After years of neglecting the Northern frontiers, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are re-calibrating their strategy giving a hard push to improving its war-fighting capabilities against its more powerful neighbour. Ladakh for instance is buzzing with an unprecedented military buildup. Consider this:
- A new Air Force Station to base fighter jets is coming up just 25 km from the Line of Actual Control
- For the first time since India’s independence in 1947, a full-fledged armored brigade of T-72 tanks will now be based in Ladakh.
A theatre of the absurd is on display in Islamabad with the street-fighters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri breaching the barricades to storm the Parliament and lay siege to the Prime Minister’s House. The denouement of this clear collapse of state authority in the face of a marauding mob is not yet clear. What is clear is that democracy has been grievously damaged, the civilian government has been reduced to a mockery and the political and administrative system has been brought to the verge of a meltdown.
Swami Vivekananda once visited a great sage of our country, a very holy man and wrote: “We talked about our revered book- the Vedas, of your Bible, of the Koran, and of the revered books in general. At the close of our talk, this great sage asked me to go to the table and take-up the book; it was a book, which, among other things, contained a forecast of the rainfall during the year. The sage said, Read them. And I read out the quantity of rain that was to fall. He said, now take the book and squeeze it. I did so and he said, why my boy, not a drop of water comes out.
The Pakistan High Commissioner (HC) should not have met the Hurriyat leaders when he was asked by the Indian Foreign Secretary not to do so. Diplomatic norms obliged him to take this request communicated at such high level seriously and failure to do so, he knew, would have repercussions. He chose to snub the government and left our political leadership no choice but to cancel the Foreign Secretary (FS) level talks fixed for August 25.
Powerful nations radiate powerful influence far across their geographical borders over countries and continents. And this influence is mostly coercive – often disregarding opinions of a majority of sovereign nations. President Bush was brazenly explicit in conveying his threat even to friendly countries when he said, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” The world has watched in the recent decades how a couple of powerful nations have not felt deterred from launching punitive operations against unfriendly regimes.
July 2014 is an important month for global economics and China. It is the first time in recent history that China has overtaken USA in GDP [adjusted for purchasing power parity or PPP] and has become number one country in the world according to Euromonitor1. Now the order is China/USA/India/Japan in terms of GDP at PPP. Of course in per capita terms, USA has ten times more gross income than China given the population size of the latter.
The decision to call off the scheduled Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan appears to have taken many by surprise, and left many in India quite unhappy. They seem to be unable to understand that a meeting between the Pakistan High Commissioner and various Hurriyat leaders could call forth such a response from the Indian Government. These persons have accepted the Pakistani argument that it was routine for Pakistani leaders to meet the Hurriyat, and so there was no call for the talks to be cancelled.
The House of the People (the Lok Sabha) has 543 elected members and two nominated seats. Article 331 of the Constitution stipulates that the nominated seats are exclusively for members of the Anglo-Indian community. This provision was made in 1950 in order to reassure the Anglo-Indians that their voice would continue to be heard in Parliament even after the departure of the British. Similarly, Article 333 of the Constitution provides for nomination of one member of this community to the assembly of a state, where such nomination is deemed necessary.
A few months before the 1999 military coup, a monthly newsmagazine in Pakistan carried a cover story titled ‘Creeping Coup’. In his second stint as Prime Minister from 1996-99, Nawaz Sharif had started involving the military in all sorts of things that ideally should have been handled by the civilian government. From checking electricity meters to unearthing ghost schools to cleaning canals, the army was being deployed in the role of a sort of National Guard. The then Army Chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf was always ready to oblige, quite willingly it appeared.