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Showing posts from February 24, 2013

No solace in this quantum of accountability

Opinion » Op-Ed Published: February 26, 2013 02:14 IST | Updated: February 26, 2013 04:04 IST  http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/no-solace-in-this-quantum-of-accountability/article4452586.ece Samir Saran Abhijit Iyer-Mitra   The Hindu GROPING IN THE DARK: The taxpayer needs to know from a competent authority that the money spent on intelligence gathering is being used well to protect him. A scene from the February 21 Hyderabad bomb blasts. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf On February 11, the Supreme Court issued notice to the government, seeking its response on making intelligence agencies accountable to Parliament. This question is pertinent and in some ways captures the sentiments expressed by many and best vocalised by two leaders in recent times. Vice-President Hamid Ansari had said in his 2010 speech on this subject "....responsibility to the legislature, and eventually to the electorate, is an essential element of democratic governance to which we are committed by the Constitu

India headed for economic doom, prominent US thinktank says

  Derek Scissors of The Heritage Foundation says that the Indian economy is in dire health because manufacturing that should lead the Indian economy that would create jobs for the swelling ranks of young Indians is refusing to take off. TNN | Mar 3, 2013, 05.34AM IST   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/India-headed-for-economic-doom-prominent-US-thinktank-says/articleshow/18772325.cms NEW DELHI: India is heading straight for economic failure post-Chidambaram's budget as a direct result of the lack of meaningful economic reform, says Heritage Foundation, an important conservative thinktank in the US. Assessing finance minister, P Chidambaram's budget, Derek Scissors of the Washington-based organization said that it "leaves India on the same, failing course it's been on of undisciplined spending and unrealistic expectations". The Indian economy is in dire health, he said, not only because Indians' incomes have stagnated, income gro

Hagel must set the record straight on India soonest

Raj Chengappa http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130303/ground.htm  The bombing of Kabul had just begun when I undertook the arduous but exciting journey in October 2001 to cover the Afghan war that would result in the Taliban regime being overthrown by a combination of decisive air strikes by the US-led coalition forces and a ground attack by an array of rebel Afghan forces. With great difficulty we were able to enter Afghanistan by driving from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to the Afghan border town Khwaja Bahawudin. We had to cross the Amu Darya by boat at night to avoid sniper fire from the Taliban stationed in the surrounding hills. Among the many memorable meetings I had there was a meal with Attiqullah Baryalai, then a top military commander of the Northern Alliance forces, at his makeshift HQ overlooking the Amu Darya. Over a sumptuous meal that included dal imported from India, Baryalai told us presciently, "The US, like all other invading armies of the past, should remember

SITE appreciates Pakistan, Iran gas pipeline project

By: NNI | March 03, 2013 .   KARACHI  - Naseem Anwar, Senior Vice Chairman, SITE Association of Industry highly appreciated the courageous steps taken by Asif Ali Zardari to enter into an agreement with Islamic Republic of Iran regarding $7.5 billion gas pipeline project. He said that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project despite hostilities towards the expansion of ties between two neighboring countries will be a strong approach in accessing safe energy source being the first priority for Pakistan to avail from Islamic Republic of Iran the brotherly country in the region. "The pipeline project has run into repeated problems, in finding funds and opposition to the project from USA but the democratic government under the dynamic leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari visited Iran and signed a final agreement with Iran wherein Iran and Pakistan agreed that Iran would supply between 750 million cubic feet (21 million cubic meters) and one billion cubic feet per day of natural

The Prime Minister's Men

PINION Inder Gujral only ordered the R&AW operations for covert action in Pakistan to be abandoned, not for intelligence collection. And Vajpayee continued with the same policy. B. RAMAN The  Hindu  of February 26,2013, has carried an article titled  No Solace In This Quantum of Accountability  written by Samir Saran, Vice-President, and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Programme Co-Ordinstor of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It is about the accountability of the intelligence agencies. My views on accountability are well known and I do not feel the need to repeat them. I wanted to comment on the following observation by the two writers:  " If folklore has it right, if R&AW had a charter, it would have legally pre-empted a former Prime Minister's order to abandon operations in Pakistan. It cost India 30 years worth of accumulated ground assets and priceless reach." The reference is apparently to former Prime Minister Inder Gujral. It is not correct that Gujral

PAKISTAN, AN EVOLVING STATE

B.RAMAN In our preoccupation with the anti-India activities of the Pakistani jihadi organisations,  we should not overlook the positive factors that have brought a ray of hope not only to Pakistan, but to the region as a whole. 2. The most positive factor is the fact that the mainstream political class in Pakistan---with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif in the forefront--- have been showing for the last five years since the last elections were held a greater sense of political balance and maturity than ever before in the history of Pakistan. 3. The past habit of political leaders of running to the Army as an institution or to individual Army officers for help in countering the activities of their political opponents is slowly fading away. There is a welcome realization in the mainstream political class that it cannot escape its share of responsibility for the Army acquiring the role of an arbiter in

U.S.: What the Sequester Will Do to the Military

STRATFOR March 1, 2013 | 1116 GMT   Summary Sequestration, the automatic spending reductions scheduled to take effect March 1, will affect the U.S. military's ability to project force around the world. The current continuing resolution that Congress is using to fund the entire government until March 27 has already affected U.S. forces. The longer these funding cuts continue, the more degradation the U.S. military will incur, with longer-lasting effects.  Analysis Although Stratfor typically does not examine domestic U.S. issues, this one is geopolitically significant. The U.S. military, and particularly the Navy, is the most powerful force projection instrument in the world. When the sequester takes effect, it will immediately reduce military spending by 8 percent, with more than $500 billion in cuts to defense spending over 10 years divided equally among the military branches. The continuing resolution is already affecting the military since it has locked the military budget int

Turkey’s Fear of Syrian Kurds

An interview with Dr. Bahram Amirahmadian, university professor and expert on Turkish affairs   Mr. Erdogan has stated that Turkey will not allow an independent Kurdish region to be created in northern Syria. This is while Turkey has very good relations with Iraq's Kurdistan province. What is the reason behind Turkey's opposition to the establishment of a Kurdish region in Syria? I think that Mr. Erdogan has considered the national interests of his country. The conditions of Iraq's Kurdistan province are different from those of Syria's Kurdistan. Iraq's Kurdistan province has economic power. It has a proper consumer market and it is powerful in the energy sector, whereas Syria's Kurdistan is a very weak and undeveloped region which basically has no experience in government. Therefore, if a self-governing Kurdistan region is established in northern Syria, it will not have the homogeneity of Iraq's Kurdistan and will create more problems for Turkey, for it s

India’s pro-Obama government may be on its last legs

by Ramtanu Maitra on 01 Mar 2013   http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=2702 A series of money scams, high inflation, a significant slowdown of India's much-touted economic growth, and currying favor with the globalization crowd at the expense of India's vast majority of poor, have brought the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to its knees. With a year to go before the next general elections, the government has very few straws to grasp at right now. The Alliance, if it can hold itself together until the death knell tolls, has really no possibility of getting back into power.   It should be noted that during the last general election in 2009, people did not give a mandate to any party, but the Alliance somehow managed to survive because the opposition to it was unimaginative and equally incompetent, if not reeking with corruption.   An Alternative?   This time around, some people in India have begun to assert that indeed an alternative d

Qatar Using Iran’s Initiative to Its Advantage

Excerpts of an interview with Dr. Masood Assadollahi, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/en/page/1912920/Qatar+Using+Iran%E2%80%99s+Initiative+to+Its+Advantage.html   What is your assessment of the recent position taken by Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister with regard to the establishment of an organization composed of member countries of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran to provide the security of the Persian Gulf? With regard to the sudden and unexpected position taken by Qatar's Prime Minister in the Conference of Arab-International relations in Kuwait based on which he has asked for the adoption of a new security agreement between Persian Gulf countries, which Iran would be a member of, to create new security arrangements in the region, it should be said that this issue is completely new. Traditionally, we have seen that although the Islamic Republic of Iran has always, during the past few decades, proposed this idea and

What is the US after in Eurasia?

Excerpts of a speech made by Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour in the Conference on Iran and Regional Cooperation in Eurasia   As a concept, a region, and a geopolitical and strategic structure, Eurasia has been the venue for numerous talks and discussions and has vague boundaries which are not clearly defined. It is interesting to note that although the Eurasian reality is very old and ancient, the term Eurasia has been proposed during the past twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. If we look at the categorization of regional deputies at the US State Department, we see that there is a deputy in charge of Eurasian affairs. Therefore, domination over this region is a necessity for US foreign policy. That is why there is a new outlook on China. The Russians have a different look at this phenomenon. The Eurasian way of thinking and the point that Russia is a Eurasian power and not an exclusively western power, has transformed the differences between the West-oriented and

US stimulus hasn’t been so stimulating

Four years of zero interest and a $2.1 trillion increase in the Fed's balance sheet hasn't provided much bang for the buck. That $2.1 trillion divided by 6 million jobs is $350,000 per job. The federal government has run deficits of $1.4 trillion, $1.3 trillion, $1.3 trillion, and $1.1 trillion the last four years. The total of the deficits — $5.1 trillion — divided by the 6 million jobs is $850,000 per job. All this stimulus hasn't been so stimulating.    

Brics Bank; First Nail in US Dollar Coffin!

http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/25120-brics-bank.html http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2013/03/brics-bank-first-nail-in-us-dollar.html   According to Global Times of 26 Feb 2013, the establishment of a BRICS development bank has been a major subject of discussions in the build-up for the 5th BRICS Summit to be held in Durban on 26-27 March. It is widely expected that the summit would provide a long-awaited institutional underpinning to the grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). South African Standard Bank's Simon Freemantle, Senior Analyst in the African Political Economy Unit, and Jeremy Stevens, an international economist based in Beijing, said in their latest report in Africa Macro that the BRICS development bank is an agenda item which is sure to feature strongly at the Durban summit, guided by the theme "BRICS and Africa -- partnerships for integration and industrialization".   According to Xinhua, the details around the BRICS bank are expected

Shale gas key to US Asia pivot

By Elliot Brennan  http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/CBIZ-01-010313.html Energy has long been both the bane and the favored instrument in the foreign policy of governments. Yet, for the US, fortunes are changing and the goal of former president Nixon's Project Independence looks soon to be realized. On the back of the shale gas boom and technological improvements in energy production, the US is predicted to take a giant leap toward this independence as it becomes the world's biggest gas producer by 2015.  Naturally, countries like China, which is estimated to hold more shale gas than the US and Canada combined, are hungry to learn the secret to their success. This may be just the carrot of diplomacy the US seeks to hold greater interaction with Beijing. Indeed, the juggernaut in Washington's "pivot" to Asia may not be the US Navy, but instead Chevron, Halliburton and ExxonMobil.  the US Navy, but instead Chevron, Halliburton and ExxonMobil.  In a US

Gratitude = Service: 10 Fond Memories from My 10 Years with Aurora WDC

March 01, 2013 by Derek Johnson  http://aurorawdc.com/gratitude-service-10-fond-memories-from-my-10-years-with-aurora-wdc/ Aurora WDC celebrated 18 years in business in February and, while we don't make quite as big a deal out of it as we probably should, it's been a true honor to serve Aurora's clients, partners, people and friends for the past 10 of those years. In some ways, it feels like eons ago… at the same time, like it has all happened in the blink of an eye. On the first day of March back in 2003, I joined the Aurora family as Director of Research, although I had literally been part of the family since my brother – Arik – started the firm on his 25th birthday in 1995. (Arik always says it was easier to remember the anniversary that way – just subtract 25). Since then, Arik gave me the opportunity take over operational oversight of the rest of Aurora's businesses in 2007 as COO and eventually leadership of the firm at large in 2010 as Chief Executive Officer

Emerging US policies

Emerging US policies The expectations from India by G. Parthasarathy http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130228/edit.htm#4 ONE of the key policy initiatives during President Obama's first term was what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described in her article published in October 2011, titled "America's Pacific Century", as a "pivot" the "Indo-Pacific"" region, straddling the Asia-Pacific and the shores of the western Indian Ocean. This meant that the primary focus of American policies, diplomatically and militarily, would shift to the Pacific Ocean from its Atlantic shores. It was manifested by American participation in the East Asia Summit and a determination not to be excluded from the emerging economic, diplomatic and security architecture in the "Indo-Pacific" area. But the American confusion and uncertainty remain on how to deal with an "assertive" and growingly powerful China, which is not averse to using force