its full spectrum nuclear deterrence doctrine with resolution of J&K dispute in its favor, Pakistan has threatened to use nuclear weapons against India if its tentacles in Afghanistan are cut off. Extra-territorial linkage with loss of its assets in Afghanistan widens the role for nuclear weapons under the new Pakistani doctrine.

Pakistan has already developed tactical nuclear weapons to be used in the war theater on the mechanized divisions of Indian armed forces. Ostensibly, Pakistan has justified use of tactical nuclear weapons as a policy against Indian Army’s imaginary “Cold start doctrine” which was never officially promulgated. Pakistan is the only country that has single-handedly blocked an international agreement on FMCT while feverishly increasing its fissile material production. While traditionally cited figure is Pakistan has 90-110 nuclear weapons, reality has changed during last few years. The Pakistani nuclear armada is the fastest growing in the entire world with production of 10-20 new nuclear weapons every year.
Pakistani state has brazenly and repeatedly indulged in nuclear blackmail and rent collection over the last several decades. This Pakistani behavior will NOT change only the sponsors and the rent-payers will change over time.

There is NO reason for India to remain complacent while the nuclear threat perception changes. The PM will do a yeoman’s service to long-term strategic security of Indian nation if he revisits the Indian nuclear doctrine and allows it to grow some teeth. A number of remedial steps can be taken including discarding the meaningless no-first use doctrine to safe-guard nation’s security. Victors always write the history and India has lost repeatedly in history making.


May 2014


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 


Independent India knows how to slight, insult and forget her historic icons! We did it with Netaji Subhash, Sardar Patel & Dr. BR. Ambedkar. We choose to call Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev as terrorists in government approved school textbooks while  some of our emancipated former leaders have glorified terrorists with  the  use honorifics like “Osamaji”.For the first time, there is a golden opportunity to correct the former wrongs into rights. Better late than never!

India has the reputation of being a lamb state whom anyone could punch without any probability of retaliation. That changed with India’s bold nuclear posture in 1998. The person who took that bold initiative has not been honored by the nation. While two former Prime ministers vainly awarded themselves Bharat Ratna, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was too modest to follow in their foot-steps. The UPA government had 10 years’ time to honor this former PM but they chose not to out of pettiness and partisan politics.The insult was further compounded by awarding Bharat Ratna to a nobody like Sachin Tendulkar. Of course in India cricket has become the opium of the masses. 

Mr. Prime Minister Modi, you have the golden chance to make history yet again by announcing Bharat Ratna for the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the man who transformed India from a fledgling lamb state to a confident nation on the road to superpower status. 

This leader deserves to be awarded Bharat Ratna before he leaves all of us on this planet. Let us not wait more or wait for another day! Certainly let us not make it a posthumous award as was done for Sardar Patel, JP Narayan, Gopinath Bordoloi & Dr. BR Ambedkar


May 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

The post-mortem reports of the recently held 5th BRICS summit from March 26th-27th 2013 have already been written and forgotten. On June 6th 2013, India is hosting the next IBSA summit. As early as 2011, this analyst had predicted that China will try to kill IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) grouping by enlarging the BRIC to BRICS [1]. China cunningly brought in South Africa in the original BRIC grouping in 2011 though it did not belong to this economic dialogue forum. China had two-fold objectives: First and foremost to neutralize IBSA and second fold to gain entry into the African continent using South Africa as a staging post [2]. The original criteria for BRIC membership was the status of the four countries as emerging economies. 

Though these countries are very disparate and have their own separate agenda, the common anti-Western stance and emerging economy status were the two least common denominators [3]. China has indeed used the modified BRICS mechanism to make IBSA redundant and has become the de facto leader of BRICS [4]. BRICS has been described as an artificial grouping. Rajinder Puri, a senior columnist has stated very bluntly: “Neither strategic nor economic considerations justify the new grouping of Brazil, Russia, India and China. All four nations have vastly different priorities and concerns” [5]. Predictably South Africa led by President Zacob Zuma repaid the favor done by China while serving as a useful idiot for the Beijing and created dissonance in the BRICS with India feeling humiliated as the Indian PM was kept 40 kilometers away from the venue [6]. As Jaswant Singh rightly points out that Lamido Sanusi, the governor of Nigeria’s central bank, has called for Africans to recognize that "their romance with China” has helped to bring about “a new form of imperialism” [7]. Both Brazil and India are very wary of China’s mercantilist trade policies [8]. A cash-rich China is going to use its $ 3.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves to dominate the BRICS Development Bank and the BRICS Currency Reserve Arrangement (CRA). 

In the Bandung Conference in 1955, both India and China sought to take the leadership of the developing countries. As the NAM or the group of 77 gradually evolved, China was relegated to the background owing to its own internal problems whereas India emerged as the clear leader of the NAM and the developing world leaving behind both Egypt and Indonesia. China had resented the towering personality and the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru in the NAM. Now NAM is practically defunct and has lost its relevance though ritualistic and meaningless meetings still go on. In a sense BRICS had the potential to assume the collective leadership of the “Global South” in the 21stcentury when NAM had run out of steam.

The biggest USP of the IBSA summit is that IBSA is an outfit that is sought by the Chinese to be rendered infructuous after BRICS [9]. Incidentally, just like NAM, IBSA was facilitated into existence by another Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who met with his counter-parts in 2003 in Evian. The establishment of IBSA was announced on June 6th, 2003 by signing of “Brasilia Declaration” by the external affairs ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa. This “Brasilia declaration” mentions the democratic credentials of the three member nations, their status as developing countries, and their capacity of acting on a global scale as the main reasons for coming together as a grouping.

The Chinese checkmate to India in BRICS must be dealt with coolly with a focus on invigorating the IBSA mechanism .India must do the necessary ground work and home work so that the “enhanced” BRICS does not end up swallowing and eventually digesting the “IBSA” where India has been the prime mover [10]. We will discuss some of the historical antecedents and tactical responses that India can adopt to counter China while maintaining the leadership of the “Global South” in the international arena.


A detailed exposition on the differential roles and the relationship between IBSA and BRICS is dealt by Professor Arkhangelskyaya from the Russian Academy of Sciences; there are some areas of overlap between BRICS and IBSA especially in the constituent membership [11]. However, that alone does not justify disbanding of the IBSA because the defining characteristic of IBSA is south-south cooperation among the “developing democracies”. Some have erroneously suggested that the IBSA was the past having been started in 2004 and BRICS is the future [12]. The role of BRICS is very different from that of IBSA. It is essentially a counterweight to G7 in the global power politics. BRICS has been seen by many analysts as a step towards the evolution of a multipolar world order. This is true to an extent but BRICS has yet to prove its credentials [13]. Whether it will succeed in its role of counter-balancing the G7 will be very much a function of future Chinese international behavior. If China tries to dominate the group, except for South Africa, none of the other countries will tolerate Chinese quest for paramount leadership role under the BRICS framework. It is very unlikely that Russian Federation will serve as a junior partner of China for long. As the former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh emphasizes very succinctly: “BRICS’ shared potential does not translate into collaborative action. On the contrary, each of the BRICS will have to pursue its goals, and confront its challenges, individually [14].

Both Egypt and Indonesia are very keen to join the BRICS. Other potential applicants may include Turkey, Nigeria and Mexico. Future membership of the BRICS should be criteria based and not driven by Chinese or Russian strategic interests in order to avoid intra-group squabbles. Here one would agree with the Russian suggestion for freezing the BRICS membership for the next few years. Despite having overlapping memberships, the two can act as complimentary to each other. One major difference between the two fora is the two tiered power structure of BRICS in which two of its members are also permanent, veto wielding members of the UNSC [15]. As permanent members of the UNSC, neither Russia nor China is enthusiastic about the entry of Brazil, India or South Africa into the inner sanctorum [16]. These two, Russia and China are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a quasi-security pact in Central Asia [17]. There are apprehensions that the SCO agenda of Russia and China may contaminate the functioning of BRICS. India’s participation in BRICS is being questioned as costly [18]. The relevance of South Africa’s membership is also debatable on economic grounds [19]. Such a differential economic power equation is not conducive to long-term harmonious functioning of BRICS. Harsh Pant hits the bull’s eye when he says: “The narrative surrounding the rise of BRICS is as exaggerated as that of decline for the US. The tectonic plates of global politics are certainly shifting, but their movements are unpredictable. BRICS will remain an artificial construct, merely an acronym coined by an investment banking analyst, for some time to come” [20].

Future of IBSA

Keeping in view the inadequacies of BRICS, India must remain determined to continue with IBSA as well. Over the years, IBSA has become an umbrella for various initiatives in the diplomatic and policy field, in Public Administration and inclusive developmental sectors. It is important to note that IBSA members do not have any geo-political or territorial conflicts but that is not true of BRICS. Both India and China do have a border conflict which has not been resolved. Similarly, both China and Russia share an extensive land border and do have some territorial and geo-political issues. There is latent competition between Russia and China for dominance in Central Asia although both would like to see the US dominance in global affairs reduced. The degree to which a shadow of BRICS will fall on IBSA seems to be very dependent on the weakest link, South Africa, which is “sitting on two chairs” [21]. The signature issue for the IBSA identified in the “Brasilia Declaration” was south-south cooperation for the “developing democracies”. Despite what happened in Durban, South Africa, the IBSA remains a good forum for the “developing democracies”. A resurgent India must learn to be proactive and not reactive in execution of her foreign policy.

Inventing IBSAA

India must take the leader-ship to enlarge the “IBSA” into “IIBSAA” (India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa & Argentina) in order to make this block of developing democracies more relevant in the international fora. This would require two other “developing democracies”, namely Indonesia and Argentina to be invited to join the “IBSA”. Both China and Russia are not true democracies at this time and do not deserve a seat on the enlarged “IIBSAA” forum. The China angle would be important in the enlarged IIBSAA by virtue of its absence! Though Egypt is interested in joining BRICS and may be interested in joining IIBSAA also, it is not a fully evolved democracy as yet. More democratic reforms would be needed before Egypt can qualify for the status of “developing democracy”. After inviting Indonesia and Argentina, the membership should be frozen for the next five years while criteria for membership are agreed upon and the organization evolves in a credible manner. India should finalize a formal charter for the enlarged IIBSAA and minimum criteria for future membership applications.

Building a Permanent Secretariat

Without a permanent executive secretariat, any international organization is likely to wither away as we have learnt from the NAM experience. India must offer her facilities to host a permanent executive secretariat for the enlarged IIBSAA forum in New Delhi. Perhaps, the MEA sponsored think tank like ICWA can serve as the temporary facility while new office space is located and infra-structure is built. Besides rotating presidency for two years there must a permanent executive secretary general appointed for a period of not less five years to provide continuity in policy otherwise the agenda seems to change with every rotating presidency. No person should be allowed more than two terms as secretary general of the IIBSAA. IIBSAA members should coordinate their voting patterns in the UN General Assembly and the UNSC whenever possible. It should be the responsibility of the Secretary General to coordinate the various viewpoints and arrive at a consensus of the “developing democracies”.


The original IBSA mechanism had a puny corpus of three million dollars per year contributed equally by each of the three countries. The fund is managed by the UNDP and focuses on projects on poverty alleviation. This needs to be increased sequentially so that lack of funds to do not handicap this important forum. Perhaps, the newly enlarged group should aim for a corpus of $ one billion per year with each country contributing $ 200 million. This Fund for poverty alleviation and inclusive growth should not be considered as a challenge or alternative to the BRICS Development Bank which will be used only for infra-structure needs.


At a time when free trade areas are becoming the norm, the developing democracies should negotiate a “free trade and services area” among the member nations. Both the CII (Confederation of India Industries) and the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) should be encouraged to establish an IIBSAA Business Council.

IIBSAA Maritime Dialogue

Since all these five nations are sea-fairing nations with long coast lines, naval and maritime cooperation should be beefed up. Joint anti-piracy efforts in a coordinated manner in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea while securing sea lanes of commerce should be a priority. Providing naval refueling and docking facilities to merchant ships and naval assets of member nations needs to be formalized by agreement.

IIBSAA Counter-Terrorism Efforts

An enhanced IIBSAA should focus on intelligence gathering across various continents to deal with the scourge of terrorism. As terror organizations have global reach and utilize lax laws in developing countries, perhaps common strategies for counter-terrorism efforts would be a new area for cooperation among the IIBSAA countries.

Human Rights Focus

Since all the three current members are multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic democracies focusing on inclusive growth and poverty alleviation, the group needs to take consistent viewpoint on human rights internationally [22]. On the issue of human rights other members of the BRICS mainly China and Russia have to improve their records before they can become candidates for this group. The group has to deal with Western Countries so that the R2P doctrine is not misused internationally against developing democracies while furthering the Western agenda [23]. This group can provide advice and material help to other developing democracies in improving their human rights records and performances on their own without being scrutinized by the West, thereby avoiding intrusive external interventions.

Delivering Democratic Dividend

The fruits of inclusive growth must be delivered to the masses within the boundaries of each of the member nation in a fair and equitable manner. That is the democracy dividend that members of the enlarged IIBSAA must try to gift their citizens and to citizens of the rest of the world. This aim alone would make for the very existence and the raison d’etre of this important dialogue forum.

No First Use Nuclear Doctrine with “Chinese Characteristics”

May 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

Like a chameleon, the dragon, very predictably is changing its colors with regards to its often stated nuclear doctrine of “no first use” (NFU). Since 1964 when China conducted its first nuclear weapon test, China has repeatedly and vociferously insisted that it would not be the first nuclear power to use a tactical or strategic nuclear weapon in pursuit of its strategic objectives. This NFU pledge was explicitly and unconditionally included in each of China’s defense white papers from the first in 1998 through the seventh one in 2011. Recently, there is some international debate about possible changes in China’s NFU doctrine following publication of China’s biannual 2013 Defense White Paper. However, it appears that China may have moved beyond its so-called NFU doctrine and its duplicitous pledges do not hold any sincere meaning. 

Strategic deception has been an important part of China’s military DNA since the times of Sun Tzu who wrote in his treatise the Art of War: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away. Since achieving a great economic success and flush with $ 3.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China has increased its list of core national issues and has adopted a more belligerent strategic posture and hegemonic attitude towards international community in general and its neighbors in particular. Disregarding the Deng’s advice of lying low and bidding your time, the current (5th) generation of China’s leaders are adopting aggressive postures militarily though the transformation into visibly hardened strategic claims started really during the reign of the 4th generation leaders (Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo).

The last time a Chinese paramount leader reaffirmed the so-called NFU pledge was on March 27th 2012 in Seoul Nuclear Conference when Hu Jintao mentioned it in his address. However, in December 2012, the new 5th generation Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping failed to mention about the so-called no first use pledge in a speech given to Second Artillery Force of the PLA which manages China’s land-based nuclear weapons. Apparently, he also stated that nuclear weapons create strategic support for China’s status as a major world power. This is a significant departure from the previously stated public positions citing Mao Zedong’s ideas about the use of nuclear weapons as a taboo and labeling the nuclear weapons essentially as “paper tigers”.

Fundamentals of NFU Commitment
Out of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons currently, only two, China and India had explicitly stated “No First Use” as the guiding principle of their strategic nuclear doctrine.
An absolute and unconditional NFU commitment would have four following components:

NFU policy has been a core feature of the Chinese defense policy having been decided apparently by Chairman Mao himself in 1964. Critics of the Chinese NFU commitment claim that it is completely unverifiable and is mere rhetoric. Self-described “China hawks” in the West have derisively dismissed the Chinese NFU pledge as pure propaganda for the last five decades. Chinese strategists have debated the merits of dropping or altering the NFU policy. This debate was reportedly very intense from mid to late 2000s. There are assertions from Chinese officials that Chinese NFU commitment is not applicable to perceived claims on territories. China has territorial disputes with multiple neighbors including India. Presumably since China continues to claim that Arunachal Pradesh is its own territory, in a hypothetical scenario, it may use tactical nuclear weapons in a war with India in eastern sector because China will consider this use not against any other country but in its own perceived territory. Similarly, China will not be bound by its NFU if the US were to intervene in Taiwan in case of a Sino-Taiwanese war as it considers Taiwan as a renegade province. Chinese NFU is not applicable if it apprehends annihilation of its top leadership by conventional means. Similarly, a conventional attack on strategic target like the Three Gorges Dam would be an exception to the NFU pledge. More recently, Chinese have discussed other possible exceptions from their NFU commitment including a massive precision guided conventional attack on their intercontinental ballistic missile silos or their strategic facilities. As China moves away from minimal credible deterrence to “limited deterrence”, a more sophisticated delivery mechanism and an exponential increase in its nuclear stockpile, it has also moved towards greater flexibility and continued opacity in its nuclear operational doctrine. It is pertinent to say that the so-called Chinese NFU commitment has never been taken seriously by both the US and Russia at any time in their policy matrix.

Chinese Nuclear Arsenal
China can be considered the largest nuclear power after the US and Russia. China’s nuclear capability is apparently stronger than those of the next six nuclear states combined. According to Russian estimates, since early 1960s China has generated 40 tons of enriched weapons grade uranium and 10 tons of plutonium which would be enough to produce 3,600 nuclear war-heads. It is probable that half of this fissile material is kept in stocks whereas the rest half has been used up to produce 1500-1800 warheads, half of which may be in storage. This would leave 800-900 warheads that could be available for operational deployment on various types of delivery vehicles. Therefore, the real motives for China’s complete secrecy about its nuclear forces lie not in their “weakness” and “small size” but in much larger strength of China’s actual nuclear arsenal that is much higher than the commonly cited number of 300-400 warheads by the western analysts. There is also a great degree of international uncertainty about the hundreds of tunnels being built in China as their purpose has not yet been officially explained.

Chinese Nuclear Posture and Track II Interactions
Personal interactions with various Chinese academicians and officials during policy conferences suggest that China will continue to add to its nuclear arsenal and will not participate in any nuclear disarmament program till it reaches a certain level. This analyst has interacted with Professor Shen Dingli, Associate Dean of the Institute of International Studies from Fudan University, Shanghai over the last four years with very consistent and candid answers regarding Chinese national nuclear posture. Professor Shen Dingli claims to have independent (but sometimes more hawkish views) from those of the Chinese Government. In 2009 Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC, he expressed absolute ignorance about Chinese proliferation activities and the fact that Chinese weapons designs were turned in by Libya to the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) when Libya folded up their clandestine nuclear program. He was totally unaware of China’s both vertical and horizontal proliferation activities as late as April 2009. During the 2009 Carnegie International Non-proliferation Conference, Washington, DC, he agreed that Chinese government will continue to increase its number of nuclear war-heads. In a more recent Carnegie Endowment meeting on India-China dialogue in Washington DC on January 10th 2013, he again reiterated that China will continue to modernize its nuclear arsenals and the delivery systems till a perceived parity is achieved with the two great powers (US and Russia). China will certainly not agree to cut the number of nuclear arsenals as it wants both the US and Russia to implement further reductions in their respective nuclear arsenals.

Interactions with another Chinese academician Dr. Shulong Chu, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the School of Public Policy and Management and the Deputy Director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in a session on China-US Strategic Stability on 4/6/2009 during the Carnegie International Non-proliferation Conference, Washington DC revealed very interesting Chinese perspectives. Chu explicitly stated that since China has accepted US supremacy, analogously both India and Japan should accept Chinese supremacy in the Asia-pacific region. China is a bigger country than Japan and India. It has bigger military requirements. Japan, India and other Asian countries should understand that and should be willing to accept China’s ongoing modernization of its military and strategic (read nuclear) assets. Chu further went on saying: “Russia and the US have too many nuclear war-heads. They can afford to have deep cuts. China cannot do that because China has too few. China wants more and its agenda is to have more nuclear weapons”.

Major-General Yao Yunzhu, Director of the Center on China-America Defense Relations of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, Beijing in a session on Deterrence, Disarmament and Non-proliferation during the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, held in Washington, DC on April 8-9th 2013, artfully deflected all the questions on China’s growing number of nuclear arsenals with a cute smile, stating again that the onus for nuclear warhead reduction lies on both US and Russia because China has very limited, small number of nuclear weapons. General Yao while doing routine lip-service to the NFU doctrine explicitly admitted that, “A certain amount of opaqueness is an integral part of China’s no-first-use policy”. She persistently refused to quantify the number of warheads China needed for a credible and effective nuclear deterrence. She officially expressed Chinese Government‘s serious concern at the US shifting its ballistic missiles interceptors in the Pacific island of Guam to deal with DPRK nuclear threat, thereby degrading the quality of the Chinese nuclear deterrent. She enumerated three essential characteristics for the Chinese nuclear deterrent: it has to be survivable against first strike; it has to be credible enough in numbers and in delivery system, and lastly it has to have an effective and punitive second strike retaliatory capability. She was asked about recent BMD tests by China on January 22nd 2013 and she categorically confirmed that China will, from now on, indeed develop its own BMD system as the US is not willing to commit to cease its BMD system.

Professor Li Bin from the Department of International Relations, Tsinghua University, Beijing and also a Senior Associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC admits formally in his writings that China’s non-proliferation posture has evolved over a period of time and now is an important and essential part of its nuclear theology. However, in private discussions he passionately justified Chinese horizontal proliferation activities outside the scope of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by providing Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 nuclear plants to Pakistan on grounds that China had helped India also with nuclear fuel supplies for the Tarapore Atomic Reactor when India was under the US nuclear embargo. He assertively implied that China will continue to provide nuclear materials and technology to its all-weather friend Pakistan analogous to US-India civil nuclear deal though the latter deal was approved by the NSG. Interestingly a younger researcher Zhu Jianyu from the Center for Strategic Studies of the China Academy of Engineering Physics during the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, held in Washington, DC on April 8-9th 2013 candidly admitted that Chinese press and academicians usually toe the government line because the government controls their funding and hence independent viewpoints are not possible.

In private discussions with Major General Yao, it became quite clear that China will now vigorously pursue development of its national ballistic missile defense system; something which China had vociferously denounced earlier. She also stated that China will continue to develop its ASAT weapons till a legally binding multi-lateral treaty banning weaponization of the space is signed and ratified. Major General Yao attributed to and categorically linked this shift in Chinese strategic thinking to the recent US decision to deploy 14 long-range ballistic missile interceptor batteries in the Pacific Island of Guam ostensibly in response to threats posed by the DPRK thereby potentially degrading the Chinese nuclear deterrent. Changes in the Chinese nuclear posture are also linked to the US development and deployment of advanced precision guided conventional warheads in the Asian theatre capable of destroying Chinese multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) ballistic missile silos thereby degrading the Chinese minimum nuclear deterrent. China is focused on modernizing and its strategic survivability and beefing up its effective second strike capability and therefore will continue to develop more nuclear warheads and will keep its nuclear capabilities fully opaque.

China’s 2013 Defence White Paper
For the first time, the 2013 edition of China’s defense white paper entitled: “Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces” conspicuously fails to mention re-adherence to and re-affirmation of China’s often-stated “No first use pledge”. This is significant departure from the 2011 version of China’s Defense White Paper. The absolutely deafening silence in the 2013 version on NFU is deliberate and is very significant for its reverberating eloquence. The new white paper introduces ambiguity as it endorses the use of nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack but does not rule out other uses. In the last few years, Chinese analysts and officials have done an excellent job of qualifying the original Chinese “NFU” pledge with myriads of qualitative exceptions so as to render it effectively meaningless. This carefully contrived departure is strategically significant for the international community.

Following a vigorous international debate on China’s departure from the NFU policy, Major General Yao floated a trial balloon in an op-ed piece in Asia Times Online on April 24th 2013 when she called for a legally binding multi-lateral NFU agreement. She wrote a point by point rejoinder while still defending the reasons as to why China should depart from the often stated NFU policy and acknowledged that domestic discussions happening in China regarding junking the NFU policy. She has tried to invoke new exceptions to China’s so-called NFU commitment linking it to a new US law (2013 National Defense Authorization Act) that seeks a report from the Commander of the US Strategic Command by August 15th 2013 to describe the Chinese underground tunnel networks and to review the US capability to neutralize such networks with conventional and nuclear forces.

Ostensibly, with a view to creating more confusion and more opaqueness about China’s intentions, she explicitly states: “To alleviate China’s concerns, a constructive approach would be to assure the policy through nuclear policy dialogues, to establish a multilateral NFU agreement among all the nuclear weapon states, and to consider limiting or even prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons in a legally binding international agreement.” Li Bin, in bilateral context, has previously suggested that India and China should begin their nuclear engagement with mutual reassurance of NFU and should work together in advocating NFU in global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
China very well knows such a legally binding international agreement will not be negotiated for several decades owing to US dogmatic postures. The US is already spending $10 billion to upgrade its nuclear weapons despite Obama’s initial call for a global zero goal. This gives a window of opportunity for China to increase its nuclear warheads exponentially while keeping its so-called NFU pledge under suspended animation and even junk it de facto. Interestingly, China refuses to enter into an official government to government nuclear weapons dialogue with India on the grounds that India is non-signatory to the NPT. At the same time, China has shrewdly refused to engage in bilateral dialogue with the US on nuclear arms reductions on grounds of asymmetry of nuclear forces of respective countries. China does complain of discrimination and nuclear asymmetry while discussing US-China relations but fails to address genuine Indian concerns on similar grounds.

Implications for India
Western debate on the perceptible change in Chinese nuclear posture has focussed only on its narrow impact on the strategic environment of the US and its allies including Japan. India should not behave like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Perhaps, time has come for India to review her own strategic nuclear doctrine revising the no-first use pledge. Robust evidence has come cumulatively over a period of time from multiple sources reflecting the new nuclear reality in our neighborhood. Totality of the evidence available convinces this analyst that China has indeed changed its nuclear posture from defensive to offensive and is on a large-scale nuclear build-up. China is indeed willing to consider first strike capability to preserve its core national issues though vehemently denying such intentions at the moment. Predictably, China will continue to obfuscate this change in nuclear posture using ambiguous, turgid and opaque language while simultaneously blaming the US for failing to negotiate a legally binding multi-lateral agreement on NFU. Indeed, this gives the dragon a fig-leaf of deniability. Certainly, India should not countenance being the only nuclear weapon state pledging “no first use” while the global nuclear posturing has become indeed hardened. One has to take into factor Pakistan’s accelerated development of tactical nuclear weapons and its stringent refusal to negotiate and sign a multi-lateral Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) and continued Chinese help to Pakistan in and outside the NSG. While Pakistan has never subscribed to an NFU commitment and its nuclear arsenal is specifically India-centric; the recent change in China’s nuclear posture is definitely of concern to India. The writing is on the wall as China does not have good track record of strategic comfort and reliability vis-a-vis India. The current incidence of Chinese incursion into Indian territory in Daulat Beg Oldie region in the Ladakh sector should be an eye-opener. While India must focus on its economic, infrastructure and social development and must not waste her meager fiscal resources in a costly nuclear race, she needs to be prepared for all strategic options. Given the aggressive behavior of China in recent years appropriate and credible policies need to be adopted including having a re-look at evolving nuclear posture of China.


May 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

There was a Pakistani intrusion into Indian territory in 1999 in Kargil in J&K. It was considered as an intelligence failure of Himalayan proportions. Post-Kargil, an expert committee was appointed by the then Prime Minister  Atal Bihari Vajpayee under the chairmanship of Late Shri K. Subramaniam, former Defense Secretary and a respected strategy and security expert  that made a number of recommendations.  One of the suggestions was to establish the office of the National Security Advisor who would render overall advice to the Government of India (read PMO) on security matters so as to avoid the kind of intelligence failure we saw  during the Kargil fiasco. 

India’s current National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon is a Mandarin speaking former foreign secretary who has held the office of NSA since 17th January 2010. He has been a former Indian Ambassador to China who has generally a good image as a diplomat having succeeded in getting NSG approval for the US-India Civil Nuclear Energy Deal. He comes from a family of accomplished diplomats; his father Parappil Narayana Menon served as the ambassador to Yugoslavia in his last days. His grandfather K. P. S. Menon (senior) was India’s first Foreign Secretary, while his uncle K. P. S. Menon (junior) was the former Indian ambassador to China. From these impeccable credentials it appears that diplomacy runs in his genes. It also seems that being the foreign secretary to the Government of India as well as being the ambassador to China runs in his genes from the paternal side of his family. He has generally taken a very conciliatory stance towards China in his public pronouncements.

We are facing again a situation analogous to both 1999 Kargil fiasco as well as 1962 Chinese war against India in regards to the recent Chinese intrusion in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector in the Ladakh district of  J&K. There were ample warnings about multiple Chinese intrusions into Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control during the last few years. All branches of the PLA (army, air-force and navy) have repeatedly intruded into Indian territory during the last few years. In fact the former Chief of Army retired General VK Singh had amply warned the Government of India about lack of military preparedness on our northern border against a very hostile adversary. Our security establishment as well as the government of the day minimized these brazen incidents. False and dastardly malicious rumors were spread about the possibility of an army coup being staged by the retired General VK Singh.

Certainly, it appears that the current NSA has failed miserably in properly advising the Government of India about the magnitude of the threat perception from China though he has been in office for more than three years. There has been a serious failure of overall threat assessment as well as of threat perception from China by the office of NSA. It would be honorable for the NSA Shiv Shankar Menon to submit his resignation and own up the moral responsibility for the dismal failure of his office. One wonders whether he was reading the Chinese (Mandarin) press at all during the last three years?

This brings us to two more pertinent issues regarding management of India’s security establishment. 

First has to do with the credentials for appointment to the post of National Security Advisor. Why it is that only retired IFS officers are deemed worthy and capable enough of leading the office of the NSA? Why does not the Government of the day rely on security and strategic expertise outside the “clubby” community of retired civil servants. Why can we not have a retired defense officer appointed as the National Security Advisor?

Second relevant issue is about the non-implementation of the K Subramaniam Committee’s recommendation about the appointment of a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). When will the Government of India consider appointing a CDS? Perhaps after the PLA reaches New Delhi? 

George Santayana once famously said: “Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it!

The Dragon Covets the Arctic

March 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

China’s lust for oil, minerals, rare earths, fish and desire for an alternative northern sea route boils the Arctic Geopolitics!

Iceland is a small, sparsely populated island nation with a population of only 320,000 and area of 40,000 square miles. It is the only member of the NATO that does not have an army of its own. Icelandic banks were part of the 2008 global financial crisis and meltdown when they exposed the Icelandic government of huge financial risks by indulging in risky loans and speculative foreign currency transactions without having enough liquidity and capital reserves. The fiscal crisis led to a former Icelandic prime minister losing his job and being hauled to court of law for not supervising the banks enough. 

In an international capitalistic, mercantile system, if Iceland were a company, it was “sitting duck” for outright purchase and acquisition. Fortunately, foreigners are not allowed to buy any property or real estate in Iceland and need a special permit.


And here comes the Peoples’ Republic of China, rich with $ 3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in its kitty. It has built a palatial embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland worth $250 million with only 7 accredited diplomats. China is negotiating a free trade area with Iceland, the first with any European nation. Former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao even paid a state visit to Iceland for two full days in 2012. Other Chinese ministers and officials have also been very active in Iceland with bilateral visits and cultural events.

In 2010, Huang Nubo, a “poetry loving” Chinese billionaire and former communist party official visited Iceland to meet his former classmate Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a Chinese translator with whom he had shared a room in 1970s in the Peking University. He expressed his intense love for poetry and put up $ one million to finance Iceland-China Cultural Fund and organized two poetry summits, the first one in Reykjavik in 2010 and the second one in Beijing in 2011.

Last year (2012), Huang Nubo and his Beijing based company, the Zhongkun group offered to buy 300 sq km of Icelandic land ostensibly to develop a holiday resort with a golf course. This Chinese billionaire wanted to pay $7million to an Icelandic sheep farmer to take over the land and build a $100 million 100-room five star resort hotel, luxury villas, an eco-golf course and an airstrip with 10 aircrafts. A state owned Chinese bank reportedly offered the Zhongkun group a soft loan of $ 800 million for this project.

The deal was blocked by the Icelandic Interior Minister who asked many pertinent questions but reportedly got no answers. Huang would not take no for an answer and has submitted a revised bid for leasing the land for $ one million instead of outright purchase. He makes an unbelievable assertion that there is a market demand for peace and solitude: “Rich Chinese people are so fed up of pollution that they would like to enjoy the fresh air and solitude of the snowy Iceland”. The current Icelandic government, a left-of-center coalition has given this proposal a cold shoulder. But, with elections due in April 2013 in Iceland, China is hoping for a more sympathetic government to approve the project. Iceland looks like an easy bird of prey for the wily red Dragon with insatiable appetite.

China is showing generosity to another poor and sparsely populated, self-governing island of Greenland by offering investments in mining industry with proposal to import Chinese crews for construction and mining operations. Greenland is rich in mineral deposits and rare earth metals. China wants Greenland to provide exclusive rights to its rare earth metals in lieu of the fiscal investments. Under one such proposal, China would invest $2.5 billion in an iron mine and would bring 5000 Chinese construction and mining workers whereas the population of the capital of Greenland, Nuuk is only 15000.

Arctic Council Membership

There are eight members of the Arctic Council that includes Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA. All these eight countries have geographic territories within the Arctic Circle. It was constituted in 1996 as an intergovernmental body but has evolved gradually from a dialogue forum to a geo-political club and a decision making body. There are continuing territorial disputes in Arctic Circle. Ownership of the Arctic is governed by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which gives the Arctic nations an exclusive economic zone that extends 200 nautical miles from the land. Member countries signed their first treaty on joint search and rescue missions in 2011. A second treaty on cleaning up oil spills is being negotiated. The group established its permanent secretariat at Tromso, Norway in January 2013.

Arctic Melting and Opening of Newer Sea Lanes

With global warming becoming a reality, the Arctic ice has started to melt rapidly opening the northern sea-lanes that were frozen earlier. In summer of 2012, 46 ships sailed through the Arctic Waters carrying 1.2 million tonnes of cargo. There are legal questions about the international status of the northern sea lanes.

China’s Lust for Arctic Resources

The Arctic has 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of gas according to the US Geological Survey. Greenland alone contains approximately one tenth of the world’s deposits of rare earth minerals. China which already has a monopoly on world’s rare earth metal trade wants to continue controlling this global trade. China piously claims that the Arctic resources are the heritage of the entire mankind while insisting that the South China sea is its exclusive sovereign territory.

In 2004, China set up its first and the only Arctic scientific research station, curiously named “Yellow River Station” on the Svalbard Island of Norway. China, so far, has sent 6 arctic expeditions. China plans to build more research bases. In 2012, the 170-meters long ice-breaker “Snow Dragon” (MV Xue Long) became the first Chinese Arctic expedition to sail along the Northern Sea Route into the Barente Sea. Incidentally, as early as 1999, this 21000 metric ton research ice-breaker Xue Long had docked in the Canadian North-Western territory unexpectedly. China is building another 120-meter long ice-breaker with the help of Finland while the Polar Research institute in Shanghai trains scientists and other personnel for Arctic expeditions.

China’s Previous Use of Deception:

There is no mandarin character for word transparency. China has been known to use duplicity and deception since the Art of War was written by Sun Tzu. China’s rhetoric of “peaceful and harmonious rise” and hegemonic behavior are predictably diametrically opposite to each other. China’s use of deception to camouflage its intentions in geopolitical matters is not surprising. While China joined the NPT in 1991, it provided 50 kg of highly enriched uranium to Pakistan, provided that country with a nuclear weapon design and supervised Pakistan’s first nuclear test at the Chinese nuclear testing site of Lop Nur. China purchased in 1998 an unfinished aircraft carrier from Ukraine after the break-up of Soviet Union ostensibly for developing a floating casino. The same “floating casino” is now China’s first aircraft carrier projecting Chinese naval and maritime power in the South China Sea.

China’s Application in Arctic Council Membership

China currently has an ad hoc observer status with Arctic Council. China’s application for permanent observer-ship was denied by Norway in 2012 owing to bilateral dispute over awarding of Nobel peace prize to China’s Liu Xiabo in 2010. China still has a pending application to be decided in May 2013 Arctic Council summit in Sweden when Canada takes over the chair for the next two years. With a permanent observer status, China would get full access to all Arctic Council meetings. Permanent observers do not have voting rights in the council but can participate in deliberations.

China is trying to distinguish itself from the rest of the applicants as a “Near Arctic State” on the perniciously clever but fallacious grounds that the northernmost part of China in the province of Manchuria (the Amur river) is only one thousand miles south to the Arctic circle. The fallacy is that Manchuria was a separate, independent country that was annexed by China after the Communist take-over. Manchus had ruled over China for centuries during the reign of Manchu dynasty and last Chinese Emperor Pu Yi was actually the last Manchu emperor. Chinese ownership and annexation of Manchuria (Manchu-Kuo) is still not settled. A disputed territory cannot be used by China to make a geo-political claim for being a “Near Arctic State”

Other Pending Applications

Other countries or non-state actors with pending applications for permanent observer-ship status include Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, European Union, and non-state actors like Greenpeace and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers. All these applications will be decided one way or the other in May 2013. The vote has to be unanimous for acceptance and how the US and Russia will vote is the crucial issue. In the past, Norway had vetoed China’s membership application. Some of the Arctic Council members may not approve European Union’s application because of EU’s penchant for restrictive and narrow rulings. Whereas Sweden, Canada, Iceland and Denmark may support China’s application, there are doubts about Norway, Russia and the US. Russia is currently the most vociferous member of Arctic Council that has serious reservations in expanding the Arctic club.

Strategic Issues

China has voracious appetite for new territories and has been seeking new frontiers for the last three hundred years with Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Xinjiang and Tibet. China’s list of “core issues” is ever-expanding, starting with Taiwan and Tibet. China has included the whole the South China Sea and its islands as a core issue. China is aggressively claiming sovereignty on these islands based on historical maps and manufactured mythological evidence. China has now a license from the UN for deep sea bed mining for minerals in the Indian Ocean and has developed naval bases in Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea ports. If China manages to get a toehold in Arctic Circle, its behavior will become as belligerent in Arctic as it is in the South China Sea. It might claim sovereignty over the whole of the Northern route sea lanes based on “historical evidence”. If in 22nd century, China decides that the Arctic Circle is its core national issue, one would be seeing Chinese aircraft carriers in the Arctic Sea and Chinese nuclear powered submarines in the Barente Sea along with military bases with “Chinese characteristics” in the Iceland and Greenland.

Securitisation of the BRICS

March 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

Since independence India has traditionally shied away from joining security based pacts or military blocks. Chanting the same mantra, India refused to join ASEAN when membership of the ASEAN was being offered to India as a founding member. India’s political leadership at that time naively but wrongly assumed that the ASEAN is a successor organisation to SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation). A non-aligned and pacifist India used to reflexively sermonise against military pacts in international fora. In the last decade or so, we have surprisingly grown fond of calling every bilateral relationship as “strategic partnership” devaluing the concept of strategic relations. However, this initial geo-strategic reticence and subsequent schizophrenia of Indian foreign policy is bound to change after the fifth summit of the BRICS in Durban, South Africa on March 26-27th 2013. 

Starting from a catchy acronym (BRIC) coined in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, an international banker from Goldman Sachs, the grouping of 4 emerging economies has evolved and enlarged. Russia under Putin became the prime mover of the BRIC as previously in 1990s, former Russian Premier Yevgeny Primakov had already suggested formation of RIC (Russia, India, China) grouping directed against the US. Owing to divergences in respective national strategic interests, RIC never became prominent. Primarily the BRICS has remained merely as a “talking shop” with economic agenda hoping to replace the Western dominated Bretton-woods institutions. India has persistently articulated the need to establish a “BRICS Developmental Bank” but differences in perceptions and power motives have prevented it from materialising. 

Last enlargement of BRIC to BRICS was smartly schemed by China during the Beijing Summit in 2011 in order to make IBSA (India, Brazil, & South Africa) grouping irrelevant. South Africa aspired to join the BRIC but was nowhere near any of the 4 emerging economies club members economically. China had felt excluded from the group of three large “developing democracies” and unilaterally invited South Africa to the BRIC summit. There are others who may be interested in joining the BRICS. Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi came recently to New Delhi seeking economic and defense cooperation with India. He also advocated for enlargement of the BRICS to include Egypt as well thereby changing the grouping to E-BRICS.

Divide Loyalties and Heterogeneity

BRICS is a serendipitously created international grouping without any serious initial thoughts about its charter. Having said that it is a reality now and we must maximise our participation and derive maximum geo-political benefit from it. The five members grouping inadvertently have two tiered membership de facto. Russia and China are the permanent members of the UNSC and the other three are aspiring candidates for permanent membership. Both Russia and China are major partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) an anti-West multilateral security framework in Central Asia. Both of them conduct joint annual military exercises under the framework of the SCO to develop inter-operability of armed forces. Russia is still China’s largest arm supplier as China remains under Western arms embargo following the Tiananmen Square massacre of protesting students. India has only an observer status with the SCO and has been made to wait on sidelines. China has steadfastly refused to increase the active membership of the SCO with a view to denying India a larger sphere of influence. Since the strategic interests of these two dominant members of the SCO converge and their policies are much more harmoniously coordinated in the UNSC by virtue of their being permanent members, one wonders if these two SCO members will become the puppet masters of the BRICS driving its strategic and security agenda.

US Pivot to Asia and Emerging RCP Axis

India must remain aware that following improvement in bilateral relations between India and US, both Russia and China have grown concerned about India’s strategic intentions and aspirations though for entirely different reasons. Moscow is miffed because India no longer offers a ready and automatic market for Russian substandard military hardware.Repeated delays in the delivery of refurbished Admiral Gorshkov or INS Vikramaditya is indicative of Putin’s displeasure conveyed diplomatically. China remains paranoid about being contained by the nascent but de facto G-2 of India and the US especially after the US pivot to Asia and its strategic retreat from South West Asia. China has done anything and everything to deny India a significant role in the international arena whether it is the UNSC permanent membership, membership of NSG, MTCR, Australia Club or enlargement of ASEAN plus frame work to ASEAN plus six instead of ASEAN plus three. China is already the largest arms supplier to Pakistan and has several thousands of PLA soldiers in POK. China has started to use the Gwadar and Karachi ports as naval bases. Both Russia and China have overtly expansionist aims. Putin doctrine envisages re-establishment of the former territory of the Soviet Union under Russian control. Xi Jin-Ping’s signature slogan of “China dream” involves grabbing land, sea-based and other natural resources under the elastic concept of “core issues” and protecting “Chinese sovereignty”. Russia has also started to engage Pakistan both economically and militarily. President Putin visited China as the first foreign country after re-claiming the presidency of Russia. Hu Jintao’s first stop was also Russia when he assumed Chinese leadership. Similarly, Xi Jin-Ping ‘s holy pilgrimage to Russia (just before the Durban summit of BRICS) after becoming the new paramount leader of China is worth taking notice. What we are witnessing is essentially an emerging RCP (Russia, China, & Pakistan) geo-political axis with wider strategic implications for India.

BRICS: Identity Confusion

In the Durban summit of the BRICS, securitisation of this group is bound to happen though primarily it is an economic grouping. The issues of security and combating terrorism may become formal part of the BRICS agenda. President Vladimir Putin wants the BRICS to broaden its role and cooperate collectively on geopolitical issues. Putin wants to transform the group into a new mechanism of “global governance”. In a pre-summit interview with Itar-Tass news agency and following a bilateral meeting with Xi Jin-Ping, he disclosed that the BRICS members are working on joint communiques on the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program and other issues including the middle-east. The group members have not voted together consistently in the UN on strategic issues in the past though Russia and China have adopted similar positions and policies. According to a Kremlin transcript of this interview, Putin exhorted “We invite our partners to gradually transform the BRICS from a dialogue forum that coordinates approaches to a limited number of issues into a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together”. Putin also plans to announce the creation of a BRICS Business Council to promote trade and investment within the group and help launch multilateral business projects. The group leaders will also endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure/development bank besides promoting intra-group trade and investments. Other Russian suggestions include creating a network of “informal political and working-level mechanisms to strengthen coordination”, introducing rotating presidency, drafting a long-term “BRICS development strategy” and launching “a dialogue on ways, pace and concrete forms of possible institutionalisation of the BRICS”, including the establishment of a “permanent secretariat”.

India’s analysts and strategic thinkers have either been very gloomy or very “naively musical” in embracing the BRICS and its future agenda. A balanced, cautious, middle of the road and well calculated strategic response to the BRICS challenges is required without having “great expectations” for the moon. Instead of shying away with security based multilateral groupings, time has come for India to embrace such groupings to safeguard India’s strategic interests. A resurgent India must learn to be proactive and not reactive in execution of her foreign policy. India should present a formal charter for the BRICS and minimum criteria for future membership. Future membership of this group should be criteria based and not driven by Chinese or Russian strategic interests. Here one would agree with the Russian suggestion for freezing the BRICS membership for next 3-4 years.

India, simultaneously must do the necessary ground work and home work so that the “enhanced” BRICS does not end up swallowing and eventually digesting the “IBSA” where India has been one of the prime movers. India must enlarge the “IBSA” to “IIBSAA” (India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa & Argentina) in order to make this block of democracies more relevant in the international fora. This would require two other “developing democracies”, namely Indonesia and Argentina to be invited to join the “IBSA”. Both China and Russia are not true democracies and do not deserve a seat on the enlarged “IIBSAA”.

In bilateral meetings with Putin and Xi Jin-Ping on the sidelines of BRICS, Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh must demand full membership for India in the SCO with a change in its charter to rename it as Solidarity and Cooperation Organization instead of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Such a deft move by India will prevent “the SCO tail wagging the BRICS dog” in contentious geo-political issues and will simultaneously increase India’s strategic footprints in Central Asia. India must ensure that she does not endorse either Chinese or Russian hegemonic claims or ambitions as the BRICS takes a higher geo-political profile.

As a precondition for securitisation of BRICS, India should also demand that BRICS formally adopt a joint declaration on the enlargement of the UNSC at the conclusion of the Durban Summit. India should insist that all the BRICS members must categorically endorse the UNSC permanent membership for India, Brazil and South Africa with full veto powers. There should not be mere platitudes coming from China and Russia on this important issue if the BRICS has to assume a greater role in international geo-political affairs. In the final analysis, India must systematically strengthen up her comprehensive national power (CNP) in order to have gravitas in international arena whether it involves UN, BRICS, SAARC, APEC, AEC, ASEAN or ARF. India must do multi-dimensional internal reforms, improve the infrastructure, energize the manufacturing sector, harness her youth power, modernize her armed forces, increase the budgetary allocation for her security needs and develop a rational and pragmatic pro-active foreign policy in order to safeguard her geo-political interests.


Adityanjee: Invading the strategic space: the Dragon fires another salvo at India


Adityanjee:: Tales from the Dragon Kingdom


Jaswant Singh: Crumbling BRICS



Shyam Saran: BRICS and premature orbituaries



Tarun Vijay: The BRICS dynamism and the musical chemistry for India



MK BhadraKumar: Great Expectations


RN Das: BRICS Baby Steps: The Challenges Ahead


Radyuhin, V: Russia for a more powerful Brics



So-Called Spring; Su-Shi Strife and The South-West Asia

March 2013


Published Originally on Council for Strategic Affairs HQ blog 

Arab Spring, Arab Winter, Arab Summer, Arab Renaissance, Arab Awakening, Islamic Awakening and Islamic Rise are just few of the epithets used to describe the complex and multidimensional geopolitical changes in the middle-east region that comprises of West Asia and Northern Africa. Depending upon one’s perspective, each of these adjectives is inadequate to describe the complex geopolitical phenomena that have engulfed the region. It is important to recapitulate that barring three nations, viz. Iran, Turkey an Israel all other countries in this region are Arab. Despite Francis Fukuyama’s puerile musings about the “end of history”, we are now witnessing tectonic changes of historic proportions.

However, it will be a very slow and bloody change that would be unstoppable despite numerous western interventions. 

The genie of historic change had been unleashed much earlier in 2003 when the Baathist regime was toppled in Iraq ostensibly to chase the now non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”. The ten year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and “the ensuing mother of all battles” does not witness peace and tranquility in that nation, divided de facto, on sectarian and ethnic fault-lines. 

The Iraqi Kurdistan, nominally under the central government of Iraq is on a rapid trajectory to peace, prosperity and development while Baghdad continues to witness sectarian violence and bomb attacks. The Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is grabbing executive powers and has inadvertently encouraged sectarian divide and Shia identity politics. Besides the Iraqi Kurds, the real beneficiary of the US invasion worth $ 870 billion has been the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If one chooses to be historically correct, the Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran is the real harbinger of the so-called Arab spring. A US supported dictator was overthrown by popular revolt in Iran. The popular revolution was usurped and captured by Islamist Ayatollah Khomeini leading to a lot of blood-shed and massacre of democratic and liberal sections of the Iranian society in a targeted manner. A mini-version of this so-called (“Persian”) spring was again manifest in Iran, a non-Arab Shia theocracy in 2009 under the name of “green revolution”. However, the US administration led by Barak Hussain Obama “rightly” failed to capitalize on the situation leading to brutal suppression of young Iranians by the theocratic regime and its revolutionary guards. For the first time the US and its cronies missed an opportunity for externally driven regime change in Iran.

Starting with Tunisia, the Arab Spring phenomena later on engulfed Egypt and Yemen. In Yemen, an extended “managed” political change was indeed brought in grudgingly under the patronage of Western imperialistic powers. Both Tunisia and Egypt saw subsequent take-over by Islamists in democratic elections. After over-throwing of Ben-Ali, the fundamentalist An-Nahda Islamists were the victors of the Tunisian democratic elections in October 2011. The Jihadists and the Salafists are now working in tandem with the conservative An-Nahda Islamists to infiltrate the previously secular Tunisian state from within. The story in Egypt is not very much different where the popular revolution against Hosni Mubarak and the Armed Forces has already been annexed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Mohammad Morsey. The Egyptian judiciary, especially the Supreme Court has resisted the Muslim Brotherhood and its attempts to foist an Islamist constitution. Furthermore, the Egyptian Supreme court has postponed yet again the parliamentary elections denying the MB an opportunity to control the entire state. Parts of the civil police force have already stopped obeying orders of the Islamist government to fight against fellow citizens forcing the MB to spare its cadre for law enforcement duties.

Using the fig-leaf of so-called Arab Spring, the opportunistic Western powers militarily intervened in Libya, another socialist Baathist party ruled Arab dictatorship and brought out a regime change they had craved for long. The subsequent Islamist take-over of Libya, the barbaric treatment (victor’s justice) given to the quixotic dictator Col Mommar Gadaffi and killings of the US ambassador and other personnel by Al Qaeda in Ben Ghazi is illustrative of the nature of the beast. Interestingly, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussain and Col Mommar Gadaffi, all three had indeed served with great distinction as the “useful idiots” of the Western imperialism. The ideological hollowness of the West and the cheer-leaders of the so-called Arab Spring was noted again in Bahrain where popular and public demands for political change were exterminated brutally by foreign military intervention undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Pakistan in order to prevent take-over of the Sunni ruled nation by a Shia majority population.

Syrian example shows the true colors of the cheer-leaders of the so-called Arab spring. Another socialist and secular Arab country ruled by the Baath party is being systematically destabilized from outside intervention for the last two years and sacrificed at the altar of Sunni-Salafi-Jihadi-Wahabi (SSJW) geopolitical interests. Foreign Sunni fighters are leading the war against the Assad regime, fully supported by the regional Sunni monarchies. What we see now is essentially a Sunni-Shia (SU-SHI) sectarian power struggle in the Islamic nations of the West Asian region with Western imperialistic intervention in a systematic manner to defeat the secular and socialist Baath party regimes and of course to safeguard the interests of the Sunni-Salafi-Jihadi-Wahabi (SSJW) alliance. This bloody sectarian conflict will not be resolved in next few months or years. As the geopolitical events unfold, we will witness a quasi-permanent fratricidal intra-Islamic sectarian war for decades in the west Asian region culminating in major cartographic changes. There will be multiple incarnations of Arab & Islamist “Tianamen Squares” during which the despotic rulers will brutally suppress the revolting citizens. The US strategic retreat from the middle- east and pivot to Asia will finally allow the history to emerge in the middle-east uncontaminated by the hegemonic order imposed by the US hyper-power.

Right now all the Arab monarchies have tried to buy out the demands for freedom and socio-political change by bribing their respective populations with yet more goodies financed by petro-dollars. This monetary intervention would at best delay the clamor for freedom and political change only by a few years in the oil-rich nations. There will be Islamist take-over of one-kind or other in all these countries. But political Islam would not be able to provide stability and strategic security to these nations. Just like in the communist countries as they vied with one another for title of the adherents of the true nature of communism practiced in the former communist countries, one would witness competitive claims of “true or genuine Islamism” by various ruling dispensions in this region. Fundamentalist competitive “political Islam” in alliance with Jihadis would hijack liberal and democratic popular uprisings. Indeed, there will be immense loss of human life and Jihadi terrorism will rule the roost. Transfer of power and change of regimes will be an inherently bloody process. There will be serious human rights violations and genocide by all the sides in the name of “true Islam”. Western apologists and backers for these despotic countries under severe financial crunch would no longer be interested in maintaining the geo-political status quo ante.

These geopolitical tectonic changes are likely to result in emergence of new nation states. Syria might be balkanized into multiple small entities or state-lets analogous to the former Republic of Yugoslavia. One would not be surprised if an Independent Kurdistan finally emerges as the 4th non-Arab country in the middle-east. Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey may lose their respective Kurdish populations to a newly independent and democratic Kurdistan. Since the fall of the Ottoman empire, the Western imperialistic powers while arbitrarily carving out state-lets to safeguard their own economic and hydrocarbon interests, chose to sacrifice the Kurdish national interests and denied them right to a state. West Asia has app 35 million Kurdish (non-Arab) people with app half (18 million) in Turkey, 8 million in Iran, 7 million in Iraq and 2 million in Syria. Unraveling of Syria will serve as a catalyst for Turkish Kurds to revolt against the increasingly Islamist Sunni dispension of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara that has systematically deviated from the secular ideology of Kemal Ata-Turk, the founding father of modern Turkey.

Both the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan have successfully orchestrated staggered, coordinated hunger strikes for more than two months by thousands of Kurdish prisoners in Turkish jails. Turkey is going through a schizophrenic struggle between its European aspirations and Islamic moorings. However, political Islam will not be able to hold the Turks and the Kurds together. With increasing Sunniazation of the Turkish polity, this large ethnic and linguistic Kurdish minority will eventually assert itself in this chaotic geopolitical transition. Islamic glue will not be able to hold together Turkish and Kurdish ethnic identities and a volcanic eruption of nationalist fervor will unravel Turkey as we know it. If Turkish and Syrian Kurds turn more nationalistic and declare an independent Kurdistan, Iraqi and Iranian Kurds will be forced to follow suit.

As a result of this, a truncated Iraq would eventually come out as a Shia-Arab theocracy with a Sunni minority supported by the neighboring Shia-Persian theocracy, Iran. Iran would not be insulated from demands of political freedom and change if there is no external intervention. Young, educated and emancipated Iranians will eventually overthrow the conservative Ayatollah-cracy leading to a more democratic and liberal regime change. A non-theocratic and more democratic and liberal Iran will re-emerge as a major regional power with friendly Shia majority governments in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and elsewhere including in Lebanon. Iran will be a long-term winner in the despite losing some territory to Kurdistan and Baluchistan. A loose federation of Shia states may become a power grouping in the region.

In such a geopolitical scenario, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) would no longer be safeguarded by a strategically retreating USA. By 2017, the USA will surpass the Saudis as the largest petroleum producing nation that will become a net exporter of hydro-carbons in 2020. Future US administrations will be forced by domestic isolationists to give up the stability mantra leaving the middle-east region to its own devices. The ultra-geriatric conservative clan of Saudi princelings with all their extremities in the grave will not be able to hold the country together especially in the face of increasingly restive and un-employed young men. Increasing modernization and “secularization” of this tribal society will be resisted violently by the ruling political establishment. There have already been small demonstrations by Sunni Muslims calling for the release of people held on security charges. Saudi women will demand equal rights and driving privileges. The Saudi women would like to emulate their more emancipated Iranian counter-parts in public discourse. If Al Qaeda or its various mutants take-over the Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud will be brutally slaughtered in the name of “liberating Islam”. The internal strife in Saudi Arabia will manifest openly in an explosive manner when the oil-fields dry up in few decades.

The only unrest to hit Saudi Arabia during the so-called Arab Spring wave of popular uprisings was among its Shi’ite Muslim minority. The Shia populations in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia will eventually revolt against a Sunni-Salafi-Jihadi-Wahabi (SSJW) complex leading to emergence of another Shia state-let. Bahraini Shia population is likely to over-throw the ruling Sunni dynasty, leading to emergence of another Shia nation. A Palestinian state-let may eventually be established as a joint protectorate of Egypt and Jordan. Egypt and Turkey will have much diminished geo-political influence. Egypt will have to deal with the issue of human rights of an increasingly vocal Coptic Christian minority. Some countries might eventually disappear by 2030. The most putative candidates are Lebanon, Kuwait and the Palestine.

The impact of these geo-political changes will without doubt creep eastwards towards the Af-Pak region of the South-Asia leading to cartographic changes in national boundaries. Pakistan-occupied Baluch principalities, exploited by the Punjabi-dominated Pakistani army will successfully revolt for an independent Baluchistan as the Chinese footprint increases in the Gwadar port. After taking over the Gwadar port, China will seriously attempt to exploit the mineral and hydrocarbon wealth of Pakistan-occupied Baluch areas, thereby, increasing the sense of alienation and marginalization amongst the Baluch tribes. The separatist Baluchistan Liberation Army will target Chinese companies and personnel in the ensuing war of independence. The Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran will take its own time joining an Independent Baluchistan. The consequent undoing of the artificial geographic boundaries arbitrarily determined by the British colonialists will lead to emergence of newer states carved out of the Af-Pak region.

Another fall-out of these changes would be emergence of an independent and greater Pakhtoonistan comprising of the Khyber-Pakhtoonwah province of Pakistan and the Pakhtoon areas of the Afghanistan across the now defunct Durand line. The result would a truncated but more stable Afghanistan controlled by the northern alliance comprising of the Tajeks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. A truncated Pakistan will continue to remain as a rent-seeking failed state. It may implode eventually, leading to its fragmentation followed by multi-lateral external intervention under supervision of the UN and the IAEA to secure the nuclear weapons and the fissile materials. Further to north-east, a restive Uighurs’ population will force the emergence of Eastern Turkistan while throwing away the 300 years’ old occupation by the Han Chinese and subsequent annexation by the Communist China led by Comrade Mao.

Will this tectonic change engulf the central Asian states or the “stans” is not clear at this time as the geopolitical dynamics are entirely different in the Central Asia in comparison to the South and West Asia.

There will be following major discernible evolutionary geo-political trends underlying the so-called Arab spring. The despotic regimes headed by dictators, monarchs, military strongmen, presidents-for-life and supreme leaders-for-life would eventually be overthrown by the popular revolt. The middle-east is surely due for a major cartographic make-over in the next few decades. The fault-lines would be sectarian, ethnic and linguistic. The glue of Political Islam supported by embedded Jihadi elements would be torn asunder while facing the sectarian, ethnic and linguistic divide.

Whether some kind of democracy will eventually prevail in this region in near future is doubtful, at best. Political Islam with its Jihadi mutant will be on the ascendance temporarily as an essential bloody interim phase in the long-term development of liberal democracy in the West Asia, North Africa and Af-Pak regions of South Asia. Increasing modernization, secularization and intellectual emancipation of the common masses will eventually defeat the Islamist counter-reaction in each of these countries. Iran which is way ahead in the trajectory of civilizational change and democratic evolution will emerge as the most influential regional player while Egypt, Turkey and the KSA will eclipse relatively.

Arab Spring, Arab Barbarism and the Victor’s Justice


June 2012


The third India-US strategic dialogue finished this month in Washington, DC generating a multi-dimensional array of bilateral cooperation agreements, favorable atmospherics and genuine mutual understanding. Described in the heady days of of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, as the natural allies, the relationship has had its checkered course. The optics of bilateral relationship have never been so good! 

Historically, India’s episodic romance with the USA started even before it got her truncated independence from the British imperialism in 1947. Indian freedom fighters started the Gadhar movement based in the USA during colonial times. The members of India’s constituent assembly did incorporate some features of the US constitution while framing the Indian constitution while adopting a quasi-federal set-up. Despite adopting a Westminster style of parliamentary democracy, the framers of Indian constitution, opted for an indirectly elected President chosen by an electoral college, more akin to the US presidential elections.

Traditionally, a proponent of non-alignment, India had close ties with the former Soviet Union and now with Russia. India’s ties with the US soured during the Cold War era owing to the US strategic myopia and intransigence when John Foster Dulles described non-alignment as “immoral”. US lost an opportunity to engage India in the fifties and sixties by invoking the cold-war calculus. India as a nation cherishes her strategic autonomy and independence. The consternation in the US strategic community about India not awarding US companies the $12 billion MMRFA contract was understandable. Indo-US civil nuclear energy deal is still having trouble getting started simply because India still remembers the Bhopal gas tragedy. India, under any government will not be a junior partner in any strategic or military alliance with any super-power, be it the now defunct Soviet Union, Russia, US or China. An “argumentative India” can never accept and identify with “You are either with us or against us” mentality. India has never shied away from bluntly speaking the inconvenient truths to the Government of the US on so many occasions and that rankles the US state department officials! There are no zero-sum games in international geopolitical discourse. Balancing China is the main reason for US strategic pivot to the Asia. Despite having serous concerns about China’s hegemonic ambitions and actions in Asia, India will not gang against China by allying with the US.

The future of India-US relationship is good, indeed, excellent as long as we do not have high hopes for the moon. We, the two nations and two peoples, are extremely fascinated by each other’s popular culture. Indian students are the largest contingent in the US universities, so are the Indian doctors in US healthcare industry. The number of American students in Indian universities is steadily increasing while Indian owned high tech companies invest monies and produce jobs in the local US economy. People to people contacts are an important driving force behind the bilateral relationship while business to business contacts (CEO forum) are increasing. Variously dubbed as natural allies, friends or strategic partners, the two nations are forging a long road to mutual understanding, international peace and prosperity.

We do share some strategic goals but not all. Our tactical relationship will continue to have ups and downs. Despite sharing democratic and pluralistic values, our strategic goals are at variance with each others owing to different geographies. Whether it is the issue of Af-Pak or Iran, whether it is NPT or CTBT, whether it is FMCT or MTCR, we do not see eye to eye with each other. The US has concerns about Iran’s proliferation activities, India for decades was dismayed to see US, benevolently ignoring Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear program abetted by China and funded by Saudi Arabia, while the US itself continued to shower dollars on Pakistan’s military-intelligence-terrorism establishment without batting an eyelid. While India has border issues with China, India votes along with China and other BASIC group of countries on the issue of climate change and global warming. While President Obama virtually conceded G2 partner status to China in the beginning of his administration India was gravely alarmed. India, now, shares US concerns about China’s neo-colonial stance to deny access to sea lanes in the South China Sea. Let us have a mature strategic relationship with mutual understanding without throwing “hissy fits” whenever India chooses to vote against US position in the UN general assembly or any other international forum. In the words of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India has to be pro-India and not pro-US, not pro-Russia and not pro-China!

Here one remembers the famous pop number by Stevie Wonder from his 1985 album “In Square Circle”. India and the US are destined to be part-time lovers. Nothing more, nothing less. The sooner both countries realize it, the better it would be for the geopolitics.

Partitioning The UK?

June 2012


Published Originally on Boloji blog 

History In Making

Francis Fukuyama, that naïve American thinker in 1989 in his infamous essay predicted the end of History and followed up the same thesis in his book in 1992. He was so humbled by the geopolitical tsunamis that have followed in the last two decades witnessing two major wars in the Persian gulf and the Af-Pak region; break-up of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, divorce of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, toppling of some Arab Despots in South-West Asia; and emergence of new nations like Eritrea, Kosovo, Macedonia, and South Sudan.

History was, indeed, made in 1947 when the Imperial British Government abdicated its legal responsibility to control a murderous call for “direct action” and hurriedly partitioned the Colonized India into the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. History would be made indeed, in a sudden twist of fate, if the UK gets partitioned in 2014.  Following a referendum, an independent Scotland, in all probability, may separate from the Westminster government charting its own future course within the European Union (EU) as an independent nation. On May 25th 2012 Scottish politicians, celebrities and activists in Edinburgh urged a million Scots to sign a declaration of independence that would put “Scotland’s future “in Scotland’s hands.”

The Scottish Referendum

Now it is certain that a referendum on the issue of independence will be held in Scotland in 2014.  Although Scottish public currently is 57% opposed to the idea of Scottish independence, nationalism is very potent spirit that changes the public opinion in a matter of days. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is in power currently in Holyrood, Edinburgh and the Scottish First Minister (Chief Minister), Alex Salmond is strongly spearheading the Scottish independence campaign. He articulates  cogently:

“An independent Scotland can be a beacon for progressive opinion south of the border and further afield, addressing policy challenges in ways that reflect the universal values of fairness and capable of being considered, adapted and implemented according to the circumstances and wishes within the other jurisdiction of these islands and beyond”.  UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to “fight with everything I have to keep out United Kingdom together”. He further states: “To me, this is not some issue of policy or strategy or calculation – it matters head, heart and soul. Out shared home is under threat and everyone who cares about needs to speak out”.

For the next two and half years a sustained debate on divorce, harsh rhetoric generated from both the sides and rekindled nationalistic fervor in Scotland may eventually swamp the status quo.

The mainstream UK politicians from the three large parties (Tories, Labor and Liberal-democrats) have tried to scare the hell out of Scottish voters.  They would allow only two options in the referendum; keep the status quo or have total independence in the 2014 referendum. Alex Salmond and the SNP have demanded a third option of home rule also that would entail maximum devolution of powers under the UK (so-called Devo Max, Devo plus or independence-lite option). In 2011, the UK treasury said the level of public spending per head in Scotland was 1624 pounds higher than in England. The debt to the UK tax-payers for bailing out the Royal Bank of Scotland was 26 billion pounds. Inherent is the implicit threat that with total independence comes the fiscal responsibility. 

The differences between the two sides are indeed very real and as Salmond highlights

“The problem with Scotland’s current constitutional settlement is that we can not innovate as much as we would like. Policy choices made in Westminster-by parties whose democratic mandate in Scotland is negligible—are constraining policy choices made in Scotland, for which there is an unequivocal mandate.”. Scottish Social Attitudes Survey done in 2009 found that 61 % of Scots trusted the Scottish government to act in Scotland’s interest versus 25% who trusted the British government.  

Those who argue that Scotland would be too small to go it alone forget that with a population of 5.2 million, an independent Scotland would be comparable to other European mini-states, e.g. Croatia 4.41 million, Denmark 5.5 million, Estonia 1.34 million, Finland 5.3 million, Macedonia 2.04 million, Norway 4.7 million, Ireland 4.6 million, Kosovo 2.4 million, Latvia 2.24 million, Lithuania 3.26 million, Slovenia 2.03 million and Slovakia 5.5 million. It will certainly be larger in population than tiny Montenegro with a population of less than one million (626000). Scotland would have anywhere from 81% to 90% control over the North Sea Oil and 8% share of UK’s assets and liabilities. UK’s national debt of 1.1 trillion pounds and the 8% share of Scotland (in proportion to Scottish population) would come to 88 billion pounds of debt independent Scotland will have to cope with. North Sea Oil has so far generated 250 billion pounds revenue for the UK central government. Despite decline in yield 6% per year, further pumping of crude would generate further 54 billion pounds in the six years to 2016/17.

International Significance

Any divorce and demise of the UK, as we currently know it, will have real international geopolitical consequences. Mr. Salmond highlights the implications when he states: “Scotland as an independent nation would play an active and responsible role in the international community, contributing on issues where it could, but without delusions of grandeur. I find it inconceivable, for instance, that an independent Scotland would ever have participated in the invasion of Iraq.”

Perhaps, the European Union would be over-eager to embrace an independent Scotland because of highly ambivalent relationship with UK.

Following the World War II, the UK, one of the major colonial powers, was forced to give up its colonial possessions owing to changed geo-political circumstances and its fiscal inability to project power internationally. With a deeply contracted economy, a bankrupt Britain was unable to overextend its forces. It started decolonization process reluctantly and slowly. Liberation of Scotland from the UK would be an ultimate exercise in decolonization since the time original Scottish parliament (Estates of Scotland) was dissolved in 1707 under pressure by the Act of Union 1707 to form a Parliament of the Great Britain. Establishment of an Independent Scotland would unleash the genie of a chain reaction leading ultimately to dissolution of the UK. After independence of Ireland from the UK in 1922, Northern Ireland was retained as a province of the UK. Independent Scotland will act as catalyst to spearhead the drive for re-unification of the eight counties of the Northern Ireland with the rest of Ireland and lead to a united republic of Ireland. In this context one recalls the correspondence and contacts between the Irish freedom fighter Hugo de Valera and MK Gandhi in the early part of the 20th century. Both these wise men appreciated the predicament of their respective countries and provided moral support for the idea of total independence from Britain.

Since the end of WWII, UK has had a disproportionate influence on international affairs. Some of this was achieved by a Machiavellian “special relationship” with the reigning super-power, US earning it the nick-name “America’s poodle”. The fact that it was a former colonial power and continued to have a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council helped UK wield undue geo-political influence that was not commensurate with its economic, mercantile and military power or so-called comprehensive national power.  The fact that the UK chose to exercise its soft power judiciously by using British Council scholarships for academics and civil servants from the former colonies served British geo-political interests very well. UK used its higher education system, especially Cambridge and Oxford Universities to continue to impart its footprint on the psyche of newly minted mandarins from the former colonies who liked to be perceived as “British trained” or “UK returned”. UK cleverly continued to hang on to the former colonial possessions by stitching them together in the glue of the Commonwealth. However, after the possible secession of Scotland in 2014 and after the eventual dissolution of the UK, perhaps a tiny England may not be able to hold on to its seat on P5 in the UNSC. This would also have bearing on the remaining 14 British overseas territories (or colonies still under possession of the UK), e.g. Falklands, Bermuda, Jersey Island, Montserrat, Cayman Island, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Diego Garcia, St. Lucia etc. Will Falkland be still under English control in 2015 is a question English policy establishment needs to ponder over!


2014 may well be the watershed year that would lead to eventual independence of three new European countries historically colonized by the Imperial England, namely Scotland, Wales and the Duchy of Cornwall. If and when that happens, the United Kingdom will be allowed to fade away into geo-political oblivion. Perhaps, at that juncture, a diminished England may choose to republicanize the nation, frame a new written constitution that it currently lacks, have a codified bill of rights, abolish the hereditary House of the Lords, retire the anachronistic Windsors (the English royal family) permanently and award them an annual “privy purse” as compensation just like India did! Such a roadmap may ultimately lead to a tiny England joining the USA as the 51st state just like Hawaii in order to maintain that “special relationship”.

Geo-Political Implications for India

As the former colonial power, the UK had immense influence on the history of India that still has its impact. Partitioning India and consequent creation of a congenitally antagonistic state of Pakistan was a clever, Machiavellian geo-political ploy by the UK to have her strategic influence in the subcontinent while playing footsie with Pakistan. UK has sided with Pakistan historically on almost every issue of significance to India, starting with the accession of the former princely state of the Jammu and Kashmir. UK continues to meddle in the J& K affairs and inserts itself into every opportunity. UK was the fountainhead of encouragement to the Khalistani separatist movement along with US and Canada while being in bed with Pakistan on this issue. Khalistani separatist leader Jagjeet Singh Chohan was based in London for years under the benevolent patronage of the British Crown. Tamil separatists are traditionally based in UK with their anti-Srilanka activities but also anti-India activities. UK used the state visit of her Queen to humble India by demanding separate state addresses by the British monarch in both Chennai Rajbhavan and Chandigarh Rajbhavan besides a state address in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi! This would have been a very clear violation of the diplomatic protocol and India’s sovereignty.

UK still has thousands of stolen artifacts from India in its museums, art galleries and private art collections. Unlike the Greeks who have made formal demand for return of the Elgin marbles from London, the Government of India has not had the courage to legally demand repatriation of plundered arts and archeological treasures. Nor did Government of India hold the British Empire and its mandarins responsible for genocide of Indians during the Great famine of Bengal in the 1940s. Unlike Israel which has pursued the former Nazis tenaciously wherever they fled to; Government of India abdicated her national responsibility in bringing the former colonial masters to justice. Perhaps, there will be window of opportunity to get all the stolen treasures repatriated from English museums after the dissolution of the UK. A thoroughly weakened and emasculated England would not be able to justify continuing to hoard stolen Indian treasures and cultural artifacts. Lastly, a fragmented England would not be able to play its Pro-Pakistan game on the issue of J&K.

Engaging Scotland

India must keenly watch the events leading to the Scottish referendum of 2014 and engage the Scottish political elite in advance so that India as an emerging super-power is not left out of policy options. India needs to use the principle of reciprocity in international relations. India must not forget the lessons of history. India has to resolve the outstanding issues left over from the history with the UK or its successor state. India needs to be pro-active instead of reactive in her policy formulations. India needs to shape the geopolitical events by exercising her smart power. Here is a golden opportunity for India to address and correct some of the injustices that were heaped on her in the past. Unfortunately, India is going through a political and economic turmoil with national (parliamentary) elections scheduled for 2014. Another uncertain electoral outcome may plunge the country further deep into political as well as policy paralysis. Therefore, time is ripe now for the mandarins in the MEA to start formulating contingency plans, should an independent Scotland become a geopolitical reality in 2014. Starting with a Strategic Partnership Agreement, an extradition treaty and a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty, the bilateral focus should be on tighter economic relationship with Scotland. North Sea oil could be imported from Scotland for the hydrocarbon needs of an energy starved India. The Tatas (who currently own the British luxury Jaguar Land Rover brand) should consider relocating their car production plants from England to up north in Scotland. The Mahindras should consider building their new SUV production plans in Scotland. Indian business houses should invest in newly independent Scotland when that reality emerges. 

As a nation formerly colonized by UK, almost all Indians would experience an exhilarating feeling of schadenfreude at the independence of Scotland and possible disintegration of the UK as we know it. India should act as a de facto midwife in the birth of the new nation of independent Scotland. Just like India gave her voice for the cause of decolonization of Africa, it must provide moral, material and diplomatic support for the idea of Scottish independence from the UK because it is the right thing to do. Government of India should be the first country to formally recognize an independent Scotland as and when it formally secedes from the UK. Indian civil society needs to engage with the Scottish civil society in harboring a new geopolitical reality. The naysayers had predicted breakdown of India after the British left in 1947.  Despite being a “functioning anarchy” and having a “Hindu Rate of Growth”, India survives while the UK faces imminent partition, fragmentation and demise of the union. The same Nattering Nabobs of Negativism have lampooned an independent Scotland to be a “Skintland” with capital “Edinborrow”. They will be proven wrong once again!Methinks that the juggernaut of independent Scotland is too strong to be stopped.  Demise of the UK is just round the corner!