October 29, 2011

More Evidence Obama Ordered Qaddafi Assassination

Oct. 25, 2011 2011 (EIRNS)—

The New York Times today confirmed that the night before the Oct. 20 assassination of Muammar Qaddafi by a NATO-directed air and ground attack on his convoy, there was a 90-minute meeting at the White House to consider the ex-Libyan leader's fate, among other issues coming up following the NATO regime- change campaign. At the White House session, late in the night of Oct. 19, three options were presented to President Obama: capture Qaddafi and try him in Libya; capture Qaddafi and try him at the International Criminal Court in the Hague; or kill him. Both the Libyan and Hague trials were rejected because of anticipated political problems (Libya has no functional judicial system, and a trial in the Hague would be considered a violation of Libyan sovereignty). While the Times report did not draw the conclusion, the point is clear: The kill order was given, and within less than 24 hours, Qaddafi was dead. All of the media B.S. about young rebel soldiers taking matters into their own hands was just that — B.S.

A US/NATO intelligence unit identified Qaddafi's whereabouts, and air strikes were ordered on the caravan — reported to be showing white surrender flags on the vehicles, a war crime (if confirmed). First, a US drone fired, and later French fighter jets bombed the cars. News reports from the Guardian indicated that there were British and French commandos on the scene, along with the Libyan rebels. The ground forces were totally coordinated with the air attacks and the advance intelligence monitoring. It was a coordinated military operation, and, according to the New York Times, "the killing of Colonel Qaddafi was one of the three scenarios considered last Wednesday." According to the Times account, a task force, under the direction of Derek Chollet, senior director of strategic planning for the National Security Council, was established in March, when the U.S. military operations first were launched. Pentagon, Justice Department, and State Department officials, along with representatives from other agencies, were involved in the task force all the way through to the Qaddafi execution

Next U.S. Move in Afghanistan? None

By Ramtanu Maitra

The recently concluded trip by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton through Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia centered around what could be the next U.S. move in Afghanistan. The trip took place at a time when the White House has pretty much accepted the fact that it cannot change much in Afghanistan militarily. The war may get worse, and it certainly could; but an improvement in the military environment is well-nigh impossible. Even if it does get worse, however, a military defeat of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) — the innocuous name for the 150,000 armed-to-the-teeth U.S. and NATO troops waging war in Afghanistan — at the hands of insurgents who have adopted irregular warfare is not going to happen.
The fact is, despite the effort and money the West has put in over the last 10 years, the war in Afghanistan is stalemated. What the West most wants now is to end it. This is why Secretary Clinton took a large, star-studded contingent along with her to Pakistan. Their objective was to end the war, which, if allowed to continue, could drag on for decades. Why does the White House want to end it now?
There are two reasons, neither of which have anything to do with Afghanistan. The first is the massive financial crisis that the United States faces today. Growing unemployment within the country; growing dissension as seen in the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations, and the government’s increasing indebtedness have made the White House realize that the war in Afghanistan has now become a thorn, draining almost $120 billion annually. The estimated overall cost of the 10-year-long war is close to $470 billion. American taxpayers are becoming increasingly uneasy about continuing to spend large sums of money on a war that is now widely considered to be lost and whose purpose, in any case, is completely opaque.
The other reason is that the next U.S. presidential election will be held in November 2012. President Barack Obama, whose first term has so far been less than stellar, will be seeking a second term. Having made no headway in resolving any of the financial problems that the majority of Americans are burdened with, the White House would like to salvage support from a segment of the electorate by ending the war and bringing back a significant number of troops before November. The White House is quite desperate about the 2012 race; and it seems to be the only factor determining Washington’s future agenda in Afghanistan.
Why the crisis in Afghanistan?
Over the years, two U.S. presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have trotted out a series of the most absurd explanations for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and U.S. aims and objectives in the continuing engagement. All those earlier explanations, and the current desperation to get some troops out before November are illustrative of the fact that Washington has never had a clear policy in Afghanistan.
In 2001 then-President George W. Bush told the American people that the invasion was necessary because Afghanistan had become the home of the number-one anti-U.S. al-Qaeda terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and his gang. He said the ruling Taliban government in Kabul had refused to hand over Osama to Washington and, therefore, the only option left for the “War on Terror” was to dislodge the Taliban government and capture Osama. Well, as we know, the Taliban was dislodged. But Osama fled to Pakistan, where America’s chief ally in the war on terror — Pakistan — gave him shelter and kept him alive and hidden for almost 10 years.
Once it became clear to the world that the prime target had eluded the U.S., President Bush shifted the engagement into a low-profile war, telling the Americans that his new prime objective was to develop a stable and democratic Afghanistan — a proposition that is almost as absurd as the “war on terror” itself. Within a period of four years, it became evident that this objective was a non-starter.
Those four years witnessed indiscriminate killing of the Pushtuns under the pretext of eliminating one Taliban shura or the other, Washington’s unwillingness to strengthen the Kabul regime under President Karzai, and facilitation of an opium explosion that fed the Taliban, druglords and the international banks. Together, these developments paved the way for the return of insurgents in large numbers in Afghanistan. By 2005 all prior objectives were forsaken and Washington’s only aim became “winning the war.” The long-drawn-out conflict has killed thousands, maimed many more. Most of these victims have been Afghans. The process also spread terrorism most effectively throughout Pakistan.
What is also important to note is that while the U.S. and NATO were struggling to define their purpose in Afghanistan, two of their chief allies — Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — were working in tandem to undermine the coalition, pursuing a policy they had set in concrete decades earlier. Though nominally part of the “War on Terror” coalition, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have never veered from their own course. The recent visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistan makes it evident that Washington may have finally acknowledged that.
The morphing of friends and enemies
When Saudi Arabia funded the Taliban movement in 1995, it was to install a government in Kabul whose members were indoctrinated in the most orthodox Sunni Islamic ideology, Wahhabism, the national religion of Saudi Arabia. By then the kingdom had successfully reared the Taliban killers, using Pakistan as a staging ground and the Pakistani military and its Inter-Services Intelligence wing as their guide and mentor. The Saudi policy on Afghanistan came to the fore in 1979, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and has remained firmly in place, including during the past 10 years when it meant that the Saudis funded terrorists who were killing ISAF troops.
During the civil war in Afghanistan (1989-95), when various Mujahideen groups were fighting and killing each other to secure control over Kabul, Riyadh made it a point to see that its money went only to those Mujahideen leaders, such as Rasool Sayyaf and Yunus Khalis, who had embraced the Wahhabi version of Islam. The only concession that Riyadh made was to Islamabad, who was already doing a lot of legwork for the Saudis. Pakistan’s candidate was the mentally-unstable druglord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who sold himself lock, stock and barrel to Islamabad — and, for years, to the CIA — to get to Kabul. As a result, some of the Saudi money was funneled through the ISI to Hekmatyar, despite the fact that this favorite of Islamabad could never win the trust of Riyadh.
If Riyadh has been unbent in its policy on who should rule Afghanistan since 1979, so has Islamabad, or rather Rawalpindi — the headquarters of Pakistan’s military. Whether or not Washington wanted to believe it, Pakistan’s military has always made clear that its chief enemy was neither the Taliban (who Islamabad helped carry in its womb for years before delivering it to the satisfaction of its father, Saudi Arabia) nor Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist group (who Rawalpindi sheltered when Pakistan’s ally, the United States, was braying for their blood). Islamabad’s chief enemy, as always, has been India.
It has been well established that the Riyadh- and Islamabad-created orthodox Sunni terrorists of the 1980s and 1990s were trained to infiltrate and “liberate” Kashmir from India. Like the Pakistan military and the ISI, the terrorists also considered India their principal enemy. Riyadh, who considers Shi’a-majority Iran its prime adversary in the power struggle among the Islamic nations that is adroitly manipulated from London, had also funded a number of terrorist groups within Pakistan whose principal objective is to eliminate the local Shi’as and pull the plug on any Iranian efforts to establish a solid footing within Pakistan.
Pakistan’s second objective has been to secure political and security control over Afghanistan. Some former Pakistani generals, such as Aslam Beg and Hamid Gul among a few others, claim that control of Kabul would provide the Pakistan military the necessary “strategic depth” against a potential, if not certain, Indian invasion of the country. Since Pakistan has nuclear weapons and has become an all-weather friend of China, that claim is patently a ruse. Under no circumstances, could an Indian invasion of Pakistan end up with India occupying the country. Moreover, it is militarily ridiculous: imagine Pakistan’s elite military fleeing to Afghanistan , carrying its tanks, missiles and other hardware through the Khyber Pass, while the Indian Air Force, in control over Pakistan’s sky, lets them escape! Islamabad’s claim that control of Kabul is a national security necessity is as absurd as President Bush’s claim that the American troops are fighting in Afghanistan bring democracy to that country.
Pakistan’s support to the Pushtuns: What choice do they have?
Pakistan wants control over Afghanistan simply because if it does not have such control, the Russians, Iranians and Indians, who are quite close to the northern Afghans and Hazara Shi’as and are not-so-good friends of Pakistan, could move in to claim a permanent stake in that country. Islamabad also knows that the Pakistani Punjabis, who dominate Pakistan’s economic and military affairs, are deeply distrusted, if not hated outright, by the Afghan Pushtuns. No Pushtun leader accepts the Durand Line as a legitimate border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and they consider the large number of Pushtuns who live on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line as their brothers.
If Pakistan does not work hard to help the Pushtuns come to power in Kabul, and instead allow the Tajiks-Uzbeks-Hazaras, Nuristanis and others rule Afghanistan, hell may break loose in Pakistan’s virtually-ungoverned Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North West Frontier Province (now named Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), where almost all of Pakistan’s Pushtuns live. The outcome of that could be a bitter separation of the Pushtuns from Pakistan to join the Afghan Pushtuns in forming a “Greater Pushtunistan,” their century-old dream.
Whether or not it is too complex for Washington to understand, this is the sole reason why Pakistan must keep supporting one or the other faction of Pushtuns and challenging all the other Afghan ethnic groups. Because most Pushtuns do not like the Punjabis, the Pakistan military has had to go the extra mile to satisfy the most ambitious of them. Hekmatyar is one such ambitious Pushtun, as is Jalaluddin/Sirajuddin Haqqani. It is amusing to note that the current CIA chief (and former head of CentCom), Gen. David Petreaus, made it a point to present the evidence that ISI is working with the Haqqani group to Gen. Kayani, chief of the Pakistan Armed Services, during Sec. Clinton’s visit.
Of course, the ISI is, and always was, working with the Haqqani group; that goes as far back as one can remember, long before David Peteraus, a four-star general, had put a single star on his uniform. Pakistan’s ISI, and also the CIA, have been helping the druglord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The American people may not want to know of their own authorities’ ignoble activities, but they should take this bit of fact to heart now because Hekmatyar, with the help of the Pakistani military and ISI, Washington’s ally, is again in the front lines, killing American soldiers.
It has been said over and over again that the U.S. wants Pakistan to “squeeze” the Haqqani group. But why would Pakistan do that? Is it because it would allow 20,000 or 30,000 American troops to come back home in 2012 and make Barack Obama look like a president who ended the war? Pakistan knows that with President Obama’s blessings CIA chief Gen. Petreaus can continue to kill “militants” and civilians in the FATA by means of repeated drone strikes for any length of time. But, why should the U.S. continue to use drones to kill people within Pakistan when the war is pretty much lost and Afghanistan remains as divided and tribal as ever? In reality, at this point in time, all this is a sideshow. The Pakistanis know it, and they have no real reason to concede anything.
For Pakistan’s military, who had set their policy in concrete long before the Yankees appeared on the horizon, the end game is approaching. Americans cannot stomach this absurdity much longer, and the ripe apple may fall into Pakistan’s lap pretty soon. Yet this victory of Pakistan over the United States has not come easy. It has dealt a very severe body blow to Pakistan, as well.
A Pyhrric Victory
The most destabilizing aspect of this war on terror for Pakistan was the visible fragmentation of its much-vaunted military. Built up over the years with a single focus — to be anti-India — the military, arguably Pakistan’s most powerful and perhaps only central institution, is no longer monolithic. It is split between pro-U.S. (or not-anti U.S.) and anti-U.S. groups. As a corollary, the Pakistani military now harbors two powerful factions — the anti-jihadi and the pro-jihadi groups. Although the entire military remains virulently anti-India, these factions consider settling their inner contradictions the highest priority. Indeed, the failure to settle the contradictions could precipitate an existential crisis in either, or both, of the groups. The terrorist attack on Pakistan’s Army General Headquarters in October 2009 and the brazen, yet highly calculated attack on the Mehran Naval Base in May 2011, only prove the point.
Pakistan’s military and the ISI have nurtured and sheltered various terrorist groups for decades for the sake of “liberating” the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the clutches of Islamabad’s principal enemy, India. While some of these trained terrorists are Punjabis, many are Pushtuns, as well. Because of the Pakistan military’s alliance with U.S./NATO to eliminate the Taliban in Afghanistan, all of whom are Pushtuns, the Pushtun terrorist members within Pakistan openly revolted against their controllers — the Pakistan military and its intelligence arm, ISI.
At the same time, the Punjabi terrorist groups (e.g., the Lashkar-eTaiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Hizbul Mujahideen and a host of others bred and nurtured on Pakistani soil) have noticed the military’s unwillingness, perhaps due to its “commitment” to the Americans, to go after India any longer, and have turned anti-establishment as a result. Some of them have now fully dedicated themselves to killing minority Shi’as and Ahmedis. Generally their breakaway from the establishment could spell serious danger for Pakistani society — particularly for those in Pakistan who want to keep their feet simultaneously planted in a number of boats, pretending to be pro-West, anti-India and pro-Saudi at the same time.
The siege of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid in July 2007, and its inept handling by the double-speaking former president, Pervez Musharraf, resulted in the severing of Islamabad’s ties with the militants from the strategic Swat Valley and Chitral districts. As of now, the leader of the Swat Valley gang of terrorists, Mullah Radio, an avowed enemy of Islamabad, is inside Afghanistan, plotting to stage attacks inside Pakistan to hurt the Pakistani military.
Finally, the 10-year-long war in Afghanistan; the Pakistan military’s ghastly dance with the U.S./NATO killing machine; the killing of thousands of Pakistanis, mostly in the tribal areas and of Pushtun ethnic origin, by the Pakistani military and by the U.S. Special Ops officers and Islamabad-accepted, CIA-orchestrated drone attacks; and the ham-handed approach of the Americans, endorsed by the Pakistan military — these cumulative developments have changed the Pakistanis’ attitude toward the United States. Polls indicate that, at least for the time being, the majority of Pakistanis have bumped India from the top of the “Greatest Enemies of Pakistan” list to second place, and now consider the United States to be enemy number one.
This shift in public view will surely pose serious problems for Islamabad in its future policymaking. Quite apart from the fact that the paralyzed Pakistani elite would prefer closer relations with the United States rather than with the jihadis of the Islamic world, Islamabad will soon find it necessary to change this public opinion in order to function with any credibility on the world scene.

Geostrategic Factors In Indo-US Relations

PP Shukla
Joint Director, VIF


An examination of the history of the Indo-American engagement since Indian Independence shows that there were three major occasions when the relationship might have developed along more positive lines. These were, first, in the period immediately after Independence; the second was in the aftermath of the India-China war of 1962; and the last was after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the USSR. This last phase is still on-going, and is showing better results than the previous two, but there is still much that needs to be clarified – and changed - on both sides.
What follows is an attempt to understand the dynamics of these three phases in the Indo-US engagement in order to see why the results were [and are] less than satisfactory; it is not an attempt at recounting the history of the relations between the two countries. The purpose is to draw lessons from the earlier failures, to see if they can point the way to better relations in the future. Thus it will not focus on the 1970’s or the 1980’s, important though they are; they are of limited value in understanding why a strategic understanding was not possible between the two countries.
The standard interpretation of the less-than-happy state of relations between the two countries runs in terms of the differences over Cold War policies. India chose to stay non-aligned, the US was looking for allies against the USSR, or Communism more generally in the early phase, and thus could not find common strategic ground. Frequently enough, this is supplemented with references to individual differences, such as between Nehru and Dulles or Krishna Menon and pretty much everyone in the US foreign policy establishment.
What is incomplete, or even wrong, with this explanation is that it fails to explain why, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations between the two countries did not improve as both sides would have wished. There was improvement, no doubt, specially from the late 1990’s, but it was halting and contradictory – and the same less than satisfactory situation prevails today. This is not to underestimate the many solid achievements, especially of the last decade or so. Nonetheless, the fact that this group is discussing this question, and so are many others, is evidence that the promise of the relationship has not been met so far.
The first opening: 1949-54
It would, therefore, be worthwhile to explore whether the standard explanation is the complete picture. And here, it turns out, there are many facts which both sides have found it convenient to ignore. On both sides, there appears to be a willingness to let this incomplete narrative dominate the discourse – it suits Indian amour propre, and it suits the Americans to be able to say that they genuinely wanted and tried for better relations but it was not to be.
But the reality is that India did try and offer everything that America wanted. Nehru’s first visit to a superpower was not to the Soviet Union, but to the United States – as far back as in 1949. It was, in fact, the Pakistan Prime Minister who was scheduled to visit the USSR in 1949, though the visit did not take place. Nehru visited the USSR only in 1955, by which time American policies in South Asia were firmly locked down. And during his visit to the US, Nehru did not lecture or hector any of his interlocutors, but instead, assured them that India would stand with the democracies in the event of war. This was more clearly spelt out by his trusted foreign policy aide, Sir GS Bajpai, who assured his American counterparts that he was speaking with the full authority of his Prime Minister. His remarks, made to Acting US Secretary of State Lovett in April 1948, deserve to be quoted in detail:
“Sir Girja … pointed out that two fundamental considerations prevented Indian adherence to the Soviet bloc. First, through its association with the British, unhappy as it had been in some aspects, India had acquired the ideals of democracy and individual liberty, which were held by the US and other nations of the west. Second, India can expect no effective assistance from the USSR in its primary objective of strengthening itself economically and militarily. In fact, the US is the only country which is in a position to aid India. … Sir Girja stated that his remarks were being made with the full knowledge and authorization of Prime Minister Nehru…”
However, America was by then moving in a different direction.An inter-agency study had come to the conclusion that America had only limited interest and stake in South Asia, and such interest as there was, lay in Pakistan. The assessment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their Memorandum of 24 March 1949 reads as follows:
“From the military point of view, the countries of South Asia, except Pakistan have, under present and prospective conditions, little value to the United States. … The Karachi-Lahore area in Pakistan may, under certain conditions, become of strategic importance. In spite of tremendous logistical difficulties, this area might be required as a base for air operations against central USSR and as a staging area for forces engaged in the defense or recapture of Middle East oil areas.”
In order to see how this assessment affected US policies towards South Asia, it is instructive to follow the evolution of the American stance on the Kashmir question. This is important because it was by far the most important issue facing India and Pakistan at this time; it was also the issue that dominated the conversation of both countries with the US. In 1948, shortly after India took the dispute to the UN for pacific settlement under Chapter VI of the Charter, a discussion took place between American and British officials on the nature of the dispute. The American record of the conversation runs in part as follows:
“The British representative at first attempted to minimize such an analogy by asserting that Kashmir was ‘territory in dispute’. The US representatives agreed that Kashmir was a state about which a dispute had arisen between India and Pakistan but stated that they found it difficult to deny the legal validity of Kashmir’s accession to India. In the end, the British representatives agreed with the US point of view that we had to proceed on the assumption for the time being at any rate India had legal jurisdiction over Kashmir.”
However, by February 1950, that is, after the inter-agency discussion had focused on Pakistan as the country that presented some interest to them, this American position had changed, and the State Department was arguing against this very position. In an internal note, it was argued that
“In the opinion of the Office of the Legal Adviser, execution of an Instrument of Accession by the Maharajah in October 1947 could not finally accomplish the accession of Kashmir to either Dominion, in view of circumstances prevailing at that time…”
Looking at the sequence of events described above, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this revision of the American position on the legality of the accession was a result of the conclusion drawn a few months earlier that Pakistan was more important for America than India.
For connoisseurs of historical irony, it would be amusing to see that by August 1949, Nehru was sufficiently tired of American badgering on the subject of Kashmir to admonish Ambassador Loy Henderson that “he was tired of receiving moralistic advice from the US”. Since this is a charge the American leaders were later to level at Indian leaders, it is an indication of who went first. But on a more serious note, what this kind of testy exchange reveals is that the US frequently did not adequately understand how important the Kashmir question was for India, or the strength and depth of feeling over the issue. It is also true that the Indian leaders did not take the time to explain frankly and forcefully how pivotal this matter was to our overall foreign policy posture. In fact, all through the Indo-American relationship, this is a major failing perhaps on both sides, certainly on the Indian side, that they did not talk with sufficient candour.
This phase in our history set the basic parameters between India and the US, and it was not very promising at this point of time. However, worse was to come after the change of Administration in 1953. Whereas prior to this time, American military supplies were proceeding more or less even-handedly as between India and Pakistan, all this changed under the new Administration and by 1954, America had undertaken to provide military assistance to Pakistan. The record shows that all sides declared that the assistance was meant for the fight against Communist aggression, in reality Pakistan was arming against India. However, this was the occasion for the entry of the USSR into South Asian politics, and in December 1955, Khrushchev visited Srinagar and declared that Kashmir was an integral part of India and, in a pointed rebuttal of the Pakistani demand for self-determination, added that the people had already exercised their right of self-determination. As a veto wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, this effectively put an end to any realistic chances of a UN-brokered settlement of the issue.
Two important conclusions may be drawn at this stage. The first is the great importance and sensitivity of the Kashmir issue for India. From a reading of the historical records, it frequently appears to be the case that American policy-makers did not grasp this reality. It sometimes appears as if this is still not fully understood in America. The second is that the USSR entered this issue much after the American policy-makers had set course for a pro-Pakistan stance. In later years, i.e., in the late 1950’s, senior Soviet officials were to tell their Pakistani counterparts that they took the stance on Kashmir, and, by extension, on South Asia, only after Pakistan joined the anti-Soviet pacts and started receiving US military aid.
In short, it was American policies in South Asia that brought India and the USSR together. Another important aspect of the politics of the region is worth emphasizing: the Pakistanis had offered to the Americans that they would supply troops to the Korean War, but pleaded that until a Kashmir settlement was found, they were unable to spare any troops for the purpose. To the British, who were then setting up the Middle East Defence Organization, the Pakistanis again offered to send troops – if they would help settle Kashmir, and address the Indian threat.
The second opening: 1962-1965
The next phase opened after the Indian defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962. Enough has been written about how it affected Nehru and his foreign policy, so there is no need to go over that ground one more time. What has not received adequate attention is the brief period November1962 to about the end of 1965. The war started on 20 October and continued until 21 November 1962, giving enough time for countries to define their positions – even their changing positions. In the initial period, the USSR was cautiously neutral, even tilting towards the Chinese. The Americans, under President Kennedy, were much more forthcoming. In the early weeks, too, both these countries were caught up in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and yet Kennedy was strongly supportive. The Americans offered all help to the Indian Army and went much further in terms of offering air defence cover, manned by American forces.
However, once the actual shooting stopped, the Americans all but made further military assistance conditional on India’s reaching a settlement with Pakistan. It is a measure of the Indian desire for American aid that the Indian leaders undertook some of the toughest negotiations on the subject of Kashmir. In response to very active shuttle diplomacy by Governor Harriman and Secretary Sandys, India offered significant territorial concessions to Pakistan, despite Pakistan’s signing a border agreement with China in March 1963, when the talks with India were at a very sensitive stage. However, the Pakistanis were unwilling to settle for anything less than the entire Vale, all the way south to the Chenab, and the talks ended without result. By this time, habitual American positions were beginning to assert themselves, and it did not help that they offered to both sides what were called the “elements” of a settlement, which, in essence, backed the Pakistani territorial demands.
The Soviets, by now over the Cuban troubles, and slipping into their long struggle with the Chinese, stepped in again and offered India the fighter aircraft it had asked for – with no conditions attached, unlike the Americans. Nevertheless, India did not make any long-term commitment to either side. To his credit, Kennedy came through with MAP assistance for India at this time, and the two countries signed an Air Defence Agreement – the first and only such understanding between India and America during the Cold War. This was not easy, since the Pakistanis and their supporters in the Administration, were all for holding aid to India hostage to a Kashmir settlement.
This would be the appropriate time to pay tribute to Kennedy for his role in strengthening Indo-US ties. Alone among the Presidents during the Cold War period, he saw the virtue of a strategic accommodation with India, and over-ruled all opposition in order to build one. It is idle to speculate on what might have been, but it is certain that, had he lived, there is a good chance that Indo-US relations would have been qualitatively different.
Anyhow, Kennedy did not live long enough to fulfil the promise of the new relationship. And once he was gone, things began to move to their by-then traditional pattern. An observer would not have to wait long for the hint of change. As early as 30 November 1963, President Johnson was recorded as telling his aides that he was unhappy at the way President Ayub Khan was being treated, and wanted that changed.
A quote from an internal memorandum of 30 November 1963 spells it out without ambiguity: “The president expressed the greatest of confidence in Ayub and a feeling that we had not been forceful enough with him, had not given him a feeling of confidence in our motives and that he had drifted into the thought that we would abandon him in favor of India. He stated that he wished this corrected in the most positive manner.”
Of course, change was not that easy to bring about, since Ayub, and more particularly, his Foreign Minister Bhutto, were moving ever closer to China – at that time a source of growing difficulties for America specially in Vietnam. As for India, it was facing problems with American arms supplies, and was increasingly finding the Soviets a more responsive supplier. It was not only not insisting on any political conditions, it was also willing to supply front-line aircraft, and to transfer production facilities too.
The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 was another milestone in the evolving strategic equations. America was neutral between the two countries, even though they recognized internally that Pakistan had started the war. However, a more serious issue was to create a breach between India and America. The Chinese made two important diplomatic interventions during the war, the first on 8 September, the second, a more serious ultimatum, on 18 September. On each occasion, the Indian Government sought the help of the American and Soviet governments to advise the Chinese to stay out of the conflict. After the second warning of 18 September, which was an ultimatum to India to dismantle some alleged structures on the Sikkim border in 72 hours, India had sought consultations and contingency planning with America in the event of China making good on its threat. The Americans refused to enter into such consultations, but assured the Indians that they had conveyed their concerns at the Warsaw talks that were then going on between the American and Chinese Ambassadors. The Soviets did not enter into any consultations either, but received an Indian diplomatic and defence delegation, and assured the Indian side that they had presented a strong demarche in Beijing. By this time, the Soviet-Chinese differences were out in the open, and it was clear that the Soviets were ready to confront the Chinese over this issue. The Indian Prime Minister was later to convey his thanks to the Soviets for having prevented the Chinese from taking any action in support of Pakistan during the war.
Thus was the second chance lost. Again, it may be worthwhile summing up the essentials of the developments in the first half of the 1960’s. The 1962 war with China opened another window for better Indo-US understanding, and Kennedy was quick to seize the opportunity. The immediate and positive American response in October 1962 generated a lot of goodwill for America in India, and yet, this was dissipated first of all in forcing fruitless discussions on Kashmir. Still, the Indian side persevered, and India began to receive MAP supplies for the first time. However, after the 1965 war with Pakistan, the last of the efforts ground to a halt. Without Kennedy to push things along, old habits asserted themselves.
Again, it may also be worth pointing out that Pakistan had offered, under its SEATO obligations, to supply troops for the Vietnam War, and Pakistan’s growing ties with China were a major irritant in its relations with the US. However, Pakistan did not supply any troops to Vietnam, again citing the need first for a settlement in Kashmir, and the threat from India.
By the time the 1970’s started, two other major issues divided India and the US: the Non-Proliferation Treaty and China. These issues have been aired and discussed over the years, and there is little to add to what is already well-known. Indians remember the American act of sending a naval flotilla into the Bay from this period, with a sense of unabated anger; it may help to mention that the Americans had considered a similar nuclear-powered warship into the Bay of Bengal in 1962, during the war with China – in a show of support for India!
The third opportunity
The third opening dates from the 1990’s. This is particularly important, because the irritant from the American side – the USSR – was gone. Once more, India looked at her strategic options unencumbered by any prior commitments. And this is where the original hypothesis of Indian neutrality being the main cause of the limited engagement between India and America breaks down. For by this time, apart from tokenistic references to non-alignment, India was no longer leaning towards any other power or group of countries hostile to the US. In fact, it was America that again rebuffed Indian overtures, including on vexed issues like Kashmir, nuclear disarmament, which had been a source of discord between the two countries over the decades, and the emerging threat of terrorism.
The Bush team had little time for India, engrossed as they were with mopping up the debris of the end of the Cold War. The Clinton Administration stunned the Indians with his reference to Kashmir in his first UNGA speech in 1993, as did State Department officials with their unbridled hostility, publicly drawing parallels between India on the one hand and the USSR and Yugoslavia on the other. It would be fair to say that, not since the Nixon Administration had India faced such hostility from the US. The then Prime Minister held two conferences on this issue alone – why was the US being so hostile? This may not seem like much to an American, but an Indian will understand – we do not hold meetings to analyse anything – every Indian singly knows it all. And he brought the best minds into play in order to understand why the Americans were being so negative towards India. This was a time when there was also no American dependence on Pakistan as there was to develop after 2001, so there really was no adequate explanation.
Fortunately, this hostility was to be somewhat moderated in the second term of President Clinton, and he moved sufficiently far and fast to become the first American President to visit India after a gap of 22 years – this despite the nuclear tests in 1998. This was also the period that saw some partial, if contradictory, change for the better in the American posture in the triangle India-America-China. Nonetheless, Clinton’s approach to South Asia reflected a continuing balancing of India with Pakistan, despite growing evidence of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism and involvement in nuclear proliferation. Where the Bush Administration had placed Pakistan under sanctions under the Pressler Amendment, and on the watch list of states sponsoring terrorism, the Clinton team removed Pakistan from the latter list, and worked earnestly to mitigate the worst effects of the Pressler sanctions.
What this note has been attempting to show is that the main hurdle in Indo-American strategic understanding is the question of Pakistan, and the central symptom there is the issue of Kashmir, though the issues of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan, not just in Kashmir but in other parts of India too, and the future of Afghanistan, have emerged as additional divisive factors. The history of India’s engagement with the Soviet Union should demonstrate that support on Kashmir is both a necessary and sufficient condition for true strategic partnership. True, India is not as vulnerable today on this, and other matters, as it was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Still, it remains probably our most important concern, and sensitivity on this issue is an important touchstone – if not the important touchstone – for our foreign partners. Those who have followed our recent stand-off with China on this issue, and the linking of China’s stand on Kashmir with our position on Tibet, will appreciate the point being made.
Before going further to some specific proposals for action, it may be worthwhile to recapitulate briefly the main conclusions of the summary of events described above. Two stand out.
The first is that India, and every Indian leader, tried hard to establish a solid relationship with America, and tried every reasonable accommodation possible. Certainly, America remained the major priority for each Indian leader. It was America that did not offer a reasonable response, with its insistence on a Kashmir settlement on terms that no Indian government could accept. The only exception to this was John Kennedy.
The second is that Pakistan, which was the preferred partner for America, offered support for American goals, but made a Kashmir settlement a precondition for such cooperation. Thus, it offered help in Korea in the early 1950’s, but argued that it could not spare any troops because of the Indian threat; in the 1960’s, they would have sent troops to Vietnam, but for the threat posed by the Indians. Today, it is the same refrain, only now it is al-Qaeda and the Taliban, along with the other terrorist groups that find sanctuary and financing inside Pakistan. The surprising thing is that there are sober-minded people in the US who are ready to buy into this thesis even today despite this history of mistaken premises and false promises.
It is also important to stress that the Indian position on Kashmir reflects one of the few issues on which there is a national consensus. The country has gone about as far as it can in making concessions on this subject, and there is little chance that any more is possible. And this is where America needs to show more understanding. Historically, it has been sympathetic to, even supportive of, Pakistan. Obviously, it is too big an ask for America to move to where Khrushchev was in the 1950’s, but there are a number of other interim options worth thinking about.
The first is from the American record itself. In the early 1960’s, when the Pakistanis insisted on raising the issue in the UNSC, the Americans informed them that they would play no role in promoting or building support for another resolution. This position was abandoned after the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, but the change in American position was noted and appreciated in India. It would be a very good idea for America to stop leaning on India to make concessions on Kashmir and just take a back seat on this matter. America has done this before, and would be wise to recognize that there is no give in the Indian position on this issue. If in 1962, we were being asked to surrender territory to Pakistan though we lost a war to China, today we are being pushed into an even more illogical position: because ISAF is in danger of losing to Pakistan, India must make territorial concessions to Pakistan.
There is a second consideration for the Americans: this comes from the history of their dealings with Afghanistan. Since the 1940’s, America has consistently been advising that country not to agitate the question of Pashtunistan or the related issue of the Durand Line. It may be time to give the same advice to the Pakistanis too, on the question of Kashmir. Certainly, this is what the former Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, advised the Pakistanis to do in his speech to their Senate in 1996.
There is a third option, a small step, which is both eminently doable and is perfectly logical. This concerns the depiction of the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir. At present, the Line ends at point NJ 9842. The Karachi Agreement of 1949, which delineated the basic Line, and the later agreement under the Simla Agreement of 1972, state that the Line runs further north to the glaciers. However, the US Defence Mapping Agency has been depicting the Line as running north-east to the Karakoram Pass. And, following this depiction, most of the map-makers around the world, have been likewise depicting the Line of Control. This is neither the legally correct position, nor does it reflect the ground situation. On the ground we have what is known as the Actual Ground Position Line, or AGPL. If the US Agency were to move to recognize the legally correct, and the actual, situation on the ground, it would be a welcome step in the right direction.
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Published Date: 18th October, 2011

Doctoral Fellowship: Indian Ocean World, McGill University

October 29, 2011

Doctoral Fellowship: Indian Ocean World, McGill University

From: Brendan Gillon <brendan.gillon@MCGILL.CA>

McGill University's Indian Ocean World Centre (http://www.indianoceanworldcentre.com/) invites applications for a doctoral fellowship for the study of the transmission of ideas either within the Indian Ocean World (i.e., any region(s) from Africa to the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia to China) or between the Indian Ocean World and other cultures, such as Arabic or Chinese. Among the possible subjects of investigation are: logic and debate, grammar, mathematics and astronomy.

The successful candidate is expected to have a good reading knowledge of one or more of the relevant languages.

Interested applicants should send Prof. Brendan Gillon (brendan.gillon@mcgill.ca) a two-page outline of a project proposal and a CV.

The proposal must make clear how it fits with project and the subjects of investigation listed above. The successful candidate's department of affiliation will depend on his or her project and background. Possible departments of affiliation are: the Department of Philosophywww.mcgill.ca/philosophy/), the Institute for Islamic Studies (www.mcgill.ca/islamicstudies/), the Department of East Asian Studies (http://www.mcgill.ca/eas/) and the Department of History (www.mcgill.ca/history/). The successful applicant must meet the criteria for admission to the relevant department and complete its degree requirements, but will be working under the partial or complete supervision of Prof. Gillon.

The deadline for application is January 15th, 2012 and the fellowship will start in the Fall of 2013.

Contact: Brendan Gillon
brendan.gillon@mcgill.ca

--
Brendan S. Gillon email: brendan.gillon@mcgill.ca
Department of Linguistics
McGill University tel.: 001 514 398 4868
1085, Avenue Docteur-Penfield
Montreal, Quebec
fax.: 001 514 398 7088
H3A 1A7 CANADA


POLITICAL DRUM-BEATS FROM PAKISTAN

B.RAMAN

With the next elections to Pakistan’s National Assembly due in the beginning of 2013, Pakistani politics has started picking up momentum and sliding into the contentious and venomous mode.

2. In their attempt to mobilise party faithfuls and gather fresh pockets of support, Pakistani political leaders have been exploiting three main issues: the alleged corruption and incompetence of President Asif Ali Zardari, the alleged unreliability and opportunism of Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), and the anti-US anger.

3. While Nawaz’s PML has made Zardari’s sins of commission and omission the target of its anger, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaaf( PTI) have been focussing for the present on the anti-US anger to rally support for their movement against the Government. The MuttahidaQaumi Movement (MQM) headed by the UK-based AltafHussain has come out in support of Zardari and against Nawaz.Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been carefully watching the campaign unfold without getting into a vigorous counter campaign. It is not worried by Imran Khan. Its main worry is Nawaz, but for the present it is content to let the MQM counter the PML (N) without the PPP itself getting into battle station.

4. On October 28,2011, the PML (N) held a huge anti-Zardari rally in Lahore (about 40,000), while Imran Khan’s PTI held an anti-US rally in Islamabad.No estimate of the support attracted by the PTI’s rally is available. The PTI is holding an anti-Government rally in Lahore on October 30 and the MQM an anti-PML (N) rally in Karachi the same day.

5. The PPP has no reasons to be concerned for the present. Its support base in rural Sindh remains strong.Despite its differences with the MQM over its inept handling of the bad law and order situation in Karachi, it has reasons to be gratified over the continuing opposition of the MQM to Nawaz Sharif.

6.The PPP and the PML (N) have retained their major bases of support in Punjab----with no evidence of any major attrition one way or the other. The anti-US anger is unlikely to be a major political issue either in Sindh or in Punjab.

7. The public fall-out of the anti-US anger is presently confined to the Pashtun belt in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa (KP) province and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Imran Khan has been trying to exploit this anger by focussing his campaign on the inability of the Zardari Government to stop the US Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in the FATA.It remains to be seen what effect Imran’s campaign has on the support base of the Awami National Party (ANP), which continues to be an ally of the PPP despite its unhappiness over the anti-Pashtun attacks---allegedly by the MQM cadres---in Karachi. Balochistan does not count for much in the budding campaign.

8. The war of words between the Pakistan Army, the Foreign Office and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on the one side and the US political and military leaders on the other over the ISI’s alleged collusion with the Haqqani network in Afghanistan has not excited much public interest despite the high decibel projection of the war of words in the Indian and Pakistani print and electronic media. The public anger over the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, has subsided. OBL has already become passee and no tears are being shed over his death. Even the fundamentalist political parties such as the Jamat-e-Islami (JEI) and the Jamaat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) have not been able to create a street hysteria over the US raid.

9. The main issue angering the voters today is the deteriorating economic situation, which could get worse if the US threat to cut down---if not stop--- its assistance to Pakistan is carried out. Even though the political and military leadership has been trying to project a couldn’t care less attitude over threats of US aid cut-off, they know that neither China nor Saudi Arabia could compensate for what Pakistan would lose should the US carry out its threat. With the next elections about 18 months away, it would not be in the interest of any of the mainstream parties for the economic situation to deteriorate further.

10. While the political drum-beats are to be expected, no clear-cut answers are available to two questions: Will the opposition try for a premature election in 2012 and what would be the attitude of the Army in the event of the contentious political debate getting morevenomous ?

11. The indications from reliable sources in Pakistan close to the Army are that the GHQ in Rawalpindi has no stomach for a direct political role similar to what it had pre-2008 and would prefer that the elections are held as scheduled. The Army’s present preoccupation is the war of words with the US.

12. According to these sources, both the military and political leaders in Pakistan are feeling uncomfortable with the continuing war of words and are searching for an honourable way out without seeming to betray the Haqqani network which has remained loyal to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. ( 29-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

October 28, 2011

Housing /Realty sector going down in India.

“ Industrial production rose less than expected following record interest-rate increases by the central bank and as the global recovery weakens. Output at factories, utilities and mines increased 4.1 percent in August from a year earlier after a revised 3.8 percent gain in July, the Central Statistical Office said in a statement in New Delhi today. The median of 20 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 4.7 percent gain.

Emerging markets from Brazil to Indonesia have cut borrowing costs to shield expansion as Europe’s debt woes and a faltering U.S. recovery hurt the world economy. In India, the fastest inflation in more than a year is sustaining pressure for higher rates even as consumer demand wanes.”

As I have written since I shifted to Delhi in late 2007 that there appeared little awareness then about the Housing bubble ( apart from other bubbles yet to burst) in US , which was obvious by end 2005 and early 2006 . In 2008 I found Indians increasing their real estate values , many times almost 100% .Indians are great believers in God’s gift . The same remains true of equity jumps .
Since I stayed away in Turkey and mostly in Bucharest till 2007 , I had missed out on growing urbanization and acquirement of all symbols of prosperity by a rich minority led by the likes of Ambanis and Mittals .Yes during my 2to 3 months visit to Delhi and India in winters , I did see considerable growth of prosperity .But I have pondered over it since my return.
PM and Ahluwalia know nothing better than what IMF and US lays down and does in economic sector .In case willy-nilly almost all world economies have been tagged to US economy, almost now going down hill as in the film ‘Run away train’ So as US goes down ( In EU except Germany most other members are almost bankrupt) it will take other s down or at least affecting them adversely . With poverty line debate it is clear that the Ahluwalias with Rs 32 per day urban income not below the line are out of touch grass roots level reality .Out of 8% growth , 7% goes to a few hundred thousand families.Only 1% goes to the very poor ; 50% or more .
Quite obviously the US economists have messed up their economy. I have written 8 articles on the subject since 2002 . I have written something appeared amiss with India’s realty sector .What happens when it starts going down .Violence .suicides
I had circulated a news item about housing and infrastructure surplus in China too. And Banks’ indebtedness.
Take Care Gajendra 28 October, 2011.

Mirroring the US, India's Real Estate Sector Melts Down

By MADHUR SINGH / NEW DELHI Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

The new moon of the lunar month of Kartika marks Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, when Hindus across the country worship the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. But divinities know full well the laws that govern finance, and Lakshmi may now be a little tight-fisted about circulating her riches amid the ongoing global credit crunch.

Indian tradition decrees that it is auspicious to make purchases in the days leading up to Diwali, which falls in October or November. With faith meshing so effortlessly with commerce, the season sees sellers, advertisers and marketers urging the devout to spend money with a religious fervor, as they hawk everything from chocolates and consumer durables to gold and houses. Buying a home is considered especially propitious. What better way to welcome the goddess of wealth into one's life than by inviting Lakshmi into a new abode? Thus, the period from just before Diwali through March is usually a bonanza for the real estate industry: some 70% of the annual business is conducted then.

Not this year. With just about a week to go until Diwali, the mood is decidedly downbeat. The demon of impending economic doom refuses to die, and as tightened liquidity makes people put off larger purchases, the real estate sector is facing the worst attack. "This time last year, I was selling 10 to 12 properties every day," says Alok Gupta, who runs Advanced Real Estate in the New Delhi suburb of Noida. "This time, I haven't sold a single property all month!"

Considered the barometer of its economic growth, the real estate sector in India has grown 30% to 35% during the past five years, reflecting the rapidly increasing demand for office, commercial and industrial space, as well as for bigger homes, now considered within the range of India's prospering working classes. But the economic juggernaut began slowing earlier this year because of double-digit inflation and a severe liquidity crunch (a fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis). Now economic activity may shrink as part of a global slowdown. The country's growth estimates of 9% at the beginning of the year have been revised to well below 7%, and the effect is directly visible in the realty sector. "No one's buying anymore," says Ashwani Shukla of New Delhi-based Triveni Associates. "Two years ago, 25-year-olds earning fat pay packets from [multinational corporations] were buying high-end apartments. Now there are no takers for flats selling at 20% markdowns. Estate agents are finding it difficult to even meet daily overheads."

Shukla himself has branched out of real estate. He started selling insurance six months back "to pay the bills," he says. According to various estimates, sales in cities like Mumbai and Chennai are down 30% to 40%. Hoping to induce buyers during Diwali, realtors are advertising cash discounts of 5% to 10% for down payments, and as much as 25% discounts if buyers are willing to wait two to three years before taking possession of the property. "But there is no liquidity with the end user," says Arvind Nandan, director of consultancy at real estate company Cushman & Wakefield India. "Home-loan rates have hit the roof, and people's investments have lost value at the stock market. No one has the money to buy."

Shukla says if the situation does not improve, there could be distress sales within the next six months. The realty sector was heading for a cyclical slowdown even before the current economic slump. Over the past few years, increasing demand had pushed up prices, with speculators jumping in to further inflate the market. Eventually, inventory piled up when buyers refused to pay unrealistically high prices. "So many transactions were taking place between speculators and investors that no one bothered to find out what the end user, the family who would eventually live in the house, would be willing and able to pay," Shukla says. And those prospective homeowners are the biggest target of India's real estate industry: almost 80% of real estate developed in the country is residential space.

This all comes at the worst possible time. Even as buyers refused to bite, inflation passed into double digits in June this year, raising prices of construction material. Realtors overran their budgets and projects stalled, leaving skeletal structures dotting the landscape in big and small cities all over the country. Then came the liquidity squeeze, as the government sponged away cash from the system to control inflation. Home-loan rates went from about 7% to 12% and higher. People who bought struggled to pay, and potential buyers kept away.

Realtors like Shukla and Gupta may have little reason to light firecrackers this Diwali, but their prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, will definitely be more fervent, especially as experts predict that things will get worse before they get any better. "This was a much-needed correction," says Nandan. "And it isn't complete yet. I expect the market to go down further, and it's hard to say when the recovery will begin."

Yet no one is entirely pessimistic. Experts and industry insiders believe that once the storm blows over, demand is bound to rise for the same reasons it did last time — a large, young workforce; gradual but consistent liberalization reforms; and a high rate of consumer and private-sector savings. "The silver lining is that once this phase ends, land and property prices will be corrected to rational levels, speculators will be out, and the sector will have stronger fundamentals," says Shukla. If everyone's prayers go right, the goddess will eventually be propitiated and her blessings will issue forth once more.



Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1851969,00.html#ixzz1aUq88qFu

An earlier article

India’s realty sector getting sick

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110809/jsp/frontpage/story_14356939.jsp

Mumbai, Aug. 8: A million newly built homes lying unsold and no sign of the market picking up, Mumbai’s realtors have turned to the Bhagvad Gita for solace.
Gita crash courses are mushrooming in every neighbourhood as the message of stoic focus on work and steadfast disinterest in results has suddenly become fashionable.
“The Bhagvad Gita is very relevant in the current scenario of recession in the real estate market. The doctrine of Karmanye vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kadachana (One has the right to work but not to results) brings a lot of solace when the prospects of healthy bottomlines look bleak for most builders,” said a course guide at the Chinmaya International Foundation, a wing of the Ernakulam-based Chinmaya Mission, whose Bhagvad Gita and Vedanta classes are very popular.
Sanskrit and theology tutors who otherwise render selected chapters from the Gita and Vedanta at corporate workshops or at posh satsangs have attained celebrity status, their appointments almost as hard to get as those of top city doctors.
Mall lobbies and even seedy shopping arcades are letting out space on a day-to-day basis for Gita-Vedanta classes.
Depending on the class size, the course fee varies from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for a week-long course on the Gita rendered in English.
The price tag is pegged at Rs 25,000 for a year-long course, which includes the study of Sanskrit.
“But those are less popular and for older people as they are more time-consuming,” says Anil Tripathi who, with three other tutors, runs Gita classes in and around upscale Bandra. They also give tuitions at home or in the office of the realtors.
The Chinmaya Mission’s courses at their Marine Lines and Powai branches are overbooked.
“We decided to launch a full Bhagvad Gita appreciation programme from 15th July given the tremendous enthusiasm — it was sold out in a day and now we are directing people to register for our online and postal courses. The response has been phenomenal,” said Rahul Arya, programme and admissions co-ordinator.
Over 10,000 have registered for the online courses, of whom 60 per cent are associated with the realty industry which has been hit hard by the rise in EMIs as well as inflation, the two factors that have pushed people to put off their home buying decisions.
“The biggest realtors are taking classes in the academy or opting for Net courses with us,” said Arya.
Top Mumbai builder Niranjan Hiranandani, who changed the face of Powai, is one of the star students of the Bhagvad Gita e-learning and appreciation course at Chinmaya Mission.
“Learning the Bhagvad online is a good opportunity. The Bhagvad Gita is not only a religious book... We should definitely read it, learn it and understand it,” he said in a statement.