July 31, 2009

Is India doling out contracts to China?

Times Now 27 July 2009, 07:00pm IST

NEW DELHI : Are Indian manufacturers being overlooked and Chinese made equipments being preferred for power projects in India?
(http://timesofindia .indiatimes. com/videoshow/ 4826553.cms).

If construction major Larsen & Toubro's chairman and managing director's concerns are anything to go by, then Indian companies are being shortchanged by government’s policies that inadvertently tilt the scales in favour of Chinese companies.

At a time when India-China rivalry has left relations at the lowest ebb, come complaints from industry heads of 'buy China' bias, that gives Chinese companies inordinate advantage over their Indian counterparts.

A letter written to the Finance Minister last month ahead of the Union Budget, L&T CMD A M Naik expressed concerns over import of Chinese power equipment to India that totalled nearly 8.3 billion dollars, while Chinese taxation model struck down any hopes of Indian exports to China.

The letter is in the possession of Times Now.

The letter points out that India is following the 'buy Chinese' policy in which international tenders are not floated to give China Advantage. It also says that Indian power companies changed specifications to suit Chinese manufacturers and that the Indian manufacturers are being overlooked and Chinese exporters incentivised.

The letter also points that exports from China is to the tune of $8.3 bn while Indian exports to China is negligible.

Indology must change with the times


Recent developments suggest that academic courses may be in danger of becoming irrelevant

WITHIN THE past year, the Sanskrit Department at Cambridge University and the Berlin Institute of Indology, two of the oldest and most prestigious Indology centres in the West, have shut their doors. The reason cited is lack of interest. At Cambridge, not a single student had enrolled this year for its Sanskrit or Hindi course. Other universities in Europe and America are facing similar problems.

Coming at a time when worldwide interest in India is the highest in memory, it points to structural problems in Indology and related fields such as Indo-European Studies. What is striking is the contrast between this gloomy academic scene and the outside world.

During my lecture tours in Europe, Australia and the United States, I found no lack of interest, especially among the youth. Only they are getting what they want from programmes outside academic departments, in cultural centres like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, temples and short courses and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers (like this writer).

This means the demand is there, but academic departments are being bypassed. What has gone wrong with academic Indology, and what is to be done?

To understand the problem today it is necessary to visit its peculiar origins. Indology began with Sir William Jones' observation in 1784 that Sanskrit and European languages were related. Jones was a capable linguist but he was also responsible for interpreting Indian law and customs to his employers, the British East India Company. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as interpreters of India continued well into the 20th century.

Indologists' role as interpreters of India ended with independence in 1947, but many Indologists, especially in the West, failed to see it. They continued to get students from India, which seems to have lulled them into believing that it would be business as usual. But today, six decades later, Indian immigrants and persons of Indian origin occupy influential positions in business, industry and now the government in the U.S. and the U.K. They are now part of the establishment in their adopted lands. No one in the West today looks to Indology departments for advice on matters relating to India when they can get it from their next-door neighbour or an office colleague.

Scientific discoveries

This means the Indologists' position as interpreters of India to the West, and sometimes even to Indians, is gone for good. But this alone cannot explain why their Sanskrit and related programmes are also folding. To understand this we need to look further and recognise that new scientific discoveries are impacting Indology in ways that could not be imagined even 20 years ago.

This is nothing new. For more than 50 years, the foundation of Indology had been linguistics, particularly Sanskrit and Indo-European languages. Archaeological discoveries of the Harappan civilisation forced Indologists to take this hard data also into their discipline.

Today, there is a similar revolution in the offing, brought on by discoveries in natural history and population genetics based on DNA analysis. Natural history tells us that we need to take into account sea level changes at the end of the last Ice Age. This led to major developments in land based civilisations when coastal populations were forced to move to the interior. Genetics has also thrown up surprises like the close kinship between Indian and Southeast Asian populations as well as their flora and fauna.

These are exciting developments that scholars can ill afford to ignore. The questions though go beyond Indology. Sanskrit is the foundation of Indo-European Studies. If Sanskrit departments close, what will take its place? Will these departments now teach Icelandic, Old Norse or reconstructed Proto Indo-European? Can Indo-European Studies survive without Sanskrit? These are questions that Indologists must now face.

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Hindu Economics and Charity

Sarvesh K Tiwari on जुलाई 31, 2009


In a recent article on Wall Street Journal, its bureau chief in New Delhi Paul Beckett has wondered why India’s rich were not generous enough towards charity, has exhorted them to ‘open their wallets’, and implicitly made reference to the Hindu roots of the phenomenon.
His misguided opinion is a typical example of how the western journalists posted in India develop their views and spread the typical stereotypes about India, whose spirit they have never tried to, or succeeded in, grasping. His usage of the derogatory term “Hindu Rate of Growth” reminds us of a similarly stale and offending commentary on the growth of Indian Industry by another western journalist stationed in India, Edward Luce, in his ‘In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India’. Unfortunately for them, these western commentators on the economics of India are prisoners of their cognitive cocoon, and while physically being here, they fail to understand the experience of Hindu Civilization and keep ignorantly applying the norms and standards of their own culture when commenting about India.

Rajeev Srinivasan has masterfully responded with his incisive reply to the ignorant premise taken by Beckett on the “Hindu Rate of Growth”, and Dr. Koenraad Elst has dissected at length Luce’s outlook in a recent article. Here we shall share some random thoughts from the historical perspectives on Hindu outlook to economy and charity, and try showing how, there is continuity even today, although latent, of the same outlook prevailing among the more traditional Hindu shreShThins of our age.

The very reason why industry is needed to flourish, according to kauTilya, is to spread dharma in society which alone can beget lasting and all-round happiness. artha, the economy, he says, is the most important function of society, as it is solely from this basis that both the fulfillment of dharma and pursuit of desires can be accomplished (“arthaiva pradhAnaiiti kauTilyaH arthamUlau hi dharmakAmau iti: AS 1.7.6-7). Economy is like a tree, further says kauTilya, if whose roots are rooted in dharma, it produces the fruits of happiness. Achievement of such dhArmika wealth further promotes dharma and produces more wealth and gives more pleasure. This is the achievement of all the gains. (dharma-mUlatvAt kAma-phalatvAchArthasya dharma-artha-kAma anubandhA yA^arthasya siddhiH sA sarva.artha.siddhiH AS9.7.81)

Creation of wealth for the welfare of society was considered so important that bR^ihadAraNyaka upaniShada relates that bramhA was compelled to create the vaishya-s skilled in industrial enterprise and organizing business, since the first two varNa-s proved incapable or disinclined in doing so. (“…sa naiva vyabhavat, sa viShamasR^ijat, yAnyetAni devajAtAni, gaNASha AkhyAyante…”).

So, continuous creation of wealth is of absolute importance for the stability of society, which is required for the growth of dharma. kauTilya holds that if happiness is the objective and strength is the power, then wealth is one of the three types of those strengths to achieve it. (“shaktiH siddhishca | balaM shaktiH | sukhaM siddhiH | shaktistrividhA … kosha-daNDa-balaM…” AS6.2.31-34), and it is one of the reasons, why a government is needed, that is for prospering the society and spreading the dharma. A government is required for security of wealth, and once peace and industry is ensured (through a 6-fold policy that he enumerates), all-round wealth is automatically created. (“shamavyAyAmau yogakSemayoryoniH | shamavyAyAmayoryoniH ShADguNyam…” AS6.2.1&4).

However not only ensuring the right environ for society to generate and secure the wealth, but also the guarantee that the wealth really reaches the people, is counted by kauTilya as a basic prerequisite. (“…loka-priyatvam artha-saMyogena vR^ittiM… AS1.7.1). Therefore, the wealth of society is to not only be protected but also distributed. It is the people who are, for him, the center of good governance, and without attention to them a society, he says, is like a barren cow, useless and yielding no milk. (“puruShavad hi rAjyam; apuruShA gaurvandhyeva kiM duhIta… AS7.11.24-25”)

Hoarding of wealth, without either consuming it or distributing it, is throughout denounced by all the Hindu thinkers and dharma-shAstrakAra-s. Traditional wisdom tells us that charity, enjoyment, and destruction, wealth is only destined to go in one of these three ways. One who neither spends in charity, nor enjoys it, his is sure to go by the way of the third, i.e. destroyed. (“dAnaM bhogo nAshastistrI gatayo bhavanti vittasya; yo na dadAti na bhu~Nkte cha tasya tR^itIyA gatirnAshaH — vikrama charita, Andhra, 3.86).
A more aesthetically presented view of the same thought, from another source: ‘the wealth of those who simply hoard theirs, is eventually enjoyed not by them but by the others, like the honey collected through the industriousness of someone else is eventually consumed by someone else!’ (“ati-saMchaya-kartR^iNAM vittamansya kAraNaM; anyaiH saMchIyate yatnAdanyaishcha madhu pIyate”: vallabhadeva.474).

Another author intuitively compares unconsumed and hoarded wealth with daughters, who are lovingly brought up with care and affection by parents, only to eventually go off to someone else’s household! (upabhogakAtarANAm puruShANAm arthasaMchayaparANAm; kanyAratnamiva gR^ihe tiShThantyarthAH parasyArthe: v.482)

One must also notice that while wealthy are appealed to spend towards their social responsibility throughout the wide array of shAstra-s, quoting which at length would amount to compiling several volumes, it is not the charity alone for which the wealthy are being exhorted for the welfare of society, but also simply for consumption and enjoyment of their wealth, thereby keeping money in circulation to ensure a wider and broader distribution of wealth. The circulation of money ensures the chain reaction of wealth-creation in society, as kauTilya says, wealth creates more wealth, like the roaming elephants procreate and gather more elephants (“arthair arthA prabadhyante gajAH pratigajairiva…AS9.4.27”).

chANakya does recognize that the wealthy could easily grow a tendency of hoarding their riches and not share it with the commonwealth of the society, therefore not only does he warn the King to be cautious of such hoarding capitalists and keep them under watch, but in the spirit for which kauTilya is known, also suggests some innovative ways of how the King could justly rid such ones of some of their wealth when needed. One nice contrive he suggests is not devoid of some humour, although kauTilya must have been serious prescribing it. The King might employ a spy who takes the garb of a rich merchant, or even employ a real trustworthy merchant, who shall then go to the intended business and borrow the desired sum in gold or silver or some other costly or imported merchandise, and then having procured this loan, this spy can suitably “allow himself to be robbed”, maybe at the same night!

So no wonder, another text informs the accumulators, that their wealth, unless they spend it more generously or conduct charities, will invite only the attention of crime and decay. ‘One who neither enjoys his wealth nor donates it to those worthy of it, must rest assured that his accumulation would find its way either to the houses of the thieves or eventually rot in the belly of the earth’. (saMchitaM kratuShu nopayujyate yAchitaM guNavate na dIyate; tat-kadarya-pariraKShitaM dhanaM chaurapArthiva gR^iheShu gachcHati)
One well-known snippet of wisdom differentiates between the charitable rich and the shameless accumulators, by employing the simile of clouds and ocean, and says that ‘the glory of donors always thunders from the sky like the clouds that generously give us water, while those who keep on accumulating wealth without returning, always rot at the lowest strata of rasAtala like the ocean which only knows to receive and store’. (gauravaM prApyate dAnAt na tu vittasya sa~nchayAt; sthitiH uchchaiH payodAnAM payodhInAM adhaH sthitiH)

Some of the popular aphorisms attributed to chANakya advise us likewise, that ‘while a man must learn to be content with his wife, his wealth, and his food, he should never tire in zealously conducting these other three things: learning, recitations, and more charity’. (santoShas triShu kartavyaH sva-dAre bhojane dhane, triShu chaiva na kartavyo-dhyayane-japa-dAnayo : chANakya-nIti-darpaNa 7.4)

Another one points to the right and wrong ways of picking up fields for conducting charity: ‘Feeding a man who is not hungry is as useless as clouds raining over the ocean, and donating to someone who is not needy is as useless as lighting a lamp in the daylight’. (yathA vR^iShTiH samudreShu tR^iptasya bhojanam; vR^ithA dAnam samarthasya vR^ithA dIpo divApi cha: CND5.16)

This reminds us of that famous benchmark of charity established in the bhArata, narrated by a mongoose towards the end of the ashwamedha yaj~na of the pANDava-s. The mysterious mongoose who had half of his body as golden, announced to an astonished yudhiShThira that all the donations and charities made by pANDava-s during the yaj~na for which they were proud, were useless and not equal to even one fistful of crushed barley (saktU) donated by the family of a certain brAhmaNa. He then went on to narrate a tale of how one side of his body turned golden by just witnessing the sacrifice of that family which had nothing to eat and was starving, and having found this little crushed barley after tedious effort, as they were about to eat it, a guest appeared and begged them for it, and this starving family happily decided to offer it to him. That is charity, says mongoose in the fourteenth book of bhArata, adding since then he is roaming around to see another charity of that magnitude to turn the rest of his body golden too, but not succeeding.

We are also reminded of that prayer of kabIra, a householder saint, ‘sA.I itanA dIjiye jAme kuTuma samAya, maiM bhI bhUkhA nA rahUM sAdhu a bhUkhA jAya’: (Lord grant us just enough so that my family may survive; just that much, in which we don’t sleep hungry nor a sAdhu returns hungry from our doors.)

What about the charity with black money accumulated by the corrupt businessmen? Not acceptable, says this medieval jaina text that deals solely with the regulation of donations. ‘Donating such ill-earned money is of as much benefit’, it says, ‘as the medicine to that patient who refuses to follow the restrictions of pathyApathya prescribed by his doctor!’ (yo vahyAshArjitArthassann kurvansa bahudhA vR^iShaM; doShI vA~ncHAnniva svAsthyaM bhuktvaivApathyamauShadhaM : dAnopashAsanam.179). It sternly says that like an infertile woman can not conceive, even if she goes to bed with a thousand men, auspiciousness does never arise in someone with evil methods and ill-gotten money, no matter how much charity done. (sahastra-jana-bhogepi vandhyAyAM najuto yathA…101). The same work also says that, in contrast, only the charity from the honest money earned by the noble businessmen flourishes in the aid of dharma; it never exhausts, never meets loss, nor is ever stolen, since if charity of honestly-earned money serves dharma, dharma too protects such earning and such charity. (satpuruSho-rjayati dhanaM yat sakalajaneShTa-sAdhu-vR^iddhashchaiva syAt; tasya dhanasya cha hAnirnAnupahata-dharma-bala-suguptasyaiva. 180)

The prospective receivers of charity had a right to reject the donation too, and they did reject such donations on many occasions. Comes to our mind that instance related in the ancient drama mR^ichcHakaTikA where a brAhmaNa stoutly declines the invitation to partake of a lunch and receive donation from a householder. The jaina text referred above probably explains why. That, by receiving the ill-gotten money, earned through various sins, the receiver (dvija) of such charity has to also share with the donor those sins, and is verily destroyed. (nija-pApArjitam dravyam dvijebhyo dadate nR^ipAH; tairnaShTA rAjabhirviprA dAnam doShadamuchyate. 9)

Another very important aspect which might be hard for the secularized variety to fathom is that it is the temples and the maTha-s, vihAra-s and the jinAlaya-s which were and are the trustees of the charitable commonwealth of society, and giving to them meant returning to the Lord who can then multiply it and return it back. While it is a well known knowledge and demands citing no special evidence, what is interesting is to notice that business in ancient India did more than simply financial contribution to the religious institutions – they also regulated as well as facilitated such charities, and behaved as the responsible trustees also for the small private donations as a very organized activity. We can do no better than quote Prof. R C Majumdar at some length:

“…furnished by an inscription of huvishka at mathurA, dated in the year 28 (c. 106 AD), (the prashasti) refers to an akShaya-nIvI (perpetual endowment) of 550 purANa-s each to two guilds, one of which was that of flour-makers (comment: so that this guild will now use the interest from this money for the intended charitable purpose on behalf of the donor). An inscription in a cave at nAsik, dated in the year 42 (120 AD), records the donation of 3000 kArShApaNa-s by UShavadatta, son-in-law of the shaka chief nahapAna. The gift was intended for the benefit of the Buddhist monks dwelling in the cave, and the entire sum was invested in the guilds dwelling at govardhana in the following manner: 2000 in a weavers’ guild, the rate of interest being one per cent per month, and 1000 in another weavers’ guild at the rate of 0.75 per cent per month. It is clearly stated that these kArShApaNa-s are not to be repaid, their interest only to be enjoyed.”

“An inscription at Junnar records the investment of the income of two fields with the guild at koNAchika for planting kara~nja trees and banyan trees. Another inscription at junnAr records investment of money with the guild of bamboo-workers and the guild of braziers. A third inscription at junnAr record the gift of a cave and a cistern by the guild of corn-dealers. An inscription at nagarajonikonDA, dated 333 AD refers to a permanent endowment created by a person for the maintenance of the religious establishments made by him. The endowment consisted of a deposit of 70 dInAra-s in one guild and 10 each in three other guilds, out of the interest of which specific acts had to be done. Only names of two guilds are legible, namely those of pAnika (probably sellers or growers of betel leaves) and pUvaka (confectioners).” “The Indore Copper-plate Inscription of Skanda Gupta dated in the year 146, i.e. 465 AD, records the gift of an endowment, the interest of which is to be applied to the maintenance of a lamp which has been established in a temple for the service of the Sun-God.”

“We learn from an inscription of vaillabhaTTasvAmin Temple at Gwalior, dated 933 VS, that while the merchant savviyAka, the trader ichcHuvAku and the other members of the Board of the SavviyakAs were administering the city, the whole town gave to the temple of the Nine durgA-s, a piece of land, which was its (viz., the town’s) property. Similarly it gave another piece of land, belonging to the property of the town, to the viShNu temple, and also made perpetual endowments with the guilds of oil-millers and gardeners for ensuring the daily supply of oil and garlands to the temple. This long inscription preserves an authentic testimony of a city corporation with an organised machinery to conduct its affairs. The corporation possessed landed properties of its own and could make gifts and endowments in the name of the whole town.”

“Mention is made, by name, of four chiefs of the oil-millers of shrI-sarveshwara-pura, of four chiefs of the oil-millers of shrI-vatsasvAmI-pura, and four chiefs of the oil-millers of two other places, and we are told that these together with the other (members) of the whole guild of oil-millers should give one palika of oil per oil-mill every month (to the temple). Similarly, the other endowment was to the effect that the seven chiefs, mentioned by name, and the other (members) of the whole guild of gardeners should give fifty garlands every day.”

Such was the public charity and maintenance of social wealth, through cooperative and democratic organization. Prof. Majumdar notes that, “the objects with which these endowments were made are manifold, and due performance of them must have required extra-professional skill. Thus one guild is required to plant particular trees, while several others, none of which had anything to do with medicine, were to provide it for the sick.”
Several other inscriptions, particularly and more clearly from, although not limited to, the draviDa country reinforce this view. Prof. Majumdar notes how a combination of a village pa~nchAyata, democratically elected, organized the charity in draviDa country, and used to form the very basis of the economic functioning of the villages and to the spread the benefit of the commonwealth: “An inscription of rAjArAja choLa records the gift of a sum of money by a merchant, from the interest of which the Assembly and the residents of tiruviDavandai had to supply oil to feed a perpetual lamp. Sometimes these endowments involved two-fold banking transactions. We learn from a choLa inscription that a merchant made over a sum of money to the residents of taiyUr on condition that they should pay interest in oil and paddy to the Assembly of tiruviDavandai for burning a lamp in the temple and feeding 35 Brahmanas. There are other examples, too numerous to be recorded in detail, where the South Indian records represent the Village Assemblies as public trustees or local banks.”

Temples likewise served as the repository of public wealth, and lent their money for public works in the time of its need like famine, floods or epidemic. “An inscription at ala~NguDI dated in the 6th year of rAjArAja refers to a terrible famine in the locality. The villagers had no funds to purchase paddy for their own consumption, seed grains and other necessaries for cultivation. For some reasons, the famine-stricken inhabitants could expect no help in their distress from the royal treasury. Accordingly the Assembly obtained on loan a quantity of gold and silver consisting of temple jewels and vessels from the local temple treasury. In exchange for this the members of the Village Assembly alienated 8314 velI of land in favour of the God. From the produce of this land the interest on the gold and silver received from the temple was to be paid. A Chola inscription also records that the Assembly borrowed money from temple treasury on account of “bad time” and scarcity of grains.” Yet another one informs how “the Assembly received an endowment of 100 kAsu from an individual for providing offerings in a temple and for expounding shiva-dharma in the Assembly-hall built in the temple by the same person. They utilized the sum for repairing damages caused by floods to irrigation channels.” [all the above quotes are from “Corporate Life in Ancient India” by R C Majumdar]

When the above was happening in the choLa country, a little while from now, rAjendra choLa’s friend and ally in North India, bhojadeva the paramAra would be establishing new standards of charity for merchants in his own country. The collective Hindu subconscious remembers the times of Bhoja as much for his charity, as for his valour and scholarship. It is this impression which is reflected when the jaina AchArya merutu~Nga states that two commodities were always precious and in demand in the kingdom of bhoja: Iron and Copper. Iron because of the excessive consumption by his military, and copper for the prashasti plates for donations! We might probably add the construction of temples and schools to the list. It was not the royal charity alone, but also the works performed by the merchants of his kingdom, such as in the famous bhojashAlA university, its central figure the vAgdevI of dhArAvatI was commissioned not by bhoja, but by a jaina lady named soShA hailing from a merchant family of his capital from her own money.

We can still happily notice the continuity of the same thought, to a large extent, prevailing even today among the more traditional wealthy Hindus. It comes as no surprise to learn that the donations to temples far exceed the amount spent on “charity” as claimed on the Income Tax returns. According to the Finance Ministry, the businesses filing corporate income taxes had recorded a total expenditure of about USD 2 billion during the year 2007. On the other hand the annual budget of Tirupati shrine alone, for the same year, exceeded USD 500 million: almost all of which goes to the charitable activities managed by the temple trust, besides a portion for the maintenance of the shrines. Now add to this amount the donations received by the other important Hindu shrines all over India!

For Hindu society, charity is not the only outlet of financial contribution to the society. We also hear the stories of complete financial sacrifice in the cause of the nation, such as that by the great jaina shreShThin of mewADa, whose name is permanently etched in golden letters on the rocky walls of the fort of Udaipur: Seth Bhamashah Oswal. In a few years after the battle of haldIghATI, mahArANA pratApa siMha was not left with any resources to carry on his resistance against the moghal tyrant. Disheartened, he is said to have decided to give up, just when, apparently inspired by ekali~Nga mahAdeva in a dream, patriotic ShreShThin met mahArANA and laid down at his feet all his wealth. Seth Bhamashah, the guild leader of the merchants of mewADa and mArawADa, was no small man, nor his donation a small sum. With this financial sacrifice of patriotic businessman, mahArANA reorganize his senA and proceed to launch a renewed and rejuvenated tumultuous struggle. ShreShThin went further than just donating his money, and also advised mahArANA to attack and regain first the trade routes and stifle the supply chains of the moghals in west. It is by following this advise that in less than a decade, mahArANA quickly brought the imperial control to its feet and reclaimed almost entire mewADa. Seth also led from the front, leading a regiment of mahArANA’s army, and fighting on battlefields along with an equally valiant brother of his, seTha tArAchanda oswAl.

Likewise, how can we forget the contribution of another great vaishya warrior, who a little before this time, rose to reclaim the Hindu independence in dillI by spending all his wealth on raising a senA to crush the foreigners and picking up a sword himself: himU, the son of a powerful merchant from mithilA. Moslem chroniclers use for himU the abusive epithet of ‘bakkAla’, a derogatory term for ‘shopkeeper’, alluding to his business background.
An important aspect which one notices is that the underlying principle, stressed by the traditions in the enterprise of charity, is humility. Charity was not a matter of show for the Hindu, as it is generally in the west and as the westernized Hindu corporate is now learning these days as it seems, but something which was to be done silently. shAstra-s teach one to conduct charity in such a way that while one’s right hand donates, the left does not even get the wind of it. It is these who are called the real udAra-s and dAtA-s, and it is their charity which is considered the real charity. ‘Among the hundred men born’, says this well known piece of wisdom, ‘only one is found to be brave and among thousands born only one could become a paNDita, among ten thousands born only one grows to become a good orator but truly rare and precious is the birth of such real donors, when they happen or don’t happen, knows who!’ (shateShu jAyate shUraH… dAtA bhavati vA na vA)

This reminds us of the well-known kiMvadanti about a friendly exchange between tulasIdAsa and abdur-rahIm. We know that tulasIdAsa was well-known within the circle of Akbar, with at least one copper prashasti discovered at kAshI in context of an endowment made by Todarmal which relates to his considering tulasIdAsa as his master. According to this well-known narrative, once an acquaintance of tulasIdAsa needed some money for arranging the wedding of his daughter, and asked tulasIdAsa for financial help. Todarmal who used to govern kAshI was away those days for some military campaign in North West, so tulasI sent this man, with a letter of recommendation to rahIma, the adopted son of Akbar and the symbolic head of the moghal clan, khanekhAnA, who was known to be wealthy and charitable. rahIma received the man with humility, returned him with more money than requisitioned for, and also sent a humble letter of thanks for tulasIdAsa. Hearing of rahIm’s humility, and reading the letter, tulasI replied back with a dohA, saying: “sIkhe kahAM nawAbajU denI aisI dena, jyauM jyauM kara Upara uThata tyauM tyauM nIche naina” (‘Wherefrom did our dear nawAb learn this mode of giving / Higher rise his arms in charity, lower turns his gaze in humility’). To this rahIma is said to have replied, “denahAra koi aura hai deta rahata dina-raina, loga bharama hama para dharahi tA te nIche naina” (‘The giver is someone else, who keeps giving day and night / people confuse us to be the donor, causing us the embarrassment’). At one place, rahIma himself says that, ‘we consider those not alive, who only live on alms, but we consider those even deader, from whom charity does not come’. (“rahimana te jana to muye je jana maMgahi jAya; unate pahile te muye jinate nikasata nAhi”)

We are reminded of another great mArawADI ShreShThin from va~Nga, the father of bhAratendu harishchandra, seTha harSha chandra, whose name is still taken with respect in the city of kAshI due to massive investments he made in the service of sarasvatI. bhAratendu, his son, or shall we say sarasvatI’s son, went further and practically spent all his wealth in reviving Hindu culture, especially its languages, at a time when it was most needed: setting up schools and printing presses, establishing journals and granting scholarships all over the North India, and leading the intellectual assault from the front himself.

We remember Lala Lajpat Rai, the scion of a well known wealthy family from panjAb, who decided to dedicate all his wealth in the cause of the freedom struggle. At one place we read in the memoir by the elder son of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the grateful reminiscence of the services that the legendary lAlAji silently did from his wealth for the freedom struggle. Shastriji’s son recounted here that lAlAji used to send money orders every month to those countless families whose bread winners were either languishing in British prisons or had been martyred. He also contributed in a major way towards founding of the Hindu University at kAshI.

Talking of the Hindu University of kAshI, let this be reminded that it started and continued to operate its massive infrastructure, solely on the private contribution from the wealthy Hindu businessmen and royals from across bhArata. It is only later, post-independence, that the government began contributing to it.
Yet another important institution comes to mind that was started at kAshI for the Hindu revival even before this, the kAshI nAgarI prachAriNI sabhA, which made no small contribution in inflaming that flame of Hindu revival which now seems to have been all but extinguished. Even the functioning of that sabhA was the effort of the private Hindu charity effort.

Many years back, our father used to be in the employ of the shreShThin-kulabhUShaNa GD Birla’s family for some years, and we are in intimate knowledge of how this family was and is committed to spending on public welfare, and especially for the spread and growth of dharma, much of which may not be known in public. We need not enumerate how this house is even today on the frontlines of charity, and doing so silently. We also remember the naidU shreShThI-s who founded the shAlA where we studied for a few years when living in the draviDa country. The wealthy founder of the institute had four sons, and the philosophy of this gentleman used to be to treat society as a fifth one and share the wealth among five, not four. Their attitude to philanthropy was also typical and somewhat peculiar. They used to impart Industrial Training to the needy and then finance the machine tools for them to become self-employed and be responsible for themselves.

Coming back to Beckett, we think he might be right when he said that charity was practically a competitive sport in US business. He probably had in mind the native Indians charitably pushed into the business of gambling and gaming? Or he probably meant the proposal of the State of California to make gambling legal in the state for charity purposes? Or maybe he had in mind the recent case of the State of Connecticut suing the charity founded by the NBA star Charles D. Smith, Jr. for spending away the funds collected for charity on cruise vacations, cars and beauty services!


US Special Ops Command opens new headquarters

by Airman 1st Class David Dobrydney
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Special Operations Command Central officials opened a new home with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new building July 29 here.

The headquarters will allow SOCCENT members to better accomplish its mission of exercising operational control of more than 7,000 special operations servicemembers in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"We're privileged to be at the center of our nation's efforts," said Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the SOCCENT commander who officiated at the grand opening. "With the help of our partners, we look forward to continuing to work toward a future that offers greater peace and stability in this region and throughout the world."

A part of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command, SOCCENT includes and supports members from all services, as well as civilians and coalition partners.

"It's all four services, plus our support people like those who work on parachute rigging, medical folks, transportation and logistics," said Army Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, a SOCCENT public affairs officer deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. "We've got lots of partners in the area helping us out," said the Albuquerque, N.M., native, citing Iraqi special forces and Afghan commandos as examples.

From SOCCENT's rear headquarters located at MacDill AFB, more than 700 members from the United States can deploy here for up to a year, or rotate through the AOR for temporary duties of one to three months. On any given night, SOCCENT headquarters is monitoring at least a dozen special forces operations in the AOR. A joint operations center can reach out and communicate with forces where ever they may be.

"It's safe to say our area of interest is indeed the most vital area of importance, not only for the U.S. but for the world," General Cleveland said to the gathered troops and distinguished visitors. "Our operations are increasingly becoming the stuff of history."

The main headquarters had previously been located in a temporary facility on another base in Southwest Asia.

"All of the U.S. forces wanted to be co-located and for the headquarters to be a world-class facility," Colonel Silkman said. That desire led to the creation of this state-of-the-art compound.

"We've planted the flag right here in the area of operations, which means it's easier to react," she said. "We're in the same time zone as the people we're supporting."

General Cleveland sees no comparison between the old and new headquarters.

"There was a huge need for a new facility," he said. "So it's great to get into a permanent building."

Four years in the making, the new facility has a number of features that will make it an effective headquarters. These include an indoor rifle range and SOCCENT's only parachute-rigging tower in the area. Yet the new headquarters compound is just a small footprint of a larger modernization project in the works around the base.

"This is just the beginning," General Cleveland said.

Additions in the future will include hangars currently under construction, bigger maintenance bays and a new training facility.

General Cleveland said he hoped members of SOCCENT would look upon their new facility as a "home away from home."

"I know it can't replace your family and all that waits for you back home," he said. "I understand the hardships of serving the nation overseas in a time of war, and I want to publicly thank you and your families for the sacrifices you've made in the name of freedom."

Iranian Imbroglio: Use Of Smart Power For Solution

By Kazi Anwarul Masud

In a speech delivered in July this year at the Council of Foreign Relations US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “We know very well what we inherited with Iran, because we deal with that inheritance every day. We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its citizens. Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election.

But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation. Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice. That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity: Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that. But it does have a right to civil nuclear power if it reestablishes the confidence of the international community that it will use its programs exclusively for peaceful purposes. Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely”.

She added “The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset. President Obama has led us to think outside the usual boundaries. He has launched a new era of engagement based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect. Going forward, capitalizing on America’s unique strengths, we must advance those interests through partnership, and promote universal values through the power of our example and the empowerment of people. America will always be a world leader as long as we remain true to our ideals and embrace strategies that match the times. So we will exercise American leadership to build partnerships and solve problems that no nation can solve on its own, and we will pursue policies to mobilize more partners and deliver results.”

Why is the US so agitated about the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons? One school of thought would answer that the US’ inflexible position on this issue is to safeguard the security of Israel. But given the fact that Israel already possesses more than two hundred nuclear weapons as opposed to none by the Arabs the argument on Israeli security becomes untenable. Another argument, finally given for the ouster of Saddam Hussein when the claims of his possession of WMD and his alleged links with the al-Qaeda proved to be wrong, was the necessity of regime change because for a nation to remain sovereign a country has to abide by certain principles of national and international conduct. This code of conduct invariably includes the practice of democracy.

In 2005 the US intelligence agencies assessed that due to Iran’s limited technical abilities it would take Tehran between six to ten year’s to produce nuclear weapons even if Iran were allowed to operate its nuclear facilities freely. In August of that year National Intelligence Estimate which represents the consensus view of the US intelligence community predicted that Iran would not be able to acquire fissile materials for a weapon before “early to next decade”. The preceding year’s intelligence briefing given to the US Congressional staff members indicated Iran’s inability to produce nuclear weapons until after 2010 because of existential technical deficiencies in giving full shape to its alleged nuclear program.

It may be recalled that in mid-2003 El Baradei reported to the IAEA Board of Governors that Iran had imported from China about two thousand kilograms of uranium materials (without reporting it to the IAEA) which could be processed into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors or fissile material for nuclear weapons. This was regarded as Iran’s noncompliance of its safeguard agreement with IAEA. US also questions the rationale of Iran, having the world’s sixth largest oil reserve, of spending billions of dollars to develop nuclear power plants. Besides the US remains convinced of Tehran’s backing of Hezbollah and Palestinian groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and of Iran’s “collusion” with al-Qaeda ignoring the fundamental difference that while Iran is a theocratic state dominated by the Shia al-Qaeda subscribes to a fundamental interpretation of Sunni Islam as well as the fact that during the 1990s Iran backed the anti-Taliban groups with substantial military aid. In the Western eyes an Iranian nuclear capability would be both dangerous and destabilizing

In essence, therefore, the Western insistence on Iran to abandon its nuclear program is due to West’s lack of trust in the Iranian regime. That Iran so far has not done anything illegal is a moot question. The West, particularly the US, sees a plausible threat in Iran’s alleged aberrant behavior on nuclear issue. The “plausible threat” argument inevitably brings into discussion Bush doctrine of preemption that sought legitimacy for military intervention breaching sovereignty of another country without the US facing imminent threat (for self-defense) or UN Security Council authorization. But then again as Professor Anthony Arend (of Georgetown University) contends that under the regime of customary international law, developed long before the UN Charter was adopted, it was generally agreed that preemptive force in self-defense was acceptable so long the state exercising its right of preemption could demonstrate its necessity and the use of force was proportionate to the threat.

The UN Charter described by John Foster Dulles, as a “pre-atomic document” did not envision either weapons of mass destruction nor terrorism by non-state actors. Besides the Cold War behavior of then super powers in Czechoslovakia, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Bay of Pigs would provide some of the examples that the UN Charter was not respected whenever then super powers felt their spheres of influence were threatened. These “threats” on most occasions were not justifiable by any measure of international law.

Under the current circumstances of Iran’s reported willingness to seek compromise with the West is in contradiction with the US’ insistence that Iran recognize the existence of Israel and cease her assistance to Hezbollah and Hammas ignoring the duality of the Western policy of “nuclear ambiguity” relating to Israeli possession of nuclear weapons while adamantly refusing to allow any Muslim nation to possess any excepting Pakistan which the Americans appear to view as providing a stabilizing factor in conflict ridden South Asia may not bear fruit . The West must also take into account the “threats” prompting perceived security need of Iran for nuclear weapon capabilities: Pakistan, Israel, and the US. George Perkovich (of Carnegie Foundation for International Peace) notes that global recognition accorded to Pakistan as a nuclear power offended the Persian sense of superiority. Besides Pakistan regarded by Iran as a fertile ground for Wahabi fundamentalism and Sunni extremism is a natural contestant for religious purity in the light of implacable Shia-Sunni divide.

Iran’s relation with the US has been a tortured one since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran’s policy makers feel that the problem lies more with Washington than with Tehran and Iranians are confused by contradictory signals given by the US administrations e.g. threat of military attack, regime change, isolationism, economic incentives etc. As one Iranian political commentator noted “any US strategy that even remotely raises the specter of foreign interference is doomed to fail”.

Bush administration’s insistence on bringing about democracy in the Broader Middle East was partly based on the realization that “democracy deficit” tolerated by the successive US administrations responding to the situations demanded by the cold war resulted in dictatorial regimes in many Muslim countries that acted against the interest of the West. Professor Nikki Kedie (Iranian Imbroglio Revisited­World Policy Journal 2008) observing on the assistance given by the US to the Taliban to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan writes “American officials dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan were concerned only that they be militarily anti-Soviet. They failed to take into account the terrible price we would pay in arming, organizing and building confidence among Afghans and some Pakistani Pashtuns whose hostility to the US was as great as their opposition to the Soviets”. Professor Keddie thinks that Iran has now replaced the Soviet Union “as our indispensable main enemy­indispensable in order to arouse fear of attack in our population, justify a huge military budget and aggressive worldwide posturing, while working to reassert our control of foreign peoples and resources”

Americans have fixated for years on the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. In the past the US had pressed China, Russia and others to cut off supply of vital technology, materials and know-how to Iran and interdict both overtly and covertly transfer of equipment that would have helped Iran in its nuclear program. As George Perkovich (of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) points out nuclear establishments around the world are too politically and symbolically important to be closed down entirely. In Iran’s case the need to acquire nuclear capability is to narrow the power and status gap with Pakistan, Israel and the US.

Prior to 9/11 Iranian leaders had a real fear of a Talebanized Pakistan armed with nuclear weapons. One only has to look up the number of Shia-Sunni sectarian violence in Pakistan to appreciate this point. In case of Israel the threat from Iranian perspective is unambiguous. Iranians are no exception in seeing Israeli unchallenged possession of nuclear weapons as a hypocritical insult to the integrity of the international non-proliferation regime. Yet the question the Iranians need to ponder is whether possession of a few nuclear weapons would necessarily enhance Iran’s security. The sheer disparity in the number and quality of conventional and non-conventional weapons possessed by the US and Israel and the ones that could be developed by Iran would ensure complete annihilation of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Besides that during the process of acquisition of large number of weapons US and/or Israel may launch a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear installations. Given Bush administration’s Under Secretary of State John Bolton’s declaration: “we can not let Iran, a leading sponsor of terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons”, one must take such a possibility or of Osirak option (Israeli preemptive attack on Iraqi suspected nuclear installations in 1981) seriously. Cooler heads in the US, and in Europe, strongly advised against such preemptive actions on the grounds that (a) logic of preemption would necessitate the US to wage war against other nations with nuclear weapons program that Pentagon says are extant and emerging threats, (b) preemptive strikes may not be able to take out all nuclear installations as these are located in inaccessible areas out of public eyes; (c) Iran-Al Qaida links need further investigation particularly after Iraq fiasco and also alleged Iranian involvement in the 9/11 tragedy – an allegation most suspect in the eyes of the world; and (d) another Iraq-like misadventure will most certainly inflame anti-American sentiment globally and particularly in the Islamic world. Instead the US should concentrate on the internal dynamics of Iranian politics.

Though Iran’s march towards secular democracy received a setback with the reelection of Ahmednijad to the Presidency, Iran is blessed with a young (seventy per cent are under the age of thirty) and a politically articulate population. Iran’s Ayatollahs who have ruled the country since 1979 are demographically dead and the durability of clerical rule appears to be time-spanned. Therefore, to rein in Iranian nuclear program the West needs to address the question of Iran’s potential demand for nuclear weapons. Iranian theocracy, opines Kenneth Pollack (of the Brookings Institution), “have continued to define their foreign policy in opposition to the United States and have often resorted to belligerent methods to achieve their aims”. In pursuit of this policy Iran is believed to have tried to undermine Saudi Arabia and other US allies in the Middle East and have demanded a predominant role in the Persian Gulf region which is beset with a restive population frustrated by the inability of the regional governments to provide either the fragrance of liberal democracy or the fruits of economic development which many in the oil rich countries believe their petro- dollars should have been able to provide.

Iran’s desire to have nuclear weapons, despite its claim to the contrary, appears threatening to the West partly because of tension within the Islamic world itself threatening peace and security in the Muslim world and beyond. Many Middle Eastern countries are suffering from tension between mainly two strands of domestic political forces­one aspiring for Western model of governance based on democratic values and the other forsaking modernity in order to return to its sacred past based on purist interpretation of Islamic values. The space provided by this unresolved conflict between the opposing forces has been appropriated by non-state actors who preach terrorism as the way to deliverance from national humiliation, injustice and despair caused by the failures of their national governments who in turn are dependant on largely unpopular external power for their security.

Iran is often cited by these Middle Eastern countries as the cause of their demand for external security because Iran is alleged to continue its support of the Hezbollah, have sponsored at least one direct attack on the US troops in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and currently is meddling in Iraqi domestic affairs. Iranian ideologues, according to the Western sources, believe in exporting Islamic revolution across her borders as Castro-Che Guevara tried to export communism in Latin America. But the pragmatists in the post-Ayatollah Khomeini period advocate a more judicious international course for the regime’s survival being acutely aware of the fact that majority of Iranians born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution have little attachment to the Iranian theocracy and lack reverence to the “martyrs” killed in the long Iraq-Iran war.

Iranian democracy is not perfect. Indeed even by the measure of intermittent democracy in the Islamic countries Iranian system comes nowhere near the acceptable standard of democratic practices. But the Western worry at the moment is less focused on Iranian democracy which is antithetical to theocracy anyway and more on Iranian intention to acquire nuclear weapons.

Even if one were to accept the argument that Iranian nuclear threat is more real than Saddam Hussein’s presumed nuclear threat, the US must surely know that the US does not have the kind of intelligence about target locations for successfully preempting Iran’s nuclear program. Iran is believed to have dispersed, diversified and concealed its nuclear centers to a dozen or more potential sites. Pulitzer Prize winner journalist Seymour Hersh in an article in The New Yorker (04.08.06) revealed that the Bush administration was seriously considering military option for Iran because President Bush was determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to enrich uranium. One military planner told Hersh that contrary to popular belief President Bush was more focused on Iran than he was on Saddam Hussein because the real issue was who was going to control the Middle East and its oil for the next ten years.

Iranian nuclear issue is complex and seemingly intractable. Iranian hardliners believe in the inevitability of a conflict with the US and therefore the survival of the regime and its ideals demand acquisition of nuclear weapons which, they argue, if Saddam Hussein had then the Americans would not have dared to invade Iraq, and has so far successfully prevented US military strike on North Korea. Brussels based International Crisis Group suggests that if “zero enrichment option” i.e. Iran’s indefinite relinquishment of its right to enrich uranium in return for guaranteed supply from an off shore source as suggested by the Russians does not materialize; then Iran might be induced to accept “delayed limited enrichment” plan by which the West would explicitly accept not only Iran’s right to produce peaceful nuclear energy but also its “right to enrich domestically”. In return Iran would agree to a several years delay in the commencement of its enrichment program, limit its size and scope, and accept a highly intrusive inspection regime. Should Iran refuse to accept both the options, and then Russia and China may have to join the West and support actions by the UNSC and establishment of an escalating sanction regime. One hope both the parties would be flexible enough to prove Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis inadequate to explain the current global turmoil. What we are witnessing today is not so much a reenactment of the crusades but a complex mix of disproportionate distribution of global wealth and uncertainty about appropriateness of values to be adopted by different and widely divergent segments of the global society.

If the non-western world is divided into fundamentalist, traditionalist, modernist, and secularist camps; then the western efforts should be directed towards assisting the modernists and secularists who support inclusion into global modernity and relegation of religion to private sphere. Such efforts are not only Herculean but time consuming as well .It is, therefore, easily understood why both the West and the Morocco Forum for the Future have pledged generational commitment to democratic and economic upliftment of the Broader Middle East and North African region. Undeniably the Muslim world has been deficient in practicing democracy perhaps because Islamic culture puts more emphasis on obedience than on asking questions challenging conservative status quo .How else would one explain the Presidential elections in Iran where candidates approved by the Guardian Council were all conservative clerics though the majority of the population born after 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution question the concept of velayet-e-faqih(the supremacy of the Shia jurists), are unimpressed by the former President Khatami’s Islamic democracy, are irreverent to Iran-Iraq war and aspire for freedom and democracy? But then again the current Western pressure on Iran to abandon her nuclear program despite Iranian government’s pledge not to build nuclear weapons can only fuel anti-Western bias in Iran and help strengthen the hands of the clerics. If there has been Islamic revivalism it has been caused by the failure of secular nationalism in achieving economic self-sufficiency, stem the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and overwhelming political and cultural hegemony of the West which sometimes acquire a conflictual position with the Islamist purists who consider Western culture as socially corrosive and threatening the identity and cultural fabric of Muslim society.

The argument in favor given for regime change is of demographic change in the composition of Iranian population since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 as a vast majority of Iranians born after the Revolution hold little respect for vilayet-e-fiqh (supremacy of clerical rule) and are disenchanted with slow economic progress and a constricted political system which despite the proverbial honesty of President Ahmednijad is reportedly getting corrupt as days go by. Ted Gallen’s third option is for preemptive air strikes against Iranian nuclear installations, enthusiastically supported by neo-cons like William Kristol who advocated that the Bush administration undertake such air strikes as soon as possible to show that “a strong America has rejected appeasement” ignoring the lessons of history that people generally make common cause with even a repressive government when attacked by a foreign power. Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi warned Washington that any attack on Iran would be defended till the Iranians would shed their last drop of blood if attacked. This brings us to the last option suggested by Ted Galen that the world “reluctantly accept Iran as a member of the global nuclear weapons club” and hope that once Iran becomes a nuclear power it will become more responsible than it has been so far.

In the ultimate analysis it is difficult to imagine that despite incendiary speeches by the Iranian leaders from time to time they would be foolhardy enough to embark on any misadventure in view of the cost that is sure to follow. The US similarly may wish to pursue a policy of peaceful containment taking lessons from the past that disproportionate and unnecessary use of force does not advance national interest of even the global hegemon in the present day world.

China: Speculations About a Power Struggle

Four events, which took place in China in the very recent period, have given rise to speculations, especially abroad, on a power struggle developing in the country. Given the opaque Chinese political system, such a phenomenon should not come as a surprise to anybody. Said to be involved in the struggle is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chief and the country’s President, Hu Jintao, perceived as a leader trying to further consolidate his leadership position through weeding out the remaining supporters of former President Jiang Zemin from positions of power.

In chronological order, the events, all seemingly unrelated, are the following – the arrests of Shenzhen Mayor Xu Zongheng and some senior Guangdong officials on corruption charges (June 2009), the eruption of ethnic unrest in Xinjiang (5 July 2009), the reported figuring of Hu Jintao’s son Hu Haifeng in a corruption investigation started by the authorities in Namibia (17 July 2009) and the promotion of four senior military officials as full generals of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) (20 July 2009).

Taking first the developments in Shenzhen, notable is a speculative analysis in the overseas Chinese website Bo Xun (21 June 2009) to the effect that the arrests of Xu Zongheng and the Guangdong Provincial People’s Consultative Conference Chairman Chen Shaoji along with at least six other provincial officials, are a continuation of Hu Jintao’s drive against Jiang-loyalists which began in 2006 with the ouster of the former Shanghai Mayor, former Politburo member and a Jiang protege Chen Liangyu from his positions on corruption charges. It has conveyed a sense that Hu Jintao is implementing his anti-Jiang manouvres in Guangdong through his protégé, He Guoqiang, presently the Secretary of Party’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission.

Next, the riots in Xinjiang are being viewed, at least by some, as reflecting a factional fighting in China. For e.g., the well known Chinese dissident in exile Wei Jingsheng

(www.asianews.it, 27 July 2009) has seen the hand of Jiang faction in the unrest in Xinjiang as part of its fight back against Hu Jintao. Wei has felt that the Jiang faction, which still controls China’s legal system and courts, deliberately fuelled tensions in both Guangdong and Xinjiang and that in the latter, it has been successful in demobilising the police force during Urumqi riots, creating an opportunity to Uighurs to kill the Han Chinese. He has added that feeling a loss of face under such situation and in order to re-secure his position at home, Hu Jintao was compelled to return to Beijing cutting short his G-8 engagements in Italy and that the World Uighur Congress was not the real reason for the ethnic unrest in Xinjiang.

The third event concerns the reported intention of the Namibian authorities to question Hu Haifeng, the son of Hu Jintao, on a corruption case involving supply of port and airport scanners to Namibia by the Chinese company NucTech of which the junior Hu remained as CEO till 2008; prima facie it appears unconnected with a power struggle. But whether or not the Jiang faction would try to exploit the case in order to weaken Hu Jintao’s position is likely to remain as a question for speculative analysts. They may argue that NuTech officials, including Hu jintao’s son, if found corrupt, should be treated in the same way as it was done in the cases of Shenzhen and Shanghai mayors. This being so, official efforts which are being made to cover up the developments relating to Hu Haifeng, speak for the current nervousness of the Hu regime over the issue (for e.g. the ban order of the CCP Propaganda Department on all domestic and internet media including Sina and Netease, from reporting on NuTech episode, issued immediately after the exposure of Hu Haifeng’s case in the international media like the Telegraph, 17 July 2009, www.news.yahoo.com, www.time.com).The full Chinese language text of the government instructions ( “show no search results for key words like Hu Haifeng, NuTech, Namibia etc”) was promptly picked up in full by the bloggers in the West.

The fourth event pertains to the promotions of three PLA officers to the full rank of General on 20 July 2009. Again a speculative question touching the power struggle aspect, has immediately surfaced; an overseas Chinese analyst (Victor Shih, http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu) has raised a question whether Hu Jintao is trying to shore up support in the Army, in the backdrop of a possible Namibian probe of his son. The three promoted officers were –

Ma Xiaotian, who is a Central Committee member and so far Deputy Chief of the PLA General Staff. He has an Air force background and took part in the Sino-US Defence Consultation talks, besides meeting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates. He is against US military alliances in the Asia Pacific. Ma led the Chinese Observers Group to the First Sino-Indian counter-terrorism exercise held in Kunming in end 2007. His father was Ma Zaiyao, a former instructor in the PLA Political Academy.
Liu Yuan, is the son of the former Chinese President, Liu Shaochi, a Central Committee member and so far, the Political Commissar of the Academy of Military Sciences. Liu is supposed to be hawkish on sovereignty issues particularly on Taiwan.
Zhang Haiying, so far Political Commissar, Chengdu Military Region, son of General Zhang Zhen, a former CMC Vice Chairman and Politburo member.
It is obvious that the three promoted officers are all “princelings”, meaning children of Party elders or retired Generals. A widely prevalent view overseas is that Hu Jintao who has no military background, is using such promotions of the sons of first and second generation revolutionaries to senior PLA posts, for consolidating his base in the military. Hu had done so in the past also, for e.g. in July 2004, he promoted six top military officers as generals. A point worth noting in this connection is the importance now being given in China to Hu Jintao’s command over the military, for e.g. his call to integrate the requirements of the PLA and the people (Beijing, 25 July 2009) is being compared with the one made by Mao Zedong in the past for setting up an army based on the concept of ‘military-people unity’. (www.71.people.com.cn, 27 July 2009)

As actions intended to quell such speculations on factional infighting in the Party, the nine Politburo Standing Committee members, have appeared together several times in a show of unity (Politburo meeting on 9 July 2009 to discuss Xinjiang, the Shanghai 2010 World Expo ceremony on 15 July 2009 at Beijing, Hu Jintao’s address to the country’s diplomats on 20 July 2009 and the Politburo meeting in advance of the 82nd PLA founding anniversary on 25 July 2009).

To come to a judgment on a topic like power struggle in China, no scholar can afford to rely on speculations only, unless they are backed by facts. However, the prevailing closed system in China does not provide any opportunity for analysts to impartially analyse facts concerning sensitive political subjects. The only alternative available to them is to read between the lines of open official records and speculate, as in the foregoing.

So how do we read the speculative comments appeared so far? The least that can be said is that they, emanating from some knowledgeable observers, deserve enough attention, as tools for further research. In an overall sense, at the same time, it can not be denied that the internal political situation in China remains stable, based on a policy consensus between the existing two informal factions with in the CCP top leadership (Knowledgeable experts like Cheng Li of John L.Thornton China Centre recognize a ruling ‘team of rivals’ in China, consisting of a ‘populist’ faction led by Hu Jintao and an ‘elitist’ faction consisting of leaders like Wu Bangguo and ‘Princeling’ leaders like Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao). If there are internal differences, care is being taken for not airing them in public.

Currently, the real threat to the political stability in China does not seem to come from potential intra-party conflicts over issues, as the ruling ‘collective’ leadership functions under the basis of a consensus and mechanisms exist to iron out differences. But Hu Jintao is only first among equals in contrast to the positions enjoyed by his predecessors; if his leadership fails to effectively address the emerging economic, social and even ideological issues in the country within a reasonable period of time, the consequence will be a beginning of nationwide unrest, which could be detrimental to the legitimacy of the CCP as a ruling party. Some signals of unrest have already emerged and if it goes unchecked, there could be chances of a struggle between factions with Hu Jintao as target.The 1989 student demonstrations are a case in point, which witnessed the fall of the then Party chief Zhao Ziyang.

What are the urgent issues facing the Chinese leadership now? The first and foremost among them is economic in character - the rural-urban income disparity and the development imbalance between advanced coastal regions and poor interior areas in the country. They have come to stay despite the investment-export led high-speed growth model followed in the post-1978 period, bringing in general huge benefits to the middle class. The government’s response to the imbalance has been in the form of a shift from its erstwhile GDP-centric policy to one aimed at achieving a ‘balanced development’. To understand the impact of this shift on the country, one has however to wait further. The latest worry for the leadership is on how to reduce the impact from the global financial crisis. A very recent official estimate has acknowledged the challenge in this regard by noting that though the Chinese economy has rebounded, uncertainties still exist in the face of falling export demands and sluggish industrial growth. (People’s Daily online, 27 July 2009).

As social factors, corruption, labour unrest and unemployment have become the government’s serious concerns. A nation-wide anti-corruption campaign has now been launched (He Guoqiang’s speech, Beidaihe, 27 July 2009), hinting that Shenzhen-type counter-measures are likely through out the country. If not handled properly, this may turn out to be another exercise, which can be exploited to settle political scores. On reducing unemployment and social unrest, various remedial measures are being implemented. (In the second half of 2008, 10 million rural migrants lost their jobs and 1 million graduates became unemployed). The CCP has announced a 5-year educational plan to cover the period of 2009-2013, aimed at enhancing the working abilities of grassroot cadres and facilitating acquiring of alternate skills by migrant and laid-off workers as well as retired army personnel. Also, ‘Patriotic education’ is being stressed as a tool to build social stability. A patriotic “double hundred” education campaign was carried out in May-June 2009 to select by voting 100 model heroes and 100 Party cadres who made contributions to New China). Nevertheless, factors responsible for social unrest are yet to disappear as can be seen from the large-scale violent protest by 30, 000 workers in Tonghua city (Jilin, 24 July 2009) against the merger of their steel company with a private enterprise in Beijing, during which the manager of the enterprise was killed. The merger proposal has since been withdrawn.

Not to be ignored is the situation in the ideological front; the leadership is confronted with divergent opinions in the country, which if not managed well, may have implications for China’s future politics and governance. The official policy seems to be allowing such viewpoints (from ‘neo-liberalists’ like those from the ‘Yan Huang Chun Qiu’ magazine group, ‘neo-leftists’ like Professor Wang Hui of Qinghua University and ‘ultra-leftists’ such as the Maoflag group) as a balance against each other and as policy inputs to the government whenever necessary (some neo-left view points were incorporated in the 11th Five Year Plan). Interesting in this context, is the revival in China of the old formula of “letting hundred flowers bloom and letting hundred schools of thought contend”, but with a proviso that the interests of stability and unity in the country should not get jeopardized while implementing it (Qiu Shi, 16 July 2009). Setting the limits at the same time to the ‘blooming’ are some top level prescriptions, for e.g the firm rejection by China People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Jia Qinglin of ‘neo-liberalism’ and Western-style democracy for China in his article in the CCP theoretical organ (Qiu Shi, 16 January 2009).

During the scheduled 18th party congress in 2012, the fifth generation of leadership is to take over China replacing the Hu-Wen regime. In all probability, the new set of leaders will be Xi Jinping (as Party General Secretary and President) and Li Keqiang (as Prime Minister). What needs to be watched carefully at this juncture is the scenario leading up to the forthcoming party Plenum in September 2009 which is expected to adopt a crucial roadmap on party building and economic development. In a broad sense, however, it would be important to pay close attention to the likely nature of impending power transfer in 2012. Jiang Zemin’s handing over of reins to Hu Jintao had been smooth; one can only hope that the situation will be the same during the next CCP conclave, with no place for a power struggle.

(The writer, D.S.Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, India. email: dsrajan@gmail.com)

Let's talk about Baluchistan!

July 31, 2009
Source: REDIFF.COM, India

Since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] in his infinite wisdom put Baluchistan on the Indo-Pak agenda along with Kashmir, let's now not shy away from talking about it. The Pakistani case for Kashmir no longer rests on religion; the Bengali rebellion and secession in 1971 did in that argument. It now rests upon the more exalted principle of self-determination. That is what their friends abroad and even in India wax eloquent about.

The Pakistanis no longer harp about Indian perfidies in Junagadh and Hyderabad. Free elections, full integration and the sheer fact of Hindus being the major community in these two onetime princely states has put paid to that. But Kashmir still dogs us. It is predominantly Muslim and the demand for self-determination has us confused. Isn't that what democracy is all about? But the irony is that Pakistan is the champion of self-determination when its own people do not often enjoy democratic rights. The three pillars upon which the Pakistani state rests are still Allah, Army and America. The people of Pakistan do not figure in this scheme at all. The Pakistani leaders want a diplomatic engagement with us on Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] again. Their prime minister has once again donned the cloak of democracy that hangs outside General Ashfaq Kiyani's bunker. But we must not shirk from talking about self-determination with them. It's a two edged sword and cuts both ways. Let's take the case of Baluchistan.

The Pakistani province of Baluchistan is a mountainous desert area of about 3.5 lakh square kilometres and has a population of over 7.5 million or about as much as Jammu and Kashmir's population. It borders Iran, Afghanistan and its southern boundary is the Arabian Sea with the strategically important port of Gwadar on the Makran coast commanding approach to the Straits of Hormuz. It also has huge oil and gas reserves. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, the population here now consists of Baluch and Pashtu-speaking Afghans, and from time to time Osama bin Laden [ Images ] and Mullah Omar [ Images ]. Like the Kurds, the Baluch are also a people ignored by the makers of modern political geography. There is also the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan spread over an area of 1.82 lakh sq.kms. and with a population of over 2.5 million Baluch. Its capital is Zahedan.

Through most of their history the Baluch administered themselves as a loose tribal confederacy. The Baluch are an ancient people. In 325 BC, after his abortive India campaign, as Alexander made his way back to Babylon through the Makran Desert, his Greeks suffered greatly at the hands of marauding Baluchis. The legend has it that they originally came from near Aleppo in Syria and there is much linguistic evidence to suggest that they belong to the same Indo-European sub-group as the Persians and Kurds. They came into Islam under the shadow of the sword of Muhammed bin Qasim's conquering Arab army in 711 AD. Whatever be their origins, by 1000 AD they were well settled in their present homeland. The poet Firdausi records them in the Persian epic, the Book of Kings, thus: "Heroic Baluches and Kuches we saw/Like battling rams all determined on war." As relatively late arrivals in the region, the Baluchis had to battle earlier occupants of the lands such as the Brahui tribes who still abound around Kalat. The Brahui language belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and is close to Tamil. The Brahui's are the only Dravidian survivors in northern India, after the Aryan invasion.

A restless people, the Baluchis naturally pushed eastwards towards the more fertile regions watered by the Indus River, but were halted by the might of the Mughals. But we still have reminders of the many Baluchi incursions in the names of the towns like Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan in the Punjab [ Images ] and the North West Frontier Province. Unlike the Dravidians of Mohen-jo-daro and Harappa who disappeared without a trace, the Brahui's made one last hurrah when they asserted their power in Kalat. By the 18th century Kalat was the dominant power in Baluchistan and the Khan of Kalat was the ruler of the entire region. But the Brahui's paid for it by getting assimilated into the majority Baluchis. The Brahui language still survives in small pockets but only by just. My late father who served in British India's Defence Services Staff College at Quetta in the early 1940's would often tell me of hearing the local tribesmen serving in the Staff College speaking a language that sounded remarkably like Tamil! A few years ago, I ran into a bunch of school kids from Kalat at the National Museum in Karachi and they were amused that I knew that uru meant village, arisi meant rice and tanni meant water even to me from distant southern India.

The British first came to the region in 1839 on their way to Kabul when they sought safe passage. In 1841 they entered into a treaty with Kalat. In the wake of Lord Auckland's disastrous invasion of Afghanistan, the British annexed Sind in a mood that Mountstuart Elphinsone said was "of a bully who had been kicked in the streets and then goes home to beat the wife in revenge!" The British annexed Sind in 1843 from the Talpur Mirs, a Baluchi dynasty. On June 27, 1839 Ranjit Singh died and within ten years his great prophecy on being shown a map with British possessions in India in "ek din sab laal ho jayega!" came to be true. After the formal surrender of the Sikhs on March 29, 1849 and the annexation of Punjab, the British now had a long border with the Baluchis. But learning from their disastrous experience with the Afghans they generally preferred to keep out of harms way and seemingly took cognizance of Baluchi assurances of the inviolability of their borders.

In 1876, the British however forced another treaty on the Baluchis and forced the Khan of Kalat to lease salubrious Quetta to them. The Khan's writ still ran over Baluchistan, but now under the watchful but benign eye of a British minister. That the Khan of Kalat was not considered another insignificant prince was in the fact that he was accorded a 19-gun salute like the Jaipurs and Jodhpurs. With security assured and largely unfettered domestic power the Khans led lavish and often eccentric lifestyles. One Khan collected shoes, and to ensure the safety of his collection had all the left shoes locked in a deep dungeon of his fort in Kalat!

Whatever the whimsicalities of the Khans of Kalat, like the rulers of Hyderabad and Kashmir, they enjoyed the greatest degree of autonomy possible under the system established by the British as long as whimsy was within reason and not inimical to British interests. This arrangement prevailed till 1947. The urge to be independent rulers burned equally bright in all three of them. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, went further than Hari Singh of Kashmir and Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad. He declared independence, while the other two dithered and allowed events to overtake them.

Unlike in Hyderabad, it was apparent that the population largely supported the Khan. The Baluchis like the Pathans of NWFP were not too enthused with the idea of Pakistan. In the NWFP, the separatist Muslim League led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah was actually rejected in elections. Yet eight months after the Khan's assertion of independence the Pakistanis annexed Baluchistan. But Baluchi aspirations for an independent state were not quelled completely. In 1973 a war of independence broke out in Baluchistan. Indira Gandhi [ Images ] was quick to provide assistance.

For five years there was total war. At its peak the Baluchis raised a force of 55,000 combatants. Nearly six Pakistan Army [ Images ] divisions were deployed to fight them. The Pakistan Air Force was also extensively used and its Mirage and Sabre fighter jets carried out strikes all over rural Baluchistan. Widespread use of napalm has also documented by scholars like Robert Wirsing of the University of Texas and Selig Harrison. Iran too joined in the military action and Huey Cobra helicopter gunships of its Army Aviation were widely used. By the time the last pitched battle was fought in 1978, 5,000 Baluchi fighters and 3,000 Pakistani soldiers had died. Civilian casualties were many times that. The Baluchi war for independence was crushed, but the aspirations still flicker.

Speaking at the 57th session of the Commission of Human Rights at Geneva between March 9-April 27, 2001, Mehran Baluch, a prominent Baluch leader, said: "Our tragedy began in 1947, immediately after the creation of Pakistan. The colonialist army of Pakistani Punjab forcibly occupied Kalat at gunpoint." Even now a struggle continues in Baluchistan. After the killing of Akbar Khan Bugti, other leading Baluchi leaders like Sardars Attaullah Mengal, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, and Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, heads of the three great Baluch clans, have been leading protests over the economic exploitation of the regions great natural resources to the exclusion of the local people. Marri and hundreds of his supporters are under arrest.

Till 1977 the Indira Gandhi government actively worked for the democratic aspirations of the Baluchis and Pathans. Baluchi fighters were trained in the deserts of Rajasthan. We also provided them with financial and diplomatic assistance. With Bangladesh free, Indira Gandhi reckoned that Sind, Baluchistan and Pakhtunistan should follow. After her electoral defeat in 1977, Atal Bihari Vajpayee [ Images ] as the Janata Party government's foreign minister made his first misguided and woolly-headed attempt to normalise relations with Pakistan. We now remember Lahore [ Images ] as his first, but that is not correct. Indian support to the various movements struggling for self-determination in Punjabi-dominated Pakistan was withdrawn. The Sindhi refugee L K Advani [ Images ] did not protest even when the Jiye Sind movement of G M Syed was betrayed. He was quite pleased with being able to go to his hometown of Karachi and visit his old school.

Expensive takeaway in history

Russian Oligarch Abramovich is teetotal, although he's developed an expensive taste for sushi. Late one afternoon he was in Baku, Azerbaijan, and remarked that he fancied sushi for dinner. Baku isn't known for its Japanese cuisine, so the aide ordered £1,200 of sushi from Ubon in Canary Wharf. It was collected by limousine and then flown 3,000 miles by private jet to Azerbaijan. At an estimated total cost of £40,000, it must surely rank among the most expensive takeaways in history.

• Londongrad: From Russia With Cash, by Mark Hollingsworth and Stewart Lansley, is published by Fourth Estate at £12.99. To order your copy with free p&p, call the Review Bookstore on 0845 155 0713.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1200525/If-dead-wont-accident-How-Russian-oligarchs-favourite-English-lawyer-met-horrifying-death.html#ixzz0MrjKyrSs



On March 7,2008, the Chinese authorities had claimed to have foiled an attempt by three Uighurs to blow up a plane of the China Southern Airlines flying from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province, to Beijing. The persons involved had allegedly managed to smuggle inside the aircraft gasoline concealed inside a can of soft drinks. The plot was foiled by alert security guards on board the plane and two of the suspects were arrested on board the plane. A third was arrested subsequently.

2.The Chairman of China Southern Airlines Liu Chaoyong said that a female passenger came out of the rest room and passed by a flight attendant who detected a suspicious smell. Then she smelt the scent of perfume and gasoline in front of the rest room. The attendant immediately searched the rest room and found an inflammable substance inside the garbage bin of the rest room. The attendant notified the airplane security guard immediately. Based upon how the female passenger spoke and acted, they realized that the male passenger next to her was a companion. The two individuals were arrested. The plane crew then moved the suspicious substance into the special container bin for handling such materials. The plane made an unscheduled stop at the Lanzhou airport. The two suspects were taken away by the police. Liu Chaoyong said that the preliminary analysis was that the two individuals intended to hide the inflammable material and then take action at the appropriate moment. ( Please refer

to http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers27/paper2654.html )

3. Since then, the Chinese authorities have been greatly concerned over the dangers of an act of aviation terrorism by Uighur jihadis belonging to the pro-Al Qaeda Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET). Apart from conventional acts of hijacking an aircraft, their concerns are focused on acts such as causing an explosion in mid-air with explosive material smuggled into an aircraft and a 9/11 style attack on a ground target with a hijacked aircraft. Possible responses to such scenarios have formed an important part of counter-terrorism exercises

in China.

4. These concerns, which are not only continuing, but have also been aggravated after the violent incidents in Urumqi from July 5 to 8,2009, were reflected in the third joint Sino-Russian counter-terrorism exercise code-named "Peace Mission 2009" held for five days from July 22,2009, in the Sino-Russian border region. The actual exercise was preceded by a strategic preparatory meeting held at Khabarovsk in Russia on July 22. This was followed by the actual exercise held at the Taonan tactical training base of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in northeast China's Jilin Province. It comes under the Shenyang Military Command.

5. Whereas in the previous two exercises held in 2005 and 2007, army units of the two countries played a prominent role, in the latest exercise Air Force units of the two countries played a prominent role The greater prominence given to the role of the Air Force in counter-terrorism resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of military personnel involved in the exercise. This came down from about 10,000 from each side in the previous two exercises to about 1300 from each side in the latest exercise.

6.Russia deployed 22 aircraft ---- including Su-27 fighters, Su-24 and Su-25 attacker aircraft--- and several helicopters in the exercise.. They arrived at a military airport in Qiqihar in the Heilongjiang Province. The PLA deployed more than 40 aircraft including attackers, fighter-bombers, armed helicopters and transporters. Interestingly, the Russians and the Chinese also deployed surface-to-air missile units. The deployment of the SAM units indicated that their operating instructions against aviation terrorism envisaged the shooting down of a hijacked aircraft if there was a danger of a 9/11 type incident.

7. Briefings and comments by Chinese experts to their media, which was allowed to watch the exercise, indicated that their concerns mainly focused on the dangers of an act of aviation terrorism by the Uighurs. Even though the exercise was planned long before the recent Urumqi disturbances, these disturbances found mention in the briefings and comments.

8.In a curtain-raiser despatch of July 20,2009, the Xinhua news agency quoted Major General Wang Haiyun, a former Chinese Military Attache to Russia and an expert in international

strategy, as saying as follows: "Russia, a large country with many ethnic groups and complex political situations, is facing similar challenges. To some extent, the July 5 Xinjiang riot pushed forward anti-terrorism cooperation between China and Russia. Russia and China should also cooperate more vigorously to defend themselves and prevent terrorism from spreading from Afghanistan to Central Asia."

9.In an interview to the "China Daily" (July 31,2009) after the conclusion of the exercise, Major General Meng Guoping, who is the Deputy Director of the War Operations Department under the General Staff Department of the PLA, said: ."Rules of engagement for anti-terrorism combat operations are being formulated by the Chinese army to deal with the growing terrorist threat facing the nation. The move would mark the first time since its founding 82 years ago that the 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA) would have separate regulations for anti-terrorism operations. The army is drafting an Ordinance for Anti-terrorism Combat Operations based on its experience in

anti-terror missions over the past few years. The army will also publish its first set of combat guidelines on anti-terror operations for the whole armed forces. The guidelines will regulate the anti-terror mission's responsibility, composition, command and logistics support. The PLA has included anti-terror combat training in its elite armed forces divisions since last year and each army division has set up its task force for emergency response."

10.The same paper quoted Song Xiaojun, a leading military expert based in Beijing, as saying as follows: "Extremists, separatists and terrorists have been collaborating to target China and turning more violent, almost to the point of forming an anti-Chinese government rebellion. The "three forces" defined in the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ) Shanghai Treaty, namely extremism, separatism and terrorism, were said to be behind the deadly riot in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region on July 5, during which 197 Han people and Uighurs died. China gave legal rights to its army to combat terrorism when it implemented the Emergency Response Law in August 2007."

11. An interesting feature of the just-concluded exercise was the virtual absence of any role for the police and other civilian

counter-terrorism agencies, if China has any. China treats counter-terrorism, even against its own nationals taking to violence amounting to terrorism, as a military and not a police operation. The result is the relative inexperience of the Police in dealing with terrorism-like situations and other law and order disturbances involving the use of violence by protesters. Any such disturbances tend to be looked upon by the Police as terrorism. They easily lose their cool and over-react, using disproportionate force. This is what happened at Urumqi


12. India has already held two joint counter-terrorism exercises with the Chinese armed forces---- the first in Yunnan and the second in Karnataka. The police has a very important role to play in our counter-terrorism operations away from the border. We must take care that our security forces do not get infected with the ruthless Chinese ways of dealing with their own people under the name of counter-terrorism.


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

BACB seeks unpaid debt from Algosaibi

Samir Al-Saadi | Arab News

Khalid Al-Nowaiser

JEDDAH: The British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB) is seeking a claim of SR75 million with accrued interest of three percent annually against Algosaibi Group, a source told Arab News on Thursday. London-based BACB is a wholesale banking institution providing trade and project finance for Arab markets. The bank has empowered the law office of Khalid Al-Nowaiser to deal with Algosaibi Group and recover its defaulted debts.

According to the source, the law firm has started legal proceedings in the Kingdom to seek payment on the bank’s defaulted debt with the group. Many international and regional creditor institutions have instituted similar action against the group.

More than 200 international and regional debtors are queuing up to seek payment on their defaulted debts with Algosaibi Group, which according to reports total SR35 billion. This situation highlights alleged non-transparency inherent in family firms in the Gulf region and growing skepticism among international creditors. The BACB owns a claim of SR75 million with accrued interest against Algosaibi Group, which was funded by late Suliman Algosaibi.

According to sources, default on the pledged guarantee contained in an agreement between Algosaibi and the bank on April 28, 2007 required BACB to sue the group at the British Commercial Royal Court of Justice. According to the agreement, the parties involved were required to submit any dispute to English law. BACB has filed a case in a British court, too. Moreover, Bargan Bank of Kuwait may have similar issues with Algosaibi Group because it is in default of another loan. Mashreq Bank of Dubai has already filed a lawsuit suing 20 individuals of the Algosaibi family for more than $200 million.

The partners of Algosaibi Group previously decided that Yusuf Ahmed Algosaibi was to be appointed as chairman, Saud Algosaibi as managing director and Dawood Suliman Algosaibi as deputy-chairman. Saud Algosaibi was empowered to handle the situation. However, it has been reported that the Algosaibi family members are not on good terms with the deputy chairman, and Dawood’s services were terminated for making unauthorized and unacceptable announcements to the press. It is also reported that the legal status and structure of Algosaibi Group as a public firm may have contributed to the crisis since it is not bound to specific lines or limitations.

Who owns or claims to own the Arctic?

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
Rafe MAIR (Canada)

Would that the question posed was "who owns or claims to own Antarctica"? The answer is, by international agreement, no one. The Arctic, however, is a much different story where eight nations, Russia, Canada, the United States, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland all have a stake in the Arctic's icy real estate.

Growing up in Canada, I had no doubt that the Arctic belonged to us. Weren't the "great north strong and free"? No one thought of the Arctic as involving other countries. Except the US and Alaska and they were our pals, were they not?

Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60 W and 141 W [longitude, extending all the way north to the North Pole]: all islands in this region are Canadian territory and the territorial waters claimed by Canada surround these islands. No one knew why we had done this but we had.

Claims of other nations to Arctic resources were rather tepid until the lure of huge oil and mineral deposits presented itself. And, what a lure! It's been estimated that the Arctic region holds between 100 and 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil, and approximately 2000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Then came another shocker which cast doubt upon Canada's claim that Arctic Canada was theirs for sure - global warming opened up the Northwest Passage and put an unexpected chip in America's pile.

A little background. In 1985, the U.S. icebreaker Polar Sea passed through the Passage from Greenland to Alaska, without seeking Canadian permission creating a contretemps which resulted in a 1988 agreement, called "Arctic Cooperation", which, significantly didn't solve the sovereignty issue. To George W. Bush, at any rate, these were international waters as he asserted U.S. military "sea power" over the oil-rich Arctic. If the Passage is not an internal waterway it raises for Canada the critical question as to whether its jurisdiction over Arctic resources can be trumped by the United States "sea power" in "international waters". So much for our pal!

When, in 2007 Russia famously planted its flag under the North Pole, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said

"It is our time to shine! Canada has taken its sovereignty too lightly for too long" and in a masterpiece of understatement said "I think the recent activities of the Russians are another indication that there's going to be growing international interest in this region."

Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackay weighed in thusly: "This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say 'We're claiming this territory. There is no threat to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic ... we're not at all concerned about this mission - basically it's just a show by Russia."

Russia had, however, firmly thrown the fat into the fire and sovereignty over the Arctic became a deadly serious issue

There are basically two arguments with endless sub-arguments.

The "sector" principle, where the claimant extends its territorial claim to the North Pole in pie shaped territories meaning that countries bordering the Arctic would get pieces of "pie" extending their jurisdiction longitudinally to the Pole. One can only imagine how such lines could be agreed upon.

When nothing much turned on it, the sectoral argument seemed reasonable. Despite Canada's reliance upon the sector theory for its Arctic claims as late as the 1980s, support for the theory among other Arctic nations was virtually non-existent. While the 1959 Antarctic Treaty was based upon the sector theory, the governments of the Soviet Union, Denmark, Norway and the United States were consistently opposed to its application to matters of Arctic delimitation. The lure of great natural resources has, however, brought in the "continental shelf" argument which renders the sectoral argument moot. The argument has shifted to claims that undersea extensions of a country's continental shelf give sovereignty with, as always, the devil being in the details as to how the lines are drawn

A year after Russia planted its flag on the North Pole seabed it claimed control over a vast undersea mountain chain stretching across the Arctic Ocean from Siberia to Ellesmere Island and Greenland - not to be outdone, Canadian and Danish researchers have teamed to claim that this chain is a natural extension of the North American continent. (This "continental shelf" argument has led to a spat between Denmark and Canada over tiny, uninhabited Hans Island situated between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland.)

The game's a-foot! The process of settling this issue is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas to which the US is not a signatory though it's working through their auspices. I have a deep suspicion, warranted by history of United States refusing to accept inconvenient international law, that if the United States feels that it isn't getting all it's entitled to, it will refuse to deal. It then becomes another very large, bone of contention between Russia and America which not only affects national pride but involves huge petroleum resources. The world doesn't need any more Russo-America bones of contention.

Are the eight negotiating nations considering the environmental issues plaguing the world? How do countries convince their people to move away from fossil fuels when the US and Russia are nose to nose, nuke to nuke, trying to get more of the stuff the world is trying to get along without? How can any pressure be brought to bear on China to clean up its act when the other big kids on the block are doing all they can to extend the reign of King Petroleum?

One thing is clear - the more governments claim virtuous goals such as attacking global energy, the less likely they are to keep their promise. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, "the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons".

If governments applied this simple test - will the world be better off if these resources are exploited? - they would back off. With former US President Bush talking of "sea power" and Russian President Medvedev saying "Our first and main task is to turn the Arctic into a resource base for Russia in the 21st century," tension will be added to the considerable quantity of that which already exists, and global warming will continue to be a shallow, cynical political promise.