The performance of the outgoing UPA-II government in managing India’s multiple external and internal security threats and challenges was often sub-optimal and given to knee jerk reactions. For example, the management of border violations on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and cease-fire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan was marked by the lack of inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination. Long-term defence planning did not get the attention it needs. The defence budget fell to its lowest level since the 1962 debacle.
“Never start a paper with the first person singular” was the advice that my English teacher gave me in the first standard in my school in Lahore, St. Anthony’s High School. On 10th February 2014, Barkha Dutt interviewed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal before a studio audience, which was broadcast, probably live, on the NDTV 24x7 channel. What one saw and heard was deeply disturbing.
US diplomacy is a cynical mixture of principle and expediency. The world’s foremost power needs to project internationally that its policies are based on certain high principles so that its global hegemony is not seen as resting on raw power alone but has a moral basis. Hence its crusade for democracy, rule of law, human rights and individual enterprise, on which rests its “soft power”. Juggling moral posturing and hard-headed pursuit of national interest often lands the US into contradictions from which opportunism is the only way out.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s interview to Times Now is certainly the most talked about interview broadcast by an Indian television channel in recent times, but the general consensus appears to be that Gandhi botched up the best opportunity that came his way to relate to millions of voters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha poll, which is due in May.
After months of to-ing and fro-ing on a clear, cogent and coherent policy and strategy to combat the ‘Mother of all Problems” in Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pulled yet another surprise on his countrymen by announcing a last ditch attempt to hold a dialogue with the Taliban. Two earlier behind-the-scene attempts by the Nawaz Sharif government to bring the Taliban to the talks table – the first through Major Amir and Harkatul Mujahideen chief Fazlur Rehman Khalil and the second through some clerics – had never really got off the ground.
This is the information age and therefore like all lucrative assets of the past ages, information assets must be an object of competition and conflict – and in extreme cases, warfare. This conflict is being played out in a new domain: the cyber-space. With increasing dependency on the cyber domain for every aspect of human endeavours, it is obvious that like all national assets, India’s cyber-space has to be secured against all forms of espionage, subversion, sabotage and attack.
During a visit to Afghanistan a couple of months ago, many top Afghan officials and politicians insisted that while the security situation was precarious and the political situation was fragile, the real cause for alarm was not so much the danger of the Taliban sweeping through the country as it was the plummeting confidence among Afghans and foreigners in the ability of the Afghan state to resist, much less defeat, a Taliban onslaught.
It is time for the army to consolidate
Its gains, rather than thin out
The motivation for this piece comes from Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta’s recent article in Indian Express, ‘Disarming Kashmir’ of December 7. In his inimitable style, he has built up a case that with peace and normalcy returning on the ground, there is scope for a partial thinning out of the Army presence in the Valley and some symbolic dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Towards the end of May 2014, India will have a new government and a new Prime Minister. In his speech on the eve of the Republic Day 2014, the President made three significant remarks which every Indian must bear in mind. He warned against what he referred to as "populist anarchy". He also said that a political party and a government must promise only that which it can deliver. The President's third comment was that the people of India should vote sensibly so that the new government is stable and can take those decisions which lead the country on the path of development.