India

Future of People’s Resistance in Kashmir

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Introduction:

Kashmir is a region in northern India that has long been at the focus of a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Since 1947, when India achieved independence from Britain and was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan, the region has been under Indian authority. Since then, the Kashmiris have fought for their rights, especially the right to self-determination and independence from Indian rule.

The Kashmir conflict has its origins in the region’s historical and political environment. Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan as a result of India’s split in 1947. This partition, however, was not peaceful, and the two countries have been at conflict for regional authority ever since. The conflict has resulted in three wars and skirmishes, the most recent being the ongoing conflict over the Indian government’s revocation of Article 35A and 370 in Indian-occupied Kashmir, which has been marked by human rights violations, state-sponsored violence, and the suppression of civil liberties.

Kashmir’s quest for self-determination and freedom has lasted decades. Kashmiris have been in the vanguard of this battle, advocating for their rights and opposing Indian authority via peaceful protests and acts of resistance. Despite the difficulties they have experienced, the Kashmiri people have stayed persistent in their quest of independence and justice.

The Kashmiri people’s resistance to Indian domination demonstrates their tenacity, power, and resolve. Despite the obstacles, they continue to struggle for their rights, demonstrating that they are unwilling to give up their liberties or their right to self-determination. They have demonstrated via their resistance that they are the guardians of their land and the protectors of their rights.

The Kashmiri People’s Resistance:

Kashmiris have been fighting Indian authority in a variety of ways, including peaceful marches, civil disobedience, and armed resistance. Peaceful protests have been a regular form of resistance, with Kashmiris going to the streets to oppose the Indian government’s policies and breaches of human rights in the area. Armed resistance was also part of the resistance movement, with certain organisations urging the use of force to fight Indian authority.

Civil society and human rights groups have played an important part in the Kashmir resistance movement. These groups have been critical in recording human rights violations, campaigning for Kashmiri people’s rights, and offering support and help to individuals impacted by the war.

In their battle against Indian domination, the Kashmiri people have faced several hurdles. To crush the resistance movement, the Indian government has utilised military force, limited civil freedoms, and enforced mobility restrictions. Furthermore, the Kashmiri people have endured economic and social difficulties, such as unemployment, poverty, and a lack of access to fundamental amenities including as healthcare and education. Despite these obstacles, the Kashmiri people have maintained their resistance to Indian rule, exhibiting their enduring spirit and desire to protect their land and rights.

The Impact of Indian Occupation on Kashmir:

Indian soldiers have perpetrated several human rights abuses and crimes in Kashmir throughout their rule. Extrajudicial deaths, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and incarceration, and widespread use of torture have all occurred. Furthermore, the Indian government has enforced curfews and mobility restrictions, restricting the Kashmiri people’s capacity to freely express themselves and engage in political activities.

The Indian occupation of Kashmir has had a significant influence on Kashmiri socioeconomic and cultural life. The battle has resulted in massive devastation and displacement, as well as pervasive poverty and unemployment. The actions of the Indian government have also led in a reduction in the region’s level of living, with restricted access to essential amenities like as healthcare and education. In addition, the Indian government has enforced cultural restrictions, restricting the Kashmiri people’s capacity to retain and express their cultural history and identity.

The international community must play a critical role in resolving the situation in Kashmir. The international community must hold the Indian government accountable for its actions and campaign for the Kashmiri people’s rights and freedoms. Furthermore, the international community can have a role in resolving the issue and supporting attempts to find a peaceful conclusion. Nonetheless, despite demands from the Kashmiri people and human rights organisations, the international community has mostly failed to take effective action to improve the situation in Kashmir.

Conclusion:

The Kashmiri people’s unwavering passion and desire to protect their land and rights is exemplified by their resistance against Indian domination. Despite multiple difficulties and breaches of their human rights, they have maintained a peaceful and nonviolent resistance to claim their right to self-determination. This resistance is vital not only for the people of Kashmir, but also for the broader context of the fight for freedom and justice.

The international community must demonstrate sympathy and support for the Kashmiri people in their struggle against Indian occupation. This may take numerous forms, from increasing awareness about the situation in Kashmir to lobbying for Kashmiri people’s rights on a worldwide scale. The Kashmiri people can only expect to accomplish their aim of independence and self-determination via collective action.

Counter Productive Politics in Indian State Tamil Nadu

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Those who were born in Tamil Nadu and now living in  Tamil Nadu or other states in India or outside India feel proud about the historical traditions, culture and value system inherent in Tamil Nadu for the last several centuries. Unfortunately, in recent times, many undesirable political developments have taken place in Tamil Nadu that mar the image of Tamil Nadu as a cultured state.

In the last eighteen months, some approaches of the Tamil Nadu government have caused considerable concern to the cross-section of Tamil-speaking people now living in Tamil Nadu and across the world.

The political party which won the last election and came to power made many promises in the pre -election campaign, most of which do not make any economic sense but are good enough to please the gullible public.  After coming to power, while some minor promises have been implemented, several major promises could not be implemented, as Tamil Nadu’s finances are in extremely bad shape. In such conditions,  the political party governing the state is facing criticism, which it is unable to counter by an appropriate response.

In such conditions, the party in power is creating new issues, in such a way that people’s attention can be diverted to such non-issues, so that the criticism against the non-implementation of the pre -election promises by the government would not be focused.

Attack on Hindu religion:

It is a fact that the present government is systematically trying to discredit Hinduism in several ways, by disturbing the smooth functioning of the Hindu temples where poorly trained priests are being appointed and in the process, driving out the experienced and traditional priests from Hindu temples.  This could cause serious uncertainty and confusion in the way that Hindu Gods are worshipped in the temples.

The government mislead the people by saying that it is supporting the Hindu temples by retrieving the encroached land and at the same time, it is taking away the gold and silver belonging to temples which do not belong to the government.

Several speeches made by those belonging to the party in power and their allied parties have been decrying the Hindu religious practices. It is ridiculous that they say that those belonging to Hindu religion are the children of prostitutes.  Many similar extremely undesirable statements have been made against Hindu religious practices.  Obviously, the party in power is causing public debate over such continuous utterances to divert the attention of the people, while such persons speaking against Hindu religion go unpunished and scot-free.

There are so many other incidents that can be readily cited to indicate the diversionary tactics of the party in power, to conceal it’s poor governance.

Weak financial condition:

The finances of the Tamil Nadu government are in very poor shape and several public sector undertakings like transport, TANGEDCO are in deep red. However,  the government continues to borrow more money even while the present debt burden on the state is around Rs.7 lakh crore.  Meanwhile, unconcerned about the situation, many unproductive expenses are being incurred.

Social instability:

People addicted to liquor in Tamil Nadu are increasing at an alarming rate and social stability and family harmony in the state have been seriously disrupted.  Murders and the use of ganja are reportedly increasing, particularly among the youth.

Issue with Tamil Nadu governor:

The recent controversy deliberately created by the state government with regard to its relation with Tamil Nadu governor is extremely in poor taste. The Tamil Nadu governor is conducting himself with a high level of dignity, in spite of many provocations and particularly by the persons belonging to the ruling party and its allies who are using extremely undesirable and vulgar language against the state governor.

To add insult to injury, the  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister deliberately and in a calculated manner insulted the governor, when he came to the Assembly to deliver his customary speech.

It is said that the governor has not read out the speech prepared by the government, but the fact is that in that particular speech prepared by the Tamil Nadu government, many wrong figures and information have been mentioned  which no governor   can read out, if the governor would want to maintain the standards of his office.

It is really silly on the part of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to make an issue with the governor, for the governor using the name Thamizhagam instead of Tamil Nadu in his speech.  There is really no difference between these two names and traditionally in many forums and writings by the government and the people, the word Tamizhagam is being used for several hundreds of years.  This is because people, poets, writers and everyone feel more emotionally satisfied using the word Thamizhaam instead of Tamil Nadu. Now, the Tamil Nadu government is demanding that the governor should be sacked, which is condemnable.

Wasted opportunity:

All said and done, the ground reality is that the present party in power in Tamil Nadu has wasted it’s opportunity to govern the state adequately. It seems to be more focused on creating controversies and is not focusing on reducing corruption and nepotism or in enhancing the reputation of Tamil Nadu in the eyes of the world by good governance.

The widespread feeling amongst people in Tamil Nadu is that Tamil Nadu deserves better.

India: Crisis of self-identification

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The Brazilian news agency reported that Lula da Silva’s inauguration as the new president on January 1 for a historic third term amidst a carnival-like backdrop was attended by over five dozen foreign delegations, composed of heads of government, vice presidents, foreign ministers, special envoys and representatives of international organisations. It was the largest event with high-level international figures in Brazil since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

The BRICS leaders flocked to Brasilia — the vice-presidents of China and Russia and the foreign minister of South Africa. The solitary exception was India. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar prioritised a tour of the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus and Austria.

India’s “underrepresentation” probably was due to the close equations between PM Modi and Jair Bolsonaro, who served as the 38th president of Brazil from 2019 until 2022, whom Lula defeated. For some strange reason, Modi government invested heavily in Bolsonaro by inviting him as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day in January 2020. 

It was a controversial decision, given Bolsonaro’s obnoxious record on misogyny and homophobia, and his perversion for targeting the indigenous people. In a scandalous incident, he once told an opposition politician Maria do Rosario during a debate in the parliament, “I wouldn’t rape you because you’re not worthy of it.”

Later, he explained that he wouldn’t rape her because she was “ugly”. Bolsonaro’s misogyny surged when he once remarked “I have five children. Four are men, and then in a moment of weakness the fifth came out a girl.” Again, his homophobic views got the better of him when he threatened that “if I see two men kissing each other on the street, I’ll beat them up.” 

Indeed, it remains a mystery what attracted the Indian ruling elite to Bolsonaro, an ex-military officer. Maybe, his “strong man” image and fascist ideology?  

Be that as it may, ignoring Lula’s historic return to power in Brazil is incomprehensible. It is not only that he’s, arguably, the most charismatic statesman from a developing country, but he is certain to steer the BRICS to a higher destiny during his 4-year term. 

Lula’s return comes at a juncture when the BRICS is going from introvert to extrovert and its greater global ambition raises hopes across the wide expanses of the Global South of material changes in the global economic system. The ongoing polarisation between the West and the Rest over Ukraine issue accentuates the trend. 

The hallmark of China’s BRICS chairmanship in 2022 has been the launch of the extended BRICS+ meeting at the level of foreign ministers. China also has plans to open up the possibility of developing countries joining the core BRICS grouping. In fact, Algeria, Argentina and Iran have already applied to join BRICS, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt have announced their interest in becoming the group’s members.

Looking ahead, the vitality of the BRICS trajectory will largely depend on the success of the BRICS+ enterprise. While an inert, introvert BRICS has neither global capacity nor global mission,  a stronger, more inclusive and open BRICS has the potential to become the basis for a new system of global governance. This is the crux of the matter.

To be sure, the BRICS association needs to overcome its mounting internal contradictions. On the one hand, a fundamental transformation of the globalisation process has begun (and this process is only gaining momentum) and there are calls for the basic principles and mechanisms which bring the BRICS countries together to undergo reform. On the other hand, this is also an inflection point as multipolarity gains traction and all global multilateral organisations are faced with the loss of their status as universal platforms for overseeing the global rules of the game.

India faces an acute problem of self-identification, since it notionally advocates the transformation of global mechanisms imposed by developed countries but also happens to be a votary of the so-called “rules-based order”, which is a metaphor for the political ideology of the US as the dominant state and “lone superpower” in the 1990s.

Indeed, the difficulties of the BRICS were also caused by internal reasons. BRICS became internally highly heterogeneous and the main reason for this is India’s unwillingness to work with China as leaders of economic growth. To be sure, the aggravation of contradictions between China and India has led to a slowdown in active work in the BRICS. 

Enter Brazil. The victory of Bolsonaro in 2018 would also have been a moment of risk for the BRICS, as the new elites in power in Brasilia made no secret of their desire to place their main stake on rapprochement with the US. Surely, India saw in Bolsonaro a “natural ally” within the BRICS, which largely explains the high honour Modi bestowed on him on 2020 Republic Day. 

Bolsonaro, like Modi, felt no commitment to the idea of uniting the Global South under the banner of reshaping the world order. Both preferred pragmatic, technocratic areas as the BRICS agenda that are objectively beneficial to them (eg., technological cooperation, the fight against organised crime, digitalisation, the Development Bank and so on) although this resulted in an atrophy of the raison d’être of BRICS agenda. 

But, as luck would have it, Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 US election led to a cooling of the enthusiasm on the part of Bolsonaro and the Brazilian elites regarding the prospects for rapprochement with the US. The apple of discord was Bolsonaro’s policy toward the Amazon River. 

Bolsonaro worried about the inclusion of environmental issues in the NATO agenda and he discarded his previously restrained approach to the BRICS, recognising its importance as a tool to counter isolation in the event of worsening relations with the US and the EU.

Suffice it to say that Lula’s return is happening at a defining moment. In his first remarks after assuming power on Sunday, Lula vowed a drastic change of course to rescue his nation plagued by hunger, poverty and racism. 

Lula made clear his main focus would be on ending hunger and narrowing rampant inequality. He also said he aims to improve the rights of women, and attack racism and Brazil’s legacy of slavery.  Lula declared that social conscience will be “the hallmark of our government.” 

Unsurprisingly, India feels uneasy that the centre of gravity in BRICS is poised to shift further to the left of centre. Equally, India will find it difficult to maintain its role as a regional leader with the entry of Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia into the portals of BRICS. Being an acolyte of the US-led “rules-based order,” India faces the spectre of isolation.  

Beijing, whose approaches to diplomacy and international politics are known for their strategic vision for the long term, is biding its time. Lula told Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan who participated in the ceremony in Brasilia as Xi Jinping’s special representative, that he looked forward to visiting Beijing “to further deepen bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, enhance friendship between peoples, and lift Brazil-China relations to a new level.” 

Challenges and Opportunities for Annamalai in Tamil Nadu Politics

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Just after a period of less than 24 months of entering Tamil Nadu politics and becoming the President of Tamil Nadu BJP and with no prior political experience, Annamalai has certainly become a “strike force” in Tamil Nadu politics today.

A number of political researchers and discerning observers wonder as to what could be the reason for Annamalai’s stormy entry into Tamil Nadu politics and his nearly outshining so many other experienced politicians in Tamil Nadu including those in Tamil Nadu BJP itself.

A careful study clearly indicates that there are reasons for this.

Entry into politics at the right time:

Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics at the right time when the common people in the state have almost become tired of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu for around sixty years now, which have been marked by several negatives including a high level of corruption, an increasing number of people including children getting addicted to liquor and counter-productive and caste-based politics and unprincipled politicians.

People have been voting for one dravidian party or the other so far since they had no other alternate party with good standards. Poor people have been voting for anyone of the Dravidian party based on the freebies given, loud promises made and distribution of cash to the poor voters at the time of elections. Several poor people know very well that it is wrong to take cash for voting but “justify” their accepting cash, stating that by accepting cash they would be only squeezing out the money swindled by the politicians and thus “would make such politicians poor”.

The senior citizens who have seen great political stalwarts in Tamil Nadu such as Kamaraj and Kakkan, who exhibited very high personal and political standards and ruled the state competently, crave whether such politicians of high standards would enter Tamil Nadu politics anytime in future.

Youth in the state who have been told about the exemplary standards of Kakkan and Kamaraj find it difficult to believe that such great politicians could have lived in the state at all. They often wonder whether such high political scruples would be possible for any politician.

At a time like the present one, when people are looking for political leader of high standards, Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics, raising hope that Annamalai could take the political standard in the state to high level, matching the standards of Kamaraj and Kakkan.

Unique attributes:

There are some unique attributes in Annamalai, which has not been seen in any other politician in Tamil Nadu. He is well educated with an engineering degree and management qualification from a reputed institution, entered the India cadre of IPS bypassing the competitive exam and served as a senior police officer in Karnataka with an impeccable record.

He speaks knowledgeably not only on politics but a variety of other subjects such as administrative ethos, philosophy, history and so on with the capability to speak in the Tamil language that could be readily understood by anyone.

What is more, is his courage of conviction and confidence to make critical observations with informative data and analysis. He uses strong language against corruption, which has caught the imagination of the common man.

In such conditions, everyone is keen to know what Annamalai thinks about any matter and people flock to his meetings in good numbers.

Opportunity:

There is a vacuum in political leadership in Tamil Nadu, as the ministers and politicians are fast losing their credibility and the governance appears to be virtually a family affair. This scenario gives an opportunity for Annamalai to continue his crusade

Constraint:

Both print and visual media in the state appear to be soft and uncritical towards the ruling party for whatever reasons. In such circumstances, Annamalai has a problem in reaching his message to the people through print and visual media. In such circumstances, he is heavily dependent on social media to publicise his views.

Of course, social media has two sides and there is also negative publicity on social media for Annamalai.

Challenge:

Obviously, the politicians belonging to the ruling party and allies are concerned about Annamalai gaining popularity and in the coming days, it is likely that many false allegations would be made against Annamalai to spoil his image. The ruling party is likely to leave no stone unturned in this regard.

It remains to be seen how Annamalai would face this challenge, which would come not only from opposition parties but also from within the BJP itself by those who fall to the “offers” from the ruling party men.

Annamalai at the crossroads:

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

While popularity means that people are taking a close look at Annamalai’s speech and programmes, he has to maintain high standards in a consistent manner, so that people would not change their views.

Perhaps, Annamalai may pass the test which could happen, if he has the quality in him and exhibit it to the people.

Today, in Tamil Nadu politics, Annamalai is at a crossroads.

Tamil Nadu would be a loser, if Annamalai would fall apart due to the high-pressure campaign against him that is bound to be launched by the opposite parties and vested interests.

People would stand by Annamalai if he would continue to show that he is an unbending fighter against corruption and negative politics.

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

Bangladesh’s role in the security of India’s Chicken Neck and Beyond

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2 mins read

India had always found Bangladesh by its side when needed. The bilateral security relation had always been reciprocal. Bangladesh has shown its commitment to the security issues of India. Especially the trend started when the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Came into power. As well as, the credit for a reciprocal security relationship goes to the Prime Minister for addressing India’s security concerns.

The northeast region of India is one of the most vulnerable areas in terms of security. Security cooperation has been a major feature in Bangladesh–India bilateral ties. India sees Bangladesh as the closest partner in ensuring security in its geographically disadvantaged northeast states. The security issues like terrorism, insurgency, and separatist movements in the northeast region have been controlled and managed, partly because of the immense help provided by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has taken significant steps in dealing with major northeastern insurgent organizations and maintained close cooperation with India in terms of intelligence sharing and security matters.  In addition, Bangladesh has also entered an Extradition Treaty with India in January 2013 to address the security concerns of each other and strengthening mutual trust. With the treaty, India gained a way to clamp down on insurgency in the northeastern region of the country. Not only that, the militants of northeastern states failed to get any shelter in Bangladesh because of the land border agreement with Bangladesh signed in 2015. This stopped them from carrying out their operations for separatist movements and insurgencies in the North East. The incumbent Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar showed his gratitude towards Bangladesh by saying that, the terrorist activities in the country’s northeast region have declined because of India’s strategic land boundary pact with Bangladesh.

Terrorism is one of the pressing security issues in both Bangladesh and India. As mentioned before, Bangladesh has a significant role in fighting terrorism in northeastern states as they had been facing longstanding insurgency movements. In the past, the insurgents used to use the territory of Bangladesh as their base. But this situation was strong-handedly mitigated after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power. Her commendable actions against the terrorists have contributed to opening up a new era of cooperation between the two countries.

For example, Bangladesh handed over top Ulfa leader Anup Chetia, a founding member of one of India’s top insurgent groups United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), to India 18 years after his arrest in Dhaka for trespassing. This person had been in prison since his arrest in Mohammadpur on December 21, 1997. It was a major boost to bilateral security cooperation between India and Bangladesh. Not only that, Bangladesh sent back some other top Ulfa leaders, including ArabindaRajkhowa, in 2009 through the border with the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Both extraditions expedited the process of peace talks between the separatists and New Delhi.

Moreover, the government of Sheikh Hasina strengthened oversight mechanisms in border areas to arrest any kind of smuggling of illegal consignments for the insurgents operating in the northeastern states of India. Bangladesh has handed over to India a list of several factories operating inside their country including some close to the border of northeastern states of India which produced phensidyl only targeting Bangladesh as its market. The phensidyl produced in those factories, set up by the Indian businessmen, were being smuggled into Bangladesh by organized cross-border syndicates.

The northeastern states are almost detached from the Indian mainland. The terrorists and separatists take the advantage of the “Chicken’s Neck” and carried out their insurgent movements in these states. Bangladesh, in turn, has been always by India’s side in combating the situation though some views of India and Bangladesh are completely different. Therefore, the divergent views of India and Bangladesh to understand security issues need to be synchronized for mutual benefit. Only active security engagement between the two countries would help in transforming relations from the present state of mutual suspicion to one of mutual benefit and mutual trust.  Both of the countries should consider the bilateral issues from a pragmatic view to reach a consensus on contentious bilateral issues as well as to further strengthen this relationship to a new horizon of development. A long-standing durable relationship between the two countries is necessary to maintain stability in the northeastern states of India.

Views expressed are personal

Modi ignores West’s sanctions on Russia

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4 mins read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday marks a new stage in the bilateral relationship between the two time-tested friends, both contextually and from a long-term perspective.

The media may find it alluring to link Modi’s call to Ukraine developments despite the Indian and Russian readouts (here and here) making it clear that Russian-Indian bilateral relations dominated the conversation. 

Nonetheless, it is very significant that Modi was not deterred by the fact that although this is not era for wars, the Ukraine conflict in all probability will only escalate, and there is a greater likelihood than ever before that Russia may be compelled to seek a total military victory, as the US is leaving it with no option by doggedly blocking all avenues for a realistic settlement and is furtively climbing the escalation ladder. 

Without doubt, the Biden Administration’s reported decision to deploy Patriot missile in Ukraine is a major escalation. Moscow has warned of “consequences.” Again, Moscow has confirmed that the US planned, masterminded and equipped Ukraine with the military capability to attack deep inside Russian territory — hundreds of kilometres, in fact — including against base at Engels where Russia’s nuclear-capable strategic bombers are stationed. The two superpowers never before targeted each other’s nuclear assets. 

So, there is no question that Modi’s initiative at this point in time to discuss “the high level of bilateral cooperation that has been developing on the basis of the Russian-Indian privileged strategic partnership,” including in key areas of energy, trade and investments, defence & security cooperation, conveys a huge message in itself.

It quietly underscores a medium and long term perspective on the Russian-Indian relationship that goes far beyond the vicissitudes of the Ukraine conflict. Put differently, India will not allow its long-standing ties with Russia to be held hostage to Western sanctions. 

For India, the reorientation of Russian economic diplomacy toward the Asian region presents huge business opportunities. Who would have thought nine months ago that Russia was going to be the largest supplier of oil to India, leapfrogging Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US? According to Reuters, India purchased about 40% of all export volumes of Russian Urals grade oil transported by sea in November, when European countries accounted for 25%, Turkey 15% and China 5%.

The figures speak for themselves: in November, while Russia supplied 909,000.4 barrels of crude oil to India per day, the corresponding figures were for Iraq (861,000.4), Saudi Arabia (570,000.9), and the US (405,000.5) Suffice it to say that when Modi upfront listed energy as his talking point with Putin, it reconfirms that India is giving a wide berth to the G7’s hare-brained scheme to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports. 

But all good things have a flip side to it. As the volume of India-Russia trade shoots up — with Russia emerging as India’s seventh largest trading partner, rising from 25th place — the imbalance in the bilateral trade is also widening, as Moscow prioritises India (and China) as preferred trading partners. 

EAM Jaishankar’s recent Moscow visit focused on a list of 500 items that Russia would be keen to source from India. Importantly, this is also about a supply chain for Russian industry / economy. Jaishankar reportedly gave an interim reply of India’s readiness to start supplying spare parts necessary for airplanes, cars and trains.

Some Russian experts have talked about India as a potentially significant “trans-shipment” state for Russia’s “parallel imports” — that is, Russia can buy not only Indian goods from India but also products from third countries.

Meanwhile, turning away from the European market, Russia also seeks business opportunities for its export basket that includes mineral products, precious metals and products made from them, aluminium and other non-ferrous metals, electric machines, vehicles, pharmaceutical, chemical, rubber products, etc. 

Clearly, there are systemic issues to be addressed such as transportation logistics; payment mechanism, collateral sanctions. However, for the near term, all eyes are on the Russian oil exports to India in the time of the G7 price cap. 

The Russian government daily Rossyiskaya Gazeta reported on Tuesday, “It is expected that Russia, in response to the price ceiling, will adopt an official ban on selling oil under contracts where the “ceiling” will be mentioned or the marginal price for our oil will be indicated.” That is, Moscow will insist on an embargo on supplies basically restricted to the G7 and Australia. 

China and India are  not affected, as they haven’t joined the price cap. The following excerpts from the Moscow daily outlines the state of play:

“There are no real mechanisms that could enforce these [G7] restrictions… already, about a third of Russian oil exports leave Russian ports without indicating the final destination. That is, a so-called “grey trade zone” is growing before our eyes, which allows traders to purchase Russian raw materials without the risk of falling under secondary sanctions… discount [ie., fair prices] allows the Asia-Pacific countries, primarily China and India, to increase purchases of Russian raw materials.” 

The fascinating part is that not only is the so-called “grey zone” expanding steadily but alongside, other suppliers have begun to adjust to the prices of Russian oil in the Asia-Pacific region — that is, to the real equilibrium prices or discounted prices. Curiously, even Western countries are in a position to receive relatively inexpensive Russian oil through third parties.

The bottom line is that the Biden administration’s goal was not to limit the volume of Russian oil exports but focused on the revenues of the Russian budget from oil production and the world oil market. Rissyiskaya Gazeta concludes: “In fact, so far what is happening does not contradict either our aspirations or the desires of the United States.” [See my article Race for Russian oil begins, The Tribune, Nov. 28, 2022]

This new-found pragmatism in the US calculus about the limits to sanctions took a curious turn in Thursday when the US blacklisted the Russian billionaire-oligarch Vladimir Potanin but exempted two of his biggest assets from the purview of sanctions — MMC Norilsk Nickel and Tinkoff Bank — on the specious ground that his holdings are less than 50% in these two companies [but are only 35%!]   

Why so? Because, MMC’s share in the world market of high-grade nickel is 17%, palladium 38%, platinum 10%, rhodium 7%, copper and cobalt 2% each; and, sanctioning the Russian company could sharply aggravate the world market for non-ferrous metals and can hurt US manufacturers. 

Clearly, the law of diminishing returns is at work in the continued weaponisation of sanctions against Russia. Indian business and industry should pay close attention to Modi’s far-sighted initiative on Friday.

Indian Industrialists Ambani and Adani Are Sinned Against

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3 mins read

The news that Ambani and Adani have emerged as among the top rich persons in the world have provoked derisive laughter amongst some political and leftist groups in India. The rapid rise of Ambani and Adani as wealthy industrialists have been mischievously interpreted as an example of widening the gap between rich and poor in India. To add insult to injury, it is also freely said by the antagonists that Ambani and Adani could become so rich only due to the patronage that they received from the Government of India and from some state governments.

What is conspicuous is that none of the critics of Ambani and Adani have recognised their business initiatives, dynamic management approach, capability to identify appropriate investment opportunities, implement their project plans efficiently in time bound manner,  competently operating the completed projects and finally their capability to take on international competitors in India and globally.

Ambani and Adani group have invested thousands of crores of rupees in various fields including petrochemical, oil and gas exploration, coal mining, renewable energy,  infrastructure projects as well as information technology and communication such as 5G and so on.

Both these dynamic entrepreneurs have created thousands of jobs at various levels directly and indirectly all over India and their contributions to the overall industrial and economic growth of the country is significant and praiseworthy.

What is particularly noteworthy is that the industrial groups led by Ambani and Adani have started their activities from scratch and have reached the present level by sheer perseverance.  They are not known to have exploited labour and the satisfaction level of those working in their group companies seems to be high or moderate. Thousands of shareholders in these companies, with a considerable number of them belonging to the middle-income group, have been benefited.  Further, Ambani and Adani group companies have not defaulted in repayment of debt as per the schedule, in spite of their large level of operations and financial institutions too have benefited.

Of course, there is a difference between Tata group and Birla group on one side and Ambani and Adani group on the other side.  The real difference is in the rate and speed of growth.

Whether it is the case of Tata, Birla, Adani or Ambani, there have been incidents of failure of some of their projects but none of them have been distracted by such failures.  This certainly indicates their confidence in their capability and decision taking acumen, which have benefited the country’s growth immensely.

What is particularly surprising is that while the critics of Ambani and Adani  are so severe  in criticising them and questioning them, they seem to be much more charitable in viewing the activities and progress of Tata group and Birla group

To explain this, can we say that Tata group and Birla group have been much more “humble” and less demonstrative, compared to Ambani and Adani groups?

The accusation that the wealth of  Ambani and Adani reflects the glaring inequality between the rich and the poor in the country is absolutely baseless and motivated.  Everyone in India has the liberty to pursue their dreams and involve themselves in starting and running their ventures.  Many rich industrial groups have been founded by persons from scratch with little income and even with little supportive strength.  Why do critics ignore this fact about Ambani or Adani?

There is considerable evidence that the inequality in income and opportunities between citizens in India are steadily coming down. In such circumstances, the expectations and hopes from people belonging to the lower-income group are rising which is a healthy sign.  Various welfare measures introduced and implemented by central and state governments to support the people in the lower income group are yielding results.  All that is required is that the critics have to keep their eyes open to see such improving ground realities and refrain from denouncing the hard-working project promoters, who contribute to the industrial and economic growth of the country.

To alleviate poverty, wealth generation is absolutely necessary and in a developing country like India, the task of wealth generation has to be accelerated as much as possible. When such wealth generation takes place, many people from different walks of life and living in different economic strata have a role in such a wealth generation process and therefore would be beneficiaries of the wealth generation process. The benefits do not go only to the initiator of the projects and wealth generation process.

Such wealth generation is possible only by setting up more industrial and commercial ventures as well as projects in the services sector.  For such objectives, initiatives from individuals are much needed and Ambani and Adani are certainly showing the way.

Time Now That Hindu Religion Should be Defended

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2 mins read

Millions of Hindus who lived in the past and who live at present time have been believing that philosophy and way of life enunciated by Hindu religion and enriched by Vedas , Upanishad and Bhagawad Gita and thoughts lucidly explained by great Hindu scholars like Adi Sankara, Ramanuja and others can never become extinct in the world and therefore, there is no need for defending Hinduism at any time. This belief has brought great qualities of tolerance amongst Hindus towards other religions. In such scenario, practitioners of Hindu religion have never attempted to convert those belonging to other religions to Hinduism. Of course, this is as it should be.

With the entry of Moghul rule in India several centuries back, a large number of Hindus were systematically and forcefully converted to Islam and the rest of the Hindus never protested and not even took serious note of it. In the same way, when Europeans entered India and started ruling the country, millions of Hindus were systematically and cunningly converted into Christianity and again, the Hindus, by and large, never protested in any visible manner.

With Islam and Christianity firmly entrenched in India now and with their growing population, India, which has been considered as a Hindu country, has now become a secular country. Again, Hindus in India do not seem to be particularly concerned about this.

However, in recent years, one can clearly see that there has been an aggressive campaign to convert Hindus to other religions by fair or foul methods, which are too visible and cannot be ignored anymore.

While such conversion attempts are continuing with no significant protest from a large section of Hindus , what one cannot miss is the hate campaign against Hindu religion that has been launched in recent years.

Such hate campaign against Hindu religion continues to remain strong and at disturbing level particularly in Tamil Nadu, amongst all other states in the country.

While the hate campaign has been there in Tamil Nadu for more than seven decades now, in the last eighteen months, after the new government assuming power in Tamil Nadu, the hate campaign is now continued with high level of intensity, focus and perhaps, with silent and tacid support from the political party presently ruling in Tamil Nadu.

The ongoing hate campaign is so vigorous that some hate campaigners with little knowledge of Hindu ethos have started questioning the existence of Hindu religion itself. They are saying in a notorious manner that there have been no Hindu religion in the distant past. Several misinterpretations are given to confuse and fool the gullible people.

What is very unfortunate is that the print and visual media in India, which are all the time looking for sensational and so-called breaking news, without examining whether the news and events are absurd and newsworthy, give huge publicity to hate campaigners and organize counterproductive debates. As a result, the Hindu hate campaigners in Tamil Nadu have a field day with the media giving huge publicity to their baseless observations bordering on absurdity and in the process, even providing undeserved publicity to the motivated Hindu hate campaigners.

As the situation in Tamil Nadu has become now so serious that can erode the future base of Hindu religion in Tamil Nadu, there seem to be no alternative other than defending Hindu religion and Hindu way of life with high level of determination by Hindus in the state.

The Hindu hate campaigners in Tamil Nadu have temerity and arrogance to say that Thiruvalluvar, the great philosopher poet, was not Hindu and even removing sacred ash from the forehead of Vallalar, one of the greatest Hindu philosophers known to mankind. There have been huge interference in the affairs of Hindu temples by the present Tamil Nadu government, upsetting the rhythm in the Hindu rituals and with the government going to the extent of misusing the property and other possessions of Hindu temples as per their whims and fancies.

The essence of this article is to stress the fact that the Hindu religion now has to be defended, even as those belonging to Hindu religion should not attempt to convert people belonging to other religions to Hinduism.

The hate campaigners against Hindu religion obviously think that Hindus would not react even to the extreme level of hate campaign. This confidence of Hindu hatemongers need to be punctured effectively.

Can South Asia’s future be any different?

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5 mins read

A mild flutter ensued after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent meeting with his Turkiye counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York on September 21 when it came to be known that Cyprus figured in their discussion. Jaishankar highlighted it in a tweet. 

The Indian media instinctively related this to Turkish President Recep Erdogan making a one-line reference to the Kashmir issue earlier that day in his address to the UN GA. But Jaishankar being a scholar-diplomat, would know that Cyprus issue is in the news cycle and the new cold war conditions breathe fresh life into it, as tensions mount in the Turkish-Greek rivalry,  which often draws comparison with the India-Pakistan animosity, stemming from another historical “Partition” — under the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) that ended the Ottoman Empire.

The beauty about peace treaties is that they have no ‘expiration date’ but the Treaty of Lausanne was signed for a period of a hundred years between Turkiye on one side and Britain, France, Italy, Greece, and their allies on the other. The approaching date heightens the existential predicament at the heart of Turkiye’s foreign policy.

The stunning reality is that by 24th July 2023, Turkey’s modern borders become “obsolete”. The secret articles of the 1923 Treaty, signed by Turkish and British diplomats, provide for a chain of strange happenings — British troops will reoccupy the forts overlooking the Bosphorus; the Greek Orthodox Patriarch will resurrect a Byzantine mini state within Istanbul’s city walls; and Turkey will finally be able to tap the forbidden vast energy resources of the East Mediterranean (and, perhaps, regain Western Thrace, a province of Greece.)

Of course, none of that can happen and they remain conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, the “end-of-Lausanne” syndrome remains a foundational myth and weaves neatly into the historical revisionism that Ataturk should have got a much better deal from the Western powers.

All this goes to underline the magnitude of the current massively underestimated drama, of which Cyprus is at the epicentre. Suffice to say, Turkey’s geometrically growing rift with Greece and Cyprus over the offshore hydrocarbon reserves and naval borders must be properly understood in terms of the big picture.

Turkiye’s ruling elite believe that Turkey was forced to sign the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 and the “Treaty of Lausanne” in 1923 and thereby concede vast tracts of land under its domain. Erdogan rejects any understanding of history that takes 1919 as the start of the 1,000-year history of his great nation and civilisation. “Whoever leaves out our last 200 years, even 600 years together with its victories and defeats, and jumps directly from old Turkish history to the Republic, is an enemy of our nation and state,” he once stated.

The international community has begun to pay attention as Turkiye celebrates its centenary next year, which also happens to be an election year for Erdogan. In a typical first shot, the US State Department announced on September 16 — just five days before Jaishankar met Cavusoglu — that Washington is lifting defence trade restrictions on the Greek Cypriot administration for the 2023 fiscal year.

Spokesman Ned Price said, “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defence articles.”

The US move comes against the backdrop of a spate of recent arms deals by Cyprus and Greece, including a deal to purchase attack helicopters from France and efforts to procure missile and long-range radar systems. Turkiye called on the US “to reconsider this decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the Island.” It has since announced a beefing up of its military presence in Northern Cyprus. 

To be sure, the unilateral US move also means indirect support for the maritime claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, which Turkiye, with the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, rejects as excessive and violates its sovereign rights and that of Turkish Cypriots.

Whether these developments figured in Jaishankar’s discussion with Cavusoglu is unclear, but curiously, India too is currently grappling with a similar US decision to offer a $450 million military package to Pakistan to upgrade its nuclear-capable F-16 aircraft.

Indeed, the US-Turkey-Cyprus triangle has some striking similarities with the US-India-Pakistan triangle. In both cases, the Biden administration is dealing with friendly pro-US governments in Nicosia and Islamabad but is discernibly unhappy with the nationalist credo of the leaderships in Ankara and New Delhi.

Washington is annoyed that the governments in Ankara and New Delhi preserve their strategic autonomy. Most important, the US’ attempt to isolate Russia weakening due to the refusal by Turkiye and India to impose sanctions against Moscow.

The US is worried that India and Turkiye, two influential regional powers, pursue foreign policies promoting multipolarity in the international system, which undermines US’ global hegemony. Above all,  it is an eyesore for Washington that Erdogan and Prime Minister Modi enjoy warm trustful personal interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The photo beamed from Samarkand during the recent SCO summit showing Erdogan arm in arm with Putin must have infuriated President Biden. Modi too displayed a rare moment of surging emotions when he told Putin at Samarkand on September 16,

“The relationship between India and Russia has deepened manifold. We also value this relationship because we have been such friends who have been with each other every moment for the last several decades and the whole world also knows how Russia’s relationship with India has been and how India’s relationship with Russia has been and therefore the world also knows that it is an unbreakable friendship. Personally speaking, in a way, the journey for both of us started at the same time. I first met you in 2001, when you were working as the head of the government and I had started working as head of the state government. Today, it has been 22 years, our friendship is constantly growing, we are constantly working together for the betterment of this region, for the well-being of the people. Today, at the SCO Summit, I am very grateful to you for all the feelings that you have expressed for India.”

Amazingly, the western media censored this stirring passage in its reports on the Modi-Putin meeting!

Notably, following the meeting between Modi and Erdogan in Samarkand on Sept. 16, a commentary by the state-owned TRT titled Turkiye-India ties have a bright future ahead signalled Erdogan government’s interest to move forward in relations with India.

India’s ties with Turkiye deserve to be prioritised, as that country is inching toward BRICS and the SCO and is destined to be a serious player in the emerging multipolar world order. Symptomatic of the shift in tectonic plates is the recent report that Russia might launch direct flights between Moscow and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state supported and recognised only by Ankara. (Incidentally, one “pre-condition” set by the Biden administration to resume military aid to Cyprus was that Nicosia should roll back its relations with Moscow!) 

Without doubt, the US and the EU are recalibrating the power dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean by building up the Cyprus-Greece axis and sending a warning to Turkiye to know its place. In geopolitical terms, this is another way of welcoming Cyprus into NATO. Thus, it becomes part of the new cold war.

Can South Asia’s future be any different? Turkiye has so many advantages over India, having been a longstanding cold-war era ally of the US. It hosts Incirlik Air Base, one of the US’ major strategically located military bases. Kurecik Radar Station partners with the US Air Force and Navy in a mission related to missile interception and defence. Turkey is a NATO power which is irreplaceable in the alliance’s southern tier. Turkey controls the Bosphorus Straits under the Montreux Convention (1936).

Yet, the US is unwilling to have a relationship of mutual interest and mutual respect with Turkiye. Pentagon is openly aligned with the Kurdish separatists. The Obama administration made a failed coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

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Tamil Nadu: Time to Tame Hate Campaign

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734 views
3 mins read

For the last several decades, there have been hate campaigns against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not-so-subtle manner.

Initially, it was a hate campaign against Brahmins and the Brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked.  Fearing such conditions, many Brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad.  Now, the Brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against Brahmins were responsible.

 Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared Brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. 

For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view.

However, in the last eighteen months in Tamil Nadu after the new government has taken over, the hate campaign against Hindu religion has resumed with full vigour and now it appears to be at the peak.

Even during one of the earlier regimes, when Tamil Nadu was ruled by the same party as at present, the then chief minister called Hindus as thieves and questioned the claim of   Hindu God Ram constructing the Sethu bridge and derisively asked as to in which engineering college Hindu God Ram studied.  In spite of such obnoxious remarks, Hindus really did not react in any significant way then.

Now, the worst has happened with a member of parliament who belongs to the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, publicly stating that Hindus are children of prostitutes.

What is particularly shocking is that the Tamil Nadu government has not taken any action against this man. By remaining silent, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and his colleagues appear to give an impression that they agree with the statement of this man.  This is unfortunate.

We know that in the case of Christians or Muslims if anyone were to make an objectionable remark against their region and practices, Muslims and Christians will rise as one man and protest. Of course, the Tamil Nadu government would have immediately taken action against the persons who criticize Islam or Christianity. This is as it should be.

The disturbing question is as to why in the case of Hindu religion, the Tamil Nadu government allows the anti-Hindu hate campaigners to go scot-free.

Though the present Tamil Nadu government claims that it is secular in outlook, several recent actions of Tamil Nadu government against Hindu religious practices appear to give a contrary impression,  that it may not really be secular, in letter and spirit as far as the Hindus are concerned.

In the last eighteen months, after the present government has taken over in Tamil Nadu, one of the focus points of the government is Hindu temples.   With the claim of protecting the interests of Hindu temples and with the claim of “reforming” the Hindu religious practices, there has been gross interference in the affairs of the Hindu temples.  For the first time, archakas (priests) in Hindu temples are being appointed by the government of Tamil Nadu after providing some sort of “training” for a short period. These appointed priests do not know several procedures in Hindu temples and in the process, several well trained Hindu archakas serving for long years have lost their jobs.

The government is taking over the gold, silver and other assets of the temples and is melting them, though these silver and gold have been donated to temples by devotees in the last several decades. Tamil Nadu government behaves as if it is the owner of the Hindu temples and seem to assume that it can do anything  as far as Hindu temples are concerned.   So many other acts of Tamil Nadu government against Hindu religious practices can be readily cited. 

One striking practice that cannot be ignored by anyone is that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and his ministers would not greet Hindus during their festivals but would inevitably greet Christians and Muslims on the occasion of their festivals. Why is this?

The situation has now reached an alarming level that any Hindu hate campaigner can write or say anything against Hinduism and can get away with it without being hauled by the authorities. Dangerous and chaotic conditions are now developing in Tamil Nadu,  where Hindu religion, with more than 80% of the Tamil Nadu population being Hindus,  is targeted,  criticized, abused day in and day out, with the  Tamil Nadu government watching the scenario as if it has not heard them. 

Hindus in Tamil Nadu are known to be very tolerant and peace loving and perhaps, this is why such anti Hindu campaign are being conducted, taking the reactions from Hindus for granted. However, with the hate campaigner going to the extent of calling Hindus as children of prostitutes, the breaking point has been now reached. This situation should not be allowed to continue.

Whatever may be the personal view of the Chief Minister and ministers in Tamil Nadu government and the leaders of some of the alliance parties with ruling party, Tamil Nadu government should stop this hate Hindu campaign forthwith and put down the hate campaigners with an iron hand.

 If Tamil Nadu government were to fail to do this, the consequence would be too severe to imagine.

Certainly, Tamil Nadu deserves better.