November 10, 2012

No takers for Karnatak University Dharwad Sanskrit course


Srinivas Reddy, TNN | Nov 8, 2012

HUBLI: Sanskrit is considered the mother of all languages in India, but unfortunately it is being meted step-motherly treatment. The PG course on Sanskrit in Karnatak University, Dharwad (KUD), has had almost no takers this year. Worse, Sanskrit faculty in the department have been shifted to administration and sportsdepartment in the university. 

Against an intake of 10 students, this year only three students enrolled for the course. Earlier the Sanskrit department used to get around 9-10 students every year, but the number was steadily declining and it dropped to its worst count of three this academic year. B L Naduni, chairman, department of Sanskrit, KUD, said: "We enrolled five students last year while only three students have come this year in Sanskrit department." 

One of the main reasons why students are not opting for Sanskrit at KUD is its hefty fee. They find private colleges in Dharwad offering cheaper alternatives. The fee structure in KUD for Sanskrit first year PG is around Rs 18,000 but in private colleges it comes to less than Rs 10,000.

Earlier, most of the students from Dakshina Kannada used to take admission for Sanskrit in KUD. But after a local college in Kateel affiliated to Mangalore University began Sanskrit course, students from Sirsi, Siddapur, Kumta, Karwar and others parts of Dakshina Kannada are taking admission in that college. So there are very few takers for KUD's PG course, Naduni said. 

Then there's the problem of employment. Those who complete PG Sanskrit course have limited options. They can pursue career as priests or work as Sanskrit teachers in schools and colleges. 

Job opportunities for Sanskrit graduates are few and far between while there are more opportunities for students who opt for languages like Kannada or Hindi, said a Sanskrit lecturer from KUD, who didn't want to be named.

November 09, 2012

Pakistan's minority Hindus feel under attack

By REBECCA SANTANA, Associated Press – 1 day ago  

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — They came after dusk and chanted into the night sky "Kill the Hindus, kill the children of the Hindus," as they smashed religious icons, ripped golden bangles off women's arms and flashed pistols. It wasn't the first time that the Hindu temple on the outskirts of Pakistan's largest city was attacked, and residents here fear it will not be the last.

"People don't consider us as equal citizens. They beat us whenever they want," said Mol Chand, one of the teenage boys gathered at the temple. "We have no place to worship now."

It was the second time the Sri Krishna Ram temple has been attacked, and this time the mob didn't even bother to disguise their faces. The small temple, surrounded by a stone wall, is a tiny religious outpost in a dusty, hardscrabble neighborhood so far on the outskirts of the city that a sign on the main road wishes people leaving Karachi a good journey.

Local Muslim residents blamed people from a nearby ethnic Pashtun village for the attack, which took place in late September on the Day of Love for the Prophet, a national holiday declared by the government in response to an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. No one was seriously injured in the attack.

It was the latest in a rising tide of violence and discrimination against Hindus in this 95 percent Muslim country, where Islamic extremism is growing. Pakistan's Hindu community says it faces forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam, a lack of legal recognition for their marriages, discrimination in services and physical abuse when they venture into the streets.

The story of the Hindu population in Pakistan is one of long decline. During partition in 1947, the violent separation of Pakistan and India into separate countries, hundreds of thousands of Hindus opted to migrate to India where Hinduism is the dominant religion. Those that remained and their descendants now make up a tiny fraction of Pakistan's estimated 190 million citizens, and are mostly concentrated in Sindh province in the southern part of the country.

Signs of their former stature abound in Karachi, the capital of Sindh. At the 150-year-old Swami Narayan Temple along one of the city's main roads, thousands of Hindus gather during the year to celebrate major religious holidays. Hindus at the 200-year-old Laxmi Narain Temple scatter the ashes of their cremated loved ones in the waters of an inlet from the Arabian Ocean.

But there are also signs of how far the community has fallen. Residents in a city hungry for land have begun to build over Hindu cemeteries, the community's leaders say. Hindus helped build Karachi's port decades ago, but none work there now.

Estimates of the size of the Hindu population in Pakistan are all over the map — from 2.5 million or 10 million in Sindh province alone to 7 million across the country — a reflection of the fact that the country hasn't had a census since 1998.

It isn't just Hindus who are facing problems. Other minorities like Christians, the mystical Muslim branch of Sufis and the Ahmadi sect have found themselves under attack in Pakistan, where the rise of Muslim fundamentalists has sometimes unleashed a violent opposition against those who don't follow their strict religious tenets.

The discrimination has prompted some Hindus to leave for India, activists warn, though the extent is not known. Around 3,000 Hindus left this year, part of a migration that began four years ago, sparked by discrimination and a general rise in crime in Sindh, said DM Maharaj, who heads an organization to help Hindus called Pakistan Hindu Sabha.

He said he recently talked to a group of Hindus preparing to move to India from rural Sindh, complaining that they can't eat in Muslim restaurants or that Muslim officials turned them down for farming loans. Even during recent floods, they said Muslims did not want them staying in the same refugee camps.

Other Hindu figures such as provincial assembly member Pitamber Sewami deny there's a migration at all, in a reflection of how sensitive the issue is. Earlier this year, there were a string of reports in Pakistani media about Hindus leaving the country, sparking a flurry of promises by Pakistani officials to investigate.

In India, a Home office official said the Indian government noticed an upward trend of people coming from Pakistan but called reports of Pakistanis fleeing to India "exaggerated." He said he does not have exact figures on how many Pakistani Hindus have stayed in India after entering the country on tourist visas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic.

There's more of a consensus of the seriousness of the problem of forced conversion of Hindus.

Zohra Yusuf, the president of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says the pattern goes like this: A Hindu girl goes missing and then resurfaces days or weeks later married to a Muslim boy. During court hearings to determine whether the conversion was voluntary, students from nearby Islamic schools called madrassas often flood the room, trying to intimidate the judges by chanting demands that the conversion be confirmed.

Maharaj says he's tried to intervene in roughly 100 cases of forced conversions but has only succeeded in returning a girl safely back to her family once. If a girl decides to renounce Islam and return to Hinduism, she could be signing a death warrant for herself and her family even if her conversion was forced.

The Hindu community has also been hurt by a lack of unity within its ranks. Hindu society within Pakistan and elsewhere has historically been divided by caste, a system of social stratification in which the lower castes are often seen as inferior. Members of the lower castes in Pakistan say it wasn't until two girls from a high-caste family were forcibly converted this year that high-caste Hindus took the issue seriously, although it's been happening for years.

"We always fight our war ourselves," said Bholoo Devjee, a Hindu activist from Karachi, speaking about the lower castes.

In recent months the government has begun to take the concerns of the Hindu community more seriously. In Sindh province, legislators proposed a law to prevent forced conversions in part by implementing a waiting period before a marriage between a Hindu and a Muslim can go forward, and there's discussion about proposing such a law on the national level as well.

In the case of the Sri Krishna Ram temple, law enforcement authorities opened a blasphemy case against the people who rampaged through the building. But residents here are skeptical that these developments signify any long-term improvement in their plight. Weeks after the incident no arrests have been made, and the Hindus complain that no high-ranking Hindu officials have come to visit them or help them get compensation.

Sunda Maharaj, the spiritual leader at the temple, which was first attacked in January 2011, said he and the other residents do not want to move to India. "We are Pakistani," he said.

But he would like more help from the government, specifically a checkpoint to stop people from getting close to the temple and money for the Hindus to buy weapons.

"Next time anyone comes we can kill them or die defending our temple," he said.
Follow Rebecca Santana on Twitter (at)ruskygal.

Associated Press writers Adil Jawad in Karachi and Nirmala George in New Delhi contributed to this report.

Pakistan tells Bangladesh to ‘bury the past’

By: Agencies | November 10, 2012


DHAKA  – Pakistan told Bangladesh to carry forward bilateral ties by 'burying the past' when former East Pakistan demanded a formal apology from Islamabad for the alleged excesses committed by its troops during the 1971 war.Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who was on 6-hour tour to Dhaka, also invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to attend 8th D-8 Summit to be held in Islamabad on November 22.

The apology issue came up in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two Muslim South Asian states, which had began their journey of freedom together in 1947 as a single state but were separated in 1971 as a result of Pakistan-India war, preceded by New Delhi-stoked insurgency in the Eastern wing of the united Pakistan.
Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes quoted Foreign Minister Dipu Moni as telling her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar that Bangladesh expects an apology from Pakistan. "The foreign minister has raised the 1971 issue and expected that Pakistan would apologise at one stage," Quayes told reporters after the meeting.

"There are some unresolved issues between the two governments and she expects that Pakistan would come forward to resolve them," the foreign secretary said, adding that Foreign Minister Moni also underscored the need for resolving other outstanding issues.

In response, the Pakistani foreign minister said since 1974 Islamabad has "at different times and in different manners expressed its regret for the 1971 incidents", the foreign secretary said. "She (Khar) said it is now the time to proceed forward and bury the past," Quayes added.

Later, Hina Khar – the first Pakistani minister to visit Dhaka since the ruling Awami League assumed office three years ago – met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Ganobhaban residence and handed over an invitation letter from President Asif Ali Zardari to attend the Developing-8 Summit to be held on Nov 22 in Islamabad.
Sheikh Hasina, only founding member of D-8 now in office, thanked Hina for travelling all the way from Pakistan to invite her. As a founding member of D-8 and host of 2nd D-8 Summit in 1999, Bangladesh is keen to work closely with other members of the forum to advance the D-8 process, the prime minister told Hina.

PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told reporters that Prime Minister Hasina and Foreign Minister Hina discussed various matters relating to mutual interests in the 20-minute meeting. Hasina said Bangladesh attaches high importance to its relations with Pakistan. This relationship is based on common historical, religious and cultural linkages, she said.
She underscored the need for enhancing people-to-people contact and greater exchange among students, teachers, academics, journalists, professionals, artistes and sportspersons to promote better understanding among the people of the two countries.
Hasina also attached importance to resolve the outstanding issues in order to move ahead with building up healthy and forward looking bilateral relations. PM's younger sister Sheikh Rehana, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Ambassador at-Large M Ziauddin and senior officials of the two countries were present during the call on.
Hina arrived in Dhaka on a special PIA flight at around 10:15 in the morning, when Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes received her at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport. Hina also attended a lunch hosted by her counterpart Dipu Moni and met BNP chairperson and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia and left for home after five hours stay in the Bangladesh capital.
About the Moni-Hina meeting, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes said, "This is not a bilateral meeting, but we took the advantage to raise bilateral issues, especially the pressing unresolved matters that include formal apology from Pakistan for their acts in 1971." Quayes said the Pakistani foreign minister gave 'due attention' to the Bangladesh demand and did 'neither rejected nor accepted' it immediately. She, however, looked sensible to Dhaka's major demand, he added.

The foreign secretary said Dhaka has also discussed multilateral issues that encompass SAARC and OIC, while it has raised major bilateral issues that remained unresolved for decades. The issues, he said, were sharing of resources that Bangladesh deserves from Pakistan, repatriation of stranded Pakistan nationals from Bangladesh, and formal apology for the war crimes.
Quayes said Pakistan showed keen interest in 'marching forward' by burying old bitterness as Islamabad considers Dhaka as an 'important' partner. He said details of the issues would be further discussed in future formal meetings at official, ministerial and head of the government levels.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which was formerly called East Pakistan, seceded in December 1971 after bloody battles. Taking advantage of ill-conceived and discriminatory state policies of Pakistan, India had been sowing seeds of hatred among the people of East Pakistan against their brethren in the western part. New Delhi raised and trained insurgent cadres like Mukti Bahni who started terrorist activities in the East Pakistan.

The government and military of united Pakistan, where people from West wing had monopolised state power, responded with repressive methods, which fanned resentment and hatred among the Bengalis. All this transpired into the 1971 war, which allegedly began after tens of thousands of people were killed in Dhaka in Operation Searchlight – a campaign intended to deter Bangladeshis from seeking separation.

The current Bangladesh government claims up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals collaborating with Pakistani forces. It has set up special tribunals to try the collaborators for war crimes.

Pakistan tells Bangladesh to 'bury the past'

1971 'war crimes': Bangladesh seeks apology from Pakistan
Published: November 10, 2012

Foreign Minister Khar speaks to Bangladesh Premier Haseena Wajid at her residence Ganobhaban. PHOTO COURTESY: PID DHAKA  AMMAAN JI MAAF KARO. AAYENDA AYSEE GHALATEE NAHEEN HOGEE. Hina Khar
Bangladesh's foreign minister on Friday asked his Pakistani counterpart to apologise for "war crimes" committed by the army during the 1971 war, a ministry official said.
Dipu Moni made the request during a meeting in Dhaka with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar following previous discussions about the issue between the two countries, said Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.
"The foreign minister has raised the 1971 issue and expects that Pakistan would apologise at one stage," Quayes told reporters after the meeting.
"There are some unresolved issues between the two governments and he expects that Pakistan would come forward to resolve them," Quayes said.
Khar was on a six-hour visit to Bangladesh to formally invite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to a summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 22.
"The Pakistani foreign minister said that they have regretted in different forms in the past and that it was time to move forward," Quayes said.
Bangladesh, formerly called East Pakistan, was created in December 1971 following a bloody war. The war began after tens of thousands of people were killed in Dhaka when then-West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against separatists who were aided by Indian troops.
The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals collaborating with Pakistani forces. It has set up special tribunals to try the collaborators for war crimes.
Musharraf already apologised: official
The long-standing demand by Bangladesh to Pakistan for an apology over the excesses committed by the army against the then citizens of East Pakistan has no justification as Islamabad has already tendered an apology, a senior official in the ministry of foreign affairs told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.
Former president Gen Pervez Musharraf during his visit to Dhaka had already tendered the apology in July 2002, the official said.
Musharaf had expressed his regrets twice during his stay in the Bangladesh capital which was welcomed by the then prime minister Khalida Zia. However, the opposition, particularly the Awami League party, did not consider it sufficient and maintained that Musharraf should have specifically asked for apology. The opposition said that Musharraf expressed his regrets in vague terms.
The opposition demanded that Pakistan should specifically ask for an unconditional apology over the excesses committed by its army against the people of Bangladesh during the 1971 independence war. Islamabad claims that the apology tendered by Musharraf should suffice as it was accepted by the then government in Dhaka.
Gen Musharraf visited a war memorial at Savar, near capital Dhaka and left a handwritten note in the visitors' booth. "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events in 1971," Musharraf wrote. "The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted. Let us bury the past in the spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed". Later he repeated his regrets at an official banquet in Dhaka.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2012.

Pakistan must apologize for '71 genocide: Bangladesh
PTI | Nov 10, 2012, 05.59AM IST

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Friday demanded a formal apology from Pakistan for the genocide committed by its troops during the 1971 liberation war, but Islamabad said it's time to carry forward ties "burying the past".

During a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, foreign minister Dipu Moni said, "Bangladesh expects an apology from Pakistan for the genocide carried out by their troops in 1971". Pakistan foreign secretary Quayes said that since 1974 Islamabad has "at different times and different manners expressed its regret for the 1971 incidents". "She (Khar) said it is now time to proceed forward burying the past," Quayes added.

Khar, the first Pakistani minister to visit Dhaka since Awami League took office three years ago, invited PM Sheikh Hasina to attend the Developing-8 Summit in Islamabad on November 22.

‘The Baloch Woman’

The single most visibly distinguishing factor which identifies the Baloch nation is the Balochi Gud or female attire. At its best, it is a work of sheer wonderment to behold, unique in the world in its design.

The Baloch woman will gather several rolls of coloured thread and a base pattern in her mind's eye and then does she begin to weave with meticulous care the Balochi dress. She does so piece by piece, every segment, be it the 'asting' or 'guamtam' requiring a slight alteration in technique to adjust for its place on the dress albeit with the same coloured threads for that specific 'gud'. Attention to detail which can cause severe straining of the eyes over a prolonged period of time eventually gives rise to what are often simply described as masterpieces of artwork. It is the trade in the Balochi dress that has kept afloat many a Baloch family through difficult financial times and made the Baloch woman the backbone of the economic life of many families across Balochistan.

One need only look at the exquisite designs to acquire a hint of the sheer creative potential of the Baloch woman, a creativity which has thrived with the passage of time. But there is something which sets the Balochi dress apart from other attire and which not only puts it in league with all the best clothes designers in the world but perhaps surpasses them somewhat, for although many a dress is a unique design made by hand, something of the heart and well wishes of the Baloch woman has entered the very fabric and is inherited.

The best of dresses is not made simply of thread and canvass but something far more substantial which lies at the heart of the identity of the Baloch woman. It takes patience, perseverance, foresight, spontaneity and imagination to achieve the final outcome and of course a great many heartfelt prayers. These are now the very skills that Baloch female activists are being called upon to practise in a different setting, the struggle for freedom and the return of their loved ones for whom they now demonstrate on a daily basis across Balochistan, at great risk to life and limb.

 Let the occupying forces be foretold that the Baloch women shall not stand idly by and witness the slaughter of kin and kith. Be it the Balochi 'gud' or Balochistan, she will employ all the above attributes, alter her technique and weave more deftly a greater vision. One cast upon a larger canvass and with many more colours, the base pattern of which will be a Free Balochistan, where equality shall be prescribed for all her children, men and women alike.

The full creative potential of the Baloch women if contributed to every level of Baloch societal life would no doubt prove invaluable in an independent Balochistan. For a Baloch woman does not only weave the Balochi dress into being but the very Baloch nation and the Baloch man is also ultimately an offspring of that creative endeavour.

 It is tragic however that right now all over Balochistan, in the midst of so many violations of human rights, many a Baloch mother, wife, daughter and sister is also weaving bitter tears unto that canvass and thread, tears of longing for justice, equality and freedom which are the birth right of every human being.

The great guiding vision of a United and Free Balochistan for which so many of our brethren are being daily martyred by the Pakistani and Iranian regimes has at the centre of its struggle now - the  Baloch woman  whom lies at the very heart of the Baloch identity.

We cannot forget, we shall not forget our sisters, numbering almost 300 in Eastern Balochistan alone, who lie languishing in the prison cells of the occupying forces. We shall continue to weave this greater vision and we shall struggle until victory has been achieved.   


The writer is the UK Representative of the World Baloch Women's Forum – Negar Hossein Bor

November 08, 2012



The 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) began at Beijing on November 8,2012, with the traditional inaugural statement by the  outgoing Party General Secretary, Mr.Hu Jintao.

2. After the inaugural statement, delegates from different provinces and regions take it up for detailed discussion before approving it. These detailed panel discussions are more important than the statement by the outgoing General Secretary because often the new party leaders who will be in office for the next 10 years initiate these panel discussions in important panels and draw attention to the important themes of the inaugural statement.

3.On November 8,2012, after Mr.Hu had read out his statement,Mr.XiJinping, who is tipped to take over from Mr.Hu as the next General Secretary before the Congress concludes, initiated the panel discussion before the delegates from Shanghai, who play a prominent and powerful role in the party affairs.

4. The details of his briefing have so far been carried by the "PLA Daily", but not yet by the "People's Daily" or the English edition of the "Global Times" or the "China Daily". Based on a Xinhua summary, the "PLA Daily" stated as follows:

"The theme of the ongoing 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) explicitly defines the path and goal of the Party, Xi Jinping said on Thursday.

" The underlying theme of the congress is "to hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, free up the mind, implement the policy of reform and opening up, pool our strength, overcome all difficulties, firmly march on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects."

"The theme of the congress, in a simple and explicit way, explains four major issues concerning the overall work of the Party and the country to people within and outside the Party, and to China and the rest of the world, Xi said.

"The issues are what banner the CPC will hold, what path it will take, what ideological state it will keep, and what goal it is trying to achieve.

"Putting forward such a theme is of crucial importance for the CPC to unite and lead people of all ethnic groups in the new historic journey to make greater achievements and keep up with the times.

"The theme of the congress is based on the full comprehension of current conditions of the world, the nation and the Party, the new requirements of the nation's development and new expectations of the people. It is closely interlinked with the overall plan for promoting economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi said.

"To thoroughly understand the theme of the congress, one must understand the historical background and soberly realize that the Party is facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges, while the key lies in whether the Party can grasp the opportunities and tackle the challenges in a cool-headed way.

"The Party shall continue to hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, maintain an ideological state to free up the mind, implement the policy of reform and opening up, pool the strength and overcome all difficulties, promote economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress and Party building in an all-around way.

"The Party shall unswervingly advance along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and unite to forge ahead with tenacity and resolve, Xi said.

"The report delivered by Hu Jintao on behalf of the 17th CPC Central Committee pools the whole Party's wisdom by giving full play of democracy, Xi said.

"The report is clear-cut, profound, pragmatic and comprehensive, and will become the political manifesto and program of action to make new victory of socialism with Chinese characteristics under new circumstances."

5. The most significant part of Mr.Xi's remarks during the Shanghai Panel discussion was that while he specifically referred to Deng's Theory as one of the guiding themes of the Party, he did not make a similar specific reference to Mao Zedong's Thoughts.

6. There has been speculation for some weeks now that the Congress might amend the Party Constitution and that the proposed amendments might dilute the importance of Mao's Thoughts as a guiding principle of the Party. This speculation had not been corroborated till now. The Panel remarks of Mr.Li could indicate the beginning of a Party exercise to ease out Mao from history without dishonouring him.

7.It may be recalled that one of the allegations against Bo Xilai, the discredited Party strongman from Chongquing now facing a criminal trial on various charges, was that he advocated the restoration of the purity of Mao's Thoughts to strengthen the ideological basis of the party.

8. There were also reports of differences between President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao----with  Mr.Hu opposing Mr.Wen's efforts to link the dismissal of Bo  to his advocacy of Mao's Thoughts. It was reported that Mr.Hu wanted that Bo's trial should be projected purely as a criminal case and not linked to ideological issues relating to Mao.

9. On May 28,2012, a report attributed to the Reuters' news agency had stated as follows:

"Chinese premier Wen Jiabao was recently criticized by fellow Communist Party officials for comments made in March that linked the radical policies of fallen political heavyweight Bo Xilai to Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution.


"President Hu Jintao refused to link Bo's downfall to his neo-Maoist political ideology, and declared the scandal that led to the latter's ouster an "isolated case" at a meeting of 200 officials earlier this month in Beijing, Reuters reported on Friday, citing three inside sources. The report appears to confirm speculation that China's leaders are concerned that Bo's case is being regarded as a political struggle between divergent party factions, rather than a genuine criminal case.

"Two of Reuters' sources also claimed that the recent meetings saw Premier Wen — known for his progressive views on reform — chided by party comrades for earlier comments hinting that Bo's ouster was related to his left-leaning ideology.

"At the close of two key political conferences on March 14, Wen said China risked a repeat of the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution unless the country implemented "urgent" political reforms. The disastrous socialist movement instigated by Chairman Mao, which took place between 1966 and 1976, saw millions of people persecuted in violent factional struggles and thousands of historical relics and artifacts destroyed.

"If the "new problems that have cropped up in China's society" are not resolved, the "historical tragedy" of the Cultural Revolution may happen again, Wen said, adding that the "mistake" of the revolution is "yet to be fully eliminated." Most believe the comments were directly targeted at Bo."

10. Mr.Xi's silence on Mao's Thoughts as a guiding theme of the party and the earlier speculation about the likelihood of  references to Mao's Thoughts being removed from the Party constitution would indicate that the debate on the relevance of Mao's Thoughts triggered off by Bo continues even after his humiliation. ( 


(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:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)


Gandhi Statue Unveiled in Davie, Florida by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Gandhi Statue Unveiled in DavieFlorida

Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Davie Mayor Judy Paul unveiled a seven feet tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi on October 02, 2012 in the Town of Davie, Florida

Thousands of residents from the area including Indian American families joined the festivities despite the heavy rains. It was quite a miracle that the rain stopped for enough time to allow the Unveiling Ceremonies to complete and started raining again when His Excellency Abdul Kalam commented “what an auspicious occasion!”

President Abdul Kalam was received at the Airport by the Board of Trustees of the Mahatma Gandhi Square Florida – a Corporation organized for the purpose.  Among them were Dr. Piyush C. Agrawal, Mr. Joy Kuttiyani, Mr. Babu Varghese, Mr. Shekar Redddy, Mr. Chacko Philip, Mr. Hemant Patel, Vivek Swaroop, and Dr, Sajan Kurian.

Welcoming the President, Mayor Judy Paul enumerated many of the accomplishments of her guest.  She particularly drew the attention of her audience to Dr. Kalam’s humble beginnings and challenged the children in the audience to follow his path by being good in mathematics and sciences.

The members of the Town Council, State Senators Nan Rich and Eleanor Sobel and several elected officials were present to witness the dedication ceremony which was a “living tribute to world peace and the quest for social justice” as the Mayor said.
The Mayor Judy Paul declared the day as the “World Peace & Mahatma Gandhi Day.”

The 800 pound statue was sculpted by Matt Glenn of Big Statues, Provo, Utah in cooperation with Sculptor’s Guild.  As a token of respect to Gandhi, they also contributed toward the cost of the Statue.

Babu Varghese, a member of the Board and an Engineer by profession, designed the Gandhi Square with half an acre of land that houses the Statue.  The square patterns with alternating colored step stones leading to the Statue represent the steps Gandhi took in his lifetime struggle to achieve freedom to his people.  These steps are bordered by lighted stone pillars which represent a “pathway of light” leading up to the Statue itself. Then there are concentric circles with the curved wall behind it as if showing the letter G (for Gandhi) from above in an abstract form.  Soon, the stately Palm trees shall be there as they symbolize life, eternity, wisdom and victory.  Babu said “What an honor for an Indian living in America to design a Gandhi Square here!”    Joy Kuttiyani who initiated this Project said “What a wonderful achievement it is for the Indian Community!”

Responding to the warm reception accorded him by the leadership of the town of Davie, Broward County and the State of Florida and the Indian American Community, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam reflected on Gandhi’s life and the relevance of his teachings in today’s world.  Then he talked about “Creative Leadership” which means exercising the vision to change the traditional role from the commander to the coach, manager to mentor, from director to delegator  and from one who demands respect to one who facilitates self-respect.  This is the kind of creative leadership that has been instrumental in creating the Gandhi Square in Davie and deserves our gratitude.

During his visit to Davie, Dr. Kalam, despite his extremely tight schedule, was very generous with time, especially with photo opportunity for the Indian American Community leaders.
“It was a delightful event” said Piyush Agrawal.

WOW!! Mayor Judy Paul after receiving a commemorative token of appreciation from President Dr. Kalam and Dr. Piyush Agrawal on behalf of the Indian Community.

Gandhi Square Board of Trustees: From left, Hemant Patel, Joy Kuttiyani, Babu Varghese, Piyush Agrawal, Vijay Narang, Sajan Kurian, and Chacko Philip. Four of the members, Shekar Reddy, Assisi Nadayil, George Kakkanatt, and  Vivek Swaroop not shown in the picture.

The Expensive, Diminishing Threat of Somali Piracy

November 8, 2012 | 1000 GMT


By Ben West

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped off dramatically in 2012. Successful ship hijackings have decreased from 31 in 2011 (and 49 in 2010) to only four so far in 2012. Attacks against ships have also decreased, falling from 199 reported attacks in the first nine months of 2011 to 70 attacks over the same span in 2012 -- a 65 percent drop. However, diminished activity does not necessarily mean a decrease in the cost of sailing around the Horn of Africa. Somali pirates occupy a unique position, which is right along highly strategic global shipping lanes yet outside the reach of any national power. For international actors, it is politically and militarily easier to try to contain the Somali piracy threat than to eliminate it. But containment comes at a high cost.

Controlling Territory

Many factors have contributed to the decrease in pirate hijackings in 2012. One factor is that shipping companies have begun equipping their ships with more countermeasures, namely armed guards. For several years, commercial ships sailing in the Indian Ocean have used other countermeasures, such as fences, water cannons and adjusted tactics like disabling the ship. But the widespread deployment of armed guards beginning in 2011 (guards had been used sparingly as far back as 2008) has a very close correlation to the recent decrease in hijackings. In late 2009, only about 10-20 percent of commercial ships sailing through waters where Somali pirates operate carried guards; today, some estimates put the percentage as high as 70 percent. To date, pirates have never successfully hijacked a ship that had armed guards. But it should be noted that, even though the use of armed guards appears to be the most effective countermeasure against piracy, there are other factors at work.

For instance, government officials also attribute the drop-off in attacks and hijackings to better coordination between foreign naval patrols, which have made the waters off the Somali coast a less permissive environment for pirate operations. With several years of practice, sailors from international missions such as the U.S.-backed Combined Task Force 151 and the EU-backed Atalanta mission as well as from the unilateral missions of China, Russia, Iran and others have had time to study pirate activity and become more efficient at stopping attacks.

Several dozen foreign naval ships are deployed to secure the waters for commercial shipping at any given time. Their focus is escorting ships through the Gulf of Aden, but the area of pirate activity is much larger than that, reaching across the Arabian Sea to India and Madagascar. Effectively patrolling such a large area requires intelligence and the development of a counterpiracy doctrine that includes going after the larger pirate vessels, called mother ships, that extend pirates' range and allow them to operate in rougher seas during the monsoon.

Taken together, the increased use of armed guards aboard commercial ships and the growing effectiveness of foreign naval patrols have contributed to undermining the pirates' control over the seas. Three years ago pirates were largely uncontested, but now they face a more coordinated defense. They hijacked commercial ships because they were relatively soft targets -- which could be taken by four people with AK-47s, a fishing boat and a ladder -- making the millions of dollars in profit from a ransom payment very attractive. The armed guards and naval patrols have not eliminated piracy, but they have increased the costs of attacking and seizing a commercial ship. Because pirates are motivated more by profit than by any ideology, a decrease in profitability will deter them from engaging in the practice.

Still, whatever the status of the sea, the coastal towns of Somalia, such as Hobyo and Haradheere, are still out of the control of any national or international force. The Puntland Maritime Police Force, which began operations in early 2012 with the help of Arab funding, made some progress in denying pirates sanctuary on land, but political contention prevents it from controlling the territory outright, making pirate activity still a very attractive economic model in central Somalia.

When piracy flared in the Strait of Malacca in the early 2000s, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia were able to pursue the pirates on land and deny them sanctuary because they had the security forces and territorial integrity to do so. This is also true currently on the western coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, where pirates occasionally hijack ships even though they have no ports in which to anchor the vessels. Since the West African governments have control -- however tenuous -- over their own sovereign territory, they still have the means to track down hijacked ships and keep pirates from creating sanctuaries. Somalia, on the other hand, has struggled for decades to control its territory. Over the past few years, it hasn't even been able to fully control Mogadishu, its capital, against the Islamist threat from al Shabaab. The new Somali federal government still lacks the capability to control pirate towns such as Hobyo and Haradheere, and its officials do not appear to want a strong Puntland doing it for them. 

By wresting maritime control from Somali pirates, commercial shipping companies and foreign navies have reduced the number of attacks but have not eliminated the threat. Several Western forces, including those of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, have gone on land a few times to pursue pirates, but generally, foreign militaries have avoided Somalia. Whereas the countries bordering the Strait of Malacca or Gulf of Guinea are able to go on the offensive to root out piracy, the rest of the world, unable to rely on Somalia, is going on the defensive.

In essence, the commercial shippers and naval forces have adopted a siege strategy -- they hope to starve the pirates of resources, forcing them to give up. Somali pirates held about 20 ships at any given time in 2010; they currently hold 11. As the pirates hijack fewer ships, and as armed guards make piracy more dangerous, the entire enterprise is looking less lucrative and appealing.

The Bottom Line

Even though the Somali pirates have not been as successful in 2012 as they were in recent years, their existence is still making it more expensive to sail around the Horn of Africa. The problem with the siege strategy is that as soon as shipping companies or foreign naval forces let up on the pirates, they will go back to hijacking ships.

The cost of prevention right now is high. It is impossible to know exactly how many ships are vulnerable to Somali pirate attacks each year, but we know that about 33,000 commercial ships pass through the Gulf of Aden yearly. Estimates of how many of those ships carry armed guards range from 40 to 70 percent. That means that about 13,000-23,000 ships are paying for armed guards to accompany them through the vulnerable areas, a roughly 10-day trip, at a cost of approximately $60,000 each time. Based on those figures, the total annual cost for shipping companies merely to deploy armed guards on their ships through the Gulf of Aden is between about $800 million and $1.4 billion. The total cost of piracy to the world in 2011, according to the One Earth Future Foundation's estimates, was between $6.6 billion and $6.9 billion. This estimate included $160 million for ransom payments; other preventative measures, such as rerouting ships or using more fuel to maintain higher speeds, made up the rest of the costs.

In other words, the cost of preventing piracy off the coast of Somalia is substantially higher than the costs piracy inflicts. Nevertheless, shipping companies are willing to pay a premium to prevent disruptions in their operations. They would prefer to pay a small amount for protection on each trip -- even though it adds up -- if it means averting a hijacking and multimillion-dollar ransom.

Somalia's Future

The key component of the siege strategy is that it weakens the pirates' control over their land-based sanctuaries. Their power is connected to their revenue, so the decrease in revenue will decrease their power. The shipping companies and foreign navies hope that some other, less disruptive enterprises will eventually take root along Somalia's pirate-heavy coast.

In the midst of forming its first permanent government since 1991, Somalia is currently incapable of addressing its lack of control over the central Somali coast. Instead, it is focusing on securing the population bases of Mogadishu, Kismayo and other small towns in south-central Somalia from al Shabaab. This will occupy the government for at least the next year. Even after that, Mogadishu has little incentive to try to tighten its control over central coastal pirate towns. The government has much more to lose if it fails in southern Somalia because it redirected scarce government resources to take on piracy. The pirate-held areas are economically depressed and are politically less important. That's why they started engaging in piracy in the first place.

The only force that has significantly challenged the pirates on land is the Puntland Maritime Police Force. Located in northeast Somalia, Puntland is much more stable than the south and is virtually independent. The Puntland Maritime Police Force had success in capturing pirates, destroying their staging bases along the beach, cutting off their supply routes and even, supposedly, attempting to seize hijacked vessels from the pirates. However, the police force suffered from funding cuts and political opposition and appears to no longer be active against the pirates. Although Mogadishu is unable to control much of its territory, the new government doesn't want regional governments accumulating too much strength. In the end, a strong Puntland may be more of a risk to Mogadishu than pirates. 

Without a sustained, land-based intervention, Somali piracy will continue -- even if it is at a lower rate -- at least until some other criminal enterprise takes its place. But even at its lower rate, as long as Somali pirates are operating, they will be an expensive burden for the world's shipping industry.
Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to Stratfor, at the beginning or end of the report.
"The Expensive, Diminishing Threat of Somali Piracy is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Read more: The Expensive, Diminishing Threat of Somali Piracy | Stratfor 



To be fair to President Barack Obama, one cannot deny that he inherited a bad economy from his predecessor Mr.George Bush. It became worse partly  due to lack of energetic handling by his economic team  and partly due to the global economic melt-down during his first term.

2. The cumulative effect was a seemingly bad economic record which was sought to be exploited skilfully by his challenger Mr.Mitt Romney. During the first Presidential debate, Mr.Romney managed to keep the spotlight  focussed on Mr.Obama for the declining state of the economy.

3. After the first debate, the economy started showing glacial signs of improvement. The unemployment rate stopped increasing. More jobs were being created. More people started getting jobs. The deficit position remained as bad as ever, but the job market was not as gloomy as it was before the first Presidential debate.

4. Not many analysts noticed these glacial changes for the better in the job market. The BBC's economic analyst was one of the very few to have done so.

5. When the American voters went to the polls on November 6, they had before their eyes a job market which had stopped deteriorating. Should they give credit for this to Mr.Obama's economic policies and give time to those policies to reduce the negativity in the economy by giving Mr.Obama a second term, or should they turn to Mr.Romney and his proposed policy package without any guarantee of its success should Mr.Romney become the President? They chose the first option and decided to let Mr.Obama continue for a second term in view of what seemed a turn-around in the job market.

6. That is how I would explain the remarkable success of Mr.Obama despite his lack-lustre handling of the economy during the first term. Other factors contributed to his success too such as his demonstrated leadership in handling the hurricane disaster which stood in sharp contrast to the lack of leadership of Mr.Bush in dealing with natural disasters. But these factors alone would not have led to the  win of Mr.Obama if the clouds of economic gloom had not started showing signs of dissipation in respect of the job market before voting day.

7. Mr.Obama is going to face three major mine-fields during his second term. The first will relate to the economy. Despite incipient signs of an improvement in the job market, an economic upswing is not round the corner. Whether there is an economic upswing would depend on how he and his advisers handle the deficit. Controlling the deficit will take time.

8. During the campaign, Mr.Romney managed to plant in the minds of sections of US voters seeds of suspicion   that China was partly responsible for the USA's economic woes. He said during the third debate devoted to foreign policy that if he became the President he would declare China a  foreign exchange manipulator.

9.The references to China by both the candidates during the Presidential debates in the context of the economic situation would augment the attention given to China during Mr.Obama's second term. There will be more attention to China from the point of view of the economy as well as the tensions in the Asia Pacific region.

10. The lack of references to India during the debates showed how inconsequential India is from the point of view of the economy as well as the Asia-Pacific tensions. India would not be a beneficiary of the increased attention to the China-centric concerns during Mr.Obama's second term. We should not nurse any illusions of a greater importance to India in view of the China factor.

11. The second minefield will be with regard to Afghanistan. Mr.Obama has taken an irreversible decision to thin down the US troop presence in Afghanistan. There is going to be continuing instability in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai is going to complete his second term. He will not be eligible for a third term. A new Afghan President will add to ground uncertainties at a time when the US and other NATO troops thin out.

12. Pakistani co-operation for ensuring stability on the ground in Afghanistan during the second term of Mr.Obama will become more important than it was during his first term. He may not be able to adopt the same tough line towards Pakistan as he did during his first term. He may find himself increasingly compelled to pay more attention to Pakistani sensitivities. That would mean less attention to Indian interests. The convergence of Indian and US interests and policies in Afghanistan would not be sharp.

13. The third minefield would be relating to Syria and Iran.Mr.Obama is pledged to bring about a regime change in Syria, if need be, by strengthening the capabilities of the anti-Assad forces in Syria.He is also pledged to increase pressure on Iran on the nuclear issue. The Jewish voters are believed to have largely voted for Mr.Romney due to their belief that he would take a tougher line towards the Assad regime in Syria and Iran than Mr.Obama.

14. Mr.Obama has to placate the Jewish sensitivities. He cannot afford to be indifferent to them. Dealing with Syria will not be as easy as dealing with Libya was because of Iran's close interests in Syria and the  Lebanese factor. Any fresh instability in the Lebanon as a result of the US policies in Syria will complicate the ground situation increasing the possibility of fresh Israeli intervention in the Lebanon. Dealing with the new complexities in the region without opening a fresh Pandora's Box is going to be a tricky matter.

15. Mr.Obama's preoccupation is going to be with these three minefields. The options available for India for further strengthening our strategic partnership with the US will remain limited. We must focus on reviving and strengthening our economy and stabilising and increasing our regional influence without  exaggerated hopes of a surge in our links with the US. ( 8-11-12)

(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:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)


November 07, 2012

Unable to copy it, China tries building own jet engine

HONG KONG | Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:04pm EDT

(Reuters) - China has designed nuclear missiles and blasted astronauts into space, but one vital technology remains out of reach. Despite decades of research and development, China has so far failed to build a reliable, high performance jet engine.

This may be about to change. China's aviation sector is striving for a breakthrough that would end its dependence on Russian and Western power plants for military and commercial aircraft.

Beijing is evaluating a 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) plan to galvanize a disjointed and under-funded engine research effort, aviation industry officials say. The giant, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), China's dominant military and commercial aviation contractor, has been lobbying hard for the extra money, officials familiar with the details say.

AVIC, with more than 400,000 employees and 200 subsidiaries including 20 listed companies, has already set aside about 10 billion yuan of its own funds for jet engine development over the next three years.

The engine financing plan is under high-level discussion in Beijing, said Zhao Yuxing, an official at the securities office of Shanghai-listed Xi'an Aero-Engine Plc, a key military engine-making unit of AVIC. "What we know is our company has been included in the strategic program, which is designed to greatly develop and support the engine industry," he said by phone from his company's headquarters in the northwestern city of Xi'an.

China's military industry as a whole has suffered from Tiananmen-era bans on the sale of military equipment from the United States and Europe. Moreover, foreign engine-makers have been loath to transfer technology. That has prevented China from taking its usual route to closing a technology gap: copying it.

Some Chinese aviation industry specialists forecast that Beijing will eventually spend up to 300 billion yuan ($49 billion) on jet engine development over the next two decades.

"China's aircraft engines have obviously been under-invested," said Wang Tianyi, a defense sector analyst with Shanghai's Orient Securities. "One hundred billion yuan is not a huge amount of money in the engine world."


While AVIC's long term priority is to develop high performance engines for military aircraft, it is also trying to design power plants for passenger aircraft in the world's fastest growing civil aviation market. Based on projected demand from Western aircraft manufacturers, engines for new passenger aircraft delivered in China could be worth more than $100 billion over the next 20 years.

"Historically, all major players in aerospace have possessed both airframe and engine design capabilities," said Carlo Kopp, the Melbourne, Australia-based founder of Air Power Australia, an independent military aviation think tank. "Until China can design and produce competitive engines, the performance and capabilities of Chinese aircraft designs will be seriously limited by what technology they are permitted to import."

For China's aviation engineers, the traditional short cuts of extracting intellectual property from foreign joint venture partners or simply copying technology from abroad have so far delivered minimal results.

Foreign engine manufacturers including General Electric, Snecma, a subsidiary of French aerospace group Safran, Rolls Royce Plc and Pratt & Whitney - a unit of United Technology Corp, jealously guard their industrial secrets, limiting the transfer of know-how and opportunities for intellectual property theft.

However, China may be poised to win access to technology from an expanding range of commercial aviation joint ventures with these companies. China's ability to develop engines for passenger aircraft could have considerable potential for technology transfer to the military, experts say.


Under AVIC's plan, fragmented engine research and development would be consolidated to minimize competition and duplication of effort.

A legacy of Maoist-era dispersal of defense industries, engine research institutes and aerospace manufacturing companies are scattered about the country in cities including Shenyang, Xi'an, Shanghai, Chengdu and Anshun.

AVIC plans to inject its major engine related businesses into Xi'an Aero- Engine as part of this consolidation, the listed company said in its 2011 annual report. "There is widespread consensus that engines have become a bottleneck constraining the development of China's aviation industry," the report said.

China faces a daunting challenge. Only a handful of companies in the United States, Europe and Russia have mastered this expertise.

"Modern jet engine technology is like an industrial revolution in power," said Andrei Chang, a Hong Kong-based analyst of the Chinese military and editor of Kanwa Asian Defence Magazine. "Europe, the U.S. and Russia have hundreds of years of combined experience, but China has only been working on this for 30 years."

Established manufacturers have labored on research and development since the 1950s to build safe and reliable engines with thousands of components that function under extremes of temperature and pressure. This involves state-of-the-art technologies in design, machining, casting, composite materials, exotic alloys, electronic performance monitoring and quality control.

Since then, the big players have collected vast stores of performance and operational data from existing engines that gives them a head start in designing new versions with improved fuel efficiency and reliability that airlines now demand. And, for commercial engines, all of the design and manufacturing processes must be carefully coordinated and exhaustively documented to satisfy aviation certification authorities.

"The reason so few can do it is because it is really, really difficult," says Richard Margolis, a former regional director of Rolls Royce in northeast Asia.

High performance military jet engines are crucial to Beijing's long term plan to increase the number of frontline fighters and strike aircraft in its air force and naval aviation units. These aircraft are a key element of a long term military build-up aimed primarily at securing military dominance over Taiwan and a vast swathe of disputed maritime territory off China's east and southern coasts.

Due to the export bans on military equipment to China, Beijing has been forced to rely on imported fighters from Russia, reverse engineered copies of these Russian aircraft, and some home-grown designs. This strategy has delivered rapid results. Since 2000, China has added more than 500 advanced fighters and strike aircraft with capabilities thought to equal all but the most advanced U.S. stealth aircraft. At the same time, it has also sharply reduced the number of obsolete aircraft based on Soviet-era designs, military experts say.


A clear example of this progress was on display recently when a Chinese-made J-15 jet fighter practiced "touch and go" circuits on China's first aircraft carrier, the newly commissioned Liaoning. These maneuvers suggest that J-15 pilots and crews will soon master take-offs and landings from the carrier at sea.

Foreign and Chinese military experts were quick to point out that the J-15, one of China's newest military aircraft, was powered by a pair of Russian Al-31 turbofans - they power almost all of China's frontline aircraft. Reports in the Russian media say Moscow has sold more than 1,000 engines from the A1-31 family to China with further, substantial orders in the pipeline.

While Chinese engineers have been able to reverse-engineer Russian airframes, the engines have been much more difficult to copy without access to the complex manufacturing processes. AVIC subsidiary and China's lead military jet engine maker, Shenyang Liming Aero-Engine Group Corporation, has been working on a homegrown equivalent, the WS-10 Taihang, but this power plant has so far failed to meet performance targets after testing on the J-15 and other fighters, Chinese and Western military experts say.

The Chinese military is expected to introduce another 1,000 advanced fighters over the next two decades, according to Chinese defense sector analysts. However, anger over reverse engineering and wariness of China's growing military power has made Moscow reluctant to supply engines more advanced than the Al-31. Without imported or locally built versions of these engines, China will be unable to build aircraft that could compete with the latest U.S. or Russian stealth fighters, experts say.

While military jets are strategically important, the commercial market is potentially much bigger. Boeing forecasts China will need an extra 5,260 large passenger aircraft by 2031. Bombardier Inc. projects demand for business jets will reach 2,400 aircraft over the same period. With each aircraft requiring at least two engines plus spares, total demand could reach 16,000 engines with an estimated average cost of $10 million each at current prices.

China plans to compete for some of these aircraft orders with two locally built passenger aircraft, the 90-seat ARJ21 regional jet and the 150-seat C919. GE will supply engines for the ARJ21. CFM International, a joint venture between GE and France's Snecma, won the contract to develop new engines for the C919. Some of these engines will be assembled at joint ventures in China.

Despite the intensified research effort and potential for technology transfer from these ventures, some experts say foreign engines will continue to rule the skies in China. "This won't change for 10 or 15 years," says Chang from Kanwa Asian Defence Magazine.

(Editing by Bill Tarrant)

Elections of Destiny: Reagan in 1980 and Gladstone in 1880

By Martin Sieff

Elections matter, but some matter more than others. In 1880, the triumph of William Gladstone's Liberals over Benjamin Disraeli's Tories set in motion the long, slow decline of British industry, which left the country dangerously vulnerable. Remarkably, writes Martin Sieff, a century later the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States set in motion a similar decline.

"It's morning again in America," began the famous television ad for President Ronald Reagan's successful re-election campaign in 1984.

Yet while Reagan's approach to governing has lost none of its appeal to today's Republicans, it is clear that, three decades after decisively winning his first term in 1980, Reagan launched the United States on a long period of industrial decline and growing indebtedness to the rest of the world.

It was also no coincidence that during those same three decades, America's annual trade deficit grew to become the biggest of any nation in modern history.

Reagan's epochal election led also to the progressive abandonment of federal government regulation over the banks and financial institutions of Wall Street.

An age of reckless financial speculation followed on a scale that dwarfed the notorious era of the Roaring Twenties that led straight to the Great Depression. The reckoning for this era only started to come due with the Wall Street meltdown of September 2008.

From today's perspective, therefore, it is clear that the election of Ronald Reagan over incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980 marked a historic choice by the American people.


Under Reagan's stewardship, America's old industrial base, on which the country's unprecedented economic expansion and prosperity had been centered since the end of the Civil War in 1865, was allowed to collapse and die — without any effort being made to renew it. The nation ultimately became totally dependent on a huge flow of manufactured imports from China instead.

Coincidentally, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and exactly a century before Reagan's first national victory in 1980, William Ewart Gladstone, the greatest of all Liberal Party leaders, won re- election as prime minister of Britain.

And he then made exactly the same fateful choice to abandon any serious engagement with industrial renewal that Reagan did a century later. Like Reagan, Gladstone bet his country's future on a policy of unregulated financial speculation and overseas investment instead.

And also like Reagan, Gladstone was a charismatic political tribal leader whose policies, principles and faith were slavishly followed by his successors for decades.

The results were exactly the same. For 200 years, Britain had been the most advanced industrial nation in the world. The growth of its empire and its unparalleled surge in population, per capita prosperity and global power were all based on that industrial supremacy.

But in the next 30 years, as Lord Correlli Barnett documented in his classic book The Collapse of British Power, British industry fell, fatefully and permanently, behind the United States and Germany. It became deeply dependent on continued technology transfusions from both countries.

Like the Reagan-inspired policy of unregulated financial activity, Gladstone's lasted just around 30 years. The Reagan-induced financial bubble — with a strong helping hand from the Clinton Administration! — finally popped in September 2008. 

Gladstone's dream dissolved with the onset of World War I in 1914. Bereft of sufficient industrial capacity by itself to meet the demands of war with Imperial Germany, the British progressively had to sell off most of the vast swathes of overseas investments they had accumulated since 1880.

Like Jimmy Carter in 1980, Britain's defeated Prime Minister in 1880, Benjamin Disraeli, recognized the scale of the problems facing his industrialized society. And like Carter he didn't have any real answers for them. But at least he recognized the problem.

Gladstone, like Reagan (and much of the rest of today's Republican Party), was an economic naïf and a prophetic Candide. Like Voltaire's hero, he imagined that everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Gladstone and Reagan simply refused to acknowledge the existence of any facts or trends that contradicted their simplistic, rosy vision of the way things ought to be.

After 1880, British wealth — rather than being invested in the modernization and revival of the home industrial base — flowed out of the country for cheap profit and financial speculation. But this proved unsustainable after 30 years.

After 1980, America's new leaders followed the same path as Gladstone and his Liberals. After 30 years, the bankruptcy of that policy is becoming apparent too. How about that for a circular theory of history that keeps repeating itself?

Martin Sieff, 
for The Daily Reckoning

Editor's Note: Martin Sieff is Chief Global Analyst at The Globalist Research Center and Editor-at-Large at The Globalist.

China in transition sees Obama re-election as a chance to rebuild ties


BEIJING, Nov 7 (Reuters): China's official media said on Thursday that ties with the United States were uneven in President Barack Obama's first term and mutual trust was "whittled down", but his re-election offered an opportunity to put the relationship back on track.
A commentary issued by state-run Xinhua news agency shortly after Obama's election win seemed to indicate a sense of relief that continuity will be assured as Chinese leaders embark on their own transition of power. But it acknowledged that sore issues remained between the world's largest and second-largest economies.
"As the two countries have been ever more economically interwoven, a new US government perhaps should start to learn how to build a more rational and constructive relationship with China," Xinhua said.

"The new Obama administration perhaps should bear in mind that a stronger and more dynamic China-US relationship, especially in trade, will not only provide US investment with rich business opportunities, but also help to revive the sagging global economy."
Losing Republican nominee Mitt Romney had talked tough on China throughout the campaign, repeatedly saying he would cite Beijing as a "currency manipulator" on his first day as president.

Obama, by contrast, struck a less confrontational tone. But last year, he announced a US "pivot" toward Asia that focuses attention on the Asia-Pacific and has unnerved Beijing.
Now, as a re-elected president, he must manage a relationship that has become steadily more fraught across a range of issues, including trade, currency and commercial espionage.
"With China-US relations in such turmoil, no one can predict (if Obama) will adopt a strategically, economically and politically more benign policy toward China," said Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. "It's possible, but not necessarily so."

On Thursday, China begins its own once-a-decade leadership handover as it opens its 18th Communist Party Congress. The new party chairman is virtually certain to be current Vice President Xi Jinping, who will take over as president in March.
President-designate Xi and other Chinese leaders face competing pressures in managing the relationship with Washington. They acknowledge that stability in the US-Sino relationship is of vital interest to Beijing.

But they also must deal with constituencies inside the party and the People's Liberation Army who are comfortable with an increasingly assertive Beijing pressing its own interests, particularly in its own backyard.

At the same time, tens of thousands of American troops are based to China's immediate east and west, in Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan. Washington has bilateral defence treaties with Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea. US planes and warships regularly circulate near China's borders.

On top of that, the Obama administration's pivot last November reoriented US military policy toward the Asia-Pacific region. The widely held suspicion in Beijing is that the US strategy is to contain China, the rising power in Asia.
"It is absolutely (a build-up)," said Ruan Zongze, deputy chairman of the China Institute of International Studies, the think tank of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"No matter what kind of narrative you use, the reality is that America in the past three years has been putting greater emphasis or focus on the west Pacific. That raises a lot of questions for China."

The Obama administration's primary challenge is to reassure Beijing that the pivot isn't about containing China.
"America has worked to bring China into the international system, including on trade, and China is now one of America's largest trading partners," said Nina Hachigian of the Center for American Progress, a think tank that aligns itself with Obama administration policy.

"That's hardly evidence of containment. If America is trying to contain China, it is doing a supremely lousy job. China has done nothing but grow and expand for the last 40 years."
But critics believe China's own behaviour in the region shows why Obama's ``pivot" is necessary. Beijing is increasingly flexing its military and diplomatic muscle in the South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
And thus far China has resisted talks on a multilateral "code of conduct" governing the South China Sea, making it Asia's biggest potential military hotspot.
China's relations with Japan, its historic rival in Asia, have also badly deteriorated recently because of a territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
While the United States officially declares neutrality, it is treaty-bound to come to the aid of Japan in case of hostilities.

But China is unlikely to push the envelope too far, most analysts believe, because the United States remains by far the biggest military power in the region, and Beijing has compelling economic reasons to maintain a working relationship with Washington.

"The Chinese are going to press as much as they can, but not do anything that creates a serious crisis," said Thomas Metzger, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
"(China's) fundamental goal is to modernise itself and bring the impoverished majority up and stabilise its rule, and that requires a peaceful environment and a good relationship with the USA." 

Survival is an uphill task for this Sanskrit paper

This is their website:
If you wish to help, you can donate here 

Kevin Mendonsa, TNN Oct 9, 2012

MYSORE: Sudharma, the world's only Sanskrit daily celebrated its 43rd anniversary on Sunday. The single sheet daily which has a circulation of 4,000 and covers news, politics, yoga, vedas and culture. The long journey hasn't been a bed of roses.

Kalale Nadadur Varadaraja Iyengar, a Sanskrit scholar, started the paper on July 15, 1970, to spread the language of the gods. K V Sampath Kumar, its editor and son of Varadaraja Iyengar, says that it has been a struggle to keep the newspaper going.

"The circulation is shrinking day by day as there is no support or encouragement from the government. It's a pity that the powers-that-be do not realize the historic role of Sanskrit, which is now globally recognized as a scientific and phonetically sound language," says Kumar.

When Iyengar, a Sanskrit scholar himself, discussed the venture with his friends, they termed it a 'misadventure best stayed away from.' Most felt that Sanskrit does not have the vocabulary to cover contemporary and complex day-to-day activities and developments. Not many know that Iyengar was instrumental in convincing then information minister I K Gujral to start Sanskrit news bulletins .

Disillusioned he may be, but not disheartened. While it has a daily circulation of 4,000 it's e-paper has over one lakh readers, mainly from Israel, Germany and England. Most of the subscribers are institutions, academia and religious bodies.

"Though there are funds reserved for such publications neither the state nor central government is ready to help out. However, we will continue to run the paper against all odds. It's my mission," he adds spiritedly. He laments that while the country has 13 Sanskrit universities and Karnataka has 18 Sanskrit colleges, not one has come forward to pitch in. "We are running the show without expecting any rewards. But we too have our constraints," he says ruefully.

More and more foreigners, Kumar says are evincing interest in learning this ancient language. They come to India to learn the language.

"You need to know Sanskrit to understand the vedas and Upanishads," he reveals.

Kumar plans to upgrade the paper, adding another sheet with colour printing and focus on articles related to Sanskrit.

Obama: New twist to the ‘melting pot’

Sandhya Jain
8 November 2012
At the end of America's costliest and nastiest electoral battles, widely predicted by analysts to be 'hung' like the George Bush – Al Gore encounter in 2000, President Barack Obama made history as the second Democrat president to win a second term in office since the Second World War. By the time his Republican rival Mitt Romney conceded defeat, Barack Obama had beaten a vicious negative campaign funded by the super rich One Percent, who possibly turned the tide in his favour with their corrosive racism.
The huge presence of coloured and mixed races in the electorate gave an unexpected twist to America's proud self-definition as a 'melting pot' of different nationalities, races, and religions, because hitherto it has been a White-dominated and defined 'melting pot'. Now, with non-Whites making their aspirations and their voices count in the domestic arena, consequences in the international arena are inevitable. A war-prone trigger-happy America, run by the military-industrial complex, may undergo metamorphosis.
Another theme that may undergo change is that capitalism and democracy are identical. The world is about to change for American corporates that have hitherto functioned as a law unto themselves.
President Obama sealed an early victory in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado, four of nine 'battleground States' where both sides spent almost a $1 billion on rabid television commercials. Acknowledging the role of social media in his victory, Obama tweeted "This happened because of you. Thank you," even before he took the stage to make his victory speech. Ironically, Obama admitted preparing a victory speech as well as a concession speech in case of that eventually, but Romney had prepared only a victory speech. Apparently his spin doctors had not even theoretically factored in a defeat!
The election was widely seen as a cliffhanger because of deep voter pessimism with the economy, the perceived determination of corporates to have their man in the White House (to launch wars corporate America was itching to fight in Syria, Iran and god knows where next), and the fact that the President is not directly elected but chosen by an Electoral College that is a compromise between the popular vote and the Congress.
The Electoral College comprises 538 electors (a complex division of Representative and Senate seats between the States) and the winning candidate needs at least 270 electors/votes. Most states assign all electors/votes to the candidate who leads in that state, but some follow the system of proportional representation and split the votes between the candidates.
Over the years, this system has roused grave misgivings as a candidate who has lost the popular vote could still win the election by capturing states with greater weightage in the Electoral College (California, Texas, New York and Florida), as happened in 2000 when Al Gore won more votes nationwide, but George Bush took the presidency. This time too, both Romney and Obama got 49% of the popular vote, but Obama early on managed 284 votes in the Electoral College as against 200 for his rival, who conceded (Final tally at the time of writing: Obama 303, Romney 203).
The economy is now the top concern of the electorate, the large majority of which told exit polls that they felt that former President George Bush was more responsible for the economic mess the country was in than Obama. America is currently facing its worst economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930s and high unemployment.
With hindsight, it is clear that the negative campaigning by the Romney campaign fuelled the Obama surge as hordes of African American, Latinos and youth voted the country's first Black president to a historic second term. It helped the Obama campaign that the President could claim credit for ending the war in Iraq, bringing troops back from Afghanistan (soon), saving the US auto industry, killing Osama bin Laden, offering almost every American health insurance, and passing some Wall Street reform. Above all, Obama avoided getting embroiled in a fresh war in Syria (to be followed by Iran), as desperately desired by the military-industrial complex.
Now comes the tough part. After neck-and-neck popular vote, will Obama satisfy Main Street by imposing higher taxes on the rich? He will also be expected to improve Social Security and Medicare. US debt currently stands at $16 trillion, and while Obama has done little to contribute to this debt, he has equally done little to reduce it.
Moreover, some of the old divides persist, which means some of the old stalemates could continue. As before, the Democrats have retained their narrow majority in the Senate, taking Republican seats in Massachusetts and Indiana and rebuffing challenges in Missouri, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. On their part, the Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives.
America, thus, remains deeply divided as President Barack Obama begins his second term in office. Perhaps this will make the world safer for the rest of us, less violent, less tumultuous.
The author is Editor,