April 25, 2012

The Pacific Pivot and the West

The past year witnessed a number of dramatic signs that the United States is shifting its strategic focus toward Asia. This shift, accompanied by a continued draw down of U.S. forces and diplomatic presence in Europe and a slight increase of a presence in Australia, is combined with U.S. concerns over the continued decline of European defense spending, accelerated by the serious debt crisis confronting Europe. It also reflects a U.S. preoccupation with China. In Europe there are also signs of a Pacific pivot. The West is facing a major turning point in terms of its sense of itself and of its role in a world that seems to be heading toward a post-Western disorder. This is clearly the time for the West to rediscover and revitalize itself by uniting rather than engaging in a race to the Eastern exits.
 

The India-China Rivalry by Robert D. Kaplan

 

April 25, 2012 | 0857 GMT

By Robert D. Kaplan

As the world moves into the second decade of the 21st century, a new power rivalry is taking shape between India and China, Asia's two behemoths in terms of territory, population and richness of civilization. India's recent successful launch of a long-range missile able to hit Beijing and Shanghai with nuclear weapons is the latest sign of this development.

This is a rivalry borne completely of high-tech geopolitics, creating a core dichotomy between two powers whose own geographical expansion patterns throughout history have rarely overlapped or interacted with each other. Despite the limited war fought between the two countries on their Himalayan border 50 years ago, this competition has relatively little long-standing historical or ethnic animosity behind it.

The signal geographical fact about Indians and Chinese is that the impassable wall of the Himalayas separates them. Buddhism spread in varying forms from India, via Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to Yunnan in southern China in the third century B.C., but this kind of profound cultural interaction was the exception more than the rule.

Moreover, the dispute over the demarcation of their common frontier in the Himalayan foothills, from Kashmir in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, while a source of serious tension in its own right, is not especially the cause of the new rivalry. The cause of the new rivalry is the collapse of distance brought about by the advance of military technology.

Indeed, the theoretical arc of operations of Chinese fighter jets at Tibetan airfields includes India. Indian space satellites are able to do surveillance on China. In addition, India is able to send warships into the South China Sea, even as China helps develop state-of-the-art ports in the Indian Ocean. And so, India and China are eyeing each other warily. The whole map of Asia now spreads out in front of defense planners in New Delhi and Beijing, as it becomes apparent that the two nations with the largest populations in the world (even as both are undergoing rapid military buildups) are encroaching upon each other's spheres of influence -- spheres of influence that exist in concrete terms today in a way they did not in an earlier era of technology.

And this is to say nothing of China's expanding economic reach, which projects Chinese influence throughout the Indian Ocean world, as evinced by Beijing's port-enhancement projects in Kenya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. This, too, makes India nervous.

Because this rivalry is geopolitical -- based, that is, on the positions of India and China, with their huge populations, on the map of Eurasia -- there is little emotion behind it. In that sense, it is comparable to the Cold War ideological contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, which were not especially geographically proximate and had little emotional baggage dividing them.

The best way to gauge the relatively restrained atmosphere of the India-China rivalry is to compare it to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan abut one another. India's highly populated Ganges River Valley is within 480 kilometers (300 miles) of Pakistan's highly populated Indus River Valley. There is an intimacy to India-Pakistan tensions that simply does not apply to those between India and China. That intimacy is inflamed by a religious element: Pakistan is the modern incarnation of all of the Muslim invasions that have assaulted Hindu northern India throughout history. And then there is the tangled story of the partition of the Asian subcontinent itself to consider -- India and Pakistan were both borne in blood together.

Partly because the India-China rivalry carries nothing like this degree of long-standing passion, it serves the interests of the elite policy community in New Delhi very well. A rivalry with China in and of itself raises the stature of India because China is a great power with which India can now be compared. Indian elites hate when India is hyphenated with Pakistan, a poor and semi-chaotic state; they much prefer to be hyphenated with China. Indian elites can be obsessed with China, even as Chinese elites think much less about India. This is normal. In an unequal rivalry, it is the lesser power that always demonstrates the greater degree of obsession. For instance, Greeks have always been more worried about Turks than Turks have been about Greeks.

China's inherent strength in relation to India is more than just a matter of its greater economic capacity, or its more efficient governmental authority. It is also a matter of its geography. True, ethnic-Han Chinese are virtually surrounded by non-Han minorities -- Inner Mongolians, Uighur Turks and Tibetans -- in China's drier uplands. Nevertheless, Beijing has incorporated these minorities into the Chinese state so that internal security is manageable, even as China has in recent years been resolving its frontier disputes with neighboring countries, few of which present a threat to China.

India, on the other hand, is bedeviled by long and insecure borders not only with troubled Pakistan, but also with Nepal and Bangladesh, both of which are weak states that create refugee problems for India. Then there is the Maoist Naxalite insurgency in eastern and central India. The result is that while the Indian navy can contemplate the projection of power in the Indian Ocean -- and thus hedge against China -- the Indian army is constrained with problems inside the subcontinent itself.

India and China do play a great game of sorts, competing for economic and military influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But these places are generally within the Greater Indian subcontinent, so that China is taking the struggle to India's backyard.

Just as a crucial test for India remains the future of Afghanistan, a crucial test for China remains the fate of North Korea. Both Afghanistan and North Korea have the capacity to drain energy and resources away from India and China, though here India may have the upper hand because India has no land border with Afghanistan, whereas China has a land border with North Korea. Thus, a chaotic, post-American Afghanistan is less troublesome for India than an unraveling regime in North Korea would be for China, which faces the possibility of millions of refugees streaming into Chinese Manchuria.

Because India's population will surpass that of China in 2030 or so, even as India's population will get gray at a slower rate than that of China, India may in relative terms have a brighter future. As inefficient as India's democratic system is, it does not face a fundamental problem of legitimacy like China's authoritarian system very well might.

Then there is Tibet. Tibet abuts the Indian subcontinent where India and China are at odds over the Himalayan borderlands. The less control China has over Tibet, the more advantageous the geopolitical situation is for India. The Indians provide a refuge for the Tibetan Dalai Lama. Anti-Chinese manifestations in Tibet inconvenience China and are therefore convenient to India. Were China ever to face a serious insurrection in Tibet, India's shadow zone of influence would grow measurably. Thus, while China is clearly the greater power, there are favorable possibilities for India in this rivalry.

India and the United States are not formal allies. The Indian political establishment, with its nationalistic and leftist characteristics, would never allow for that. Yet, merely because of its location astride the Indian Ocean in the heart of maritime Eurasia, the growth of Indian military and economic power benefits the United States since it acts as a counter-balance to a rising Chinese power; the United States never wants to see a power as dominant in the Eastern Hemisphere as it itself is in the Western Hemisphere. That is the silver lining of the India-China rivalry: India balancing against China, and thus relieving the United States of some of the burden of being the world's dominant power.



Read more: The India-China Rivalry by Robert D. Kaplan | Stratfor

April 22, 2012

India's Worst Journalists - 2012

 

http://www.mediacrooks.com/2012/04/indias-worst-journalists-2012.html



The previous edition of India’s Worst Journalist in 2010 on this site still remains one of the most popular posts and also a very widely reproduced one. Over the last decade or so our journalists have come to be held in the same contempt that is usually reserved for politicians. Many of them have simply forgotten the art and science of the profession and this is a serious tragedy for aspiring journalists. How they came to such a pass is a long story. The most prominent ones are not even journalists anymore; they are ‘Editorialists’ whose main job is to swing public opinion one way or another. Add to this the epidemic of ‘paidnews’ and some of our news channels and newspapers would be nothing more than Bollywood or Commercials. After all, didn’t the late Christopher Hitchens say: “I became a journalist because one didn’t have to specialise”.



Some prominent faces from the 2010 roll of honour have dropped out. Vinod Mehta has retired from active journalism and remains Chairman of Outlook. We wish him well. Suzy Roy has moved from part-time lie-mongering to full-time Maoist-Hurriyat sympathiser. ‘Pastiwalas’ are over-joyed at the ever growing size and weight of her 50+ page essays – they’re the only ones handling them now. Prannoy Roy was also dropped. He is now more into barbeque chats than any serious attempts at journalism. Even elections don’t arouse him. But there are some new faces with the old ones. Polling for IWJ ended today and thanks to all those who voted. So here are the winners from the poll, the list of India’s Worst Journalists-2012 from the poll results. Their 2010 ranking is indicated after their name:



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Large & Larger..

10. Nidhi Razdan, NDTV (New entry): She has come to prominence more for many reasons other than journalistic skills. ‘Left, right, centre’ is her signature programme and happens to be one of those mindless debates on every topic under the sun. She is proof that you can be an expert on everything with specialisation in nothing. The best part of Nidhi? Now, don’t get me wrong, she likes everything large. Whenever confounded by a brilliant argument or point by a panellist she quickly jumps to her favourite line “let’s look at the LARGER picture”. One would have thought that debates are meant to look at the finer small details. No, not with Nidhi, the larger picture is a convenient exit. Training from NDTV helps. My prediction for this debutant is that she is likely to go higher up in the list in the future.



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Friendly five member

9. Kumar Ketkar (New entry): Somewhere a brief bio about Ketkar says “He started his life as an active communist worker of the Lal Nishan Paksh (Red flag party)”. Now why is that not so surprising? And that also explains Ketkar somewhat. He is also reported to be a former speech writer during elections for Congress members. Isn’t that an accomplishment any journalist would be proud of? He has been mostly a Marathi journalist and last heard he is editor of Divya Marathi. A respected veteran, he was one of the privileged Five invited to a private press meet of PM Manmohan Singh around June 2011. Ever since, it has been downhill. He achieved his right to be on this list through his performances as a panellist. What can I say? I hope being a veteran he doesn’t appear here in the future.


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Your Banal

8. Arnab Goswami, TimesNow (2010 #3): There can be no denying that Arnab is one of the rare patriots among journalists. Almost every one wishes our judiciary could be as quick and decisive as Arnab is. Which is the reason I conferred him the title ‘Justice Arnab’. His performance on TimesNow has definitely battered ratings of NDTV and CNN-IBN. Pick up any scam, any scandal Arnab can throw the documents at you. IB, RAW, GOI have no escape – all documents and papers have to pass through Arnab. Sometime back I remarked: Most of us wake up in the morning and want Coffee or Tea! Not Arnab, he just wants ‘answers’. Such are the never-ending questions he has. Much before Arnab became a journalist the rock band U2 wrote a song for him – “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. They were the only ones to anticipate all the unanswered questions he’d come up with. Undeniable fact is that Arnab has dropped from #3 in 2010 to #8 in 2012 on this list. That is proof of his ever-growing popularity. He can out-shout anyone in this world. Anyone, except Meenakshi Lekhi and Smriti Irani.


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Fine WhINES
7. Vir Sanghvi (2010 #9): I honestly don’t have any idea whatsoever what Sanghvi currently does. I don’t even see him on any Cookery or Foodie show. He must be doing something to merit an appearance on this list again, at a higher position even. Radiagate has damaged him far more than any other journalist, which is unfortunate. He managed to surface sometime back on his home channel NDTV claiming the Radia tapes were doctored and weren’t authentic and were tested by reliable foreign forensic labs. Nobody bought that though. Sometimes, a wayward journalist, at his peak, forgets simple decency. Sanghvi will forever be haunted with two things: Radiagate and the fact that he called Narendra Modi a ‘mass-murderer’. He will regret both episodes. Had it not been for Modi ignoring his stupid outburst Vir Sanghvi would have been in prison writing a cookery book or his autobiography titled “Fine Whines!”.



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No facts, please

6. Karan Thapar (2010 #4): Readers must remember that every journo looks tall in the studio but not in actual life. KT is not blessed with stature and the same goes for his journalism. One can say he has improved a bit but still retains the unwanted scowl and growl when interviewing people. Madhu Trehan in her NewsLaundry interview showed up KT for the little puppy he was. Like the ones who just need a hug and a cuddle once in a while. And if you thought you knew nothing about KT, never mind. All you have to do is hear his signature line on his promo for his show on CNN-IBN: “I don’t want to go into the facts, the facts are disputed”. LOL! Facts are disputed? You have to undo a lot of learning to understand that facts aren’t facts and can be disputed. The worst job KT did in 2011 was massaging Kapil Sibal’s brazen attempt at pre-screening content on the internet. As if that wasn’t enough he pulled out Brajesh Mishra, former NSA, out of nowhere to call serving army chief, Gen. VKSingh, the worst ever chief of army in history. My prediction: As long as he is in the business, KT will be on this list.



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Wheres the smirk?

5. Vinod Sharma (New entry): For those who don’t know, Vinod Sharma is the political editor of Hindustan Times. That’s right, ‘Political’ is the key word – less of an editor and more of a politician. It’s not very hard to recognise VS on a friendly channel. He has made the ‘smirk’ more popular than child-molester DGP Rathore on television. Sharma has also been acknowledged by many political spokespersons and viewers as the most loyal spokesperson of the Congress party. No matter what the scam or what the scandal you can expect him to staunchly defend even the worst misdeeds of the Congress by blaming it on the opposition or anyone else he can lay his hands on. The one chance to get him off TV for longer periods was a Rajya Sabha ticket, when Shobana Bhartiya, his boss at HT exited, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. So we’re going to be stuck with VS for quite a while. His best moment in recent times was during the debate over Gen. VK Singh and the Tatra trucks scam. He was angry that the debate was going one way (in favour of Gen. Singh) so had to somehow twist it against the tide. In his business time VS writes a blog titled ‘Separated at birth’. I guess that refers to some Pakistani connection or maybe his journalistic independence was separated at birth. Someday we’ll find out.


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He's no Egghead

4. Shekhar Gupta (2010 #10): When he appeared on the last list, a fan of Gupta wrote in stating he will email my post to SG for his response. I was wondering whether that fan objected to SG being at #10 and wanted him to be lower on the list. I guess that fan’s prayers are answered. SG has sunk further in the rankings and his Indian Express is almost on doles from the govt. His senseless programme ‘Walk the talk’ , the equivalent of ‘Koffee with Karan’ or ‘On the couch with Koel’, continues on NDTV but what sunk SG the most is his misadventure with an article on Army troop movements. In his quest to please SG’s UPA, this SG splashed a headline in IE that nearly implied the army, led by Gen.VK Singh, may have dreamt of a coup. Worse, there have been reports that the troop movement story was stale and SG’s version was actually a plant by a union minister. SG laid an egg alright but ended up with more on his face. He will forever be credited with reducing a fiercely independent newspaper like IE to a mouthpiece of a political party. His permanent place on this list is forever assured.


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I washed my hands in the Hammam

3. Rajdeep Sardesai (2010 #6): Hmmm! The guy is making progress alright. I have always maintained there are two Rajdeeps – One on TV and one off it. Whenever he is off TV his conscience strikes and one can hear a sane person, sometimes profound, sometimes emotional. But his character loses focus in front of the camera. Recently, he lamented on Twitter about being abused as a’Muslim whore and a Motherf$#!#*’. Bad, but the kind of abuse of journalistic ethics that Rajdeep has frequently allowed under his watch is far more serious. He has even given the media the right to ‘conduct hearings’ against personalities. While he wonders about ‘image makeovers’ for others, there is no way he can ever get past the Cash4Votes bungling or the terribly biased reporting on Gujarat riots. His 2007 conduct of an HT Summit which featured a key speaker reflects a character of pathetically low moral values and journalistic ethics. And to top that he defended the tainted Radiagate journalists and was rightly ‘slapped’ by his own community. Death of decent journalism owes a small debt to him. He has rightly earned the nick name ‘Hammamboy’!



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If it's Friday, it must be...

2. Sagarika Ghose (2010 #2): Ms. Cacofonix stays where she was: at No.2. You can’t fault Sagarika for not trying hard enough to be India’s worst journalist. She has made every effort in the recent past to get to #1. Journalism gives her a bad name. For her truly pathetic and fraudulent ‘live’ show with SriSri she would have been sacked from any TV channel in the world. That in itself is a reflection of the ethics and morals practiced at CNN-IBN by her and her boss Rajdeep Sardesai. You can imagine the skulduggery behind all other programmes and debates. And if that wasn’t enough she misses no chance to prove she is a ‘journalistic bimbo’ by mindless tweets on the social network. Be it about ‘ugly Indian males’, or Orange being a colour in our national flag or sending out a Good Friday greeting and withdrawing it she is truly the court-jester of Indian journalism. What can I say? Better luck next time!



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Me, Myself & I

1. Barkha Dutt (2010 #1): For the second time in a row Barkha retains her position as India’s worst journalist in the poll, by a whopping margin. The only road to redemption is apologising for past blunders. While she and another one have been vocal in demanding apologies and expressions of remorse from public figures the same standard doesn’t seem to apply to her. No matter what she does the taint of Radiagate and many other indiscretions are unlikely to disappear. The accusations of causing deaths in Kargil or in 26/11 are also going to linger. She is probably the only news celeb on TV that has a ‘wardrobe sponsor’. All the image makeovers may not help much. Most of us have held Rahul Gandhi for the Congress’ UP election disaster but Barkha and NDTV must be credited with the disaster too. No one has singularly promoted RG and his cause and almost turned him into India’s saviour till the engine got derailed. Her penchant for Pakistani politics and politicians is another thing that disgusts many viewers. In the meantime her language keeps getting better and better. In a recent tweet she responded to sarcasm with: “… ‘Nazi Dogs’ .. if ever language betrayed desperation of loser, it is here…” Losers or not, with over 70% of the votes polled, Barkha is the absolute winner here. Cheers!



So there you are. Let’s also not forget that are many journalists who now increasingly seem to be anti-nationals. Their ties to Ghulam Nabi Fai aren’t even being investigated by the govt. Industry leaders usually raise the standards of performance of the industry as a whole. The opposite seems to be true in the media. Systematically, many of India’s journalists have brought the profession to rock bottom over the years. I continue to maintain, they are the greatest threat to our democracy.

Abductions in Balochistan: Police remain clueless about Hindu kidnapping, 2 months on

By Shehzad Baloch Published: April 18, 2012 Kidnappers demanding Rs20m ransom for Rajesh Kumar, son of an HRCP activist. QUETTA: In spite of a lapse of two months, law enforcement agencies remain clueless about the whereabouts of Dr Rajish Kumar, a member of the Hindu community kidnapped in broad daylight from Quetta on February 13. Dr Kumar is the son of Dr Nand Lal, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s Quetta chapter as well as of the Pak-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. Sources close to the relatives of Kumar said the kidnappers have established contact with the family and demanded Rs20 million in ransom for his release. Meanwhile, police appear to have made no progress on the case and remain unwilling to talk about it. In spite of several attempts made by The Express Tribune, senior police officials remained unavailable for comment. “The DIG Operations is busy and I will ask him if he is willing to comment on this issue and then let you know,” a police official said. He did not follow up with a response. According to HRCP’s Balochistan chapter, as many as 34 members of the Hindu community, most of whom are traders, have been kidnapped across different parts of Balochistan so far since 2011. “A few are still in the captivity of kidnappers while all others were released after paying a huge chunk of money as ransom,” Tahir Hussain, Balochistan HRCP Vice Chairman told The Express Tribune. Another Hindu trader, Ganga Ram, was kidnapped from Lasbela a week ago but police are yet to trace his whereabouts. HRCP urged the government to take appropriate steps to stop the kidnapping of Hindu traders, saying that the community had specifically been made a target. Meanwhile, Basant Lal Gulshan, provincial minister for human rights and minorities affairs, said two of his workers who were kidnapped in March had been released without paying ransom. “Vinod Kumar and Sono Kumar were kidnapped in Marach and released after 15 days. Their safe recovery took place with the help of tribal notables and law enforcement agencies,” he said. Ironically, Basant said they were not recovered but voluntarily released by their captors. “Most of the (recovered) Hindus paid ransom but these two were released without payment.” According to a former senior police officer of Balochistan, there is a lack of high-ranking police officials in the province which is contributing to the deteriorating law and order situation. “Grade 17 to 18 police officers are serving on grade 20 posts. There is no senior officer,” he said. “Senior officials are needed to control the crime (rate).” Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012. http://tribune.com.pk/story/366243/abductions-in-balochistan-police-remain-clueless-about-hindu-kidnapping-2-months-on/