October 16, 2014

Oil Prices Continue to Define Geopolitics

Geopolitical Diary
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014 - 19:04   
Editor's Note: Oil prices dropped steeply Oct. 14, with crude oil futures falling 4.6 percent to $81.84 per barrel -- the biggest decrease in more than two years. Brent crude dropped by more than $4 a barrel at one stage in the day, dipping below $85 for the first time since 2010. While these are relatively substantial drops, they are just one part of a continuing trend Stratfor has been tracking over the past few months. Factors behind the slump include weak demand, a surfeit of supply and the fact that many large Middle Eastern producers are reluctant to reduce their output.

In light of today's developments, we are republishing the following diary from Oct. 2, which details the reasons behind the falling prices and how the drops could affect oil-dependent countries around the world.

The global oil benchmark, Brent crude, fell Thursday to about $92 per barrel before rebounding to finish the day at around $94 per barrel, the lowest price since mid-2012. The latest sell-off follows one of the sharpest declines in a quarter in recent years, in which the price of oil slid about 16 percent. It may be premature to forecast sustained international oil prices lower than $90 per barrel, but if the price of oil remains close to where it is now, many oil exporting countries will feel the pain after basing their budgets on previous price expectations.

Simply put, the oil market has gotten overstocked. After spending much of the year producing only around 200,000 barrels per day, Libya has seen its production jump up by about 700,000 bpd since mid-June. The United States has continued its relentless expansion of oil production, with the latest Energy Information Agency figures estimating that U.S. production has increased by about 300,000 bpd since the beginning of August, and Iraq has experienced similar gains. Russia, Angola and Nigeria have also seen marked boosts in production. While most of the recent production increases are one-offs, North America could add another 1 million to 1.5 million barrels of production by the end of next year.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.
Despite these noteworthy hikes in oil production, sluggish demand by European and Asian (particularly Chinese) consumers has proved just as important to oil prices. While China's demand will continue to grow, demand in developed countries will remain flat, as it has for a while. These factors only add to the concern that if left unchecked, oil prices per barrel in the $90-$100 range may persist for the foreseeable future.

Lower global oil prices will create challenges for several OPEC producers and others, particularly Russia. While some have suggested that OPEC will lower its production targets, it may not have the ability or the unity to coordinate a large enough drop in production to counter trends elsewhere and bring prices to a level more desirable to it (above $100 per barrel). If oil prices do return to this level in the near future, it likely will have little to do with OPEC's actions.

The Standoff Between Russia and the West

The first and most import consequence of lower oil prices is the effect it will have on the ongoing struggle between Russia and the West. Energy commodities dominate the Russian economy, particularly its exports. Any sustained drop in oil prices would directly impact the country's export revenues, and Russia's GDP would take a significant hit. The Kremlin's 2014 budget was based on oil prices averaging $117 per barrel for most of the year, with the exception of prices of $90 per barrel for the fourth quarter. For 2015, however, the budget has been pegged at $100 per barrel after much debate within the Russian leadership. While Moscow has significant financial reserves and can run a budget deficit if need be, Finance Ministry officials have estimated that lower oil prices could shave off 2 percent of Russia's GDP.

Although Russia has been able to weather the effects of U.S. and EU sanctions thus far for its action in Ukraine, the restrictions have already led some firms, such as Rosneft, to ask for financial assistance from the country's National Wealth Fund. A reduction in oil prices, and in turn lower revenues for Russia's budget, will constrain the Kremlin's ability to support Russian businesses hurt by sanctions the longer they are in place. With less of a financial cushion to soften to consequences of sanctions in the longer term, the Kremlin will have to moderate its position in the ongoing negotiations over the future of Ukraine to meet the demands of Western partners and achieve a reduction in sanctions.

Competition in the Middle East

As the West looks to gain from low oil prices in its struggle with Russia, it is also looking for an opportunity to negotiate with a beleaguered Tehran to come to some sort of a resolution on the Iranian nuclear program. For Europe, Iran and its large natural gas reserves represent one of the most promising long-term sustainable alternatives to Russian natural gas. Tehran is facing sanctioned export volumes, lower profit margins and ongoing expenses because of proxy conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and it can ill afford a sustained downturn in global oil prices. Progress on coming to an agreement with the West may be slow, which will only place more pressure on Tehran to negotiate. 

Saudi Arabia is also set on maintaining its global market share and has an opportunity in the short term to rely on its considerable foreign exchange reserves and low production costs to wait out other global producers. Riyadh's oil output is its most strategic resource, and one that the government is quick to use to its advantage. With summer temperatures beginning to cool and regional consumption starting to taper off, Riyadh can free up larger volumes to export, even at lower prices. The Saudis are also looking to leverage their short-term economic stability over rivals such as Russia, especially as they square off with Iran over the future of the Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia also has the ability to take a considerable number of barrels of oil offline if it wants to. Recently, however, it has offered discounts on its crude oil to secure market share for November, perhaps signaling to other OPEC members that while Riyadh may be willing to take its supply offline, others will have to do the same. But there is no incentive for other countries to reduce their output, since most Gulf producers will still manage to make a profit in the $90-$100 per barrel range; lowering production levels, therefore, would only reduce revenues.

The Americas and Beyond

Outside the Middle East, a decline in oil prices will also affect Venezuela. Officially, Caracas sets its budget at the low target of $60 per barrel of oil, a precedent begun by former President Hugo Chavez. Excess revenue could then be funneled elsewhere to off-budget expenditures to satisfy political patrons. Venezuela is in a dire financial position, needing oil prices perhaps as high as $110 to meet expenditures both on and off the book. Sustained low oil prices would severely hamper Caracas' ability to finance its imports, perhaps forcing government officials to get serious on selling foreign assets, such as Citgo, and gold from its central bank reserves, or offering even more attractive terms on loans for oil deals with the Chinese, though Beijing has recently balked at this. If oil prices stay low for an extended period, Caracas could also be forced to reconsider its deals with Cuba or programs like Petrocaribe.

Meanwhile, for developed massive oil importers -- Japan, China, India and the European Union -- low oil prices will give some respite to significant import bills. On the other hand, prices could also increase short-term strain in Europe, where energy has been the main factor pushing monthly inflation lower. While lower energy costs are good for Europe in the long run, they also raise the threat of deflation and inflame tension between the European Central Bank and Germany. 

Even though prices have likely bottomed out, the recent plunge in the price of oil serves as a reminder of how geopolitically significant energy prices can be. Energy supplies form the backbone of modern industrial economies, and energy resources are critical export commodities for those who possess a lot of them. As long as fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy -- something that is likely to last at least another few decades -- oil supply and oil prices will remain critical.

Read more: Oil Prices Continue to Define Geopolitics | Stratfor 
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October 14, 2014

Adding up the nickels and dimes

Suhasini Haidar



PTI IN STEP: "The expectations on the personal front between Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama were more than met given their interactions and the particularly poignant visit to Martin Luther King Jr's memorial." Picture shows them at the memorial in Washington.
None of the unfulfilled expectations of Narendra Modi's visit to the U.S. takes away from his substantial achievements in restarting relations that had been in cold storage for months
"I do not think Prime Ministers visits actually produce nickel and dime outcomes," former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said at an event in Washington this week when faced with questions about specific outcomes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United States. "I do not think that's the purpose. The purpose is to push relationship as a whole forward, which was achieved," he added.

Mr. Menon, the key official who has been squiring India-U.S. relations for the past decade — first as Foreign Secretary and then as National Security Advisor — can certainly not be faulted for his conclusions. Mr. Modi has won applause all around for his five-day visit to New York and Washington. Yet as the dust settles on the Prime Minister's travels, it is important that some amount of stocktaking or "nickel and diming" also be done in order to assess the real costs and benefits of the visit, as it represents a major point in Mr. Modi's foreign policy.
Comparing visits

The visit to the U.S. came in unprecedented circumstances. The past year has seen a sudden free fall for India-U.S. relations, symbolised by the extreme reactions to the Devyani Khobragade incident on both sides. Added to that was the awkwardness with which the U.S. handled ties with Mr. Modi, who was a clear front-runner in the elections. The late reachout to him over the visa ban had to be compensated for in a very short period of time after he was elected. As a result, Mr. Modi's U.S. visit cannot be compared with the first visits of previous Indian Prime Ministers. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for example, had another sort of welcome because of the big thaw he brought in relations between the countries in 2000, as did Manmohan Singh when the nuclear deal was announced some years later or when he visited in 2009 — a year after the Mumbai attacks — as U.S. President Barack Obama's first state guest.

Nor can Mr. Modi's visit to the U.S. be compared to his visits to other countries given the high stakes, the importance of the India-U.S. relationship to his plans for the economy, and the pitch to the massive Indian-American community in the U.S. The visit then must be graded on the expectations raised on both sides. While the expectations on the personal front between Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama were more than met given their interactions and the particularly poignant visit to Martin Luther King Jr's memorial , the specifics or "nickels and dimes" do not add up on several other fronts.

 Mr. Modi's assurances to U.S. businesses already invested in India have gone a long way in securing their interest in the Indian market  In Washington, expectations were clearly enunciated — the administration hoped for support for the U.S.'s coalition against the Islamic State and a rethink on India's decision against the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organization. Even as Mr. Modi flew into New York, Mr. Obama made an impassioned appeal at the United Nations for a global effort to join the 40 nations who had joined the coalition to "degrade and destroy" the IS. The White House said publicly that Mr. Obama would discuss with Mr. Modi "current developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where India and the United States can work together with partners towards a positive outcome." Officials said privately that "outcome" didn't have to be anything more than moral support, as the U.S. didn't require logistical support and already had enough ground support from Gulf allies. However, for India, even this would have been a departure from policy. Only in 2001 did the country back a U.S.-led rather than a U.N.-led coalition. Mr. Modi went a step further in rejecting the coalition request, criticising the U.S. for failing to include all countries (pointing to Iran and Syria at the U.N.), and chiding the U.S. over Afghanistan during an interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations, saying it shouldn't "pull out early" as it did in Iraq.

On the economic front, India insisted that no WTO deal could be allowed until a "food security" agreement also went "hand in hand." For Mr. Obama, however, as a beleaguered President, an agreement would have been something he could have touted as a success, not just domestically, but also internationally, ahead of the G-20 summit in Australia in November. It was for this reason that Secretary of State John Kerry, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade representative Wendy Cutler made India's support for the TFA the highlight of their trips to Delhi in the past few months, with Mr. Kerry even saying the government's reversal was "the wrong signal to the world." When Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the "WTO deal wasn't dead," many U.S. officials took that to mean a deal could still be hammered out in time for the Washington summit, but were proven wrong.
India's wish list

On the Indian side, the list of expectations was far longer, but perhaps more realistic than the one the U.S. had. This was discernible from the moves the Modi government had made in the run-up to his visit. For example, the government's step to uncap the prices of drugs was criticised by several health NGOs, as it raised the prices of life-saving treatments manyfold. But this failed to elicit any relaxation from the U.S. on market access for Indian companies. The joint statement issued also referred to a "high-level" group that would deal with Intellectual Property Rights issues — a group that has even been criticised by advocacy groups in the U.S. On nuclear issues, U.S. companies GE and Westinghouse remain inflexible on India's supplier liability law, even as the joint statement referred to a dialogue on "all implementation issues." On renewable energy, the government had hoped for big technology partnerships, especially on solar and wind energy, as it had only recently scrapped an anti-dumping law in a move aimed at helping U.S. businesses. Yet all that was announced was the facilitation of loans to the tune of a relatively modest $1 billion from Exim bank. A much-touted education agreement for 'edX' or online education never materialised. On visas, despite Mr. Modi's announcement that U.S. nationals would be granted 10-year visas barring "exceptional circumstances," the U.S. was not forthcoming on the relaxation India had demanded on the H1B visa. Difficulties for IT companies remained unsolved. When asked about this at a briefing for journalists after the visit, a senior Indian government official only said that visas are no longer "linked to reciprocity." Finally, there was no mention of the specific plans for co-production in defence on missiles and naval equipment that had brought a flurry of U.S. officials — from Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns — to India in the past year.

None of the unfulfilled expectations takes away from the substantial achievements of the Prime Minister's visit though, of which the most notable was the restarting of relations that had been in effective cold storage for months. Mr. Modi's command of the Indian diaspora, a powerful and influential constituency in the U.S., was another obvious take away from the visit. And his assurances to U.S. businesses already invested in India have gone a long way in securing and growing their interest in the market here. But if the nickels and dimes of the visit are to add up to establish a much richer partnership between the "world's largest democracies," one must not ignore what was not achieved in the U.S., even as Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama prepare to meet each other again at the G-20 summit.

Student Movements: A Subject of Human Geography

Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 03:00  Stratfor  By Sim Tack

As student protests in Hong Kong continue, memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations naturally spring to mind. Less iconic but no less notable were the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which began as a student movement; the 2007 Venezuelan protests, which started with a group of students demanding constitutional reform; and the 1929 protests in Paris, which challenged the role of churches in education.

Of course, each student movement is unique; the one underway in Hong Kong concerns Hong Kong affairs, not widespread democratic reform in China proper. And yet all such movements share characteristics that transcend borders, making them an ideal phenomenon through which to study geopolitics.

Student protests lay bare the social and cultural layers that move beneath the surface of geopolitics, much like subsurface currents flow beneath the waves of the oceans. Human geography forms the foundation of society and thus the systems that govern it. Even if we regard the state as the highest level of global policymaking and interaction, these social undercurrents are what move the generations, ideologies and cultural changes that shape the constraints under which states operate.

Patterns Emerge
From ethnic and religious sects to socio-economic divisions, human geography is as important to a state as the physical topography and resources that constitute it. Human geography exists in all states, and as with physical geography, revelatory, even educational, patterns emerge over time.

The way in which the ruled rise up against the rulers is one such pattern. These kinds of movements take a variety of forms, from peaceful demonstrations and strikes to violent insurgencies. Of these, student protests are perhaps the most intriguing because of the unique position in society that students occupy -- they are at the vanguard of a generation that often differs markedly from that of their forebears. It is at this fault line that competing ideologies and changing cultural identities collide.

That they are students means they are intellectually engaged, frequently espousing distinct political beliefs. But to be successful, student movements must galvanize the other areas of civil society. In that regard, they are often a good catalyst for change. Students are already grouped together at universities, often in urban areas, enabling student campaigns to evolve into broader protest movements. Of course, social media has made physical congregation somewhat obsolete, but proximity still simplifies the logistics of political action.

Even under ideal circumstances, student movements can fail, and indeed history is rife with failure. But more often than not, student uprisings tend to be part of longer-term social, cultural or political change. After all, when student protests disappear, students themselves often go on to become part of a more mature generation that retains much of its ideological conviction.

Think, for example, of the May 1968 movement that shook France and several other countries in Europe. Despite failing to achieve many of its goals as it occupied university buildings in Paris, the baby boomer generation later became part of post-graduate society, fomenting far-reaching social and cultural change throughout Europe as the ideas of the New Left continued to bleed into the mainstream.

When a student movement fails to create change, oftentimes it will join or be subsumed by an existing political movement, acting either as a force that advances change or one that that highlights the continuation of ongoing social trends. France's revolution in June 1832 is a prime example. The notion of popular sovereignty had been in place ever since the French Revolution ended the monarchy. The return of the monarchy in 1814, after Napoleon's fall, however, ultimately compelled students to take to the streets in what was essentially an extension of the very same social pressures that had dominated the internal evolution of France for more than three decades. These particular protests in 1832, eternalized in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, were struck down. But the underlying desires of the masses persisted, culminating in 1848, when the "Year of Revolution" saw the final collapse of the monarchy in France and generated a broader wave of social change throughout Europe.

Student campaigns have by no means been relegated to Europe. The United States witnessed profound student activism during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the anti-war movement brought about countless protests. At its core was a demographic shift -- the baby boom, which spawned the primary group challenging policy at the time. Of course, these movements did not end the war in Vietnam; they barely convinced Washington to end the draft. But they exemplified the trends of the time, namely, the introduction of a new generation with a distinct ideology.

When student movements emulate broader social unrest, the results can be dramatic. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution radically changed the political identity of the country, facilitated in part by students who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The ensuing hostage crisis united many sections of Iranian society in support of the revolution. Ironically, it was this generation of students that put down a later generation of students during the 2009-2010 Green Revolution.

A Society in Motion
Even prior to the current Hong Kong protests, China has had a rich history of student activism influencing society. In fact, the establishment of the People's Republic of China itself had its roots in student movements: Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai discovered socialism and began to organize politically as student leaders in the early 20th century. In 1919, the May 4th Movement, which grew out of student demonstrations, arguably ushered in what would become the beginning of China's contemporary history when it lashed out against Beijing's response to the Treaty of Versailles.

Students were also at the forefront of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. They helped reinforce the personality cult of Mao as Chinese citizens revolted against capitalism and traditional Chinese culture. It was student repudiation of university leaders accused of opposing the Chinese Communist Party that initiated the actual protests, which in turn started the Cultural Revolution -- something much larger than a student cause, to say the least. 

Considering China's long history -- and the history of student movements -- the current protests in Hong Kong will not be the last time China faces social unrest. As a one-party state with immense geographic, social and economic diversity, China has faced significant calls for reform throughout the years. And the Communist Party will inevitably face more pressure as China changes. For China's is a society in motion: It is creating an urban middle class as its economy matures. Rising urbanization and private consumption have altered the interests and expectations of Chinese citizens, and as expectation rise, so too will pressure on the government to meet those demands.

Along with the emergence of a Chinese urban consumer class, there has been a veritable explosion in the number of students in China as higher education has expanded over the past decade. China is spending more money on higher education to create an educated work force better suited for the economy to which China aspires. But creating more students creates more opportunities for social unrest. The ability of these students to function the way China intends hinges heavily on the performance of the Chinese economy. If economic growth slows, the potential for unrest hastens.

It is difficult to gauge the ultimate effect of the protests in Hong Kong. Still, the student activism there reminds us why these subjects of society are well-suited to protest. Because of their position in the human geography, students will often be at the front of generational changes in their respective societies, even if they are not always the most decisive agents of change.

Editor's Note: Writing in George Friedman's stead this week is Military Analyst Sim Tack

  Read more: Student Movements: A Subject of Human Geography | Stratfor
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October 12, 2014

The significance of lobbying in Indo-US ties

The significance of lobbying in Indo-US ties

By Guest Post Takshashila on October 7, 2014 in blog

by Sanjhana Dore

There are many factors that determine a country's foreign policy. To understand a country's foreign policy, like in the case of the USA, we have to first look local before global. That is, to understand American policy in this case towards India, or other countries, we first have to understand its domestic politics. We have to study their domestic push and pull factors. One of the most important and controversial domestic factors is lobbying.

by Sanjhana Dore There are many factors that determine a country's foreign policy. To understand a country's foreign policy, like in the case of the USA, we have to... 

What is lobbying and what role does it play in Indo-Us ties? There still does not seem to be a single definition that really covers all its elements. Nevertheless, it can simply, be understood as the process through which groups, organization or people directly or indirectly try to sway political decisions through various forms of advocacy directed at policymakers. Essentially, these groups, organization or people are self-interested. Wherein their interest or endorsements are on the bases of it resulting in the best outcome for them; one that might not be favorable to the other parties in concern or the country on the whole. The bitter truth of the matter is, this is how bills, laws or polices are, essentially, passed. Interestingly, the practice is frowned upon in India, as it is classified as an act associated with corruption or bribery and thus is largely unregulated. Contrary to that in the United States, it is a regulated practice and is important, if not central, in determining policy.

Lobbying can be understood through a cricket analogy. For example, the selectors are tasked with picking an additional player for an upcoming tour and there are four players to choose from. Among the four players, one decides to persuade an advisor to the board to endorse him. In the case that he does get selected, the advisor's endorsement of the player might or might not have been solely based on the player's ability. Many might view this negatively because it has by and large over the years been presented as such which has resulted in questioning the morality of the practice on the whole. The practice or method is not principally negative but certain forms of the advocacy involved or employed could be classified, as being unsavoury while others might not be. For example, persuading a company or group to support you by convincing them that you have what it takes or having credentials to back you is as much lobbying as an exchange of favours.

In the last couple of years, there has been a significant rise in the number of groups, organization and people that have been lobbying for the Indian cause in Washington; in an effort to strength Indo-US ties. Leading to many calling the Indian-American Lobby, the "New Kids on the Block". Taking the lead for the, already well-know and well established, Israel or Jewish Lobby, the India lobby is getting results in Washington — and having a profound impact on U.S. policy. This not only has major implication towards Indo-US relations but also in regard to US policy in Asia and its implications for India. The USINPAC or the United States India Political Action Committee is, an example of, a lobbyist group in the US that is responsible for lobbying to secure stronger ties between the two countries. Their latest initiative, a Congressional Briefing on US Liquefies Gas (LNG) Exports to India, is aimed at convincing American lawmakers that India is the ideal import market and strengthening ties in this regard will, potentially, advance energy security, [which has been] a critical US foreign policy goal in the region. This does not, however, take into consideration whether or not the outcome really benefits India or the United States.

The USINPAC is only one of the players in the growing lobby, there are also businesses like those a part of the IT sector both in India and the US that are also very invested in the implications of the domestic rulings. Especially those that pose to have foreign policy implications like that of the US Senate rulings to limit the number of H-1B work visas. This issue has also seen pressure for the Indian government. There is data to show that in the past the Indian government has financed private lobby firms like BGR, about $2.5 million, to peruse their agenda in Washington. In this case it is clear why this is an issue of concern to the Indian government because this Senate ruling, limiting H-1B work visas, could lower India's gross domestic product by up to 0.4 percent in 2015. In this regard, there has been intense lobbying from many organizations, like the US- India Business Council, to reconsider this ruling and the foreign implication it poses in the long term. This is a prime example of the India lobby in action and the fact that it consists of both domestic as well as international players.

Hence, it is fair to make the assumption that lobbying plays a significant role in the shaping of US foreign policy towards India. With its growing presence in Washington, the Indian-American or India lobby has become a force to be reckon with and one that policy advisors will be watching closely in the years to come when trying to determine or understanding Indo-US ties.

Sanjhana Dore is an intern at the Takshashila Institution

Modi Government's recent creditable decisions

Modi Government has taken some credible decisions in last 2 days. These steps are certainly a Game changer for India in coming years.

1. Defence Ministry approved fast-track road building along the disputed border with China.

2. New 50 posts will be established in strategic position of Indo-China Border.

3. $2 billion extension to the Karwar Naval base in the southern state of Karnataka.The base is intended to take the load off Mumbai port, used by the navy and civilian ships.

4. Approved a Radar station in the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal to keep an eye on China's evil designs.

5. Radars and telecommunications projects within 100 km (62 miles) of the 4,000-km (2,500-mile) border with China, large parts of which are disputed, will be put on an automatic approval list.

6. Govt. Approved a long-stalled proposal to raise the height of the Narmada dam to 138.73 metres (455 feet), from 121.92 metres (400 feet), so more water will be available for drinking, irrigation and power generation.

7. In a significant development, the Modi government has decided to make X-Ray, MRI and CT scans free of cost for the poor at government hospitals.

8. The Government plans to plant 200 crore trees along the entire 1 lakh km National Highways network across the country to employ jobless youth. A similar scheme could be implemented under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act) along the village and district roads and state highways. That has the potential to employ 30 lakh youth.

9. Moving ahead with its plans of creating a "broadband highway" across the country, the inter-ministerial telecom commission approved a revised strategy for kickstarting the ambitious National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) that plans to provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through nearly 6 lakh km of optic fibre by March, 2017.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his bureaucrats to repeal all laws and rules which come in the way of effective Governance. In a meeting with ecretaries on Wednesday, the PM suggested government
departments should adopt the system of self-attestation of
certificates, photographs and marksheets, instead of asking for Attested Documents or filing
of affidavits. He also told
officials all Government application forms should be made short and
simple by doing away with unnecessary fields.

"The prime minister said self attestation should be enough because
it is a hassle for the common man to get it attested from Gazetted officers. Anyway, the original documents are
required to be produced at the final selection... (Courtesy BS)..

10. Mr. Modi has passed an epic resolution:

Only Scientist and Technical associate will participate and attend the Scientist Conferences in India and Abroad....No Minister or Bureaucrat is allowed as a part of this delegations

This is land mark decision as almost 50% participants were non technical Ministers and their cronies....who did not understand a thing on the subject.....they just uses to enjoy travel and hospitality at Govt expense

For last 67 years nobody had time n inclination to change this as there was no vision in their heads right from Nehru to Sonia ....they have systematically changed the rules to serve their own dynastic purpose and looted the country

Bravo Modi

Pakistan’s Dangerous Game of Brinkmanship

Arun Sahgal

October 10, 2014
Insecure Pakistan in the backdrop of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is faced with the twin dilemma of international marginalization as part of fast receding regional relevance and political and economic instability. These fears are heightened by India's rapidly developing economy, political stability and fast paced modernization of its armed forces. For Pakistani fed on the belief, as Christian Fair puts it 'accepting the status quo with India is a defeat', such a scenario is an anathema that it is loathe to accept. This ideological perspective remains the driver that is forcing the Pakistani army in taking calculated military risks as a manifestation of its continued struggle which it must continue and persevere. According to Fair this behaviour of Pakistan is a result of it being fundamentally a dissatisfied state which seeks to increase its prestige through spread of its ideology and religion in pursuit of its revisionist policies.

Why Continued Firing along the LoC?
Within the above backdrop the firing along the LoC has three possible manifestations. At one level it is an attempt to keep the pressure on Kashmir and create insecurity along the border by the combined nexus of Pakistan army, ISI, the terrorists under the United Jihad Council (UJC) supported by the separatists in the J&K. The aim is to keep the status quo in flux. By putting stories of great efforts by the Pakistani army to thwart Indian security forces nefarious designs, an attempt is being made at national mobilisation. It is also to gain public sympathy and support for the army providing it greater flexibility in the flawed civil-military relations. In short, it is an orchestrated plan to provoke India. The Pakistani army believes that it can take such a risk of escalation in the back drop of its effective nuclear capability.

Second is the "K" factor. Over the last few years there has been a perceptible decline in militancy and cross border terrorism. Kashmiri separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani are too old and Mirwaiz Umar Farookh too weak to sustain the so called separatist struggle. Other leaders like, Yasin malik and Shabir Shah are attempting to pick the gauntlet but have yet to establish their credibility.

It is in this milieu that Pakistan is now trying to revamp its entire apparatus in the Kashmir valley, with eye on the forthcoming elections (likely to be postponed to Mar-Apr 2015 owing to floods). This is being done by attempting to induct nearly 1000 militant cadres, reported to be waiting to infiltrate across the LoC. What is worrisome for Pakistani is that militancy and terrorist strikes are not providing any tangible results, or attempts to exploit post-floods anger working.

In the last one month alone nearly 17 terrorists have been killed in the Kashmir Valley (including dozen of them attempting to cross the LoC). In addition, owing to effective counter infiltration and terrorism operations over the last one year there is no worthwhile terrorist leadership left in the valley capable of leading disruption of impending polls or spread antipathy and instigate civil strife during the forthcoming months. Thus it has become an imperative to induct and embed terrorist leadership before the onset of winters.

Interestingly, attempts at infiltration in North and South Kashmir, traditional focus of infiltration has been far and few. There appear to be two reasons: one, Pakistan does not want to be seen as disrupting the flood relief work in the valley, something which could become potential source of alienation and second, vulnerability of its lines of communication should India resorts to massive retaliation. For these apparent reasons the focus of Pakistani firing and escalation has shifted to South of Pir Panjal.

As a result Pakistani firing is largely concentrated on traditional areas of Rajouri and Punch as also across the International Border that includes sectors such as Sambha, Rabirsinghpura, and Chicken's Neck in Akhnoor, etc. Pakistan's increase in intensity and firing on civilian positions both along the border and around is part of an orchestrated strategy aimed at provoking India to relocate civilians to depth areas thereby facilitating infiltration. Locations of cross border tunnel are proofs of Pakistan's nefarious designs.

Third is the impending election in J&K. Successful elections which could throw up electoral arithmetic in which centrist forces become powerful power brokers would result in a government that would follow strong nationalist policies thus severely curbing the separatist space. The manner in which India reacted to the Huriyat leaders meeting Pakistan's High Commissioner should have made absolutely clear to Islamabad that New Delhi with growing international support will brook little or no dissidence from these groups operating outside the constitutional process.

Apart from above factors, it appears that Pakistani military is attempting at brinkmanship to bring the beleaguered country back into global relevance by focusing on Kashmir (the forgotten dispute) especially now with the focus shifting to the ISIS.

India's Response
India needs to follow a three pronged strategy: First, a swift, sharp and effective response backed by controlled escalation to Pakistan's provocations. India should be in no doubt that Pakistan could attempt at escalation misreading Indian resolve. Second, India should expose Pakistan's crass attempts to rake up tensions in the subcontinent by adequately exposing its nefarious designs both in Kashmir and rest of the country. There should be no talks till such time Pakistan mends its ways and agrees to meaningful dialogue. Third, Kashmir post-flood reconstruction work must gain momentum and fair distribution. The state administration must be encouraged to show empathy in distribution of relief.

Time has also come for another round of dialogue with all shades of opinion in Kashmir including separatist leadership but strictly within the confines of the Indian constitution. In so far as dialogue with Pakistan is concerned it should be made clear that India wants peace but will not bow down to such provocations.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India

Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir continues

HARI OM | OCT 13, 2014 I'M IN
The approach of other religio-political formations in the fray, such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamait Ulama-e-Islam (Fazal-ul-Rehman), Mutahida Quomi Movement (MQM) and similar outfits towards Jammu & Kashmir was no different. All these formations had held out a solemn commitment in their respective manifestos that they will work with single-minded devotion for the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the "aspirations of Kashmiris".

The approach of other religio-political formations in the fray, such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamait Ulama-e-Islam (Fazal-ul-Rehman), Mutahida Quomi Movement (MQM) and similar outfits towards Jammu & Kashmir was no different. All these formations had held out a solemn commitment in their respective manifestos that they will work with single-minded devotion for the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the "aspirations of Kashmiris".

It has become customary for apologists of Pakistan in India to mislead the nation by spreading falsehood and withholding the truth. They have been saying day-in and day-out that Kashmir didn't figure at all during the 2013 elections to the Pakistan National Assembly (PNA), as political parties in the hostile country — like Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) — wanted to cultivate friendly relations with India. Only on October 11, 2014, the so-called strategic affairs expert former Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak sought to mislead the under-attack Indian nation by airing similar views during a TV debate on India-Pakistan-relations. He, inter-alia, said Kashmir didn't figure in the last elections to the PNA. He and others of his ilk are wrong when they say that since Pakistan was committed to maintaining good relations with New Delhi, political parties in Pakistan refrained from raking up the Kashmir issue during the election

The truth is that political parties in Pakistan had turned so hostile towards India that they had included Jammu & Kashmir in their respective election manifestos very prominently. The elections were on May 11, 2013 and Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister. One of their major election planks was this part of Jammu & Kashmir. In fact, these election manifestos had highlighted the Kashmir issue as one of the major components of their foreign policy. A common feature in these manifestos was that they had described this part of Jammu & Kashmir as a "disputed" territory and the "right to self-determination" as the "inalienable right of Kashmiris" (read Kashmiri-speaking Sunnis, who do not constitute even 10 per cent of the population of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, as it existed on August 15, 1947.)

The people of Pakistan-occupied-Jammu & Kashmir, including the Shia Muslim-dominated Gilgit-Baltistan, which has become the hub of anti-India activities being indulged in by both Pakistan and China for decades now, is a region of non-Kashmiri-speaking people. They are ethnically different from the people who inhabit the very small Kashmir Valley, the epicentre of the Pakistani communal cause.

The 110-page election manifesto of the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) said: "Special efforts will be made to resolve the issue of Jammu & Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the relevant UN resolutions (read August 13, 1948 resolution)… and in consonance with the aspirations of the people of the territory for their inherent right of self-determination".

The manifesto of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) said: "We will pursue the goal of stability and peace-building in the region as a specific policy priority without sacrificing our diplomatic and moral commitment to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir is a core issue for us".
The election manifesto of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said that it "identifies the resolution of Kashmir conflict as one of the core national interests" and that "progressive detente can help both the countries if centered on conflict resolution".

Even the manifesto of former President General Pervez Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League Party (APMLP), which is insignificant in the political scene, said: "There would be no peace in the region without the resolution of outstanding issues with India, including disputes over Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek… No peace is possible unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved, along with the Siachen and Sir Creek issues".

The approach of other religio-political formations in the fray, such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamait Ulama-e-Islam (Fazal-ul-Rehman), Mutahida Quomi Movement (MQM) and similar outfits towards Jammu & Kashmir was no different. All these formations had held out a solemn commitment in their respective manifestos that they will work with single-minded devotion for the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the "aspirations of Kashmiris". The JI had gone to the extent of saying that it would not accept anything short of a "plebiscite" in this part of Jammu & Kashmir. The most significant aspect of the whole political situation in Pakistan was what the PML-N had said: It had said: "All the political parties of Pakistan have a clear policy on the issue" (of Kashmir). In other words, they were one against India (just as all the Palestinians, without exception, are one against Israel.)

Thus, the political and religio-political parties of Pakistan had made the so-called Kashmir issue the cornerstone of their foreign policy vis-à-vis India. The PPP leader and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had also not lagged behind. Taking an anti-India plunge and openly interfering in our internal affairs, he had threatened on April 17, 2013 that "Pakistan will continue to highlight the Kashmir 'cause' at international forums" and that "the hanging of Afzal Guru through the abuse of judicial process has further aggravated and angered the people of Kashmir". Zardari, considered the most corrupt politician in Pakistan, raked up the execution of Afzal Guru in his address to the joint session of the sham Islamabad-controlled POJK Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.

The Congress-dominated hotchpotch UPA Government, which was being adjudged by one and all as the most corrupt Government India ever saw after independence, knew all that was happening in Pakistan as far as Jammu & Kashmir State was concerned. It knew that Pakistan and its political and religio-political parties had been openly and brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of India by raking up Kashmir in a big way, but it had not uttered a word against Islamabad.

All this should call the bluff of the apologists of Pakistan and separatists and communalists in the Kashmir Valley. It is a matter of grave concern that we have in our country conflict managers like Kapil Kak who suppress facts and mislead the nation for reasons best known to them. The silver-lining is that the Narendra Modi's nationalist Government is in place in Delhi and it is trying its level best to undo the past wrongs and leading the nation in the right direction.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are the author's personal opinions. Information, facts or opinions shared by the Author do not reflect the views of Niti Central and Niti Central is not responsible or liable for the same. The Author is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

Petition to Stop appointment of Preeta Bansal who denied visa to Narendra Modi as Federal Circuits Judge

SIGN Petition to Stop appointment of Preeta Bansal who denied visa to Narendra Modi as Federal Circuits Judge

October 10, 2014
Prakasarao V Velagapudi PhD

Dear Friends:
Preeta Bansal was head of USCIRF when it shamelessly denied Visa for Narendra Modi which was not done to any leader of any nation.   Modi was elected by 50 million people several times, courts did not find fault with him, but joining hands with USCIRF racists, she conveniently assented to this ignominious action.  Musharaff, Iranian, Saudi Arabia, even Muslim Brotherhood leaders who practice intolerance and support terrorism could come into US without any issues, but Preeta, who was head of USCIRF could not argue against refusal of visa to Modi by USCIRF serving as its head!!!  

See the USCIRF report under Preeta Bansal denying visa to Modi below.

As Rajeev Malhotra mentioned, Hindus like Preeta Bansal who come up in public arena in US, they do so by undermining their own people.   Part of it is the inherent complex and many times it is mostly their ambition.   Targeting their own kind pays dividends from two fronts.  

1) It is easy to do it for a community that is not well organized such as Jewish community 
2) Doing to their own community, they will come across as if they are impartial. 

Many times these cowards would not stand with same strength and force on the real culprits like the Preet Bharara, the NY District Attorney who has worked with Khalistan groups to try to issue summons to Narendra Modi during recent visit to USA which was stopped by Obama himself.  I understand, they were trying to get an undercover agent to attend Modi dinner and issue summons.   Cowards like Bharara would go after relatively small time South Asian wall street insiders or puny cases like that of Indian diplomat, but has little courage to go after big wall street guys such as Morgan and Stanley.   The driving factor for these people is their uninhibited ambition.   Do not get fooled  simply because they are brown color and Indian heritage.   Indian Americans should NOT support  Preet Bharara, a rabid anti-Indian, as Attorney General of USA.   


                FORWARD this PETITION to all your FRIENDS, REQUEST them to SIGN

Prakasarao V Velagapudi PhD