March 21, 2012

Brand Rahul

Economics Journal: The Price of Political Dynasties

March 21, 2012, 9:00 AM IST..By Rupa Subramanya

The recently concluded state assembly elections reveal that dynastic politics is alive and well in India. Above, Akhilesh Yadav, the newly elected chief minister of U.P. in front of a portrait of his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav.The recently concluded state assembly elections reveal that dynastic politics is alive and well in India. The new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, is the son of a former chief minister, as is the new chief minister of Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna. In Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal, the deputy chief minister, is by all accounts waiting in the wings to succeed his elderly father, the current chief minister.

Don’t forget the states that didn’t go to the polls this time around. The charismatic chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, is the son and grandson of former chief ministers. Sometimes the dynastic link is less direct but no less obvious. The current chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, N.K.K. Reddy, is the son of a central government minister who served under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. And he isn’t shy about it. His website proudly declares that he has the “right political lineage.”

Then there’s the grandest political dynasty of them all, the Gandhi-Nehru clan. While the scion, Rahul Gandhi, has surely suffered a setback after the Congress party’s poor showing in Uttar Pradesh, it would be foolish to write him off prematurely.

In a previous Economics Journal , I explored why political parties managed to remain dynastic rather than be truly democratic. The bottom line is that parties like the Congress have centralized political structures and don’t have internal democracy: candidates are chosen by the central party, not through local primary elections as would happen in other Westminster democracies.

The fact of dynasticism in politics in India is well known. But the economic effects of political dynasties are sorely under-researched, as I pointed out in my earlier piece.

The grandest political dynasty of them all is the Gandhi-Nehru clan. Above, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi waved to their supporters in Uttar Pradesh.So what are the economic effects of dynastic politics in general? And do these sorts of effects show up here in India?

Political economy theory suggests that dynasticism should be economically harmful: a less competitive political space is likely to deliver a less efficient use of public resources. Arguably, last week’s Union Budget would have been more about reform and less about populist spending if Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party’s leader and the matriarch of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, had felt any real political heat from within her own party.

More directly, dynastic politicians who treat their state or the country as a family fiefdom are more likely to use public office to enrich themselves rather than promote the public good. The disgraced former chief minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, is alleged to have personally profited from illegal mining in the state, as well as, allegedly, favoring his sons (one of whom is a Member of Parliament) in the allotment of government land.

More subtly, the stranglehold of a few dynastic families on politics might deter capable people from entering politics, since they figure they don’t stand a chance of winning. For those who do make it in, it’s highly unlikely they’ll rise as fast as their dynastic peers. Think of all of those 40 and 50 somethings in the Congress whose last name isn’t Gandhi, Deora, Pilot, or Abdullah. They might be perfectly competent, but have had to curtail their political aspirations.

In a recent study, which carries lessons for India, Ronald Mendoza, an economics professor at the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines, along with his collaborators, examined the impact of dynastic politics in the Philippines.

“Political inequality is the mirror image of economic/income inequality,” he told me in an email. Further, the lack of political competition is mirrored by lack of competition in the economy as a whole – leading to the dominance of a few families or businesses. In the case of the Philippines, this goes back to the time of Spanish colonial rule, when influential families became both politically powerful and took over key industries. That nexus between politics and business continues to this day.

There’s a striking parallel to be found in India. Just as politics has been dominated by dynasties, Indian business, especially during the period of the License Permit Raj, was dominated by a few well connected families whose businesses had roots going back to the time of British rule. The Tata and Birla clans are only two of the more famous of such dynastic business houses. Although economic liberalization has weakened this pattern somewhat, it’s still true that a few business families are not only spectacularly wealthy but hold outsized political influence. That can’t be good either for politics or the economy.

Mr. Mendoza’s research reveals that dynastic families in politics in the Philippines are wealthier on average than non-dynastic politicians. While no one to my knowledge has yet crunched the numbers, that’s surely true in India as well. More disturbingly, he found that constituencies ruled by dynastic politicians correlated strongly with a greater incidence of poverty as well as higher income inequality. The study is careful to point out that one can’t necessarily assume there’s a causal relationship. While it’s true that dynastic politicians could be responsible for impoverishing their constituents, it could equally be true that dynastic politicians thrive in areas that are already poor and backward.

Again, it’s not hard to see how these findings might resonate in an Indian context. Consider Amethi and Rae Bareli, the two Lok Sabha constituencies held by the Nehru-Gandhi clan. They’re both in Uttar Pradesh, a poor state. So it’s difficult to statistically establish whether these two constituencies would be poorer still, or better off, if they weren’t dynastic. But, there’s certainly evidence, at least for Amethi, that it remains a very poor and backward area, despite whatever benefit might come from having Rahul Gandhi as its M.P.

The potentially corrosive effects of dynastic politics go beyond poverty and income inequality. Mr. Mendoza notes that political inequality generally, and dynastic politics in particular, is “pernicious” in so far as it retards a democracy’s ability to respond to its citizens’ needs and people’s empowerment in general.

In the Indian context, it would be hard to disagree with this judgment.

Rupa Subramanya writes Economics Journal for India Real Time. You can follow her on Twitter @RupaSubramanya.

You can follow India Real Time on Twitter @indiarealtime.

US wrong on India's Iran Policy

By Bharat Karnad

India has been criticized for not doing enough to pressure Iran. But Delhi has sound economic and domestic reasons for what it’s doing.

The signing of the 2006 civilian nuclear deal was supposed to be emblematic of a burgeoning strategic relationship between India and the United States. After some forty or so years of frosty relations, the beginning of the 21st Century saw leaders in Washington and Delhi touting a grand strategic partnership. To realize this, the George W. Bush and Manmohan Singh administrations courted great political risk in taking on the entrenched mindsets opposed to the nuclear agreement.

In Washington, opposition from the non-proliferation community nearly sank the deal during negotiations. In Delhi, the signing of the deal was so controversial it almost brought down the Congress Party’s coalition government in the 2008 vote in parliament. An upside to the tortuous negotiations was supposedly the empathy and understanding Indian and U.S. diplomats developed for the political constraints the other side operates under.

The Indian policy establishment and strategic community were therefore taken aback when Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state and the chief American negotiator on the nuclear deal, slammed India for its Iran policy in The Diplomat. Having reaffirmed India’s “immense strategic importance to the United States” in the Boston Globe a mere 10 days prior, Burns now argued that Delhi’s unwillingness to support U.S.-led sanctions amounted to a failure “to meet its obvious potential to lead globally,” thereby equating, in a spurious sort of way, India’s leadership ambitions with toeing the American line. Despite recognizing some of India’s votes against Iran at the U.N., Ambassador Burns went further in accusing India of “actively impeding the construction of the strategic relationship it says it wants with the United States.”

In actuality, it’s Washington’s unbending attitude towards accommodating India’s vital interests in Iran that potentially threatens the Indo-U.S. bilateral relationship. Burns and others U.S. critics of India’s Iran policy are, in effect, forcing Indo-U.S. relations back into a version of the old, inappropriate, and eminently discardable, “If you are not with us, you are against us” policy mold. By framing the issue in dichotomous terms, critics in Washington ignore the economic and domestic context in which India’s Iran policy is made.

In downplaying Delhi’s economic interests in Iran, Burns dismisses the fact that India gets 12 percent of its oil from Iran as a “weak defense” of its policy, because Delhi has had many years to find new suppliers. This ignores the fact that many of India’s government-owned refineries are geared to processing Iranian crude. If India were to switch to other sources, this would require a substantial upfront investment to retrofit its refineries to process other types of crude. Already facing a budget shortfall that is equal to 5.6 percent of GDP, the Singh administration is in no mood to incur these costs.

Moreover, it’s not at all clear that India could procure enough oil from other sources to make up for its loss of Iranian crude. Many suggest Saudi Arabia as both willing and able to make up the gap. But Riyadh’s spare capacity has come under severe strain after a decade of global supply interruptions elsewhere, and the rapid increase in demand caused by rising powers like India and China. Meanwhile, Saudi oil production is already at historically unprecedented levels, and it was unable to supplement the loss of Libya’s rather insignificant oil exports last summer, forcing Western nations to tap into their strategic reserves. Furthermore, both the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration see Riyadh’s spare capacity continuing to diminish throughout 2012.

In addition, if India stopped buying Iranian oil, there’s little reason to believe China would follow suit. Beijing is yet to pay a price for being, as Bruce Loudon pointed out in The Australian early this month, “the constant contrarian on the global scene.” Washington has demonstrated time and time again that it has no leverage worth the name vis-a-vis Beijing. Although China has recently been cutting back on its purchase of Iranian oil, it continues to be a major customer. Beijing would possibly increase the amount of Iranian crude it uses were Iran to further reduce prices after India announced its exit from the market. Thus, Tehran will only be slightly discomforted by the sanctions. India, meanwhile, would have surrendered much.

Oil isn’t India’s only economic interest in Iran. In the wake of an official Indian delegation’s visit to Tehran, the Associated Chambers of Commerce announced that two-way trade reached $13.7 billion in 2010-2011 and will likely increase to $30 billion by 2015. In response to China’s infrastructure projects in Central Asia progressing at breakneck speed, India has fast-forwarded its plans for a “north-south corridor”linking the Iranian port of Chabahar on the North Arabian Sea with a railway line to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia via Hajigak, a mineral-rich area in Afghanistan where an Indian consortium has secured mining concessions. In parallel, India is helping build a highway connecting Chabahar to Milak and Zaranj, which has a road link to Dilaram in Afghanistan, a 213 kilometer stretch constructed by the Indian Border Roads Organization. The Chabahar port has been enlarged with Indian assistance and is now capable of annually handling 6 million tons of cargo and will serve as the entrepôt for Indian business. This route has a strategic element too; namely, India uses it as a conduit to sustain ties with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and to firm up goodwill with the Afghan people generally and the Hamid Karzai regime in particular. In the past year, for instance, India has shipped over 100,000 metric tons of food grain to Kabul from Chabahar. More significantly, Chabahar allows India to outflank the Chinese presence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, 72 kilometers to the east.

There’s an important domestic political rationale to India’s Iran policy, which the self-consciously “secular” Indian government is loath to admit. India’s Shi’a population is the second largest in the world after only Iran itself. In contrast to Sunni Islam in the subcontinent, which has evolved around local seminaries with distinct schools of thought, India’s Shi’a community maintains strong links with their Iranian counterparts. This is especially true among the clergy who closely monitor theological developments and pronouncements emanating from the Iranian religious center in Qom. The Iranian government has carefully cultivated these cultural ties with the Indian Shi’a religious institutions, politicians, and intelligentsia, and translates them into political clout to deter any Indian government from prosecuting unfavorable policies towards it. This is democracy at work, something Washington can surely appreciate.

The Obama administration’s foreign policy pivot to the Asia-Pacific and India is meant to contain China, a goal that is served by India’s strong and growing relations with Iran. As India and the United States discovered in Burma, leaving a vacuum for China to fill is an act of high strategic folly. India is unwilling to repeat that mistake in Iran.

Israel and Iran will thrash out their problems in their own way and it makes no sense to hold the Indo-U.S. partnership hostage to that situation, even less, to Iran’s proliferation status. By creating friction over Indo-Iranian ties, America is in danger of achieving the smaller, regional, objective at the expense of the larger, overarching, strategic goal.

Bharat Karnad is a Professor in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and a former member of the Indian government’s National Security Advisory Board, National Security Council. His books include ‘India’s Nuclear Policy’ and the forthcoming ‘India’s Rise: Why India is Not a Great Power.’ He blogs at

Rahul Gandhi's Dalit visit exposed as photo-op by local woman

By Piyush Srivastava
PUBLISHED: 19:22 GMT, 20 March 2012 | UPDATED: 19:22 GMT, 20 March 2012

The superficiality of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's photo-op moments in Dalit households were exposed on Tuesday by none other than Sunita Kori, a Dalit woman in whose Gauriganj house he had stayed for a night.

The occasion was the laying of foundation of a pucca house for the 30-year-old woman by Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, the Samajwadi Party's (SP) newly elected legislator from Gauriganj in Amethi.

Prajapati had offered help to Sunita after her house was burnt down by alleged SP goons during the party's victory celebrations on March 6.

Gandhi visited Dalit for the laying of foundation of a pucca house for Sunita Kori
On the campaign trail of the last Lok Sabha polls, Rahul had spent a night at the 30-year-old woman's house to show that the Congress identified itself with the Dalit cause.

But he was nowhere to be seen when the woman lost her house, proving that Rahul's bonhomie was just a poll gimmick. Prajapati sought to take political mileage out of her disillusionment with the Congress.

Sunita Kori, a Dalit, had to seek help from SP MLA Gayatri Prasd Prajapti to rebuild her house after it was set on fire by goons
'I just laid the foundation stone of a pucca house for Sunita. Rahul Gandhi had spent one night here and promised the moon to the Dalits. But he was beyond her reach when she was in distress. I am here within the reach of the people,' Prajapati said in a brief speech before the villagers of Purey Jawahar Singh on Tuesday.
The village in Gauriganj forms part of the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency represented by Rahul.
Rahul had spent the night of January 26, 2008 in her mud house and later mentioned her plight in many of his public meetings to highlight the plight of Dalits during Mayawati's rule.

Sunita virtually was made the mascot of Congress' anti- Mayawati campaign.
Highlighting her status as the oppressed in a meeting in Gauriganj on December 22, 2008, Rahul had said Aman, Sunita's seven-year-old child, was scared of the police because they used to beat Madanlal, his father, every now and then.

The hapless Sunita, however, was disillusioned by her MP's lip service.

Rahul Gandhi had made much-hyped stopover to the house of Sunita Kori
Describing Rahul's concerns for her family as superficial, she said on Tuesday: 'I tried to contact our MP after my house was set on fire by some criminals. I also went to almost every Congress leader in the constituency to help me out because we had no place to sleep and cook. But neither Rahul was available nor other Congress leaders showed any sympathy for me. The SP MLA is helping me and so I will only vote for the SP in the future.'

Sunita has been working with a self-help group floated on Rahul's direction.

'But it doesn't help us much. Rahul even got Aman's gender wrong. He is my son and not daughter as Rahul had said in his public meeting,' she said.
Such is her transformation that Sunita said there was no need for Prajapati to apologise for the act of his party's vandals.

'The Congress leader should have helped her when he had seen her living in a mud house. But he used her to gain Dalit votes. The time has come to realise that we need to do substantial work for the people before expecting their votes.'

Of the 15 assembly seats in Amethi, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur, the adjoining fief of the Gandhi-Nehru family, the Congress won only two seats in the recently concluded assembly election, an indicator that more Sunitas are disillusioned with the prince of the party.

Read more:

Forces transforming the content landscape

Source: Bain & Company

We are in the midst of a period of unprecedented media innovation that is changing the lives of billions of people across the globe. It is an exciting time for consumers, as innovators develop new platforms and devices to entertain, inform and connect users in ways that were only dreamed of a decade ago.

For content creators, aggregators and distributors, it is a time for concern as well as joy, as the landscape shifts beneath their feet. An innovation in one part of the ecosystem may reduce costs or improve the customer experience, but it might also disrupt a content creator’s business model, reduce an aggregator’s market share or diminish a distributor’s value proposition.

In this report, we profile the forces transforming the content landscape in which creators, aggregators and distributors interact with one another and with the consumer. These forces are fundamentally altering the content ecosystem with implications for users,businesses and policy professionals. . READ MORE

March 20, 2012

Is School Like Jail?

The Daily Reckoning Presents

Jeffrey Tucker

The people in my community love their public schools. So too it is in most of the country. If only they knew the costs, and I don’t mean just the financial costs, which are two and three times those of private schools. I also mean the opportunity costs: If only people knew what they were missing!

Imagine education wholly managed by the market economy. The variety! The choice! The innovation! All the features we’ve come to expect in so many areas of life — groceries, software, clothing, music — would also pertain to education. But as it is, the market for education is hobbled, truncated, frozen and regimented, and tragically, we’ve all gotten used to it.

The longer people live with educational socialism, the more they adapt to its inefficiencies, deprivations and even indignities. So it is with American public schools. Many people love them, but it’s like the “Stockholm Syndrome”: We’ve come to have a special appreciation for our captors and masters because we see no way out.

There is a way out. But first we have to see the problem for what it is. I know of no better means than exploring an absolutely prophetic book first published in 1974, edited by William Rickenbacker. It is called The Twelve-Year Sentence. Laissez Faire Books is offering this book, a key that unlocks the prison door, right now for $10.

This is not only one of the great titles in the history of publishing; it is a rare book that dared to say what no one wanted to hear. True, the essays are all scholarly and precise (the book came out of an academic conference), but a fire for liberty burns hot below the footnoted surface. Especially notable: This book came out long before the home-schooling movement, long before a remnant of the population began to see what was happening and started bailing out.

The core truth that this book tells: The government has centrally planned your child’s life and has forced both you and your child into the system. But, say the writers, the system is a racket and a cheat. It doesn’t prepare them for a life of liberty and productivity. It prepares them to be debt slaves, dependents, bureaucrats and wartime fodder.

I’m thinking of this book as I look at millions of unemployed young people in the US and Europe. This is what the system has produced. This is the mob that once gathered in “homeroom,” assembled for school lunches, sat for endless hours in their assigned desks and was tested ten thousand times to make sure they had properly absorbed what the government wanted them to know. Now they are out and they want their lives to amount to something, but they don’t know what.

And it’s just the beginning. There are tens of millions of victims of this system. They were quiet so long as the jobs were there and the economy was growing. But when the fortunes fell, many became members of marauding mobs seeking a father figure to lead them into the light.

Think of the phrase “twelve-year sentence.” They government took them in at the age of 6. It sat them down in desks, 30 or so per room. It paid teachers to lecture them and otherwise keep them busy while their parents worked to cough up 40% of their paychecks to the government to fund the system (among other things) that raises their kids.

So on it goes for 12 years, until the age of 18, when the government decides that it is time for them to move on to college, where they sit for another four years, also at mom and dad’s expense.

What have they learned? They have learned how to sit at a desk and zone out for hours and hours, five days per week. They might have learned how to repeat back things said by their warden — I mean teacher. They’ve learned how to sneak around the system a bit and have something resembling a life on the sly.

They have learned to live for the weekend and say “TGIF!” Perhaps they have taken a few other skills with them: sports, music, theater or whatever. But they have no idea how to turn their limited knowledge or abilities into something remunerative in a market system that depends most fundamentally on individual initiative, alertness, choice and exchange.

They are deeply ignorant about the stuff that makes the world work and builds civilization, by which I mostly mean commerce. They’ve never worked a day in the private sector. They’ve never taken an order, never faced the bracing truth of the balance sheet, never taken a risk, never even managed money. They’ve only been consumers, not producers, and their consumption has been funded by others, either by force (taxes) or by leveraged parents on a guilt trip.

So it stands to reason: They have no sympathy for or understanding of what life is like for the producers of this world. Down with the productive classes! Or as they said in the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution: “Expropriate the expropriators” Or under Stalin: “Kill the Kulaks.” Or under Mao: “Eradicate the Four Olds” (old customs, culture, habits, and ideas). So too did the Nazi youth rage against the merchant classes who were said to lack “blood and honor.”

The amazing thing is not that this state system produces mindless drones. The miracle is that some make it out and have normal lives. They educate themselves. They get jobs. They become responsible. Some go on to do great things. There are ways to overcome the twelve-year sentence, but the existence of the educational penitentiary still remains a lost opportunity, coercively imposed.

Americans are taught to love the sentence because it is “free.” Imagine attaching this word to the public school system! It is anything but free. It is compulsory at its very core. If you try to escape, you are “truant.” If you refuse to cough up to support it, you are guilty of evasion. If you put your kids in private school, you pay twice. If you school at home, the social workers watch every move you make.

There is no end to the reform. But no one talks about abolition. Still, can you imagine that in the 18th and most of 19th centuries, as this book points out, this system didn’t even exist? Americans were the most-educated people in the world, approaching near- universal literacy, and without a government-run central plan, without a twelve-year sentence. Compulsory education was unthinkable. That came only much later, brought to us by the same crowd who gave us World War I, the Fed and the income tax.

Escaping is very hard, but even high-security prisons are not impenetrable. So millions have left. Tens of millions more remain. This whole generation of young people are victims of the system. That makes them no less dangerous precisely because they don’t even know it. It’s called the Stockholm Syndrome: Many of these kids fell in love with their captors and jailers. They want them to have even more power.

We should celebrate the prophets who saw all this coming. William Rickenbacker saw it. He and the writers in this book knew what was going on. They knew what to call it. They dared to tell the truth, to speak the unspeakable: This system is more like prison than education, and it will end when its escapees are loosed on the streets to protest against anything and everything.

Even after nearly 40 years, this book has lost none of its power. It should take its place among the great documents in history that have dared to demand that the jailer step aside and let the inmates free.


Jeffrey Tucker
Executive editor, Laissez Faire Books, for The Daily Reckoning

Newroz Message from KRG's Representative to the U.S. Qubad Talabani

On the occasion of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year (2712) and the beginning of the spring season, I am pleased to congratulate Kurds all over the world, and all others who celebrate Newroz, specifically the Persian, Azeri, Afghan, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, Uighur, Zoroastrian and Turkmen people.

For Kurds, Newroz not only symbolizes the New Year and the coming of spring, but it also serves as a reminder that we have always been a resilient nation; surviving repression, ethnic cleansing and the denial of identity.

According to Kurdish myth, Kawa the blacksmith lived with his people under the tyrannical rule of Zuhak. Zuhak's evil reign caused spring to no longer come to Kurdistan. March 20 is traditionally marked as the day that Kawa defeated Zuhak after which he is then said to have set fire to the hillsides to celebrate the victory leading to spring returning to Kurdistan the next day. For thousands of years since that legend, Newroz has been a symbol of resilience, highlighting the fact that nations cannot be annihilated by tyrannical regimes.

I would like to take this opportunity to hope peace and stability for all nations. I also hope that this Newroz will mark an opportunity for Kurds to remain united and continue striving for peace, democracy and a more just and tolerant world.

Happy Newroz, Newroztan Pîroz bêt.

نه ورۆزتان پیرۆز بێت
عيد نوروز سعيد

Qubad J. Talabani
Representative to the United States
Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq

India presses for BRICS bank

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW - India's proposal to set up a bank of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will top the agenda at the summit of the group in New Delhi on March 28.

India believes a joint bank would be in line with the growing economic power of the five-nation group. The bank could firm up
the position of BRICS as a powerful player in global decision-making.

"The BRICS bank does not need much capital for a start," Alexander Appokin, senior expert at the Moscow-based Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Forecasting told Inter Press Service (IPS). "What is more important is that the BRICS development bank presents a unique opportunity for indirect investment of central bank foreign reserves inside the countries."

A BRICS bank could for example issue convertible debt, which would arguably be top-rated and can be bought by central banks of all BRICS countries. BRICS countries would thus have a vessel for investment risk-sharing.

"China will be the biggest beneficiary of that," said Appokin. "Moreover, infrastructure investment mostly needs not just long-term financing but external monitoring for more transparency and efficiency increases. Here, a BRICS development bank could offer some advice for successful implementation of regional projects."

But "development structures like a BRICS bank are effective only in case they are given independence in project financing decisions from the governments, or at least room to operate in long- term development framework."

Yuhua Xiao, assistant professor at the Institute for African Studies in the Zhejiang Normal University (ZNU) in China said the idea of setting up a development bank for financing projects in these countries is a sign of the growing self-assertiveness and of independence or interdependence of emerging economies.

"As the emerging powers' approaches to development may differ from established norms, such an institutional set-up will test the possibility of cooperation in a different framework which might generate new ideas," Yuhua told IPS in an e-mail.

India's proposal for a BRICS bank was long overdue, said John Mashaka, financial analyst at Wells Fargo Capital Markets. "It is a way the emerging nations are trying to pull out of the western dominated World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF]. Basically India, China and perhaps Russia are trying to show off their economic clout; they are trying to demonstrate to the west that they can do without them. Above all they need freedom from Western financial influence."

Mashaka said the joint bank, besides being a financial institution for BRICS member countries, can support infrastructure projects in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But it has a long way to go, he said.

"The effectiveness of the bank is yet to be seen; this plan is not going to be cakewalk. China has already said it wants permanent presidency. Russia and India may demand the same. We know that Africa is a lucrative market for China in terms of natural resources and as a market for industrial products.

"Africa being such a strategic region, China may want the bank to finance many of its projects in the African region, or simply cooperate with the African Development Bank."

Mashaka says there are also unanswered questions about capital structure, such as which BRICS member state will foot the bigger bill needed to establish the bank, and the role of various countries.

Albert Khamatshin from the Center for Southern African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences believes South Africa will benefit most because the primary focus of the bank will be development projects within BRICS.

Dr Alexandra A Arkhangelskaya, head of the Center for Information and International Relations at the Institute for African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said a bank like this could shift the weight of economic power even though the creation of such an institution would be difficult.

"It is a good in terms of a multilateral framework of cooperation," Arkhangelskaya said. "But the BRICS states have differing economic weight, and to find the right balance to avoid one or some members dominating can pose a challenge. The threat of marginalization of members in comparison to China is evident.

"BRICS is unity in diversity, and to take new steps towards mutual cooperation can be challenging. Therefore, it is interesting to see the development of this idea and to clearly understand the mechanism of its implementation."

The bank could greatly benefit countries outside BRICS if it supports least-developed countries in ways similar to the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Development Fund, which has a number of successful projects, she said.

Professor Adams B Bodomo from the School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, who has researched BRICS extensively, said Brazil proposed that developing countries would be willing to contribute money to solve the eurozone problems in return for more power in the IMF. But he said the "International" Monetary Fund was not really for developing countries. He called it a Western Monetary Fund.

The uncertainty principle

India needs to show vim and vigour in foreign affairs, says N.V.Subramanian.

19 March 2012: Whilst India is a status quo, peacefully rising power, it must nevertheless act in international crisis situations. Making excuses not to do so, or citing imperatives of national security when they do not apply, suffice or convince, do not assist the country, especially as an emerging power.

After much dilly-dallying, the government has decided to support the UNHCR resolution on Sri Lanka's war crimes against Tamils. It must similarly act with decision on Iran after the proven involvement of Iranians in the attack on an Israeli diplomat in Delhi. It mustn't be prodded to do so as after the Maldives' coup.

A section of the strategic community looks with suspicion at anything Western, but that is not how India can bias its foreign policy. For example, commentators have exhorted India to ignore allegations against the Sri Lankan army in its war against the LTTE. The conduct of strategic affairs cannot be so one-sided because grayness dominates the lives of men and of the actions of states.

The Sri Lankan Tamil issue is complicated, not least because of its impact on Tamil Nadu politics, whose consequences magnify with a weak coalition government at the Centre. Till India did not directly intervene in Sri Lankan affairs, neither training the terrorists nor siding with the government forces, an uneasy peace existed between the Tamils and Sinhalese with hopes of things getting better.
Then the situation got messy, with all sides making blunders, with the result that Tamils have no voice in Sri Lanka today. After the disastrous IPKF intervention and Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, India has permitted free play of Sinhala chauvinism, whose fallouts, captured in gut-wrenching video recently, have shocked the world. India cannot act as if nothing has happened.

The usual scare scenarios are being advanced for India to tolerate the murderous Sri Lankan regime. In the main, it is suggested that the Sinhala regime will seek support of the Chinese and other powers inimical to India in the region. So what? India must be prepared to face the new challenges. India cannot hope that the world will remain frozen in time. The only constant is change. India must adapt constantly. India delayed acting in Maldives, but once it did, it got a handle on things.

On Iran too, India must cease sitting on the fence. Granted, there are energy security issues with Iran, and there's a significant Shia population in the country. But by (allegedly) employing an Indian national in the attack on the Israeli diplomat, Iran has crossed the red line. By locating its hostilities with Israel in India, Iran has put its relations with this country under severe strain. At some point, Iran has to be told off.

But that is one side of the story. The other relates to Iran's nuke programme and the world's (and India's) opposition to it. It is quite possible that Iran is using Israel as a blind to possess nukes whose real targets may be the Sunni kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia. But that makes its subterfuges even more dangerous.

In such a situation, India cannot privilege its energy security concerns over world opposition to Iranian nukes, and adopt a business-as-usual attitude regarding Iran. The Union commerce ministry's encouragement of more trade with Iran will come as a red rag to the great powers opposing Iran's nuke plans with sanctions and war threats. One of them, the US, a friendly power, has warned of sanctioning India over Iran. A pseudo-nationalistic rant against the United States won't help.

The Iran crisis has reached a tipping point. India has to seriously and demonstrably delink from Iran, rapidly sever its energy ties, and assist in the process to convince the Shia state to abandon its nuke programme and win peace and security for its citizens.

The longer major economic powers like India hold out, the more Iran gets sustenance to challenge international peace. Beyond energy security, Iran and India need one another in Afghanistan, and Iran is central to preserving the Shia-Sunni balance in the Middle East. But Iranian unilateralism is taking a toll. What madness, for example, gripped Iran to attack an Israeli diplomat on Indian soil?

All in all, India must demonstrate more foreign-policy pro-activity. In this strangely multi-polar world, either you imaginatively and creatively manage strategic affairs, or risk being run over. Non-alignment worked fine during the Cold War. For the post-post Cold War era, India must found its foreign policy on uncertainty. Time is running out.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor,, and writes internationally on strategic affairs.

US to launch website to help donate funds to Indian NGOs

Washington, Mar 19, 2012, (PTI)

To ease concerns over some NGOs in India misusing foreign aid, the US is set to launch an online portal that will help Indian-Americans to safely donate funds to non-government bodies back home.

At the initiative of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department is in the final stages of launching the ambitious website.

It would change the way Indian Americans and others make donations back home at the click of a mouse rather than going through a combursome bureaucratic process and getting rid of the strain of identifying the kind of genuine NGO that would help them deliver the money and services to the targetted group.

Following months of research and series of brain-storming sessions both in India and the US, the State Department is slated to launch website in late April or early May.
"Right now there are a lot of people, who want to help, want to give back, but it's not as easy as it should be," Mitul Desai, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships in the US Department of State's South & Central Asian Bureau, told PTI in an interview.
With the help of Guide Star India, the State Department is working on the website which would put together all the genuine non-governmental organisations working in various parts of India in different field, Desai said.

All these NGOs, he said, would be certified by a third party and FCRA complaint.
This is designed to make it easier for Indian Americans, in fact any Americans, to support an NGO in India, he added.

Through a user-friendly interaction, the website would help individuals sitting in the US to identify NGOs working in various regions and various field of their choice to whom they can collaborate or send money for the work they want to get done, he noted.

Entrusted with the task, 18 months ago, of engaging all non-stake actors including foundations, non-governmental organisations, private sector and the Diaspora, Desai said initially it would start with donating money online, but overtime it could be actual tangible things and services too.

Hopefully it would become a hub for education, he said."Educating Indian American community about the importance of strategic giving, strategic philanthropy. India is a very big place, when you think about giving to India, think beyond the place you came from – think broadly what India needs, how do that really need, the concept of strategic philanthropy, which I think the Indian American community can help advance," Desai said.Precise data on the amount of charitable giving to India by Indian-Americans specifically (as opposed to giving to India by major foundations like Gates Foundation) is not readily available.

The estimates of total annual giving from the United States to Indian NGOs ranges from USD300 million to USD400 million, but this includes giving by major foundations like Gates, Ford, Dell and Rockefeller.

Desai hoped that this would become a place through which a lot of donations to India are given, but not necessarily the only one.

"There are so many different ways to contribute. Ultimately the sector itself has to decide," he said adding that the State Department is just adding to the conversation and letting the donor in US and NGOs decide what is the best.

Science and technology is another area of diaspora engagement.Indian Americans from the Silicon Valley have been brought on board of the India-US Science and Technology Endowment Fund, which decides on funding to major science projects.
Working on a major health project in Tamil Nadu with private partnership, Desai said health is another major area identified given the huge potential of the Indian American community in this field.

The members in India's Upper House of parliaments have recently said that the Centre should put in place a strong surveillance network to monitor inflow of foreign funds to NGOs, besides creating a database in the interest of national security

March 19, 2012

Afghanistan and the Long War

By George Friedman

The war in Afghanistan has been under way for more than 10 years. It has not been the only war fought during this time; for seven of those years another, larger war was waged in Iraq, and smaller conflicts were under way in a number of other countries as well. But the Afghanistan War is still the longest large-scale, multi-divisional war fought in American history. An American soldier's killing of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, on March 11 represents only a moment in this long war, but it is an important moment.

In the course of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, military strategists in the United States developed the concept of the long war. The theory was presented in many ways, but its core argument was this: The defeat of Taliban forces and the Iraqi resistance would take a long time, but success would not end the war because Islamist terrorism and its supporters would be a constantly shifting threat, both in the places and in the ways they would operate. Therefore, since it was essential to defeat terrorism, the United States was now engaging in a long war whose end was distant and course unknown.

Sometimes explicit but usually implicit in this argument was that other strategic issues faced by the United States should be set aside and that the long war ought to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategic policy until the threat of Islamist terrorism disappears or at least subsides. As a result, under this theory -- which very much influences U.S. strategy -- even if the war in Afghanistan ended, the war in the Islamic world would go on indefinitely. We need to consider the consequences of this strategy.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who allegedly perpetrated the appalling slaughter in Afghanistan, was on his fourth tour of combat duty. He had served three tours in Iraq of nine, 15 and 12 months -- he had been at war for three years. His tour in Afghanistan was going to be his fourth year. The wars he fought in differed from prior wars. Fallujah and Tora Bora were not Stalingrad. Still, the hardship, fear and threat of death are ever-present. The probability of dying may be lower, but it is there, it is real, and there are comrades you can name whom you saw die.

In Vietnam, only volunteers served more than a single one-year tour. For Americans in World War II, the war lasted a little more than three years, and only a handful of U.S. troops were in combat for that long. U.S. involvement in World War I lasted less than two years, and most U.S. soldiers were deployed for a year or less. In U.S. history, only the Civil and Revolutionary wars lasted as long as Bales had served.

Atrocities occur in all wars. This is an observation, not an excuse. And they become more likely the longer a soldier is in combat. War is brutal and it brutalizes the souls of warriors. Some resist the brutalization better than others, but no one can see death that often and not be changed. Just as important, the enemy is dehumanized. You cannot fight and fear him for years and not come to see him as someone alien to you. Even worse, when the enemy and the population are difficult to distinguish, as is the case in a counterinsurgency, the fear and rage extends to everyone. In Bales' case, it extended even to children.

It is no different for the Taliban save two things. First, they are fighting for their homeland and in their homeland. Americans fight for the homeland in the sense that they are fighting terrorism, but that fight becomes abstract after a while. For the Taliban it is a reality. Americans can go home and may become bitter at those who never shared the burden. The Taliban are at home, and their bitterness at those who did not share the burden outstrips the bitterness of the Americans. Second, it is a fact of war that Taliban atrocities are usually invisible to the Western media, but they are there, even if reporters are not. It could be said that the Taliban were brutalized by years of fighting before the Americans came, but in the end, the fact of brutalization is more important than the genesis.

It is important to remember that for the United States, the Afghanistan War is the first major war since the Civil War that did not involve a draft. Opposition to the draft during Vietnam gave rise to the volunteer army. One thing no one assumed after Vietnam was that the United States would attempt to fight a counterinsurgency on the mainland of Asia again, and therefore the conditions for reconstituting the draft were never considered.

When the war in Afghanistan began, there was no theory of the long war. It was assumed that the goal was the dislocation and destruction of al Qaeda, and grandiose notions of democratizing Afghanistan were not yet part of the policy. In Iraq, the assumption was that the defeat of Saddam Hussein's conventional forces would require neither significant cost nor time and that there would be no resistance to constructing a pro-American democracy there. It took time for the mission in Afghanistan to creep up to democratization, and it took a while to realize that not all Iraqis were cheering the American occupation.

But even while it became apparent that the United States was in a long war, neither the Bush nor the Obama administration ever grappled with the consequences of a force in which individuals could be in combat for four years and more. And we might include here the dangers for noncombatants and headquarters troops, who faced mortar and rocket fire at their desks. No one escaped the burden.

The result was a war that was seen on the home front as not requiring a massive effort but that required some volunteers to remain in combat for longer than many had in World War II. And while it was true that all of the soldiers had volunteered, the volunteers were no more ready than the government for the tempo of operations they would face. Additionally, they were not always free to leave. During the height of the war, some of those trying to leave service when their time was up were "stop-lossed." For them, it became less of a volunteer army than a captive army.

The doctrine of the long war fought by the present force fails to take into account whether the force can sustain the war. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued that you fight with the army you have. What he did not address was that while you begin fighting with the army you have, as the United States did in World War II, you do not continue fighting with that army, but move to mobilize the country. But Rumsfeld did not realize how long the war in Afghanistan would last, and in particular, he did not anticipate the cost that two multi-divisional wars would have. It is noteworthy that Bales began with three tours in Iraq. The war in Iraq might be over, but its consequences for the force remain.

What Bales is alleged to have done is inexcusable. There have been many atrocities, both recorded and not, both outright and ambiguous, and conducted by both NATO and the Taliban. It is unrealistic to imagine a war of this length devoid of atrocities. But in a counterinsurgency, in which the goal is not simply the defeat of an enemy force but also persuading the population that turning against that force is the safest course, a massacre like this can have strategic consequences. The Taliban's psychological warfare operations will focus on the killings as they did with the February Koran-burning incident at a U.S. base. In the meantime, American psychological warfare efforts will focus on U.S. troops, both making sure they remain restrained and -- after the Feb. 25 shooting of two U.S. officers in a Kabul ministry by an Afghan colleague -- reassuring them that they must not be afraid of Afghans, since training Afghans is their mission.

The long war, without a major readjustment of the American force structure, creates unintended strategic consequences. One consequence is a force that contains large numbers of troops at the limits of their endurance. Their potential actions undermine the strategic purpose of the counterinsurgency: winning over the populace. That opens the door to increased influence for the Taliban and reduces the Taliban's inclination to negotiate as the U.S. position deteriorates. Put differently, troops are not numbers on a table of organization. They wear out.

There are four strategic assumptions of the long war underlying all of this. The first is that the fight against Islamist terrorism can be won and that ultimately it is more than just a threat that has to be accepted. The second is that large-scale operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan help achieve that goal. Third, that the United States is able to wage a long war such as this without massive adjustments to its domestic life. Fourth, that this should continue to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategy indefinitely, regardless of other events in the world -- in other words, that this is the single most important challenge facing the United States.

The invasion of Afghanistan was strategically justifiable as a means of disrupting al Qaeda and preventing follow-on attacks against the United States. The invasion of Iraq was based on a false assumption that the Iraqis would not resist occupation. As the wars went further, the military situation became more difficult while the goals expanded. The ultimate expansion was the idea that the United States was committed to an indefinitely long war, with available forces, and that this would involve occupying large and hostile countries.

I argued in my last book, "The Next Decade," that the danger of empire was that it threatened the republic. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States became the world's only superpower, combining military, economic and political might on a global basis. Whether it wanted this power or not, it had it. Within a decade of the Soviet Union's collapse, 9/11 happened. Whatever its initial intentions, the United States found itself in a war that has lasted more than 10 years. That war has strained American resources. It has also strained the fabric of American life.

The threat to the republic comes from multiple directions, from creating systems for national defense that undermine republican principles to overestimating military capability and committing the republic to a war whose end state is unclear and where the means are insufficient. War transforms countries, and the long war transforms domestic life and creates an unbalanced foreign policy. Most of all, it creates a professional class that fights wars that are considered limitless while the rest of society, though paying the bills, does not see the war as being part of everyday life. The alienation between citizen and soldier in a nation struggling to reconcile global power with republican institutions is historically dangerous.

This is made all the more dangerous because the force is reaching its limits. Resisting terrorism is important. Eliminating it is an illusion. To continue with the long war with the forces available puts in motion processes that threaten the republic without securing U.S. interests. Leaving aside the threat to the republic, a force at its limits and left to fight a war on the margins of national consciousness will not be effective.

Read more: Afghanistan and the Long War | Stratfor


Extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances are common in Pakistan’s largest and resource-rich Balochistan province. This has led to protests against the state by the Baloch people.

For decades, Pakistan’s army and spy agencies have been targeting Baloch political leaders, intellectuals and the youth. Their brutality has reached new heights as they are now targeting Baloch women and children.

The leader of Baloch Republican Party Brahamdagh Khan Bugti believes that such atrocities will not stop them from fighting for their freedom. "Whatever atrocities they commit against us – be it the killing of Baloch people, women and children – our freedom struggle will continue. The movement will only intensify further. The more the bloodshed, the more we’ll fight back. No one should think that by using force and by killing us, they will deny us the right to our freedom. It’s impossible." said BRAHAMDAGH KHAN BUGTI LEADER, BALOCHISTAN REPUBLICAN PARTY

Bugti also said that sacrifices by Baloch leaders and the people were bearing fruit.

Their struggle for freedom has been noticed by the entire world and it resulted in the tabling of a Bill on February 17, 2012 in the US House of Representatives that called upon Pakistan to recognize the right of self-determination for Balochistan.

" This is a struggle and it includes the sacrifice of many Baloch people. Also, Baloch people living in foreign countries have become organized. It’s through their sincere efforts that the United States Congress has raised the issues of Baloch people. I believe it is a significant move. " said Brahmdag who currently lives in Geneva.

Bugti insists that Pakistani troops guilty of committing human rights violations in the region should be withdrawn from Balochistan.

Recently, Amnesty International (AI) criticized the Pakistan Government and called for an end to the "enforced disappearances" that target Baloch nationalists.

As per its report, at least 249 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or have been murdered between 24 October 2010 and 10 September 2011 alone, many in so-called 'kill and dump' operations.

" We want a political solution to Balochistan and have full faith in it. But, firstly one should have an agenda for it. If they (Pakistan) want to hold talks with us, we will only agree to talk about our independence. If Pakistan does not agree, I don't think it is significant, as for several years, it has enslaved us and is forcibly occupying our territory. In these circumstances, a human being has the fundamental right to his freedom." Mr.Bugti said

Pakistan’s discriminatory policies against the Baloch people are known to the world.

It is well understood that Pakistan is only interested in exploiting the natural wealth of Balochistan, while giving nothing in return except misery, to the region and its people.

This is the reason why nothing except freedom will be acceptable to the Baloch people

Telcos Vs "Fab(ulous) Five"


A battle of giants is brewing in the world of telecommunications. Traditional telcos, with their five billion customers worldwide, are getting ready to take on new Internet-focused rivals offering communication platforms, services and content via smartphones, tablets and Internet-enabled TVs. Right now, the strongest of these are the "fab(ulous) five": Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, who serve over three billion customers between them. Traditional telcos and their modern rivals each have a total market capitalization of round about EUR 800 billion. Current public opinion favors the fab five with their superior innovative capabilities, breathtaking growth rates and large cash reserves. But will that be enough to threaten the traditional telcos?


The Secret to Smarter Schools

By Lisa Moore
Posted 3/18/07

If Americans want better schools and smarter students, they should think F-for Finland.

Finnish 15-year-olds score at or near the top in reading, math, and science in the prestigious Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, offered every three years by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2003 (2006 results aren't yet available), Finland ranked first among 40 industrialized nations in reading literacy, first (with Japan) in science, and second in math. The United States ranked 18th, 22nd, and 28th in those subjects, respectively. Finland also boasts the smallest gap between its best and weakest students, and the second-smallest difference among individual schools' performances.

In the early 1970s, Finland scrapped its old education system, which steered students into either vocational or academic tracks at the end of fourth grade. In its place, Finland developed a system of "comprehensive" schooling-free public education for all children from grades 1 through 9 that combines students of all academic abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds in the same rooms. This heterogeneous approach focuses on equity for all.

Training teachers. Students start primary school during the year they turn 7, with free preschool as an option before that. Classes are relatively small, averaging 20 to 25 students. Schools have enormous flexibility at the local level in choosing textbooks, designing curricula, and allocating funds. Free school lunches, textbooks, healthcare, and transportation for students offer them holistic support in their learning process. In 1998, a new law gave parents more freedom to select schools for their children. And most students with learning disabilities are integrated into mainstream classrooms and still receive intensive support through special education. (Almost 20 percent of Finnish students get such help, compared with an average of about 6 percent internationally.)

Perhaps the most potent secret weapon in Finland's success is well-trained teachers. In 1970, as the country began to overhaul its system, it mandated that teachers for all grades must obtain at least a master's degree. Today, teacher-education programs at universities are highly competitive, in part because teachers enjoy high prestige in Finnish society. "The status of teachers is comparable to doctors and lawyers," says Jouni Valijarvi, director of the Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyvaskyla.

So what can the United States learn from Finland's success? "'No Child Left Behind' should be reality on all levels of the society, not only a slogan," says Valijarvi. "This means big investments in teacher education, special education, and supporting children and families at an early age. The return can be high."

That idea deserves an A.

This story appears in the March 26, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.

India, Africa aim for $90 billion trade in three years

NEW DELHI: Indian and African leaders on Sunday agreed to sharply increase bilateral trade to $90 billion by 2015 as the two sides discussed potential deals.

The South Asian country is aiming to boost its trade and diplomatic ties with Africa where China has already made major inroads by striking multiple deals, building infrastructure projects and offering soft loans.

The goal of achieving $90 billion in trade between India and China in three years "is a significant improvement, considering the fact that a decade ago the trade was $3 billion", Indian Commerce Secretary Anand Sharma said.

Sharma was speaking at the first day of a three-day India-Africa meeting in New Delhi where organisers said more than 250 projects worth close to $30 billion were being discussed.

Over 600 African delegates are participating in the India-Africa Forum Summit, organisers said, while over 500 Indian business delegates would also attend the meeting.

India has been turning to the one-billion-strong African continent as it looks to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependency on the Middle East which supplies two-thirds of its energy imports.

Africa, despite being home to most of the world's poorest countries, is richly endowed with oil, minerals and other natural resources.

Last year, the two sides had set a target of $70 billion trade to be achieved by 2015. Bilateral trade totalled $62 billion in 2011.

At the meeting, the ministers launched the India-Africa Business Council to be co-chaired by Indian telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal, head of Bharti Group, and Dangote Group president Alhaji Aliko, known as Africa's "cement king".

The council will propose ways to increase economic and commercial ties between India and Africa.

While China prefers government-to-government deals, Indian investment has been mainly in the private sector, notably in telecom, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing.

In a major purchase, Bharti, India's biggest cellular operator by subscribers, acquired mobile operations in more than a dozen African countries in a $10.7-billion deal in June 2010.

India, which deployed its navy in 2008 as part of an international armada fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, is also ramping up its security links with Africa

March 18, 2012

Failure 2.0: India's big, new foreign policy idea is even worse that its last one

Failure 2.0
India's big, new foreign policy idea is even worse that its last one. And that's saying something.

Sadanand Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Like a pesky ghost that won't be exorcized, Jawaharlal Nehru's nonalignment policy continues to hover over India's foreign relations. Later this month, New Delhi will host its first BRICS summit, an oddball gathering of authoritarian and democratic nations united only by regional heft and implicit opposition to the U.S.-led international order. Just last week, a 70-member trade delegationheaded to Tehran to explore fresh opportunities for Indian companies in the Islamic republic, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai having previously declared that the recent, tougher round of EU and U.S. sanctions on Iran were inapplicable to India. Instead of using an ongoing two-year term (2011 to 2013) on the U.N. Security Council to underscore its democratic credentials, India has mostly sided with the Russians and the Chinese in their battles on behalf of Bashar al-Assad and the late Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Does this really sound like the foreign policy of America's new strategic partner, courted by three successive U.S. presidents? Might this relationship -- hailed by Barack Obama as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century" -- be long on potential and short on actually fulfilling it?

India's behavior, deeply disappointing to those in the United States who have championed closer ties between the world's largest and most important democracies, reflects an ongoing battle in New Delhi for the soul of Indian foreign policy. On one side you have those for whom a go-it-alone attitude is an end in itself. "Strategic autonomy has been the defining value and continuous goal of India's international policy ever since its inception as a Republic," declares "Nonalignment 2.0," a new report by eight of the country's leading public intellectuals and foreign policy specialists. Nonalignment 1.0, of course, was India's Cold War policy of maintaining equidistance between Moscow and Washington, though in practice it leaned toward the Soviet Union.

Arrayed against this view are those who say nonalignment has outlived its purpose, and seek to strengthen mutually beneficial ties with the West. Former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra declared it "impossible" for India to remain nonaligned between the United States and China. According to K. Shankar Bajpai, a former Indian ambassador to the United States and China, "Reviving that concept is all too likely to drive our people back to something that is not only long outdated but -- and this is its dangerous legacy -- which we still fail to recognize as having done us more harm than good."

Who wins this debate has profound consequences for India, Asia, and the world. If India slips back into measuring its independence by its ability to thwart Washington, it risks fatally undermining the argument it made while lobbying for the 2008 civilian nuclear deal -- that the rise of a large, pluralistic, English-speaking democracy in Asia is in the West's interest. Why squander valuable diplomatic capital on an unreliable partner, skeptics in Washington already argue.
If, however, India learns to view foreign policy like most other countries -- in terms of national interest rather than attachment to abstract doctrine -- it will likely come to the conclusion that Washington is a natural partner, with which it shares not only close familial and educational links but also a distrust of China's rapid military build-up and Pakistan's continued dalliance with jihadism. This doesn't mean becoming an American poodle, as New Delhi elites seem to constantly fret about, but recognizing an obvious confluence of interests and values. India's most pressing goal, to modernize its promising but still backward economy, is best achieved in a stable and open international order underpinned by U.S. power. It's in India's self-interest to bolster rather than erode this order, while at the same time working to carve out a larger role for itself.For now, though, Nehru's ghost continues to cast a shadow over India's foreign policy instincts.Supporters of Nonalignment 2.0 tend to view the United States with as much suspicion as China, despite Beijing's role in boosting Pakistan's missile and nuclear weapons program, its continued claims on Indian territory, and its military humiliation of India in a brief mountain war in 1962. They see the steady decline of U.S. power and India's rapid rise to major power status as inevitable, and conclude that the United States needs India more than India needs the United States. For India's unreconstructed Cold Warriors, America's closest friends in the region -- Japan, South Korea, and Australia -- should be pitied as U.S. lackeys rather than emulated as successful free-market democracies that have brought both security and prosperity to their people.

Nowhere are old habits of mind more evident than in India's Middle East policy. Last March, with Qaddafi's forces besieging rebel strongholds, India joined China, Russia, Brazil, and Germany in abstaining from the Security Council resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to protect civilians. Indian foreign policy pundits spoke of Qaddafi's firm grip on power, his special affection for former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the economic benefits that would flow to India when its steadfast friendship was rewarded. India broke with fellow BRICS on Syria, backing a resolutioncalling for Assad to step down, but it shares Beijing and Moscow's reluctance to force the Syrian strongman to step down as a precursor to ending violence in his country. As a post-colonial nation, India almost always privileges state sovereignty over human rights. For many Indians, the divide between the West and the East is more palpable than the one between democracies and dictatorships.
One could argue that U.S. leadership in the region has been disappointing: Libya is a mess and Islamist forces are stronger than ever in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. Nonetheless, India's opposition to the United States has been gratuitous. Wedded to the status quo, India missed an opportunity to be on the right side of history. Moreover, with no vital interests at stake in either Libya or Syria -- unlike in the Gulf with its large population of Indian migrant workers -- New Delhi should have gone along with the Western democratic consensus, saving its battles with Washington for when it has real skin in the game.

Iran poses a more serious conundrum. It supplies 11 percent of India's oil imports, its second largest supplier after Saudi Arabia. Iran also looms large in India's conception of its own neighborhood. India relies on Iran for land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia denied to it by Pakistan. New Delhi helped upgrade Chabahar, a minor port in Iranian Baluchistan and has begun to link it with Afghanistan through a web of roads and railways. And, as the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan, India, and Iran share fears of a Taliban comeback.
Lawmakers in Washington, however, don't see Iran as merely another issue where friends can agree to disagree. An Indian policy that privileges ties with Iran ahead of the U.S.-India relationship misses the forest for the trees, damaging India's long-term global aspirations in the pursuit of short-term regional ones. American lawmakers may have grudgingly seen India's point when it preferred new European fighter jets over older American ones last year, or overlooked the unfairness of India's Parliament passing a nuclear liability bill two years ago that effectively shut out American companies, even though the U.S. had done the heavy lifting to make international nuclear commerce with India possible.

But Iran's apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons is America's most pressing security concern. India could cut back dependence on Iranian oil and demand a greater say in Afghanistan's future in exchange for supporting the United States. Instead, it has so far preferred public posturing over quiet pragmatism. In January, Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna declared India's support for Iran's nuclear power ambitions, albeit not for its alleged nuclear weapons program. The Indian trade delegation hands the mullahs in Tehran a propaganda coup to counter the narrative of their growing economic isolation. Meanwhile, much of the debate in India consists of simply repeating all the reasons Iran remains vital to India's regional calculations. (Though, to be fair, the emergence of Israel as a key security and intelligence partner for India means it has its share of backers as well.)
Opposing U.S. policy strengthens the hand of those in America who argue that India is an unreliable friend. It undercuts those making the case that shared democratic values and common concerns about the rise of an authoritarian China and the dangers of jihadist terrorism bind the two countries together. Japan and Italy, both large consumers of Iranian oil, have grasped the seriousness of the Iran issue. They have cut back on imports and refrained from making provocative statements. Only India appears to believe that it can undermine a core U.S. security concern and still be seen as a benign power worthy of backing at the head table of global affairs.
Despite all this, it's too early for believers in the U.S.-India relationship to despair. Outside the strongholds of New Delhi's leftist intelligentsia and the ruling Congress Party, India has changed dramatically since the advent of economic reforms in 1991. Today's young urban Indians are more likely to recall visits to their city by George W. Bush or Barack Obama than Yasser Arafat or Fidel Castro. Once a heresy, arguments for closer ties between New Delhi and Washington are now commonplace in public discourse. As C. Raja Mohan, India's most prominent strategic thinker, puts it: "As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the ‘political West' and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades."

Moreover, a new generation of ambitious businessmen knows that America underpins the stable and open international order that India needs to fulfill its economic promise. India's generals understand that New Delhi should not go out of its way to stick a finger in China's eye. But they're also aware that India can hardly afford to be sanguine about the rise of a powerful one-party neighboring state with claims on its territory.

All but the most ardent America-bashers have figured out that other countries respect economic achievement more than fictitious bonds of Third World solidarity. For Indian strategic thinkers who view geopolitics through the prism of economics, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore evoke admiration as sophisticated societies that immeasurably bettered the lives of their own citizens in part by maintaining close ties with the world's foremost power. And though America may indeed appear to be in relative decline, anyone with a sense of history knows that many have bet against itbouncing back in the past -- and lost.

Nonetheless, this evolution in Indian thought needs to be speeded up. The sooner India realizes that nonalignment has about as much relevance to the 21st century as Nehruvian economics, and the sooner it begins to root its foreign policy in reality rather than abstraction, the more likely it is to start doing right by its people and its partners.

Sadanand Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.