October 20, 2012

Fuelling the dragon: natural resources and China’s development. An ASPI-Brenthurst Foundation publication

Wednesday, 29 August 2012
In May 2012, ASPI and the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation co-hosted a major international dialogue on natural resource demand and China’s economy. Held in Zambia, the event brought together experts and policymakers from Africa, Australia, Latin America and elsewhere.
Our growing interest in Africa is being shaped by China's changing relationship with the continent. China sees Africa as an opportunity.
Australia has significant and growing interests in Africa's resource sector, with Australian companies having an estimated current and prospective investment of more than US$20 billion.
China's relationship with Africa is also surging ahead. Annual two-way trade has risen from under $5 billion in the mid1990s to around $150 billion today. Chinese investment totals $40 billion today from virtually zero 15 years ago. China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil daily: one-third of its requirements are from Africa.
Australia has built up a considerable degree of trust with China as a reliable resource supplier. This provides Australia with considerable capacity-building opportunities with Africa, including in the private sector.
This report considers China’s long-term resource interests from both Australian, African and Latin American perspectives.
It finds that beyond capacity-building Australia and Africa need to engage in more dialogue on how any cooling Chinese growth might impact our mineral producers and how we can best benefit from China's rise as a great power.
The report finds that Africa and Australia both know the resources boom may not last forever and so we shouldn't squander the opportunities that it offers.
This report was launched by the Hon Kevin Rudd, MP, at the Africa Down Under Ministerial Dinner on 29 August 2012, at the WA Museum in Perth. Event information can be found here.

‘Why Should You Import The Walmart Culture?’


The Nobel laureate speaks on 'reforms', growing inequality in the world and the challenges facing India.

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz is one of the world's leading economists. A former chief economist at the World Bank and currently University Professor at the Columbia Business School, he was recently in India to attend an international conference on development and to promote his new book, The Price of Inequality. He spoke to Pranay Sharma about growing inequality in the world and the challenges facing India. Excerpts:
Your coinage, "one per cent versus 99 per cent", has caught the imagination of different people in the world. What does that reflect?
It reflects a different view of society. The nomenclature, 'one per cent and ninety nine per cent', is a way of saying that almost everybody today is in one boat and a few people are in another boat. There is now that huge divide from the very top that is no longer class-based but money-based. So it's really the redefining of the divisions within our societies.
And this is not specific to the US but something seen all over the world?
That's correct, it's all over the world. India has become famous for being the land with the highest per capita of billionaires. This is striking for a country which is average and has a large number of poor people.
"India's famous for being the land with the highest per capita of billionaires. Striking for an average country with so many poor people."
Some of your detractors describe you as "the prophet of gloom and doom". Is that a correct assessment?
I had accurately perceived the crisis of 2008 and there were those who drew a rosy scenario and did not see it happening. The same people started seeing the 'green shoots' in 2009 which again did not happen and we did not get the recovery. Those who are described as 'gloom and doom' people are the ones who have predicted, as people jokingly say, five out of the last 10 recessions.
Everybody now talks about the global economic crisis and how it has affected countries across the world, including the US. But are you overstating the case about the US?
The statistics are what they are. The fact that the median income of a full-time worker is lower than what it was in 1968 is part of it. I have gathered some of the statistics that may not have been given sufficient attention by others, but those are facts. The question is, what do you make of those facts? Where the US economy is going is obviously a matter of interpretation. But some of the facts that I think are disturbing may be different from the facts that others are looking at.
What you describe in your book is not only an economic or political failure, but a systemic failure in the US. Is democracy in the US in crisis?
Yes, it is. We have changed the rules of the game to give more weight to money and moneyed interests just at the time when inequality is growing. So we now have an out-of-balance political system.
"There is that huge divide now from the very top that is no longer class-based but money-based...a redefining of divisions within societies."
You say in your book that if the economic benefits were shared better, Americans would have forgiven many of the 'sins' of the US corporates. If that were to happen, then who would have paid the price, people in other countries?
What I was trying to suggest was two-fold. That people in America would not have been so concerned if the top had walked away with just a larger share and did not damage the environment too much. The typical American would have felt that he himself was getting better without asking a lot from the corporation. But part of what is going on in terms of global warming is that the price is being borne by people outside the US. People of America had not paid any attention to that at all.
In India, we have the experience of the Bhopal gas tragedy. An American national responsible for it paid very little compensation and refused to share the burden of guilt. Now we have a debate on 'nuclear liability' where the US government and American companies planning to set up N-plants in India are opposed to accepting a larger share of the burden if an accident occurs in any of their plants. How do you react to this?
This is a perfect example of why I say that we have a distorted market economy through politics. Markets don't exist in a vacuum, we create frameworks. They give money to special interest groups—the one per cent. The nuclear industry is a good example. If the government had not been subsidising them, then in a calamity there would be no one to pick up the tab. They say they have insurance but that is a price no company is willing to pay. We pick up the cost of nuclear exposure, nuclear waste...nobody is willing to pay for that. So there is this massive subsidy given by the government to the nuclear industry.
"We have changed the rules of the game to give more weight to moneyed interests, just at the time when inequality is growing."
So you think US companies planning to set up N-plants here should share a larger burden of that liability?
They should bear it all. In the global context, they don't bear that in the US either. The nuclear industry exists only because of government subsidies. But subsidy in the form of liability; the oil industry is also protected in the same way. They have a law that limits the liability in the event of a spillover. If you look at the way the legal system is designed, many of those who are injured by the spill will never be compensated.
You have praised governments in China and India for intervening in the market to make globalisation work better for their respective people. How do you now see the performance of the two countries?
China represents what is the success of globalisation, where over 400 million people moved out of poverty. The gap between their income and that of people in the US has reduced enormously. Same is perhaps also true for India. But when you have rising aspirations in a country like China—which has been slow in implementing good working conditions—it can lead to agitations by workers.
What about India?
India has not grown as fast as China but it is growing significantly. There have been very significant successes, though there hasn't been much reduction in poverty in a big way.
"US firms planning to set up N-plants should bear all the liability. But they don't do that even in the US, state 'subsidies' protect them."
PM Manmohan Singh announced a clutch of economic reforms recently, particularly in regard to allowing FDI in multi-brand retail. Do you think India needs to open up its market?
India is an unusual country and different from many other developing and emerging markets. It has a large entrepreneurial class and has lots of savings, wealth. And this entrepreneurial class is very talented. So that raises the question as to why India needs foreign entrepreneurs in any sector, particularly the retail or the financial sectors.
And what's your answer to that?
I have not seen a good explanation yet. To me, as most economists say, a little competition is good. On the other hand, the worry is that a company like Walmart may owe some of their success to its power and ability to drive down prices. Because they can buy things out and if that's the case then they will use that power to have Chinese goods displace Indian goods. The real harm will not be to the retail sector. That is not the real problem. The harm will be to the Indian supply chain going into the retail sector. The other concern is that Walmart has succeeded in expanding its business by adopting abusive labour relations.
"India has a large, talented entrepreneurial class, and lots of savings and wealth. Why should it need foreign entrepreneurs in any sector?"
Is that the experience of other countries where it has a presence?
That is the experience of other countries. It is a business practice that you don't want to import to your country. Bribery in Mexico, free-riding on healthcare, a policy against unionisation, discrimination against women—a whole range of accusations, some of which have been proved and others that remain accusations but are hard to win in courts. Why would you want to import such business practices into India? Many economists see the breakdown in social contract as one of the reasons for inequality. There is also a worry that Walmart will break down the social contract in India that is already frail.
So how does one go about it?
The other reply to these concerns is for India to have legislations to ensure these problems don't happen. You should have good protection from large multinationals.
Does President Obama have a shot at being re-elected?
I think he has a good chance. I think he has been more successful than what his critics say but far less successful than the expectations when he was elected in 2008. The reality is, if the Republicans do well in Congress then it will be a more defensive (move) to prevent things from getting worse. But also not allowing changes that'll make the economy work.
"Corruption scandals have a resonance as people know the power of money. Money begets money and it begets via the political process."
When you look at India what are the areas of concerns?
One of the things would be the huge inequality which is still there. It is very serious and it cannot be ignored. The existence of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, they are worse than many other countries.
Do you see the government intervening to tame the market?
I don't see it that much...when you have so much of economic inequality, there is always the fear that political power will corrupt the government. A lot of the corruption scandals have a resonance because people understand the power of money. They know money begets money and it begets through the political process. It may be difficult to ascertain what happened in the coal block allocations. But these are people's assets which have surely not been sold in efficient, transparent auctions that could raise the most money for the well-being of everyone in society. And that has a real resonance in a society that already has such inequality.

Balochistan's cities have become the training centers of Pakistani jihadists.

The renowned Afghan Jihad has destroyed the social fabric of Pakistani society. The brainchild behind it is Pakistan, who with the help of Saudi Arabian funds gave birth to these religious fanatics. Dozens of mosques and religious schools were built with their support. This practice has taken shape of a very dangerous and bloody ideology. Soviet Union has collapsed and is heading towards development but this fanatic ideology has indulged the Pakistanis in a blood-bath. Now the target of these extremists is Balochistan. They are transforming it into Swat and Waziristan.

Under the patronage of Pakistani agencies, extremist groups such as Sipah E Sahaba, Jesh E Muhamad and various other Jihadi organizations are flourishing in Chagai, an area of Balochistan which is situated on the edge of two international boundaries.

Dalbandin is the headquarter of Chagai , where people from different countries are settled. Here the roots of religious fanaticism are growing at a fast pace as compared to other cities in Pakistan. A large number of Jihadists have begun to head towards Dalbandin, ever since a resolution in favor of Balochistan was passed in the US congress. Earlier jihadists for Afghanistan were only recruited from here, but now Sipah E Sahaba and Jaish E Muhammad have set their foot in the region.

After the resolution passed by US, the Pakistani agencies have started to spill the blood of innocent people in Quetta and different areas of Balochistan to weaken the on-going Baloch national movement . This bloodshed is carried out by Pakistan to mislead the world that the war taking place in Balochistan is not for independence but a sectarian conflict. The people in Balochistan are aware enough to acknowledge the apple of discord. Truth is that these Tableeghi Groups wandering from village to village pretending to
preach Islam, are instead paving the path for the agenda set by the Jihadists. Initially these groups begin by preaching the basic fundamental concepts of Islam such as Namaz but gradually brainwash the people and are followed by Jihadists who implement their philosophies and use the innocent and ignorant ones to accomplish their needs.

On the other hand, Pakistani agencies who are nurturing the likes of Ajmal Kasab, have become a disgrace for the whole world. Jaish, Lashkar E Tayaba, Harkat E Mujahidden, Jamaat E Daawa like organizations are gaining firm footings under the supervision of these agencies. Poor residents are frightened to send their children to religious schools for learning Holy Quran, fearing their loved ones could fall prey to the trap set up by the Jihadists.

Now Dalbandin has become an epicenter of Pakistani Jihadists. Scores of 'Al Kalam' newspapers, audio CDs, Jihadi literature and books are being distributed to youth at no cost and the migrant Jihadi scholars are engaged in delivering speeches from public mosques throughout the city soon after the Maghrib prayers. Their speeches and Jihadi slogans have destroyed the sleep of the people living in the houses near-by. There are three to four places in Dalbandin where they have hideouts for training underage children and youth to assemble and fire weapons along with the techniques of accomplishing missions. Meals and refreshments are
free of cost over there. Their flags, posters and graffiti has given the district of Dalbandin, a look of a jihadi training center.

In the north of the city, a large institution has been established to provide religious education to women, where a lady from Karachi married to a religious scholar from Dalbandin is assigned to entice a large number of innocent girls to educate them about Pakistani Jihad.

The people of Dalbandin are unable to find a way out in countering them. In the start, it is easy to drive out a ghost from a haunted house but if time passes-by and its presence is disregarded then it gets difficult eventually. We all have to logically think in this regard!

SOURCE: SarBazz Baloch Via e-mail

دلبندین پاکستانی جہادیوں کا ٹریننگ سینٹر بن چکا ہےا

by SarBazz Baloch on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 3:39am

دالبندین پاکستانی جہادیوں کا ٹریننگ سینٹر بن چکا ہے" _" (شکیل احمد نیا زمانہ میگزین)افغانستان کے نام نہاد جہاد نے پاکستانی سماج کو تباہ کرکے رکھ دیا
ہے_ جہادی سوچ کی اصل پیداوار پاکستانی ادارے ہیں _ جنہوں نے سعودی امداد سے مذہبی جنونیوں کی کھیپ تیار کی _ درجنوں مساجد اور مدرسے سعودی
امداد بنوائے گئے_ اس عمل نے ایک خطرناک خونی نظریے کے طور پر ایک شکل اختیار کرلی ہے_ سوویت یونین تو ختم ھوگیا اب وہ ترقی کے منازل طے کر رہا
ہے لیکن یہ جنونی سوچ اب پاکستانیوں کو خون میں نہلا رہی ہے_ اب ان انتہا پسندوں کا ٹارگیٹ بلوچستان ہے_ انہوں نے بلوچستان کو وزیرستان اور سوات بنا
رہے ہیں _ ایجنسیوں کے زیر سایہ سپاہ سحابہ(اہلسنت و الجماعت) جیش محمد اور دوسری جہادی تنظیمیں پھل پھول رہی ہیںبلوچستان کا علاقہ چاغی دو بین
القوامی سرحدوں پر واقع ھے_ دالبندیں چاغی کا ہیڈ کوارٹر ہے اس علاقے میں مختلف ملکوں کے لوگ آکر بس چکے ھے لیکن جنونیت کی فصل کو اس تیز
رفتاری سے بویا جا رہا ھے کہ شاید یہ تیزرفتاری پاکستان کے دیگر علاقوں میں نہ ھو امریکہ میں جب بلوچستان کی قرارداد پیش کی گئی تو اسی دن سے
دالبندین جہادیوں کے غول در غول سے سج گیا اس سے قبل دالبندیں سے صرف افغانستان کے لیے جہادی لڑکوں کو لایا جاتا تھا_ لیکن اب سپاہ صحابہ جیش
محمد کو اچھے اچھے قربانی کے بکرے مل رہے ہیں _ پاکستانی اداروں نے بلوچستان میں جاری قومی تحریک اور امریکی سینٹ میں قرارداد کی پیشگی کو
منہدم کرنے کے لیے کوئٹہ اور بلوچستان کے دیگر علاقوں میں بے گناہ معصوم لوگوں کا خون بہانا شروع کر دیا _ ان کی اس خونی ہولی کا مقصد دنیا کو
باور کرانا ہے کہ بلوچستان میں آذادی نہیں بلکہ فرقہ وارانہ لڑائی ھو رہی ھیبلوچستان کے لوگوں کو اتنا شعور آ چکا ہے کہ اس فساد کی جڑ کون ہے ؟ حقیقت یہ
ہے کہ ان جہادیوں کے لیے پہلے پہل تبلیغی جماعتیں جو گاوں گاوں میں بسترے لیے کندھوں پر دین سکھانے کے بہانے پھر رہے ہیں اور ایک عقیدہ ان کے یہ
ذہنوں میں رکھ کر راستوں کو ھموار کر رہے ہیں _ یہ جماعتیں ابتدا نماز اور دین سکھانے کے لیے لوگوں کو گھروں سے نکال کر ان کے ذہنوں کو واش کرتے
ہیں بعد میں جہادی آکر ان ذہنوں پر اپنا فلسفہ انڈیلتے ہیں اور یہ سادہ اور جاہل لوگوں کو اپنی مقصد کےلیے استعمال کر تے ہیں _ دوسری طرف پاکستانی ادارے
جو اجمل قصاب جیسے جہادیوں کی پرورش کررہے ہے اور پوری دنیا کے لیے شرمندگی کا باعث بنے ہوئے ہے _ یہاں جیش ،لشکر طیبہ، حرکت مجاہدین جماعت
دعوہ ایسی درجنوں تنظیمیں ان اداروں کی زیر سرپرستی پر قد آور درخت بن رہے ہیں ان کے جال کو اتنی مضبوطی سے پھیلایا گیا ہے کہ ایک غریب آدمی اپنے
بچوں کو مدرسوں میں قرآن پاک سکھانے سے کتراتے ہے کہ کہیں ایسا نہ ہو کہ میرالخت جگر ان کے چنگل میں پھنس جائے
اب دالبندین پاکستانی جہادیوں کا ایک اہم گڑھ بن چکا ہے _ سینکڑوں کے حساب سے "القلم"اخبار، C.D جہادی کتابیں اور لٹریچر نوعمر نوجوانوں کو مفت میں
دئیے جا رہے ہے اور شہر کے وسط میں واقع جامع مسجد میں مغرب سے لے کر اذان تک باہر سے آئے ہوئے جہادی علماء لاوڈ سپیکر پر تقاریر کررہے ہیں_
انکی تقریروں اور جہادی ترانوں سے مسجد کے قریب تمام گھرانوں کے افراد نیند سے محروم رہتے ہیں_ دالبندین میں تین چار جگہوں پر ان کے ٹھکانے ہیں
جہاں یہ چھوٹے چھوٹے نوعمر بچوں اور نوجوانوں کو بندوق چلانے اور کھولنے کی تربیت سمیت اپنی ہدف تک پہنجنے کے لیے پوزیشن کی تربیت دے
ہیں_ ان کی ٹھکانوں میں قیام طعام مفت ہے _ ان کے جھنڈوں، پوسٹر، اور چاکنگ سے دالبندین کا حلیہ ایک جہادی ٹریننگ سینٹر کا منظر پیش کر رہا ہےرہے  _
دالبندین شہر سے شمال کی جانب عورتوں کو دین سکھانے کے لیے ایک بہت بڑی درسگاہ بنائی گئی ہے_ جہاں کراچی کے رہنے والی ایک مذہبی عورت
نے دالبندین کے ایک رہائشی مولوی سے شادی کر لی ہے_ درس دیتی ہے اصل میں اس خاتون نے بڑی تعداد میں دالبندین کی سادہ لوح لڑکیوں کو پاکستانی جس
کادرس دینے کے لیے ہی لائی گئی ہےجہاد  _
دالبندین کے عوام کو سمجھ نہیں آرہی کہ وہ ان کا مقابلہ کیسے کریں_ اگر کسی گھر میں کوئی بھوت اپنا ٹھکانا کرنا چاہے تو اسے ابتدا میں نکالنا آسان ہے اگر
وقت گزرتا جائے اور آپ دھیان نہ دیں تو اس بھوت کو نکالنا مشکل ہوتا ہے _
ہمیں شعوری طور پر اس بارے میں سوچنا چاہیے _

منت وار

Analytics: The Real-World Use of Big Data

The term "big data" is pervasive today and still the notion engenders confusion. Big data has been used to convey all sorts of ideas, including: huge quantities of data, social media analytics, next generation data management capabilities, real-time data, and much more. Whatever the label, organizations are starting to understand and explore how to utilize such solutions to process and analyze a vast array of information in new ways. In doing so, a small, but growing group of pioneers is achieving breakthrough business outcomes.

We sought to better understand how organizations view big data – and to what extent they are currently using it to benefit their businesses. The IBM Institute for Business Value partnered with the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford to conduct the 2012 Big Data @ Work Study, surveying 1144 business and IT professionals in more than 130 countries, and interviewing more than two dozen academics, subject matter experts and business executives.

To compete in a globally-integrated economy, today's organizations need a comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, regulations, competitors, suppliers, employees and more. This understanding demands the effective use of information and analytics. Next to their employees, many companies consider information to be their most valuable and differentiated asset.

Now, with the emergence and expanding adoption of big data, organizations worldwide are discovering new ways to compete and win – transforming themselves to take advantage of the vast array of available information to improve decision-making and performance throughout the enterprise. Not every organization will need to manage for the full spectrum of big data capabilities, but opportunities to utilize new data, technology and analysis techniques exist in almost every industry.

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China's renminbi challenge

SEOUL — Last month, China unveiled its first aircraft carrier, and is gearing up to challenge the United States in the South China Sea. By initiating a plan to internationalize its currency, China is similarly seeking to challenge the dollar on the international stage.

In carving out a global role for the renminbi, Chinese policymakers are proceeding deliberately. In the words of the venerable Chinese proverb, they are "feeling for the stones while crossing the river."

The authorities' first step was to authorize Chinese companies to use the renminbi in cross-border trade settlements. As foreign firms exporting to China accepted payment in renminbi, the currency piled up in their bank accounts in Hong Kong.

That led to the next step: Foreign firms wishing to invest in China were allowed to tap those deposits by issuing renminbi-denominated bonds, and eligible offshore financial institutions were permitted to invest renminbi funds in China's interbank bond market.

Then, last summer, China announced plans to allow banks in Hong Kong to lend renminbi to companies in Shenzhen, opening that city financially to the rest of the world. The expectation is that if financial opening works in Shenzhen, it will be implemented more widely.

Finally, as a step toward making the renminbi a reserve currency, China signed currency-swap agreements with the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. Meanwhile, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Chile have already acquired modest amounts of renminbi reserves. Other central banks are expected to follow.

So, will China's plan for transforming the renminbi into an international rival to the dollar succeed?

The answer, in my view, turns on how China addresses four challenges. First, China will have to build more liquid financial markets. Its bond markets remain small, and trading volume is low, because the majority of bonds are held to maturity by domestic investors. This is a matter of considerable importance to central banks, which value liquidity when deciding which currencies to hold as reserve. After all, it is the liquidity of U.S. Treasury bonds that makes them the world's leading reserve asset.

Second, much will depend on how China navigates the transition to a more open capital account. History is littered with financial crises occurring in the wake of precipitous capital-account liberalization. Falling prey to a crisis would not exactly encourage international use of China's currency.

Third, the renminbi's international and reserve-currency prospects will be shaped by how China handles its growth slowdown. The key will be whether it manages a smooth deceleration, in which case renminbi internationalization will proceed, or suffers a hard landing, in which case social unrest will intensify and all bets are off.

The last challenge can be stated as a question that is rarely posed: Is China's political system an obstacle to renminbi internationalization?

The pound sterling and the dollar, the principal international and reserve currencies of the 19th and 20th centuries respectively, were issued by democracies. Britain and the U.S. had contested elections and political systems that limited the arbitrary exercise of executive power — institutions that are absent in China's political system.

One reason why democracy might matter for international currency status is that democratically elected governments are best able to make the credible commitments needed to develop deep and liquid financial markets.

They can commit not to expropriate creditors, since the latter will vote them out of office if they do. And the same respect for creditor rights that reassures domestic investors reassures foreign investors — both official and private — as well.

Might it be possible for China to establish limits on arbitrary executive power and strengthen creditor rights sufficiently without undertaking a full-fledged transition to democracy?

Until now, constraints on decision-making by the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the country's highest-ranking official, have been — how to put it politely? — limited. But that is beginning to change. The general secretary is increasingly constrained by the CCP's other institutions. The deliberations of the National People's Congress, for example, are becoming less ceremonial and more substantive.

Other bureaucratic decision-makers, for their part, are increasingly constrained by requirements of transparency and disclosure. Internet-based movements are forcing Chinese policymakers to strengthen labor and environmental standards. Why not creditor rights?

Since the early 19th century, the leading international currencies have been those of countries with democratic political systems, where arbitrary official action is constrained and creditors are well represented. This does not imply that China must have a Democratic Spring before the renminbi becomes a leading international and reserve currency. But it does suggest that it will have to strengthen the powers of the National People's Congress further and create a more transparent rules-based bureaucracy in order to achieve its monetary goals.

Barry Eichengreen is a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley. © Project Syndicate, 2012. www.project-syndicate.org

October 19, 2012

For hardy political 'ethic', a battle of survival

AJAZ ASHRAF Hindu 19X12 Oped
India Against Corruption has broken the unwritten code that politicians will not target each other's kin, and in doing so has taken over the role the traditional Opposition and media should be playing

The civil society formation, India Against Corruption, is a beast most find stunning and enthralling, yet few are able to define its precise nature. The confusion over IAC's personality arises from the many simultaneous roles its activists have arrogated for themselves. They are India's muckrakers, exposing the underbelly of its politics and ferociously working as a democracy watchdog, considered the defining features of the media. They have usurped the role of the Opposition parties, albeit outside Parliament, providing the government no quarter and demanding accountability for its action and inaction. In fact, over the past two years, they have become the Opposition, launching a popular movement, setting the country's agenda, and dominating the national consciousness — all traditionally considered attributes of a party/coalition waiting to replace the one in power.

Some of their multiple roles are in conflict with each other. They are the Opposition, yet wish to have no truck with political parties classified under the same rubric. In firing salvos against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, they have simultaneously positioned themselves as both anti-ruling and anti-Opposition parties. They are now set to enter the electoral arena, believing they must acquire at least a modicum of power to curb its rampant misuse. Yet the wish to acquire power hasn't deterred them from becoming the nation's conscience-keepers, not just through rhetoric but through audacious exposés that reveal the unconscionable side of Indian politics and the weakening of many institutions.

Vadra and DLF

Take IAC's sensational revelation about the business deals between Robert Vadra and real estate giant DLF. It was in March 2011 that The Economic Times featured a story on Vadra's entry into the realty business, in a tone bordering on laudatory, yet revealing most of the aspects IAC's Arvind Kejriwal disclosed earlier this month. For more than a year, the media ignored the story. They then blithely splashed Kejriwal's charges in banner headlines, even as they desisted from providing the precise context of the deal, until first The Hindu and then Business Standard explained its intricacies. Did we journalists keep silent because of our fear of a possible blowback from the powerful? Or was our silence a consequence of our middle class prejudices which dissuaded us from railing against one of the Gandhis? Do we court silence over allegations of corruption against other politicians, say, Laloo Prasad Yadav, whose wealth was inquired into because of the lavish wedding he held for his daughter?

The media's reluctance to investigate the Vadra-DLF deals prompted political scientist Yogendra Yadav, now a member of IAC, to write that the political class is shaken and stirred because Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal have violated a "code of silence observed in Delhi's corridors of power." To bolster his argument, he added, "During Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime, everyone knew about (his foster son-in-law) Ranjan Bhattacharya's role in the PMO, or the late Pramod Mahajan's multifaceted adventures. Yet neither the media nor the then opposition spoke about it in public."

Centaur hotels

Outlook magazine, where I worked from July 2000 to February 2012, did feature a story on the complicity between big business and Vajpayee's Prime Minister's Office (PMO), but was silenced through raids on its proprietor. In 2005, a year after the ouster of Vajpayee's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from power, journalist Rajesh Ramachandran worked over three months to establish a link between Bhattacharya and the companies to which two Centaur Hotels in Mumbai were sold. The story had been cleared as a cover, but a day before the magazine was to go to the press, it was summarily pulled out. The editor-in-chief displayed ample candour in disclosing to senior editors, of whom I was one, that the story had been withdrawn at the proprietor's behest.

Ramachandran handed over the Outlook cover story to journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Prashant Bhushan and CPI (M) MP Dipankar Mukherjee, who as the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation, under the jurisdiction of which Centaur Hotels fell, had then recommended a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inquiry into the Centaur Hotel deals. The details of the deals were disclosed by the trio at a press conference on July 27, 2005 in Delhi. You would have thought the ruling Congress party, perpetually sniping at the BJP, couldn't possible forsake the opportunity to weaken its principal rival.

But the trio's press conference didn't set the Yamuna ablaze. The nation now knows why. Congress leader Digvijay Singh declared this week, "We don't target people who are not in politics. This is ethics…For example, Ranjan Bhattacharya was not in politics but he was living with Vajpayee. Have we ever said a word about Ranjan?" When told the Congress perhaps didn't have evidence against him, Singh replied, "Don't ask me that, we have enough evidence…but we would not (raise it)."

The consensus among politicians not to target each other's kith and kin is bewildering, particularly as families dominate our democracy and their progeny often deploy parental power to amass wealth. The political class has its own hierarchy, at the top of which are perched a clutch of families, protected from investigations by media barons, editors and even political rivals. This is precisely why the Opposition parties relinquished the chance of developing the details reported in The Economic Times to pillory the Congress in Parliament. It is into this vacuum that IAC has stepped, turning on its head what had been traditionally the process through which issues are brought into the public domain. Usually, the media unearths scams implicating the dispensation in power; political parties then raise them in Parliament, as also outside it, demanding probes. Precisely the opposite seems to be happening now — civil society activists raise issues of corruption and the media and political parties follow it. From initiating a movement to adopt a Jan Lokpal Bill, an issue pending for decades, to making a series of revelations implicating political bigwigs, IAC appears, as of now, to straddle the entire opposition space.

No wonder then, IAC has also become the nation's conscience-keeper, a role normally performed by those outside the matrix of electoral politics. Like them, IAC activists seek to reform the nature of the political class and its ethos, in the process inventing a new political idiom. In a country witnessing an expansion of the urban middle class, to which most IAC activists belong, they seem to have opened an avenue for its most robust participation. They have, inadvertently or otherwise, discovered a new method of building a political party, the direction in which IAC is decisively headed. They are entering the electoral arena not through just rhetoric and promises but through political action that displays their intent and resolve to extricate India from the cesspool of corruption.

It is said the best advertisement for any publication is the story it publishes. You can now say that the best advertisement for an emerging party is to repeatedly expose, in the full glare of the media spotlight, the sheer hollowness of the existing political class.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a Delhi-based journalist. Email:ashrafajaz3@gmail.com)

'Chinese n-help emboldened Pakistan to fuel Kashmir insurgency'

New Delhi, Oct 16, 2012, (IANS):

Chinese assistance to Pakistan in developing a nuclear bomb emboldened it to fuel the Kashmir insurgency in 1989, says a noted security expert who has done considerable research on the issue.

"Till 1989, not much was known about Pakistan's nuclear programme. The first indication was (disgraced scientist) A.Q. Khan's interview to (Indian journalist) Kuldip Nayar in which he spoke about possessing the bomb. It all came together when the azadi movement erupted in 1989. There was the sudden realisation of Pakistan's capability," Rear Admiral (retd) K Raja Menon  told IANS.

The Kashmir insurgency could "never have been embarked upon if the Pakistanis had not had their confidence bolstered by the ownership of nuclear weapons", added Menon, a former assistant chief of naval staff (operations) who has also referred to the subject in his book "The Nuclear Strategy for India".

Speaking on the subject at a seminar here last week, Menon said: "There is a direct link between Chinese nuclear assistance to Pakistan and trans-border terror attacks which we have been a bit shy of bringing to the notice of the Chinese authorities."

"A great diplomatic offensive is called for to explain to the Chinese that instability on the sub-continent is initiated by Chinese nuclear assistance to Pakistan," he said at the second roundtable discussion on "50 Years After 1962: India-China Relations" organised by the India International Centre, the Subbu Forum and the Society for Policy Studies (SPS).

Menon also wondered whether then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf would have embarked on the 1999 Kargil war or terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba on the Dec 2001 parliament attack "without the confidence that conventional war has become difficult on the sub-continent".

"The price to pay for indulging in terror attacks across the border appears to have been watered down by Pakistan's nuclear weapons," he added.

Thus, the "worst aspect" of the Chinese aid "has been the effect it has had on terror motivation from across the border", Menon noted.

He also said that China's "duplicity" in helping Pakistan develop its nuclear bomb while simultaneously improving ties with India was "unbelievable".

"China has a record of duplicity with India that is unbelievable. Remarkably, the relationship between India and China began to improve from 1985 onwards but yet this was the very period when they were arming Pakistan against India.

"Every time there was a major state visit, behind the scenes the Chinese would be transferring some major weapon or component to Pakistan," Menon said and then went on to list eight instances of this "duplicity":

1981-83: Chinese foreign minister  Huang Hua visits India on his first visit/China signs nuclear deal with Pakistan; Chinese give plutonium bomb design to Pakistan; CIA breaks open A.Q. Khan's briefcase in the US and discovers the Chinese bomb design.

1987-88: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi makes what is called path-breaking visit to China/Chinese material starts flowing into Pakistan.

1989-90: Chinese premier Li Peng visits India; Sino-Indian relationship apparently thaws/China tests Pakistan's bomb in Lop-Nor; Pakistan becomes a nuclear power/Missile collaboration deal signed; Transfers of M11 missiles starts.

1992: President R. Venkataraman visits China/China explodes bomb during the visit/M11 transfers completed.

1993: Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao visits China/Second consignment of M11 missiles shipped to Pakistan.

1994-96: Chinese President Jiang Zemin visits India/Entire M9 missile factory shipped to Pakistan/Two consignments of ring magnets sent to Pakistan for centrifuges/Furnace shipped to Khushab for plutomium bomb/M9 factory operational in Fatehjung.

1997-99: External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visits China (1999)/North Korea's No-Dong missiles transit China to Pakistan, refuelling in China/Pakistan tests Ghauri/Shaheen I comes out of Fatehjung.

2000: Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visits India/Chinese aid to Pakistani scientists continues through visits and training

October 18, 2012






According to a belated report disseminated by Radio Free Asia, there has been a suicide attack in the interior areas of Xinjiang.

2. Coinciding with the observance of the Chinese National Day on October 1,2012, an unidentified motorcyclist reportedly  drove into a post of the People's Armed Policeat Kargilik (in Chinese Yecheng) in the Kashgar Prefecture causing an explosion which killed a number of policemen. A local villager has been quoted as saying that the PAP post suffered about 20 casualties, but there has been no confirmation of the details of the attack from the local authorities.

3.This area had seen three incidents since December last. In the December incident, the Chinese border authorities allegedly shot dead seven Uighurs-including some women and children-- who were trying to illegally flee to Pakistan through the Guma area. After the incident, they projected them as terrorist suspects.

4.In the second incident, believed to be in retaliation for this, 20 persons, mostly Han Chinese, were stabbed to death in the Kargilik area in February. The third incident on October 1,2012, is also believed to be in retaliation for the December incident.

5. For the last one month, the Chinese authorities have stepped up physical security in the Xinjiang province as a precautionary measure before the forthcoming 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China on November 8. Despite this, the suicide attack of October 1 has taken place.Following this suicide attack, more PAP units from outside the province have been inducted into Xinjiang to further tighten security.

6. Meanwhile, like the Tibetan diaspora, representatives of the Uighur diaspora have also held  on October 1 a brain-storming session at Munich in Germany to discuss the likely policies of the new CPC leadership which will be taking over on November 8 towards the Uighurs.Mr.XiJinping will be taking over as the General Secretary of the Party from Mr.Hu Jintao. He will take over as the State President from Mr.Hu in March next year.

7.Xi is the  son of liberal-minded former Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun, who was purged from the CPC ahead of the Cultural Revolution. Before his purge, it used to be said that he was sympathetic to the ethnic minorities and had a close personal friendship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.Moreover, the wife of Mr.XiJinping is reported to be a practising Buddhist.

8.Despite these factors, Mr.XiJinping has till now subscribed to the party's two-pronged policy of firm enforcement of law and order in Tibet and Xinjiang and a rapid economic development of these areas in order to bring them on par with the economic development in the Han areas of China. He has also been subscribing to the policy of stepped-up Han migration to these areas to give the Hans an effective control.

9.In view of this, any hopes among members of the Tibetan and Uighur diaspora abroad that Mr.XiJinping might soften the policy towards the ethnic minorities may not be based on reality.(18-10-12)

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


October 15, 2012

MORAL: Anger and love have no limits

While a man was polishing his new car, his 4 year old son picked stone & scratched lines on the side of car. In anger, the man took the child's hand & hit it many times, not realizing he was using a wrench. At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. When the child saw his father...with painful eyes he asked 'Dad when will my fingers grow back?' Man was so hurt and speechless. He went back to car and kicked it many times. Devastated by his own actions... sitting in front of the car he looked at the scratches, child had written 'LOVE YOU DAD'. 

Next day that man committed suicide...

~ Anger and love have no limits ; the truth is - things are to be used and people are to be loved. But today many a times it is seen that people are used and things are loved. ~

October 14, 2012



October 14,2012, was a sad day for Shri Salman Khurshid, India's Law Minister, and the "India Today" group , which owns a number of print journals and TV channels.

2.A non-governmental humanitarian trust for assisting physically disadvantaged people with which his wife Ms.Louise is reportedly associated has been the target of allegations of wrongful use of funds amounting to about eight million rupees sanctioned by the Government for humanitarian relief.

3.A Hindi TV channel of the "India Today" group and the India Against Corruption (IAC) group headed by ShriArvindKejriwal, a non-governmental activist, seeking to enter politics by highlighting instances of political corruption have been spearheading the campaign against ShriKhurshid on these allegations against the humanitarian trust.

4.The two campaigns have been trying to project themselves as separate from each other without any orchestrated co-ordination, but an undeclared, but evident convergence of objective between the two is discernible to any objective observer. That objective is to exploit the suspected misuse of the funds to cause public discomfiture to ShriKhurshid .

5. The agenda of the IAC against ShriKhurshid is obvious. ShriKhurshid as the Law Minister was in the forefront of a group of Ministers of the Dr.Manmohan Singh Government which had mounted a spirited public defence of Shri Robert Vadra, the husband ofMs.Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Mrs.Sobnia Gandhi, the Congress President, who has been accused by  the IAC group of accumulating huge wealth beyond his known sources of income.The IAC group is trying to use the allegations against the humanitarian trust for discrediting ShriKhurshid and disabling him from defending ShriVadra. The agenda of the "India Today" group in its campaign is not clear to me.

6. A campaign whose objective should have been to ensure that public funds meant for humanitarian relief of the physically disadvantaged are  properly used for their benefit has been submerged in an overall political campaign to weaken the credibility of the Law Minister and add to the public anger against the Congress and the Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh.

7. The allegations against the Trust are very sensitive from the point of view of the likely impact on the public mind. Any allegation or suspicion that the physically disadvantaged were sought to be exploited for individual financial benefit will go to the heart of any right-thinking person.

8. ShriKhurshid is a highly sophisticated Minister and individual with a sophisticated mind. He should have immediately realised the implications of the likely public impact of the allegations and taken action to establish the truth. The proper course of action for him would have been to step aside from the post of Law Minister by either resigning or asking the Prime Minister to transfer the portfolio to another Minister and  to order an impartial enquiry into the allegations.

9. Instead, ShriKhurshid got involved in an unedifying and undignified slanging match with the IAC and "India Today" groups. His Press Conference on October 14, which was totally unnecessary, was a spectacle of outbursts of anger and intimidation unworthy of him.

10.The equally unworthy behaviour of the IAC group is understandable because of the political ambitions of ShriKejriwal. What is not understandable is the unworthy and unprofessional behaviour of the "India Today" group in this controversy.One had never seen such media viciousness as one saw in the behaviour of this group.

11. A highly reputed and highly admired  journalist member of the "India Today" family kept disseminating gleeful Tweets from the Press Conference about the discomfiture being caused to ShriKhurshid and about the way he was making a spectacle of himself through his self-righteous outpourings.

12. In a brilliant article in the "Hindustan Times" of October 13,2012, Ms.BarkhaDutt, Group Editor of NDTV, who is presently on a three-month fellowship to the Brown University of the US to write a book, has drawn attention to the phenomenon and perceptions of bias in the conventional media and the counter-bias in Net-based new media and social media networks.



13. Bias has always been there in Indian journalism since we became independent in 1947. This has become aggravated due to the growing polarisation of the Indian society. What is new is the growing viciousness in the Indian media. We saw an example of such viciousness directed against ShriKhurshid on October 14,2012.

14. There is a need for an introspection by the Indian media over the direction in which it has been going.

( 15-10-12)

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

Kerala Schools to teach Samskrit from First Standard

October 1st, 2012, 9:11 pm

Kasaragodu, Kerala: Kerala Govt. has decided to teach Samskrit to kids from first standard. The decision was taken in the cabinet meeting held in the capital. Henceforth, students have an option to choose Samskrit as one of the languages to learn from first standard itself. Earlier, this option was there from fifth standard. Now on, it starts from first standard itself. Recently, Samskrit teachers association had submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on this matter. Cabinet has reviewed and approved it now. The cabinet has also decided to include the life and teachings of Sri Narayana Guru in history and language text books for children of all age groups.  Please visit the following site to pick up the story : 

A liability for our nuclear plans

M. R. Srinivasan

Tough provisions in the 2010 law are making it difficult to move ahead even with projects designed and built by India
In the context of the ongoing debate on Kudankulam, the question of nuclear liability has come to the fore again. As a person who engaged with this question almost 50 years ago, I would like to throw some light on the subject. As a lead member of the Indian team negotiating the Tarapur contract with the Americans, it fell to my remit to address this matter. General Electric and Westinghouse, who were the serious bidders, explained to us the practice in the United States whereby the owner-operator of the plant assumed the nuclear liability risk. The operator indemnified suppliers of equipment because the financial risk of a nuclear accident, though very remote, could not be reasonably factored in by the chain of suppliers involved in a nuclear project, in their contracts. The owner-operators of nuclear power plant, who were mostly investor-owned utilities, were asked to take insurance up to a limit available in the market. The U.S government assumed liability beyond the insurable limit up to another limit set under the Price-Anderson Act, passed by the U.S Congress. The limit set under the Price-Anderson Act has been increased progressively from time to time.
Protection in the contract

General Electric, chosen to build Tarapur, wanted an indemnity protection similar to what it was extended in the U.S. Initially, it insisted that there should be legislative protection. On the Indian side, we felt it was premature to pass a law as we were then thinking of building only a small number of nuclear power units to demonstrate the economic feasibility of nuclear power under Indian conditions. We persuaded G.E. that a protection in the contract, which was in any case approved by the Government of India, would be adequate. When an agreement with the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) was drawn up for building the first two reactors at Rajasthan, a similar indemnity protection was extended to AECL and its suppliers. Since India took up building nuclear power units of its own design, indemnity protection has been a part of nearly all supply contracts.

One may ask, in hindsight, if India did the right thing in extending such nuclear liability protection in the past. If we had not done so, we would not have been able to import our first two reactors from the U.S., nor the second pair from Canada. There is no doubt whatever that India gained a great deal by building the Tarapur reactors with U.S. collaboration. India learnt early the problems of operating nuclear power units in our grid systems and also in managing a complex nuclear installation with our own engineers and technicians. In the case of cooperation with Canada, India was able to get the basic knowhow of the pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR). Thereafter, we progressed on our own to design and build 16 PHWRs in seven locations. Now we are building four 700 megawatt PHWRs of our own design. Four more will follow soon and possibly another four will also be built, thus making a total of 12 PHWRs of 700MW each. Therefore, early cooperation with Canada helped us to become a designer and builder of nuclear power plants.

Let us look at the way an owner-operator manages a nuclear power plant. Even where a plant has been supplied by a single entity under a turnkey contract, many vendors, often running into thousands, would have supplied many components. During operation, the operator incorporates many changes and modifications to improve the reliability, ease of operation and efficiency. They may or may not have been done in full consultation with the original suppliers of equipment. Chances that sub-suppliers would be consulted on changes are very small. Moreover, nuclear power plants operate for 50 years or longer; our first two Tarapur reactors have in fact completed 43 years. So on objective grounds, the operating entity being solely responsible for nuclear liability is grounded in sound reason. There are about 430 reactors operating in 30 countries the world over. All of them, without exception, have been built under arrangements where nuclear liability flows to the operator. The operator, depending on the political system prevailing in the country, covers the risk to the extent possible by insurance. The government of the country takes up the liability beyond the insurance limit; it may also define an upper limit to its own liability, through legislation. Under the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, a multilateral convention, participating states can also share the liability risk to a defined extent.

India took up the task of drafting a nuclear liability Act whose primary purpose was to ensure prompt compensation to any member of the public who might have suffered injury, death or damage to property due to a nuclear accident. Much of the debate in India took place in the context of the Bhopal tragedy, which was also being considered by Parliament at the same time. In this atmosphere, the legislation that was passed included a right of recourse for the operator against the supplier in case of latent or patent defects or wilful misconduct. We must remember that for our own projects based on our own technology, we depend on a large number of Indian suppliers. The value of these contracts may run into several hundred crores or maybe as low as a crore or less. These suppliers cannot be expected to cover themselves for large value risks of long duration. Therefore, under the rules to be drafted, the Department of Atomic Energy has tried to inject realism by defining the duration of the risk to be the product liability period or five years, whichever is less, and a cap on the risk being the value of the contract. We find that long-standing suppliers of DAE and NPCIL are unhappy to go along even with these caps, as they feel that carrying large contingent liabilities on their books hurts their credit ratings. They, therefore, prefer to move to non-nuclear activities, even though they have acquired valuable nuclear expertise on work done earlier.

In much of the debate in the media and in our courts, it is often suggested that the nuclear liability legislation has been written to suit foreign MNCs.

The fact is that after 2008, when India signed nuclear cooperation agreements with the U.S, France and Russia (and some other countries), not even one contract for the import of reactors has been signed to date. With France, discussions have covered technical and safety issues, and commercial discussions are in progress now. In the case of the U.S., the discussions are still on technical and safety issues. Only in the case of Russia was an agreement signed in 2008 for Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam, essentially as an extension of the agreement covering Units 1 and 2. Prices have been derived for Units 3 and 4 using the earlier price as a basis. The loan agreement also is based on the earlier pattern.
The 2008 agreement

The 2008 agreement provides that India would extend indemnity protection for Units 3 and 4, on the same lines as Units 1 and 2. I had in fact negotiated the earlier agreement in 1988, in keeping with the prevailing international practice. If India wants the Units 3 and 4 agreement to comply with its 2010 liability legislation, there is a danger that the entire 2008 agreement may be reopened.

Some of our legal experts point out that the law of the land is "Polluter Pays". This may be so on paper. In practice, all our thermal power stations are putting out carbon dioxide, which is a pollutant. Are they paying for that? Similarly, all our cities are putting out sewage and solid waste to the environment. Again, sadly, they are not paying for that. In fact nuclear energy poses the least pollution hazard; there is no fly ash, acid rain, or carbon dioxide released into the environment. Units 1 and 2 of Kudankulam were built under a contract entered into in 1988 (and renewed in 1998), before our liability legislation of 2010. We are finding great difficulty in moving ahead with Indian designed and built projects due to some of the provisions of the 2010 legislation. We must arrive at a solution whereby electric power generation growth is assisted to the maximum extent possible, while ensuring that the safety of the people is in no way adversely impacted. With regards to Kudankulam 1 and 2, the delay of one year has already pushed up the tariff from Rs. 3 per KWH to Rs 3.25 per KWH. Any further delay will similarly increase the cost of power to the consumers.

(M.R. Srinivasan is a member of the Atomic Energy Commission and a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission)