August 11, 2011

NSG partners must honour their commitments, says India

Special Correspondent

The Government has said the “special exemption” India received from the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s export rules in September 2008 involved “reciprocal commitments and actions by both sides” and that the country’s nuclear partners must “fully honour their commitments in this regard”.

Providing the first formal Indian response to the NSG’s recent decision to ban the sale of enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, External Affairs minister S.M. Krishna told Parliament that the 2008 exemption remains “the basis and overarching framework that governs cooperation in civil nuclear matters between India and the NSG”. The issue is the full implementation of that understanding, he added. “This is what we expect and our major partners are committed to”.

At its plenary in June this year, the NSG adopted restrictive new rules for ENR exports, including the NPT criterion. India, Israel and Pakistan have not signed the treaty, while North Korea withdrew seven years back.

Mr. Krishna said the NSG’s 2008 exemption accorded a special status to India. “It was granted knowing full well that India is not a signatory to the NPT”. He stressed that India would not accept any pre-conditions for transfer of ENR items and technology and there was ``no question’’ of it joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state

Mr. Krishna took heart from the statements issued by the U.S., France and Russia in the aftermath of the NSG’s 2011 plenary which sought to assure India that the 2008 exemption would not be affected by the new rules. In closely matching clarifications, he US and France clarified that the new ENR transfer rules ``do not detract’’ from the 2008 exemption, with Paris going a step further and adding that even future guidelines would in no way detract from that exemption. On its part, Russia has said the new NSG rules do ``not affect in any way’’ the 2008 decision to ``unfreeze nuclear cooperation’’ with India.

The Minister also argued that India was not overly anxious to access overseas ENR technology because it had ``full mastery’’ over the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Any transfer of ENR technology from abroad would be an additionality to accelerate India’s three stage civil nuclear energy programme, he said.

The Government came out with the statement following concerns expressed by Parliamentarians about the implications of the June NSG decision on India’s existing agreements with other countries on civil nuclear cooperation.

Mr. Krishna maintained that the Government had remained true to its objectives from the time it actively set about ending India’s exclusion from world nuclear trade five years ago. In this respect as far as India is concerned, the ``overarching framework’’ for its future civil nuclear cooperation with other countries was the NSG’s ``clean’’ exemption in 2008 under which the 46 countries had agreed to ``transfer all technologies which are consistent with their national law.’’

Emphasising again the reciprocal nature of the commitments the NSG and India made, Mr. Krishna said, “We expect all NSG members to honour their commitments as reflected in the 2008 NSG Statement and our bilateral cooperation agreements.’’

Washington calls Beijing's bluff

August 10, 2011 10:18:47 PM

B Raman

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has asked the Obama Administration not to allow China to open any more Consulates till such time the US is allowed to open a Consulate in Lhasa. India should emulate this strategy as we have stronger reasons for a Consulate in Lhasa

The Chinese, who have already been annoyed by the meeting of US President Barack Obama with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House during the former’s recent visit to Washington, DC, have reasons to be further irritated and concerned over the directive on July 20 by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee to the Secretary of State that China should not be allowed to open any more Consulates in the US until Beijing allows the US to open a Consulate in Lhasa.

The Foreign Relations Authorisation Act Fiscal Year 2012 passed by the Committee said: “The Secretary shall seek to establish a United States consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, to provide services to United States citizens travelling in Tibet and to monitor political, economic, and cultural developments in Tibet, including Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan Provinces and, until such consulate is established, shall not permit the establishment in the United States of any additional consulate of the People’s Republic of China.”

There is reportedly a pending request from the Chinese Foreign Office for permission to open Chinese Consulates at Atlanta and Boston. Now, these two may not materialise unless and until Beijing allows the US to open a Consulate at Lhasa.

India should emulate the US and should not allow Beijing to open any more Consulates in India until it permits India to open a Consulate in Lhasa. We have a much stronger case than the US for a Consulate in Lhasa.

Non-Governmental supporters of His Holiness in the US have organised an exhibition in the US to educate the public about the Panchen Lama. They also intend to start a movement to ensure that the Chinese do not disregard the Tibetan traditions in imposing their own Dalai Lama on the Tibetan people when His Holiness is no more. The Chinese interference in the traditional religious practices of the Tibetans in order to impose their own Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama on the Tibetan people could become an important issue in the future interactions between Washington and Beijing relating to Tibet and His Holiness.

While passing the resolution on a US Consulate in Lhasa, the House Foreign Affairs Committee also expressed serious concerns over the increasing suppression of religious freedom in Tibet and directed representatives of the US Government to call for a cessation of all interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism during exchanges with officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

The Panchen Lama nominated by the Chinese authorities after arresting the Panchen Lama selected by the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was to tour in Tibet during July to attend functions held in Tibet to mark the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. According to latest reports from Tibet, he did not undertake the tour which was deferred indefinitely without giving any reasons.

The Nepalese Police arrested on August 5, Thinley Lama, the new volunteer coordinator of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Kathmandu, after he had held a news conference in which he called for the protection of the human rights of the Tibetan refugees living in Nepal. There has been intense pressure on the Nepalese Government by Beijing to ban what is projected as the anti-China activities of the refugees. In the first week of July, the Nepalese Police, under pressure from the Chinese Embassy, tried to prevent the refugees from celebrating the birthday of His Holiness. Thinley Lama is a Nepal resident and acts as the representative of His Holiness in Nepal.

Human Rights groups have condemned the action of the Nepal Police in detaining Thinley Lama and appealed to the international community to intervene to stop the persecution of Tibetan refugees by the Nepalese authorities under pressure from Beijing.

They allege that the Chinese Embassy has been more aggressive in urging Nepal to take action against Tibetan refugees since last month when a new Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, assumed office. China says there are no Tibetan “refugees”, but only illegal immigrants.

It has been reported that as a quid pro quo for curbs on the activities of the refugees by the Nepalese authorities, Beijing has offered financial assistance for the development of the tourist infrastructure in Nepal, including for the development of the infrastructure at Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha.

In the meanwhile, reliable reports from Tibet say that the Chinese authorities refrained from taking any action against about 5,000 Tibetan monks, who defied the orders of the authorities and held a meeting at Lithang Gonchen in the Sichuan Province from July 15 to 24, for discussions to promote Tibetan cultural values and national unity. Initially, the Chinese authorities tried to prevent the meeting, but when the monks expressed their determination to go ahead with it, they did not intervene.

All the proceedings were held in the Tibetan language and all the participants were required to dress typically like Tibetans. There were discussions not only on religious, social and cultural issues, but also on the need to preserve the Tibetan language and the unity of Tibetans living in Tibet’s traditional three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo — all now occupied by China. The monastery of Lithang Gonchen, which hosted the meeting, had sent invitations to over 100 other monasteries — both in Kardze and in neighbouring prefectures — to take part. About a half of them participated.

Representatives also came from the Kirti monastery, in Kardze, from where about 300 defiant monks were arrested and moved to re-education camps in March this year following an incident of self-immolation by a young monk to protest against the Chinese rule. The Chinese have continued to reject requests from international human rights organisations for permission to visit the detained monks of the Kirti monastery.

-- The writer, a former senior officer of R&AW, is a strategic affairs commentator.

August 10, 2011

INDIA: Family Politics

For a summary of Family Politics, read on, and for the FULL DATASET, click here. For more about India: A Portrait by Patrick French, click here.

‘French’s database will go a long way in explaining who governs India to the world. He doesn’t say that hereditary MPs are bad, nor that they should not stand for election. Rather, he shows how political success depends on who your parents are … The importance of this data for students of political science cannot be over-estimated – not because one out of six people in the world is an Indian, but because, as French notes, one out of every two people living in a democracy is an Indian.’

-The Independent

How open is the Indian political system? Yes, it is the world’s largest democracy and everyone has a right to vote – and that is a precious thing. But does everyone really have an opportunity to stand for Parliament? You can vote, but what are the chances you will ever be voted for?

While researching his new book India: A Portrait – published in India and the UK in January 2011 by Penguin, and forthcoming in the USA from Knopf in June 2011 – Patrick French (@PatrickFrench2 on Twitter) conducted a one-of-its kind survey which tried to answer the following question: What does it take to join politics at the national level today? Is it within or out of reach for the many millions of capable Indians who might like to throw a hat in the ring?

Once the information about all 545 MPs in the Lok Sabha was received, tabulated and analyzed, the political background was classified into 9 categories. No significant family background: MPs who had made their way on their own ability; Business; Family: MPs who owe their access to the political system to their family background (also called hereditary MPs or HMPs for our survey); Inducted: MPs who were usually actors/actresses/cricketers or had parachuted into Parliament; Maoist Commander; Royal family; RSS; Student politics; Trade union.

At first glance, it appears that less than half of all MPs in the current Lok Sabha have entered politics through the grassroots:


46.8% of the MPs have no significant family political background. Three out of ten MPs (28.6%) entered politics through family connections. This did not seem a surprising statistic, but further investigation revealed more.

Breaking down the data further, we found that an alarming 69.5% of women MPs came into politics through family connections. After the 108th Constitution Amendment (passed by the Indian Parliament in 2010 to reserve 33 per cent of seats in national and state-elected bodies for women) is implemented, this number is likely to rise further.

Then came a much more disturbing piece of information: A disaggregated analysis of the political background of MPs with age suggests that there is a direct linear relationship between age and hereditary MPs: a greater proportion of younger MPs have a family political background, in comparison to others. So if you are young and want to join national politics, one of the only available routes seems to be through family connections. Take a look at this:

  • ~ All MPs whose age is less than 30 years are hereditary.
  • .
  • ~ More than two-thirds of MPs aged under 40 are hereditary.
  • .
  • ~ 27 MPs are ‘hyperhereditary’, and 19 of them are in the Congress party. By hyperhereditary, we mean that they have several family members who have made a career out of politics.

The average age of a hereditary MP is 48 years, whereas the average age of an MP with no significant family background is 58 years. Since a hereditary MP is likely to join parliament at an early age, this translates into a decade of political advantage for him/her.

So which parties practice family politics? Congress leads the way in dynasty politics. All 11 Congress MPs under 35 years are hereditary.

Almost nine out of every ten (88%) Congress MPs under 40 are hereditary and the percentage increases as age reduces. The near perfect linear relationship is illustrated in the following graph:

The proportion of hereditary MPs in Congress (37.5%) is approximately equal to the proportion of Congress MPs who do not have any significant family background (40.4%).

And what about the regional parties?

Regional parties have a higher incidence of hereditary MPs, in comparison to the national parties. Here are some statistics:

So are some states in India more dynastic than others? Click here to read more. And to see more on our new findings, that a hyper-hereditary MP (HHMP), or one who has multiple family connections in politics, is THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY to become a minister, click here.

Or to learn about different aspects of India: A Portrait,