India

Can South Asia’s future be any different?

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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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India: Reviving Congress

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What a week where the Congress party has all but made a laughing stock of itself. Ashok Gehlot has landed himself in serious trouble. He is 71. A comeback is unlikely.

He has been an active, reliable, astute leader, with a mass following. I have known him for over 40 years and have great affection and regard for him. In these four decades he did not put a foot wrong. The “neutral” Sonia Gandhi obviously knows Dante well, who wrote, nine hundred years ago, “The hottest place in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”. She shed her neutrality in no time. So long as she lives, she will have deity status. She is an expert at back seat driving. Can she revive the Congress? No.

Of the two contenders for president of the Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge and Shri Shashi Tharoor, I have never met the former. He is 80 years of age. The younger voters will certainly not opt for him. Shashi Tharoor, I have known him for several years. He is a fine orator and an outstanding author. He deserves to win. But he will not. He does not have the blessings of Mother Superior. Besides, unlike Kharge he is not rooted in the Congress. Oddly, none of the G-23 are supporting him.

Digvijaya Singh has been deprived of the Presidentship by Shri Kharge, who did not play fair with the former CM of Madhya Pradesh. He would have, as President put some life in Congress. Surprisingly he made one serious mistake. As far as I know, he did not meet Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. He paid the price.
The Lok Sabha elections are to be held in 2024. At present the Congress party had fifty-two members in the Lok Sabha. That number is not likely to go up as of now. Not with Kharge at the helm.

PM Narendra Modi will remain Prime Minister till 2029. His international standing is high. Within India he faces no challenge.


Shri Mohan Bhagwat, the head of RSS, made headlines when he met Imam Umer Ahmed Illyas a few days back. It was a courageous and wise move. It would have given millions of Muslims much comfort. How many non-RSS non-BJP Indians recall the fact that during the rule of the Bhartiya Janata Party, since 2014, not a single communal riot has occurred? This is amazing achievement.


The External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar has done India proud at the United Nations and during his visit to Washington. He did not mince words, without flouting diplomacy. I would give him high marks for his stellar performance. One caveat. He is over optimistic about the United States genuinely asserting itself to make India a permanent veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council. The brutal reality is that the People’s Republic of China will always exercise its veto to keep India out. If I am not mistaken, President Joe Biden in one of his speeches said that India and Brazil should be Permanent Members of the Security Council.

The reality is somewhat what more complicated. Any expansion of the Council must include a country from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Muslim world. Who from Africa—Nigeria, Ethiopia or South Africa? From the Muslim World the contenders will be Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt.


The most alarming problem the world is facing is climate change. One has only to look at the havoc rain and hurricanes are playing in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In Switzerland, glaciers are melting, in Italy, rivers are drying up. For nature’s fury no easy answers are in sight.

The recent floods in Pakistan have been a calamity. As often happens, the poor have been worst hit. Pakistan was a near bankrupt country. Only the rich Islamic countries can provide funds to rebuild the infrastructure, colleges, schools, hospitals, industries. It’s a long haul.


India, in a few years, will become the most populous country in the world. Yet, no one is seriously talking about it. No talks of birth control, none of population control. Yes, poverty has been vastly eradicated but the quality of life has not improved. Educational standards are low. The legal system needs to be made more efficient. Civil cases go on for decades. We have some of the best doctors in the world but the hospitals are in need of drastic upgradation.

The great Jawaharlal Nehru is to some extent responsible for India becoming an over populated country. Soon after taking over, he made the astounding pronouncement that India was an under populated country. By the time of his death it was on the road leading to over population.

A Case for “Soft Demonetisation” Now in India

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Prime Minister Modi launched massive demonetization measures in 2016, which was praised by the pledged admirers of Modi and criticized by the sworn critics of Modi. In any case, after a few years now, the overall view towards the demonetization strategy has changed, with the consensus view emerging that the objective of the demonetization measures was positive and well-intentioned, though the strategy for implementation could have been better fine-tuned.

The principal objectives claimed for the then demonetization measure was to eradicate corruption, eliminate black money circulation and identify and remove the fake currency.  Of course, it was even then said that the demonetization exercise was the first step to eradicate corruption and it would be followed by several other measures.

Now, after around six years of demonetization exercise, it appears that the situation is back to square one.

According to present data, notes in circulation in terms of volume rose to 13053.3 crore pieces from 9026.6 crore pieces between the end of March 2016 and March 2022.  Similarly, the value of the currency in circulation went up to Rs. 31.05 lakh crore from Rs.16.41 lakh crore.

Further, it is also reported that the counter currency seized in the country between 2016 and 2020 surged to over 8.35 lakh from 2.81 lakh.  The value of fake notes seized went up to Rs. 92.17 crores from Rs. 15.92 crores. Obviously, the benefits of the demonetization measure achieved in 2016 have been effectively undone now, by a huge increase in the volume and value of currency circulation in the country.

In recent times, there has been much-repeated news appearing in the media about the enforcement directorate and Income tax department seizing large value of currency notes during raids, which on several occasions exceeded more than rupees one crore in several such raids.

The huge money in circulation is directly contributing to the generation of black money in the country and consequent hoarding of goods and properties as well as evasion of tax.  The large circulation of currency is also one reason for enabling corruption at many levels in transactions.

During the demonetization discussions, the government said that rapid digitalization would eliminate cash transactions and curb corruption to a significant extent. While digitalization has taken place, it is still at an insignificant level compared to the overall transactions in the country today.  Perhaps, large currency in circulation has become a disincentive for digital transactions.

The huge currency in circulation could also be a contributor to the price rise and inflation in the country to some extent.

It seems that the government has indiscriminately printed currency notes in the country in the last few years in the post-demonetization period, to provide cash subsidies to the vulnerable section of society during the COVID period. This strategy appears to be short-sighted and counterproductive, as is evident from the consequences leading to the present fiscal situation in the country.

To curb corruption and black money and fake currency, what is urgently required is that the currency in circulation should be brought down steadily to the level achieved during the demonetization period in the year 2016.

Obviously, if the Government of India were to choose to reduce the currency in circulation, it would be scary to use the term demonetization, as the term demonetization has become controversial and much misunderstood now.

The government can still do it by resorting to what can be termed as “soft demonetization”, by slowly and silently reducing the high-value currency notes in circulation and not replacing the damaged ones and at the same time increasing the low-value currency notes such as Rs. 10, Rs. 20 and Rs. 50.

Of course, this would lead to complaints about a shortage of currency circulation in the market but this would force people and organizations to go for digital transactions in an increasing way.  Less currency in circulation will not and need not have an adverse impact, as digitalization which has already become a byword in the country will elegantly keep the economy moving in a much cleaner way than at present.

With the present Aadhar linkage in bank transactions and a greater amount of digital transactions, there would be a positive impact on reducing corruption in the country as well as black money generation and fake currency circulation.

 In effect, the difference between the 2016 demonetization and the soft demonetization suggested now is that all currency would continue to be legal tender and with much less currency in circulation, leaving no scope for “political controversy”.

Atrocities against the Sikh Community

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Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) is a US-based organization which has been striving and struggling for an independent Sikh land for the last many years. The basic demand of this organization is the secession of Punjab from India and the formulation of a separate homeland for the Sikh community. It was founded in October 2007 and primarily was headed by lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. With its head-quarter in New York, the organization was banned in India in 2019. Now this movement for a separate Sikh land run by the SFJ has become a worldwide movement and millions of Sikhs are providing all possible support to it. Recently on 19 September, a referendum for the independent Sikh land Khalistan was organized by the SFJ in Brampton, Canada. According to the media reports, more than 100,000 Canadian Sikhs took part in that voting. Canada is home to over one million Sikhs. It is something very interesting that there are more than 30 million Sikhs all over the world and out of these 30 million about 28 million live in India. It means that India is home to 90% of the total Sikh population but the handful of extremist Hindu elements has made their life hell there in India. Circumstances have compelled them to migrate to the countries like Canada where everyone enjoys equal rights, particularly regarding religious liberty. 

With reference to the Sikh referendum in Canada, the BJP government had many times urged the government of Canada to put a strict check on the leaders of the Khalistan movement in Canada but the Canadian government always plainly refused to do so. The Canadian government spokesman said that their country would never stop Canadian Sikhs from expressing their views by holding the Khalistan Referendum as the legal parameters of the country’s laws consider it a democratic process. He furthermore said that it all was a peaceful process. According to the media reports, even after that flat refusal, the Indian government did not stop urging but rather pressurizing the Canadian government to act against the rising pro-Khalistani sentiment in Canada.

As far as the Khalistan movement is concerned, it is getting day by day stronger all over the world; since in Canada, there are more than one million Sikhs, the strength of this movement could be felt more there. The leaders of the Khalistan movement say that they are not against the Hindu community; they have no hatred against any religion but they hate the BJP extremists who don’t let them live in India. These extremists very bluntly and openly claim that India is only for the Hindus and no one from any other religious school of thought must strive and desire to stay in India; particularly the Sikhs and the Muslims. For the purpose of defaming these two communities, the Indian intelligence agencies are doing their utmost. Recently on 13th September, the walls of a prominent Hindu temple in Toronto Canada, known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir were defaced by scrawling pro-Khalistan and anti-Indian slogans. The BJP government without wasting any time and without any proof and investigation started condemning the Sikh community living in Canada for defacing the temple walls. 

Some social media users started sharing a video of the defaced shrine where Khalistani sentiments can be seen written on the walls but according to Livemint, the legitimacy of the video could not be confirmed. On the other hand, the Canadian government simply rejected the Indian point of view by saying that Canadian nationals have every freedom to express their views under the country’s laws relating to the right to freedom of expression and the right to free speech and assembly. Here an important point to be noted is that this so-called ‘hate-incident’ took place just five days ahead of the Khalistan Referendum voting.

There is another side of the incident too. The Canadian police claimed that it had arrested an Indo-Canadian man for tearing a picture banner of the martyred Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the city of Caledon, Ontario. This incident occurred a few days before the defacing incident of the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. It means these two incidents were ‘designed’ in a very calculated manner. The perpetrators tried to target the peace and harmony of Canadian society where everyone is allowed to do anything living within the boundaries provided by the law of the country. Certainly, the BJP government is not happy with the Canadian government as it has granted legal freedom to the Sikh community of raising its voice for Sikh rights. It is a sheer misconception of the Indian government that by pressurizing the Canadian government, it would succeed in crushing the Sikh demand for a separate and independent Sikh homeland. The same cruel behaviour of the Indian government could be noticed in the Illegally Occupied valley of Kashmir where the local people are being treated as if they are slaves.

Energy Security and Zero Emission Target in India

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India presently imports around 80% of its crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements. As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern.  This is particularly so since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating/increasing in the global market due to geo-political factors, which are beyond the control of India.

 India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which means that the level of emission has to start declining at a slow and steady rate from now onwards.

It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and   natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur dioxide gas, the storage and transportation of natural gas cause methane emission.

India has to simultaneously tackle energy security issues and also has to reduce the emission level at same time. Is this possible in the present circumstances?  Are the strategies being adopted to tackle these two issues contradictory?

Limitation of the strategies:

The strategies for India to reduce emission and import dependence on crude oil consist of blending ethanol with petrol, promotion of electric vehicles, increase in renewable energy generation as well as promotion of hydrogen as fuel and feedstock.

In the case of renewable energy, a total of 144 GW capacity excluding hydro power has been installed as of June,2022. Besides, renewable energy projects of 60. 66 GW capacity are under various stage of implementation and 23.14 GW capacity are under bidding.  While the progress is laudable, the fact is that the impact of renewable energy project in reducing crude oil import dependence would not be significant, since renewable energy generation is seasonal and climate dependent and the capacity utilization of renewable energy project is only at around 20%.

In the case of electric vehicle, Government of India aims at ensuring that 30% of all new vehicles are electric by 2030. While good progress is being made and electric vehicles can reduce emission, it should not be nullified by using electric power for charging batteries if the power were to be generated by burning coal, which is a fossil fuel generating emission.  There is no way that the power requirement of electric vehicle would be completely provided by renewable energy in the foreseeable future.

Government of India has fixed 20% target to blend ethanol with petrol by 2025 and good progress are being made to boost ethanol production. However, this would make short supply of ethanol for other industrial purposes, as ethanol is an important feedstock for chemical industry. Further, it is estimated that 20% ethanol blending with petrol would result in 70 million tonne of greenhouse gas emission, due to physical transportation of 1016 crore litre of ethanol per year by trucks using petroleum fuel.

In the case of hydrogen energy, renewable hydrogen industry is still in development stage across the world. Impressive progress is being made in utilizing hydrogen abroad like hydrogen fuel based railway project costing Rs. 737 crore implemented in Germany. However, as of now, such hydrogen used is not   green hydrogen. In India too, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle plants have been announced including one at Chennai.  However, these projects would use blue hydrogen or grey hydrogen and not green hydrogen produced using renewable energy.

Obviously, the above strategies which are progressive, would be totally insufficient to reduce India’s import dependence of crude oil and natural gas to any significant level in the foreseeable future.

Dependence on coal:

While government of India is implementing the above strategies, it is also increasing the production of coal, which is a fossil fuel.

To increase the production of coal to around 1000 million tonne per annum from the present level of 700 million tonne per annum, Government of India has now auctioned 10 coal mines for commercial exploitation.

Obviously, boosting coal production and greater use of coal as fuel to reduce import dependence on crude oil, will cause emissions and obviously, this would nullify the   emission reduction strategies of Government of India.  This appears to be a contradictory policy.

Need for new strategies:

In recent months, when global crude oil price has steeply increased, Government of India somehow managed the situation by buying crude oil from Russia at a discounted price.  However, this strategy can essentially be a short-term measure.

In such circumstances, apart from the strategies adopted already, India has to think about more imaginative solutions which could be the following.

Promotion of algae crop and algae biofuel for which the requirements such as tropical conditions, availability of wasteland, requirement of sunshine and carbon dioxide etc. in India provide an ideal situation for promoting algae crop/biofuel.

India imports around 2.2 million tonne of methanol per annum, as India does not have competitively priced natural gas which is the feedstock for methanol production. Commercial plants are operating abroad for the production of methanol from municipal solid waste. India should have no hesitation in exploiting this methanol investment opportunity from municipal solid waste.

From methanol, dimethyl ether can be produced, which is an eco-friendly fuel that can replace petroleum-based LPG in a big way.

Further, it is necessary to boost domestic production of ethanol to meet increasing percentage of ethanol blending with petrol. For this, ethanol production from beet sugar should also be promoted in India in a big way as ethanol from beet sugar has even more advantages than ethanol from sugarcane as it is less water consumption.

Lack of India’s China Card

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India missed a good opportunity in nudging the disengagement and de-escalation process at the Samarkand summit last week after China had made a surprise concession of disengaging from Hot Springs three days before the summit. Although Prime Minister Modi avoided eye contact publicly with President Xi, they attended two round table sessions and were present together at two ceremonial photo ops and in one, standing next to each other. But neither leader made any effort for a public handshake or a pull-aside.

Why did China make the disengagement gesture 13 months after the last disengagement and two months after the last Corps Commander’s talks to coincide with the Samarkand summit? Probably to demonstrate that negotiations on disengagement are progressing smoothly. That there would be no disruption from India at the summit on the border row was also on the cards, allusions were not absent. Modi said to Putin: “today’s era is not an era of war” pointed to Xi also. Given that Modi and Xi had cultivated a close rapport after 18 meetings between 2014 and 2019 but none since the LAC brush, it was not unreasonable to expect the effusive and backslapping Modi to extend his hand to Xi during the photo op. (it was he who famously said in June 2020: “no one came inside, nor is anyone inside Indian territory”, to the delight of the Chinese) A day before his 72nd birthday, Modi could not have been seen shaking hands with Xi when the opposition has been gunning for him over losing land to China. But it would have been a risk worth taking. At least the ice could have been broken. Much has been written about the disengagement process since the tragic unarmed Galwan clash. The 1993 and 1996 border protocols and subsequent border agreements of 2005, 2006, and 2012 Border Defence Cooperation Agreements have been violated by China and PLA. The policy change was initiated when Xi, who had been vice president became President in 2013. The modus vivendi to border dispute and bilateral relations initiated in 1988 was torn to shreds in 2020 preceded by ominous indicators at Chumar, Depsang, and Doklam.

Comparing the multiple intrusions of 2020 with Sumdorong Chu in 1988 which took nine years to resolve is patently incorrect. It was a different era when India and China were co-equals economically and militarily.. At Sumdorong Chu, military commanders took bold initiatives in occupying heights dominating PLA intrusions at Wangdung unlike in East Ladakh where Indian forces were caught napping. Dispute resolution resulted in the mutual pullback, prompting then BJP opposition MP Jaswant Singh to remark: “why are we withdrawing from our own territory”.

China has managed to promulgate its 1959 Claim Line from Depsang to Demchok in serious adversity. It is instructive to analyse India’s current self-inflicted dilemma. Unlike in the central and eastern sectors, the LAC is better defined and more settled by the McMahon Line than in the west where the LAC is seriously contested. In the east, our forward posture was triggered off by the PLA intrusions in Sumdorong Chu where defences and posts are close to MacMahon Line. In the west, mainly Leh was defended with vast areas along the LAC unmanned and covered with dispersed ITBP and Army posts from where ITBP and Army patrolled up to the 65 patrolling points up to a line behind the LAC. The Chinese had their own perception of LAC that was never revealed.

In April 2020, in a surprise sweep, PLA easily occupied positions across Indian LAC corresponding to their 1959 Claim Line . The mammoth intelligence failure was compounded by political and operational lapses. After the disengagement from Hot Springs (PP 15) on 8 September which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar called “one problem less”, another buffer zone bereft of patrolling rights has been established on the Indian side of LAC. At Depsang, 18 km on the Indian side of LAC PLA has blocked access to five Patrolling Points and at Demchok to four Patrolling Points. Konchok Stanzin, the counselor for Chushul, said: “our troops have gone back from PP 15 and PP 16 which we had for 50 years, we lost winter grazing ground”. The Chinese have also effectively blocked two Indian offensive launch pads at Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie-virtually transforming the area into 1000 sq km of DMZ.

On 9 May, COAS Gen Manoj Pande said: “We have to restore status quo ante April 2020”. Diplomacy has to be restored to the Xi-Modi level; their 19th meeting could be at the Bali G20 summit in November. Meanwhile, plans should be made to establish BOPs in Ladakh to prevent further salami slicing.

Tamil Nadu: Time to Tame Hate Campaign

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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.

Counter Productive Media Report on Nano Urea Fertiliser in India

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4 mins read

Nano Urea, a fertilizer patented and sold by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), has been approved by the Government of India for commercial use because of its various benefits.

Unfortunately, a counter productive media campaign has been levelled against nano urea, ignoring the merits of nano urea.

When extensive field trials have been carried out on more than 94 crops across 11000 farmer fields in different parts of the country by several organisations , research institutions putting their efforts together and results have been proved as per the claims , it is counter productive that some controversial views appear in the media, which cause only sensation and nothing more than that.

Product details :

Nano Urea is about a billionth of a metre in surface area and contains nitrogen particles of 20 -50 nanometres.

The average thickness of conventional urea particle is 2.8 mm, which is equal to around 55,000 nano urea particles in size.

Chemically, conventional urea has 45% nitrogen content ,which means a 45 kg urea bag contains about 20 kg of nitrogen. In contrast, nano urea sold in 500 ml bottles has 4% nitrogen (or around 20 gm)

The process for nano urea uses organic polymers that keeps the nano particles of nitrogen stable and in a form that can be sprayed onto plants.

Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.

Urea in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the pores found on the epidermis of leaves.

IFFCO advises that 2-4 ml of nano urea should be mixed in a litre of water and sprayed on crop leaves at active growth stages.

Due to the ultra-small size and surface properties, the nano urea liquid gets absorbed by plants more effectively when sprayed on their leaves.

With 40,000 milligram per litre. of nitrogen in a 500 ml nano urea bottle can be sufficient for providing nitrogen to one acre of the field with crops compared to 2.5 bags of urea.

One bottle of 500 ml costs Rs.240 whereas the conventional subsidized urea is sold at Rs.266.5 per 45 kg bag.

Over 3.6 crore bottles of this urea have been produced by IFFCO , of which 2.5 crore have been sold.

The question :

The critics have raised the following questions about the wisdom of introducing nano urea as substitute for conventional area in agricultural operations,

• Chemically,conventional urea has 45% nitrogen content , which means a 45 kg urea bag contains about 20 kg of nitrogen. On the other hand, nano urea sold in 500 ml bottles has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 gm). How can this compensate for the kilogrammes of nitrogen normally?

• “Urea is highly water soluble and already reaches the lowest form of concentration when absorbed. How nanoparticles can increase the effectiveness of nitrogen uptake by being still small in size?.

• Not all the nano urea sprayed on leaves can be utilised by the plant.

Merits of nano urea :

Because nano particles are so small and numerous, they have a lot more surface area relative to their volume, compared with the millimetre-size grains of urea that plants are exposed to .

Unlike the conventional urea which are coarse particles that farmers normally throw onto the soil during sowing, the nano particle form of nano urea, when applied on to the leaves, stimulates a range of enzymes, like nitrase and nitrite reductase, which helps plants metabolise nitrogen

Upon penetration, these nanoparticles reach plant parts where nitrogen is required and release nutrients in a controlled manner, thereby reducing usage while also reducing wastage into the environment.

Small size (20-50 nm) of nano urea increases its availability to crop by more than 80%.

Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.

Field trials and results :

IFFCO says the product has been tested on more than 94 crops across 11,000 farmer fields in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendras of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR-KVKs), research institutes, state agriculture universities, and progressive farmers. “The trials began in November 2019

According to a release from IFFCO, field trials have shown that a 500 ml bottle of nano urea can replace one bag of conventional urea, as it has 40,000 ppm of nitrogen, which is equivalent nitrogen nutrient provided by one bag of conventional urea.

Nano urea has also been tested for biosafety and toxicity according to norms followed in India and the international guidelines developed by OECD, which are adopted and accepted globally.

Comparison of conventional urea and nano urea :

As of now, just 30-50 per cent of nitrogen from conventional urea is utilised by plants in farms , while the rest goes waste due to quick chemical transformation because of leaching, which contaminates soil and water bodies, and volatilisation that causes emissions of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere — leading to air pollution and global warming along with low nutritional efficiency for the crop.

While conventional urea is effective just for 30-50 per cent in delivering nitrogen to plants, the effectiveness of the nano urea liquid is over 80 per cent.

A major reason for this increase in efficiency of nano urea is because of the fact that nanotechnology, which is the base of this new form of urea, enables designing ultra-small particles that offer higher surface-mass ratios, and help in the controlled delivery of plant nutrients.

Approval :

According to critics, nano urea is yet to be fully tested despite having been fast tracked for commercial application.

According to the critics, normally, three seasons of independent assessment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is required for approving a new fertiliser, but in the case of nano urea this was reduced to two.

The above stand of the critics is not logical and acceptable, since nano urea is not different from urea in chemical constituent and the difference is only in the form and particle size.

Therefore, there is no need to consider conventional urea and nano urea as separate products for approval by the authorities , particularly since extensive field trials have been carried out with nano urea and the results have been announced which are positive and are proven to be beneficial.

Views expressed are personal

ISKP Calls for Jihad Against India

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1 min read

On September first week, the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) published issue 13 of its Voice of Khurasan magazine which featured an article scorning India and a separate profile of an Indian jihadist, according to the report published in Militant Wire. As part of ISKP’s strategy of expanded regionalization and internationalization, India has become a higher priority enemy of the group, and recruitment efforts targeting Indian Muslims have been boosted, the report added.

The article, titled “A Message for the Oppressed Muslims in the Cow Worshippers’ State”, says there is a “genocide” occurring “under the nose of [the] UN”. ISKP says “Hindu fanatics” have subjected Muslims to “systematic oppression” for the last 75 years.

ISKP says it is up to individual Muslims to turn the situation around since actors such as “the taghut of Pakistan” do not intend to help their supposed coreligionists in Kashmir. Indian Muslims, they say, are the targets of “state-sponsored Hindu terrorism”. The author(s) warns that “our enemies are well prepared to destroy us” and that “they will not show us mercy”.

The solution, according to ISKP, is to “throw away the shackles of humiliation” and “return to your religion – i.e. jihad in the way of Allah.” ISKP says “the only way you will be able to reclaim your glory is to pledge your allegiance to our Khalifah and clean the historical land of Khilafah from the filths of idolatry and idolaters.”

Trustless Companions

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3 mins read

Just a few months back, it was in the news that the US authorities were considering imposing sanctions on India because of its trade ties with Russia. It was all being done as a part of US’ isolation strategy during the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine those days. Situation became more serious when India stood in the line of those 35 countries which abstained themselves from voting at the United Nations against the Russian advancement in Ukraine. Certainly the Indian decision of going against the US will and desire was not very much encouraging rather pleasing for the US authorities, military as well as political. At political level both the Democrats and Republicans raised their concerns about India’s stance of ‘going against the wind’ and it was being apprehended that this decision would create distances between the two countries. It was also in the air that the Biden administration might impose sanctions upon India under the ‘CAATSA law’ which imposes certain restrictions on the countries purchasing defense materials from Russia, North Korea and Iran. The abbreviation CAATSA stands for ‘Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act. But in spite of all these fears and apprehensions, according to some analysts, India is still the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of US and this misconception rather misunderstanding would prove a seriously painful shock to the US policy-makers, somewhere in near or far future.

Meenakshi Ahmed is a renowned expert on India-US relations. She is the author of ‘A Matter of Trust- U.S. India relations from Truman to Trump’. Recently she penned down an article in the Atlantic with the title, ‘America Has Never Really Understood India’. She said, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resurrected Cold War hostilities, harkening back to a world in which the United States saw itself pitted in a Manichaean struggle, facing a choice between good and evil. The U.S. is using similar rhetoric today to persuade countries to isolate and punish Moscow.” She further says, “President Joe Biden has garnered support among his NATO allies to impose crippling sanctions on Russia, but his efforts elsewhere have been only partially successful. Australia and Japan—which, along with the U.S., make up three-quarters of the Quad, a relatively new Asian-security grouping—have signed on, but India, the fourth member of the bloc, has declined to join the chorus of condemnation.” If India were a very serious and sincere partner of the US, it must have been the first one to offer all cooperation in this regard.

In March 2015, Crispin Rovere penned down an article in The Interpreter with the title, ‘India is no ally of the US’. The writer said, “As for India and the US, I find it astonishing that after more than 50 years of being repeatedly burned, some Americans still have not learned their lesson and continue insisting that China and India are ‘natural competitors’. This is false. China and India are historical competitors, but such competition is not necessarily ‘natural’ and certainly nothing like the strategic competition that exists between China and the US. After all, any Chinese expansion in the Western Pacific will be at America’s expense. It is hard to argue that India’s expansion into the Indian Ocean is being actively resisted by China. India is not a pro-Western democratic bulwark, and never will be.”

Last year on April 15, 2021, same apprehensions were expressed by Chirayu Thakkar regarding uncertainty of US-India relations in an article appeared in the Stimson. The writer said, “For the last 20 years, the United States has mostly overlooked its divergences with India in multilateral forums as the relationship paid economic, strategic, and political dividends bilaterally, whereas the costs of divergences at the multilateral level were negligible. In spite of such exceptionalism enjoyed by New Delhi, U.S. diplomats at all levels reminded their Indian counterparts that India’s “obstinate role at the UN was increasingly at odds with our emerging strategic proximity.” With a restructuring of the global order, continuous assault on rules-based order, and China’s rise as a common strategic adversary, the costs of their inability to work together in the global governance arena can be much higher for both countries today.”

‘The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World’ is no doubt a book which must be an eye-opener to all those who are misguided by the notion that India would always remain an ally of the US, keeping all its national interest aside. The book is written by India’s external affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He has very emphatically tried to explain that India has no plan to align itself fully with either the U.S. or China. He says, “This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, reassure Russia, and bring Japan into play.” Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September 2021, his review on Shankar’s book was published in the Hill, in which he tried to make his readers realize that whatever Jaishankar said in his book, must not be taken for granted as he had been a former ambassador to both Washington and Beijing; moreover he is the son of Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam who is recognized as the ‘father of India’s nuclear program’. Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam is the person who maintained close ties with Moscow even as he was perhaps the leading advocate of the 2007 Indo-U.S. Agreement on Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. If such a well-informed and well-connected person does not find harmony in American and Indian interests, it means the actual situation is altogether different from what apparently seems. If India is not fair in its relationship with US, why US is wasting its resources on making India ‘the regional god-father’.