May 09, 2014

Using terms like "Unch" & "Neech" does not suit Madam : Shri Modi

The True Role of the FSB in the Ukrainian Crisis

By Andrei SoldatovApr. 15 2014 18:02 Last edited 18:02

The intrigue is growing over the Federal Security Service's involvement in Ukraine. On April 11, Ukraine's Deputy Prosecutor General said there was no evidence implicating the FSB in events on Maidan Square. At the same time, it is officially confirmed that FSB generals visited Kiev on Feb. 20 to 21. Recall that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sent a note to Moscow on April 4 demanding to know why FSB Colonel General Sergei Beseda visited Kiev on Feb. 20 and 21, and that the very next day Interfax cited a source in Russian intelligence confirming that visit.

The answer as to why Beseda was in Kiev with his entourage could be key to understanding the role of Russia's intelligence agencies in the current crisis and to the Kremlin's entire strategy in Ukraine.

Beseda heads the FSB's Fifth Service, or the Service for Operational Information and International Communications. That service includes the Operational Information Department that Beseda headed until 2009. Since the end of the 1990s, that division has been responsible for conducting intelligence activities focusing on the former Soviet republics.

When the chekists formed their own foreign intelligence agencies, they cited a number of reasons why Russia needed a third such service in addition to the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, or GRU. They argued that when the SVR became a separate intelligence service, the FSB still included divisions responsible for recruiting foreigners living in Russia, and that in turn necessitated the formation of a coordinating structure at its central headquarters at Lubyanka. But it was soon apparent that the FSB agencies intended to expand the scope of their intelligence work. That is understandable: Russia was headed for the first time by a former intelligence officer who was accustomed to primarily trusting information gathered by intelligence agencies. The Kremlin considers its near abroad a priority, and it apparently seemed illogical to President Vladimir Putin not to have information from that region coming directly from the country's main intelligence agencies.

The foreign intelligence agencies of the FSB have developed a well-defined style during their 15 years in operation. For example, in contrast to the SVR and GRU, the FSB has no qualms about appearing in the spotlight and its generals have a penchant for paying visits to senior officials in neighboring countries. As a result, Belarussian observers accused the FSB of trying to influence the political situation prior to that country's presidential elections in 2003. In 2004, FSB generals visited Sukhumi, Abkhazia to support the pro-Moscow candidates in their presidential race and, according to news reports from Chisinau, FSB generals personally worked with local Moldovan politicians in the mid-2000s. It also came to light four years ago that FSB intelligence services are actively involved in Ukraine. As an example, in 2010 a disaffected chekist published FSB documents on the website he created. That site was scuttled only two weeks later, but among the documents it revealed was a report on a Ukrainian document the FSB had forged with the intention of misleading the government of Turkmenistan and spoiling a gas deal between Kiev and Ashkhabad.

The second distinguishing feature of Russia's intelligence services is their lack of interest in mass movements and the activity on the street in favor of a total focus on the corrupt elites holding power. This is based on the old idea that "if we control the shah, we control the country."

Oddly enough, this aspect of their work is remarkably similar to the style of British intelligence during the collapse of the British Empire. In the 1950s, British agents in Egypt tried to their very last to compromise the monarchy, whereas U.S. agents were already working with the "free officers" of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, ultimately leading to the Suez Crisis of 1956. At the same time, the corporate cultures of the British Secret Intelligence Service and the FSB are so different that this single unexpected similarity can have only one explanation: The intelligence services of imperial powers tend to have the same biases toward their former colonies.

This approach has at least two major drawbacks. First, all of the Ukrainians who cooperated with the FSB now have no political future in that country — depriving the FSB of access to the ruling circles. Second, if the FSB relied entirely on information provided by close associates of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, how accurate was their picture of the overall situation in the country?

Even this problem could be overcome were it not for the fact that all of the decision-makers in the Kremlin also share a background in the FSB. In the case of Ukraine, some former KGB generals now serving in Ukraine's security service told a different group of former KGB generals now serving in Russia's Federal Security Service what was happening in the country. And that situation is further complicated by the fact that, according to a report in The New York Times, that information was passed along to Putin's inner circle of presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev and FSB head Alexander Bortnikov — all of whom, together with the president, worked in the KGB.

That common "education" might help them all stay on the same page, but it does nothing to help them understand the world at large. In fact, KGB operatives were not taught to engage in politics. They were instilled with a narrow and limited view of events, one confined to a reliance on tactics while ignoring overall strategy. This is an outlook that disregards larger social processes in favor of a focus on agents of influence in different states.

Perhaps this explains why government officials are constantly saying privately that Russia's policy is nothing more than an improvisational reaction to various crises. If that is true, it makes the situation in Ukraine even more unpredictable.

Andrei Soldatov is an intelligence analyst at and co-author of "The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB."

The end of the Amethi myth


There is a difference between the politics of representation, participation and empowerment. These three styles triangulated at Amethi this time to destroy an old myth, the myth of family constituency

On May 7, 2014, as Amethi went to vote, spectators on TV watched a myth of a different kind, a soap opera of a different order. It was witnessing not the elaboration of myth but the end of a political myth — the myth of Amethi. The final destruction came in two parts.

On May 5, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, entered Amethi like a conquering Roman general. He was imperial in attitude, treating Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra like an ignorant schoolgirl and questioning her credentials for interrogating BJP candidate Smriti Irani’s status. Ms. Vadra’s silly question, “Smriti who?” rebounded on her, exposing her arrogance and her ignorance. Mr. Modi had stormed a Nehruvian bastion, announcing the end of an era.

Beginning a conversation
Amethi was part of a collection of anomalies — a family fiefdom in the age of democracy. It was treated as a family constituency, a package of entitlements that began with Sanjay Gandhi and passed on like a family legacy. The idiom of loyalty was feudal. The electorate behaved like a collection of retainers. Last time, it had sent Rahul Gandhi back with a victory margin of 3,70,000 votes. In an age of democracy, it behaved like a fiefdom and entered history as one. Amethi was Amethi because it was a Nehru-Gandhi borough.

Everyone knew it was an anomaly, speaking a feudal idiom in the age of citizenship. The Gandhis behaved like royalty and Amethi was content to treat them like one. But as decades cascaded into each other, as a new generation less respectful of the Nehrus emerged, Amethi was itching for change. Mr. Modi recognised it when he said that “Smriti Irani has not been sent to trouble Rahul. He has enough problems of his own. Smriti Irani has been sent to end the agony of Amethi, free it, so it enters the road to development.”

Mr. Modi’s statement, while imperious, was more like a diktat — external and distant. But the man who dissolved the myth of Amethi organically was the Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas.

The media was dismissive of Mr. Vishwas as being a poet and comedian. What was important was that Kumar Vishwas was not dismissive of Amethi. He had moved in four months earlier — bag and baggage and family — and began campaigning door-to-door, across hundreds of villages. He had no helicopter to swoop down on a surprised constituency. He walked, drove and began what politics should really be about — a conversation. He was not a Rahul Gandhi submitting select people to quick questionnaires. Of all the politicians, he understood and respected what the word “people” meant.

Steps to empowerment
There was a moment in Mr. Modi’s May 5 speech where he claimed that Smriti Irani could recite the names of a 100 villages and challenged Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra to name 10. The truth is that Smriti Irani could do with the acknowledgement of the vigour and dynamism of her campaign. Kumar Vishwas needed no such statement. That style was intrinsic to his being and campaigning. He walked through dirt and mud, talking, listening, giving a new dimension to the politics of empowerment.

There is a triangular politics of concepts of democracy that one must discuss. There is a difference between the politics of representation, participation and empowerment. Each is a life-giving word but in a different way.

Representation is conventional. The elected member gives voice to interests, and articulates and represents them. Rahul Gandhi was a votary of representative politics; a legislator with the added twist that he thought his job was legacy, a family retainership. His idiom was familial and feudal but there was a touch of the parliamentary to it.

There is a sense that the BJP is also representational but adds to it a hint of participation. It sees politics as a more collaborative act and wishes that people would articulate their problems. It is a politics with a hearing aid as people have a say in what is being done for them. Participative politics is World Bank politics, a part of the emerging development model. It is people friendly without talking of people’s power.

Arvind Kejriwal and AAP make the third step to empowerment. Empowerment emphasises not just people’s problems but their power and competence in solving them. Kumar Vishwas was seeking to empower Amethi by being a part of Amethi. He had the humility and the confidence to do that. Three different styles triangulated at Amethi to destroy an old myth, the myth of family constituency.

One must add that the media gave Kumar Vishwas little attention, convinced that “the defeated” have no claim to attention. The media often belongs to the victors. But one has to go beyond the logic of numbers. Rahul Gandhi might still win with a reduced margin but Amethi will no longer be Amethi. The myth of a fiefdom is over, pierced by a million question marks voiced in the streets and dhabas. The old taken-for-granted-ness of a fiefdom has cracked like porcelain.

Competing for a vote
One witnessed both constraints and possibilities on the day of voting. People were surprised that a dishevelled Rahul Gandhi was present on voting day. Some observers sardonically treated it as more historic than the election itself. The prince, arriving on Election Day, was unbelievable and many saw in it a sign of panic, of anxiety, yet what was clear was that Rahul Gandhi had no idea about the rituals and codes of Election Day. He walked around the election booth as if he was examining a family table. Ms. Vadra’s public relations officer lorded it over when she had no right to be present. Oddly, the Election Commission (EC) sent a notice of eviction to Kumar Vishwas’ family for overstaying their time, yet was happy to paper over such open violations.

Smriti Irani had to throw a tantrum to evict Ms. Vadra’s PRO. But it is equally true that on the day of voting, Rahul Gandhi roamed Amethi in a huge convoy of cars. With respect, one has to state that the EC seems to be encouraging at Amethi an amiable Orwellian world where citizens might be equal but some candidates may be more equal than others. This was obvious in the body language of the candidates.

Kumar Vishwas attired simply, sporting a green gamcha, talked of his work and the people. His family had been harassed and in that sense he had a better understanding of the power and indifference of Amethi officialdom. Rahul Gandhi walked around the booth like a zamindar checking out his garden. The beauty is that India saw it all on TV. What was tacit earlier was blatant today. Amethi had turned into a morality play. Soap opera style, the mythical contradictions between fiefdom and democracy were out in the open. An anachronistic Amethi had to enter the future despite a Rahul Gandhi playing Hamlet over his fiefdom.

The reader might say that I am making too much of these events, claiming that all this happens in India. True, but what is also true is that for the first time, a new generation, a new public, is objecting to ascription, to inherited rights, to an elite that thinks it owns India. It happened last week when a young professional objected to Mr. K. Chiranjeevi, Union Minister of State for Tourism, jumping the electoral line at a polling booth in Hyderabad on voting day.

The more dominant idiom was that ordinary citizens could and should wait. Waiting is a part of the delayed ritual of entitlements, while a VIP is someone who cannot wait. The arbitrariness of this becomes more blatant in Amethi as it struggles between being a zamindari and an electoral constituency. The dhabas of Amethi realise that there is nothing natural or inevitable about Rahul Gandhi’s candidature. They face a different world of contestants, of options where Kumar Vishwas reminds them of poverty and Mr. Modi, about the invitation to development. Rahul Gandhi is now one among a list of candidates who has to compete for a vote. It is not just a tremor of discontent but a rewriting of Amethi as a text. History was being reinvented. The story of Amethi will sound different from today. Such a narrative, storytellers would say, is the great gift of democracy.

(Shiv Visvanathan is a professor at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.)


BY Sankrant-sanu

Newspapers across the Western world are falling over each other with articles condemning Narendra Modi's likely rise as India's Prime Minister.  From The Economist to the Guardian, from Germany's N├╝rnberger Nachrichten (calling Modi 'racist') to the New York Times, commentators are wringing their hands over the loss of the 'soul of India'.  The ostensible reason give is the 2002 post-Godhra riots in which approximately a thousand people were killed — both Muslims and  Hindus, which is routinely referred to as a 'pogrom' or even as a 'genocide'.
The West is of course intimately familiar with genocides and pogroms. Western civilisation has wiped out diverse peoples and cultures including an estimated 100 million Native Americans in the American Holocaust and about 6 millions Jews in the European Holocaust. The witch hunts by the Christian Church in Europe's Middle Ages killed thousands of medicine women and the two European-initiated World Wars of the 20th century killed another hundred million people between them. Communist ideology imported from Europe into Russia resulted in the deaths of several million more under the hands of Joseph Stalin.

Western concern for India's Muslims is cited as the main reason for opposition to Modi. It is worth remembering that, more recently than the Gujarat riots, the America-led invasion of Iraq resulted in an estimated hundred thousand to nearly half a million Muslims being killed. This Bush-Blair war had bipartisan support in US Congress, including 58 per cent of Senate Democrats who supported the Iraq Resolution. The Western Left and Right collaborated in this project. The liberal New York Times helped manufacture consent for the Iraq war. These hundreds of thousands of deaths, are not labeled as "the Iraq genocide", but are merely "collateral damage" from the war. Despite the false pretext for this war, neither Bush nor Blair were tried in their countries for war crimes, unlike Modi who went through multiple rounds of judicial scrutiny in India.

Given this history, the West's apparent concern for Muslims is too facile a reason for the trenchant opposition to Modi. Riots have happened in independent India under many different governments. The British policy of divide and rule had instigated the division of India on religious lines, leading to large-scale displacement and killing.  After independence, simmering conflict fanned by politicians broke into riots, most often during the rule of the Congress. In Gujarat in 1969, nearly 5000 Muslims were killed under Congress rule, yet the Chief Minister was not ruled satanic. Unlike in Gujarat 2002, where scores of Hindu rioters were killed in police firing to stop rioters, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots under Rajiv Gandhi hardly saw any such preventative action. However, Rajiv Gandhi was never demonised in Western academia and media. What is special about Modi?

In his book 'Clash of Civilizations', Harvard professor Samuel P Huntington laid out his thesis that basic differences in civilisations will result in a clash. In his book he identified 'Western' and 'Hindu' civilisations among the major distinct civilisations of the world. While Huntington's thesis has been criticised, we must accept Huntington's view as an important way the West looks at the world. Huntington was deeply embedded in the institutions of American power. He was the White House Coordinator of Security Planning under President Jimmy Carter, a consultant to the US Department of State, founder and editor of Foreign Policymagazine and a professor at Columbia and Harvard.

The rise of Modi bothers the West because the BJP and Modi, unlike the Congress, appear to stand for the Hindu civilisation. This view may not be far off. Unlike the other parties, the BJP's manifesto, explicitly invokes continuity with Hindu kingdoms of the past. It sees modern India, as not just born today, but as a continuity of an ancient civilisation. This threatens both the Christian Right and the Secular Left of the West, the two prongs of Western civilisational imperialism. The Christian Right sees the rise of a Hindu civilisation as threatening its conversion agenda, the Left sees it as a "religious" threat to the expansion of Western secular universalism.

Fed on Doniger-esque caricatures of Hinduism and partisan account of the Gujarat riots, they are inclined to view the rise of a Hindu party as an extremely distasteful and incomprehensible existential threat. Just as the a handful of British people ruled India with the help of a large number of Indian sepoys, the intellectual Indian sepoy army that has internalised the Western worldview, view this rise with the same distaste and actively write against it in India and abroad.

The Hindu civilisation doesn't have the proclivity towards genocide that shows up in the history of the West. Nor does it fit into the categories of "Religious Right" and "Secular Left." Monotheism has an issue with diversity and a record of persecuting religious minorities since it is based on exclusive theologies that view the other as Satanic. The Hindu civilisation naturally respects different traditions and has a record of diversity and pluralism, including providing refuge to small minorities such as the Parsis and the Jews without any persecution. It aims to raise human consciousness through harnessing the tendencies of the mind. It has had no concept of the "heathen" or the "kaffir." Neither does it subscribe to the clash of civilisation but to "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" or 'one world one family'.

An India based on Hindu civilisational values is not a threat to its diverse religious groups nor to the West. Indeed it may help civilise, or rather Sankritise it, to make it more refined. This has already been discovered by millions of Westerners practicing mindfulness meditation, Yoga, Vipassana, Sanskrit chanting and other Indian spiritual practices as a way to refine the mind and senses. We can only hope that the mainstream of Western Civilisation will also move away from its tendency towards genocide and towards becoming more Sanskrit. India under Modi is less likely to experience religious violence than it has in the years under Congress regimes since independence because of the humanising effect of Hindu culture. 

India is finding its soul, not losing it.