Monday, October 31, 2011



In an interview to Karan Thapar, TV journalist, former Chief Justice Markandey Katju, who presently heads the Press Council, has repeated his strong criticism of our media in general and of the TV media in particular. The text of the interview is available at .

2.Some of his criticism seems to have been over-stated. The TV media has also to make both ends meet. Our TV channels are not charitable or philanthropic or non-profit organisations. Unless they make profit, they can’t provide professional services. Unless they have a steadily rising community of viewers, they can’t make profit. How to attract viewer interest is an important question that has to influence their policy-making. If growing sections of viewers prefer non-serious coverage such as of events in the film world, for example, can they ignore their preferences? They can’t.

3. A compromise has to be made if they have to survive----between the professional and the non-professional, between the serious and the non-serious, between the profound and the frivolous. If our TV channels are dishing out to us a mix of all this as a result of the professional compromise which they have to constantly make in the interest of survival, we cannot make over-righteous criticism of their performance as Shri Katju seems to have done.

4. The focus has to be not on the seemingly frivolous part of their coverage---one doesn’t have to watch it if one doesn’t like it--- but on the serious part of it. There has to be parameters to ensure that the serious part is governed by professional considerations without any non-professional agenda. An exercise to draw up a list of such parameters has not received the attention it deserves so far even though there has been a mushrooming of our private TV news channels since the first Gulf war of 1991.

5.In drawing up such parameters one has to go into questions such as: Are different view-points given adequate coverage? Is there favouritism in the selection of panels? Do commercial considerations influence the composition of the panels and the airing of different points of view? Is there a discreet black-listing of inconvenient moulders of public opinion either by the owners of the channels or their anchors? Is there a mechanism by which the criticisms, protests and grievances of the viewers are given serious attention and a response is given to them?

6. Who will lay down such parameters in the interest of professional excellence and public good? The Press Council can’t do it now since it has no powers or responsibility in respect of the TV world. The owners of the TV channels have shown no interest in such an exercise. Since the beginning of this year, I have been strongly voicing a demand through the Twitter world for an ombudsman in our TV news channels similar to what “The Hindu” has.

7. “The Hindu’s” ombudsman is not a paragon of professional virtues, but the creation of it by the paper at least showed that it was aware of the need to pay attention to the views of the readers regarding how the paper was run. One does not find a similar awareness among the owners of our TV channels and their anchors.

8. The prima donna culture and mindset that have permeated into our community of news anchors have made them totally impervious to the need to pay attention to the views and complaints of the viewers. They couldn’t care less about your criticisms or honest opinions. When you criticise, the reply that comes is “use the remote”.

9. The world of our TV news channels is becoming a copy-cat version of our film world. It is this aspect that should be causing concern and needs the attention of the decreasing number of serious-minded professionals still in the TV world.

10.There is one other aspect to which I had drawn attention earlier after the successful hunger-strike of Anna Hazare. That is the failure of our Doordarshan and All-India Radio to evolve into a public broadcasting service of professional excellence that would provide a serious alternative to the kichdi dished out by our private channels. The stunted evolution of the DD and the AIR is due to the continuing political stranglehold on them. This has to be broken. Only public pressure can do it. ( 1-11-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter: @SORBONNE75)


Sitakant Mahapatra of 1961 IAS batch,Orissa cadre


He carried in his breast pocket,
when he went, many things.
From his mother,a packet
of sacred nirmalya rice,
a small,framed photo of Jagannath.

And from their garden, in a handbag,
eight half-ripe mangoes and ten pieces
of cheese-molasses rice-cakes his mother
had stayed up late making for him.

He kept also in his breast pocket,
two treasured pictures of Sumitra
long-haired and dreamy-eyed before
their marriage and of Sonali on his lap.

He took as well Sumitra's kiss,planted
stealthily as a lighting strike on his cheek,
and from inexperienced Sonali, after
much persuasion and a KitKat bribe.

a shy kiss too---both warm until he reached Kargil.
He carried countless sobs in his breast
and suppressed tears, till their faces
disappeared like stars in the distant sky.

He returned in a wooden box
covered with a Tricolour, eyes closed,
cheeks ice-cold, face pale as dried flowers.
This time he carried nothing, not

chocolates for Sonali, nor toys, nor clothes;
nor a sari for Sumitra, nor a shawl
or eye-glasses for his mother.
He returned empty-handed. Like a bird,

sinless, but struck by a lethal arrow, he
circled and in a plane plummeted
to the ground, to Sumitra and Sonali
on his birthday.

---Taken from the edited "Memoirs" of the 1961 batch of All-India and Central Services officers who completed 50 years since we joined the service in May-June,1961

Saturday, October 29, 2011



The situation in Kabul should pose increasing concerns not only to the US and Afghanistan, but also India. The steady weakening of the security situation in the Afghan capital a year before the US Presidential elections is reminiscent of the weakening of the security situation in Saigon, the Vietnamese capital, in 1974, which inexorably led to the capture of Saigon by the Vietcong and the hasty withdrawal under humiliating conditions of the US forces in 1975.

2. The steadily deteriorating situation in Kabul was once again highlighted by a suicide attack against a bus carrying International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel on October 29,2011, in which five US soldiers, eight American civilians, three Afghan civilians and one Canadian were killed. The attack, for which responsibility has been claimed by the Taliban, was carried out by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber. The incident has been described by local observers as one of the worst ground attacks against foreign troops in Kabul since 2001.

3. There were two other incidents the same day---- but away from Kabul. In the first reported from the South, three ISAF soldiers were reportedly killed by a man in Afghan army uniform. The gunman was ultimately killed.

4.In the second incident outside Kabul, a teenage girl carried out a suicide attack on a building of the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, in the eastern province of Kunar, killing herself and wounding several NDS personnel.

5.In September, there was a commando style attack on the US Embassy and the ISAF headquarters in Kabul which lasted 20 hours, causing many casualties in the area around---but not in the US Embassy itself. The US blamed the Haqqani network for these attacks and started a PSYWAR campaign against the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for allegedly using the Haqqani network for promoting Pakistan’s strategic objectives in Afghanistan.

6. The war of words between the US and Pakistan and US threats of an aid cut-off if Pakistan did not sincerely act against the network have had no impact on the ground situation in Afghanistan as seen from the incidents of October 29 in Kabul and outside.

7. The latest incidents illustrate that while the US may be making headway in its counter-terrorism operations against Al Qaeda and its terrorism affiliates, it is badly stuck up in its counter-insurgency operations against the Taliban and the Haqqani network. The US pressure on Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network has come too late---- long after the Taliban and the Haqqani network succeeded in infiltrating into Afghan territory, and in establishing a wide network of sleeper cells, which are no longer dependent on the sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory for their sustenance and motivation.

8. Even in the unlikely event of Pakistan acting against the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network in Pakistani territory, the presence of many well-motivated and well-trained sleeper cells inside Afghanistan would continue to come in the way of US attempts to reverse the ground situation.

9. The Pakistan Army already visualises tactical advantages and a likely strategic turning-point in the ground situation in Afghanistan. The tactical advantages arise from the success of the Taliban and the Haqqani network in establishing a network of sleeper cells inside Afghan territory. The strategic turning-point visualised by Pakistan would, in its calculation, arise from an increasing pressure in the months before the Presidential elections on President Barack Obama to find a way out for extricating the US out of Afghanistan without humiliation or a loss of face for the US.

10. The Pakistan Army feels that only it will be in a position to prevent a humiliating situation for the US for which Washington will have to pay a price in the form of coming to terms with the ground reality of a Pakistani presence and control in Afghanistan and a dilution of the Indian presence and influence. Easing of the US pressure on Pakistan to act against the anti-India jihadi groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) could be part of this price.

11. It would be unwise of India to view Pakistan as a cornered nation without any exits unless it acts against terrorism emanating from its territory. It is presently a cornered nation all right, but the deteriorating ground situation in Afghanistan and the ultimate US dependence on Pakistan to avoid a humiliating withdrawal could provide Pakistan with a feasible exit option.

12. India should undertake an exercise as to how much of its presence and influence in Afghanistan would be sustainable in the event of a weakening of the US position and how to sustain it. We should not extend and expand our direct and open presence and influence beyond realistic limits. A greater injection of realism into our Afghan policy is called for. (30-10-11 )

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, October 28, 2011



With the next elections to Pakistan’s National Assembly due in the beginning of 2013, Pakistani politics has started picking up momentum and sliding into the contentious and venomous mode.

2. In their attempt to mobilise party faithfuls and gather fresh pockets of support, Pakistani political leaders have been exploiting three main issues: the alleged corruption and incompetence of President Asif Ali Zardari, the alleged unreliability and opportunism of Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), and the anti-US anger.

3. While Nawaz’s PML has made Zardari’s sins of commission and omission the target of its anger, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaaf ( PTI) have been focussing for the present on the anti-US anger to rally support for their movement against the Government. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headed by the UK-based Altaf Hussain has come out in support of Zardari and against Nawaz. Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been carefully watching the campaign unfold without getting into a vigorous counter campaign. It is not worried by Imran Khan. Its main worry is Nawaz, but for the present it is content to let the MQM counter the PML (N) without the PPP itself getting into battle station.

4. On October 28,2011, the PML (N) held a huge anti-Zardari rally in Lahore (about 40,000), while Imran Khan’s PTI held an anti-US rally in Islamabad. No estimate of the support attracted by the PTI’s rally is available. The PTI is holding an anti-Government rally in Lahore on October 30 and the MQM an anti-PML (N) rally in Karachi the same day.

5. The PPP has no reasons to be concerned for the present. Its support base in rural Sindh remains strong. Despite its differences with the MQM over its inept handling of the bad law and order situation in Karachi, it has reasons to be gratified over the continuing opposition of the MQM to Nawaz Sharif.

6.The PPP and the PML (N) have retained their major bases of support in Punjab----with no evidence of any major attrition one way or the other. The anti-US anger is unlikely to be a major political issue either in Sindh or in Punjab.

7. The public fall-out of the anti-US anger is presently confined to the Pashtun belt in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa (KP) province and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Imran Khan has been trying to exploit this anger by focussing his campaign on the inability of the Zardari Government to stop the US Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in the FATA. It remains to be seen what effect Imran’s campaign has on the support base of the Awami National Party (ANP), which continues to be an ally of the PPP despite its unhappiness over the anti-Pashtun attacks---allegedly by the MQM cadres---in Karachi. Balochistan does not count for much in the budding campaign.

8. The war of words between the Pakistan Army, the Foreign Office and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on the one side and the US political and military leaders on the other over the ISI’s alleged collusion with the Haqqani network in Afghanistan has not excited much public interest despite the high decibel projection of the war of words in the Indian and Pakistani print and electronic media. The public anger over the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, has subsided. OBL has already become passee and no tears are being shed over his death. Even the fundamentalist political parties such as the Jamat-e-Islami (JEI) and the Jamaat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) have not been able to create a street hysteria over the US raid.

9. The main issue angering the voters today is the deteriorating economic situation, which could get worse if the US threat to cut down---if not stop--- its assistance to Pakistan is carried out. Even though the political and military leadership has been trying to project a couldn’t care less attitude over threats of US aid cut-off, they know that neither China nor Saudi Arabia could compensate for what Pakistan would lose should the US carry out its threat. With the next elections about 18 months away, it would not be in the interest of any of the mainstream parties for the economic situation to deteriorate further.

10. While the political drum-beats are to be expected, no clear-cut answers are available to two questions: Will the opposition try for a premature election in 2012 and what would be the attitude of the Army in the event of the contentious political debate getting more venomous ?

11. The indications from reliable sources in Pakistan close to the Army are that the GHQ in Rawalpindi has no stomach for a direct political role similar to what it had pre-2008 and would prefer that the elections are held as scheduled. The Army’s present preoccupation is the war of words with the US.

12. According to these sources, both the military and political leaders in Pakistan are feeling uncomfortable with the continuing war of words and are searching for an honourable way out without seeming to betray the Haqqani network which has remained loyal to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. ( 29-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, October 27, 2011

India's Youngest Tweeple



The growing concerns of the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the destabilising potential of social media networks were reflected during the meeting of the Party Central Committee held at Beijing from October 15 to 18, 2011, under the presidentship of Hu Jintao, Party General Secretary.

2. The special meeting of the Party CC, which was convened ostensibly to discuss and decide on the need for cultural reforms and on measures required to strengthen China’s soft power to enable it to keep pace with its economic power, was also devoted to discussing the concerns of the Party leadership over the difficulties being experienced in preventing the perceived misuse of microblogs to spread dissatisfaction among the people over the sins of commission and omission of the leadership.

3. While the Party and the Government continue to maintain a tight control over the print media, they have not been able to control the dissemination and discussion of information regarding the failings of the leadership in the microblogs. The free discussion by the netizens in microblogs has reduced the relevance of the controlled discussions in the National People’s Congress (NPC), which is the country’s Parliament.

4. The Government/Party vetted reports on the proceedings of the NPC and the Party Central Committee as disseminated by the print media enjoy less and less credibility and the reports and critiques as disseminated by the netizens through their microblogs are enjoying increasing credibility.

5. Recently, the Government and the Party miserably failed in their attempts to cover up the inadequacies which led to a major train accident. The truth was brought out by the netizens through their microblogs. There have been other similar instances where attempts of the State and the Party to cover up their failings and the inadequacies in policy formulation and implementation were thwarted by alert netizens and tweeple.

6. The magnitude of the problem faced by the State and the party could be guessed from the fact that the number of Chinese users registered on domestic microblog sites such as Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo reached 195 million by the end of June, a more than threefold increase since the end of 2010, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. That is, nearly about 20 per cent of China’s population---most of them youth--- are now able to discuss among themselves matters of the State and the Party and of public interest without the State being able to exercise any control over their access to information and their discussion on the information thus disseminated through the microblogs. It should be noted, however, that there is a huge difference between registered users and active users. It is estimated that only about one-third of the registered users actively and regularly use the microblogs. Even that number is large.

7. Official denials of what the Government describes as rumours are no longer accepted by the 500 million strong web civil society of netizens, of whom about 195 million constitute the community of tweeple. Recent official denials of tweets about the alleged crash of an Air Force plane during a test flight and regarding some budgetary proposals have been disbelieved by the netizens, who continue to insist in their tweets and posts on the correctness of their information.

8.The Chinese Tweeple, who are using the microblogs as a political weapon to hold the State and the Party accountable for their sins of omission and commission, do not have any motivated agenda to destabilise the Government and the Party and to bring an end to the one-party rule. Since the traditional media and State and party organs do not give them an opportunity to openly voice their grievances and criticisms, they are using the platform provided by the microblogs to do so without any intention of wanting to destabilise the country.

9.But the Government and the Party fear that a cumulative effect of their use of the microblogs could be to create pockets of alienation in the civil society and ultimately unite those alienated against the Government and the State.

10.The Chinese Government has been trying to counter the anti-establishment soft power of the tweeple at two levels. Firstly, by encouraging the party cells and the Government offices to follow a pro-active policy of making a better use of the social media networks---particularly the microblogs---- to disseminate the correct information and to counter rumours and misperceptions. It has been reported that about 60,000 party cells and government offices are already aggressively using the microblogs for this purpose.

11.Secondly, by exercising pressure on the owners of the social media networks to tighten censorship and control over the main search engine Baidu and the microblogs in order to filter and keep out what the Government projects as rumours and criticism with a potential for destabilisation . Such measures were not very successful in June when rumours regarding the alleged death of Jiang Zemin, the predecessor of Hu as State President and Party General Secretary, spread through microblogs despite the counter-measures taken by the Ministry of Public Security.

12. It is in the light of such incidents and experiences that the Party CC discussed what further measures needed to be taken to eliminate the potential for destabilisation of the social media networks. It is reported that there are 15 such networks in China, of which four are most popular.

13. A statement issued at the end of the meeting, which was published on October 26, vowed to "strengthen guidance and administration of social Internet services and instant communications tools, and regulate the orderly dissemination of information." It also said the Government should "apply the law to sternly punish the dissemination of harmful information."

14. The statement called on China's conventional media (print, TV and radio ) to correctly guide public opinion, to emphasize positive propaganda, and to uphold stability and unity. At the same time, it added that the people should have the right to know what is going on, the right to participate in and monitor events, and the right to express themselves.

15.The State Internet Information Office said on October 26 that it had asked the police to prosecute those responsible for spreading a bogus tax policy announcement and rumours that a fighter jet had crashed, killing the pilot.

16."The Internet is a microphone that everyone can use, but it is not one that everyone can use well," the People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, said in an editorial. The official Xinhua news agency has reported that three people, including a website editor, had been punished for spreading rumours.

17.The growing community of netizens and tweeple have realised their power against the State and the Party and the Government is going to find it difficult now to deprive them of this power. Any attempt to do so through oppressive measures might itself set in motion a destabilising chain of events ultimately threatening the power of the State and the Party in a one-party State. ( 27-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Tuesday, October 25, 2011



The unrest in the Tibetan areas of China ---Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan--- continues in different forms. The unrest was triggered off in March last by unhappiness among the Tibetans of Sichuan over the continued suppression of their political, religious and ethnic rights by the Chinese authorities and over their attempts to punish anyone who proclaimed his or her loyalty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

2.The unrest in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan has taken the form of a chain of self-immolations by young Tibetan monks of the large Kirti monastery. The Chinese authorities have not been able to stop these acts or attempted acts of self-immolation despite their removing a large number of monks of the monastery to a military detention camp euphemistically called a re-education centre and punishing those present at the time of the self-immolations on charges of abetment to suicide. They have also been forcing senior monks to come out with statements condemning self-immolations as unBuddhist and have launched a campaign against His Holiness for not condemning self-immolations.

3. Despite these suppressive measures, acts or attempted acts of self-immolation continue with nine so far. In the latest incident reported on October 17, 2011, a nun is reported to have committed self-immolation. This is the first instance of a self-immolation by a nun in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Wamgmo, the 20-year-old nun, was from the Mamo or Dechen Choekorling Nunnery, which has about 350 nuns in Ngaba. Nuns from here had also participated in the March 2008 protest movement,

4. The same day, the Chinese police opened fire on a group of protesting Tibetans, injuring two of them. There were no fatalities. The shooting followed a protest the previous day in the Khekor township of Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county of the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture. A group of seven Tibetans protested in front of the local police station and shouted slogans calling for freedom for Tibet, the return of His Holiness from exile and the release from jail of His Holiness the Panchen Lama, chosen by the Dalai Lama in accordance with Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The Chinese have jailed him and the Communist Party of China has nominated its own Panchen Lama who has not been accepted by the Tibetans.

5.The self-immolations in Sichuan have been accompanied by protests and commercial strikes by Tibetans in the towns and villages to which those committing self-immolation belonged. The Tibetan community of Sichuan observed a day of fasting and protest on October 19 to express solidarity with the families of those who committed self-immolation. The acts of self-immolation have not so far spread to other Tibetan areas outside Sichuan.

6. However, a Tibetan-consciousness movement has been spreading right across the Tibetan belt. The objective of the movement is to enhance the consciousness of the Tibetans---particularly the youth--- about the distinct nature of the Tibetan culture as distinguished from the Han culture and to impress upon the youth the importance of preserving the Tibetan culture and maintaining their loyalty and devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The monasteries have been in the forefront of this movement.

7. As part of this Tibetan-consciousness movement, Tibetans are being encouraged to dress in typical Tibetan style, speak among themselves only in the Tibetan language, eat only Tibetan food and participate in joint prayer meetings. Reports received from Tibet and other Tibetan areas say that thousands of Tibetans---many of them youth—are participating in the peaceful gatherings organised by this movement. The Chinese authorities have till now refrained from disrupting this movement lest it lead to any violence.

8. At the Sershul monastery in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of the Sichuan province, more than 20,000 Tibetan monks and others gathered from Oct. 6-13 to take part in discussions on Tibetan-consciousness. In an earlier Tibetan-consciousness gathering from Oct. 2-5 at the Dzogchen monastery, also in Kardze, a senior religious leader spoke to more than 10,000 Tibetans on the Tibetan identity. Pledges to struggle for Tibetan freedom through non-violent means were taken

9.Similar gatherings were held in eight other places during September and October, including one gathering of about 1,400 monks in Nangchen in the Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province.

10. The absence of acts of self-immolation, protest meetings and commercial strikes in Tibet itself should not be misconstrued to mean that the struggle for Tibetan rights, which led to a mass flare-up in 2008, is showing signs of subsiding. It has taken a different form. The presence of thousands of Tibetans---particularly Tibetan youth--- in the Tibetan-consciousness gatherings in Tibet speaks of the continuing pride of the Tibetans in their Tibetan personality, culture and religious faith.

11. The Tibetan struggle for the protection and preservation of their self-identity and their loyalty and devotion to His Holiness remain as strong as ever. What should be encouraging is that a new generation Tibetan activists, different from those who were in the vanguard of the 2008 flare-up, has emerged and is now leading the Tibetan struggle. The new generation believes in a peaceful struggle. It feels that the violence of March 2008 played into the hands of the Chinese and enabled them to use brutal force to suppress the movement.( 25-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Sunday, October 23, 2011



On October 23,2011, an Indian military helicopter with four military personnel on board strayed into Pakistani air space in the Skardu region of Gilgit-Baltistan due to bad weather.

2. According to official accounts of the Pakistani Army, the occupants of the helicopter consisted of one Lt.Col, two Majors and a junior commissioned officer. On detecting the crossing of the helicopter into Pakistani air space, planes of the Pakistani Air Force took off and made it land in the Skardu area.

3. After questioning the occupants of the copter regarding the circumstances under which it crossed over into Pakistani air space, they were allowed to take off and return to the Kargil area of India the same day within a few hours.

4. According to official accounts emanating from New Delhi, the Armies of the two countries sorted out the incident in a professional and cordial manner by using the hotline that exists between the Directors-General of Military Operations of the two countries.

5.Even though the incident was unintentional, the Pakistan Army could have played it up as having a sinister motive and detained the copter and its occupants ostensibly for long interrogation.

6. At a time when the Pakistani Army is under tremendous pressure from the US to mount operations against the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, its Chief of the Army Staff ( COAS ), could have exploited the incident to mount a PSYWAR against India in order to project as if Pakistan continued to face a military threat from India.

7. The Pakistan Army resisted that temptation, treated the incident in the low-key in which it deserved to be treated, consciously avoided dramatizing it and let the chopper and its occupants fly back to India within a few hours.

8. This speaks highly of Gen.Kayani as a military professional. His positive and cool reflexes as reflected during the incident need to be noted, acknowledged and hailed by India. The way the Pakistani military and political leadership resisted the temptation to exploit the incident for ulterior purposes needs to be highlighted and praised.

9. We do not hesitate to criticise what we see as the negative traits and reflexes of the Pakistan Army in matters relating to India. In equal measure, we should not hesitate to highlight and hail the positive traits and reflexes of the Pakistani military leadership. The manner in which the Pakistani military leadership handled the incident is worthy of high praise.

10. One is reminded that during the crisis in Indo-Pakistan relations after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, Gen.Kayani was the Director-General of Military Operations in Rawalpindi. It was reported that the US was highly impressed by the cool manner in which he handled the crisis. He has shown a similar cool temperament on October 23.

11. Should the good vibrations generated by the Pakistani gesture remain an isolated act without follow-up? I don’t think so. This should be used as a starting point for setting up a more substantial military-military relationship between the armies of the two countries as a distrust-reducing measure. This is the time for us to consider inviting Gen.Kayani to visit India.

12. One should note too the commendable restraint shown by the media of the two countries in reporting on the incident. This augurs well for the future.( 24-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: .Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, October 22, 2011



The indicators from reliable sources in Pakistan are that the just-concluded visit ( October 21,2011) of Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to Pakistan at the head of a high-power delegation including the new incumbents to the important posts of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),David Petraeus, failed to have the necessary impact on the military as well as civilian leadership.

2. What she was expecting was a clear commitment from the Pakistani leadership with a time-bound plan of operation to neutralise the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, an arm of the Afghan Taliban, in the Pashtun belt in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)---particularly in North Waziristan.

3. The Pakistani civilian and military leaders were as evasive as ever and the Army headed by Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), avoided making any commitment on this issue despite cautions emanating from identified and unidentified sources in Washington regarding the likely punitive consequences of continued Pakistani inaction against the terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistani territory from which, according to the US, attacks are launched against NATO and Afghan targets in Afghan territory.

4. As the US moves towards the Presidential elections next year, the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan have been stalling on the ground. Spectacular decapitation strikes against high-value targets through pilotless Drone aircraft and commando actions such as the one that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 last have not produced any major qualitative change in the ground situation.

5. Successful decapitation strikes need time to produce results on the ground situation. The Obama Administration wants quick results that would enable it to start thinning out the US troop presence in Afghanistan well before next-year’s elections when Mr.Obama will be seeking re-election.

6. Such quick results in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations come only from successful strikes against terrorist sanctuaries and other infrastructure on the ground through a mix of air and ground actions. Such a mix facilitated the elimination of OBL in Abbottabad, but it is difficult to repeat it against widely-scattered terrorist infrastructure.

7. The US faces a dilemma because it does not have the stomach for sustained ground operations by its forces in Pakistani territory. Any ground operation by the US forces that is confined to North Waziristan alone would not produce enduring results because the entire Pakistan---its tribal belt as well as the non-tribal hinterland--- provides a strategic depth to the Afghan Taliban, including its Haqqani network.

8. The cruel reality is that without the co-operation of the Pakistan Army, the US is not in a position to mount a successful counter-sanctuary operation in Pakistani territory. The Pakistan Army has a clear understanding of the limitations to the ground action capabilities of the US in Pakistani territory. Such limitations do not arise from Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as it is generally presumed. They arise from the nature of the tribal belt and the vast non-tribal hinterland.

9. There are no quick answers to the operational dilemma faced by the US in Pakistan. The US has to realise that Pakistan as constituted presently will continue to keep coming in the way of the over-all strategic objectives of the US in the Af-Pak region. Unless the Pakistani capabilities are weakened, there is going to be no enduring solution to the US dilemma in Pakistan. Economic and military sanctions alone will not weaken Pakistan’s capabilities in view of the assistance that would be forthcoming to Pakistan from China and Saudi Arabia.

10. The only enduring way of weakening the capability of Pakistan is to work strategically for changing the very nature of Pakistan as it is constituted presently by identifying friendly elements in Pakistan such as the Balochs, the Mohajirs and the Shias and helping them in achieving their objective of freeing themselves from the control of the Pakistani Army.

11. These three elements have been struggling on their own, but they have not made much headway due to lack of external support and absence of strategic unity amongst them. If they can be persuaded to come together in a Southern Alliance and struggle jointly and if their political objectives are supported by the outside world---the US particularly—one may see the beginning of the process of weakening the capability of the Pakistani Army to stand in the way of peace and stability in the region.

12. The time has come for a clear realisation that Pakistan as constituted presently is the problem in the region and that unless the non-radical sections of the Pakistani society are helped to assert themselves, no enduring solution would be possible. ( 23-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, October 21, 2011



No right-thinking person would shed tears over the death of Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator, but any well-informed analyst with his feet firmly on the ground would be nervous over the likely sequel to his elimination.

2.Gaddafi suppressed his people. He used brutal force against them. He funded, trained and armed many of the West Asian terrorist organisations, that claimed to be fighting for the Palestinian cause against Israel and the West. He funded and armed the Irish Republican Army to make the British bleed. Under him, the Libyan intelligence became a brutal sponsor of terrorism against the West ---particularly after the alleged death of his daughter in a US air strike in 1986 when Ronald Reagan was the US President.

3. His intelligence blew up a French civilian plane in Africa and a Pan-Am Aircraft of the US near Lockerbie in Scotland in December 1988. He partly funded Pakistan’s Islamic bomb along with Saudi Arabia and Iran. He was a menace who deserved to be eliminated.

4. Post-9/11, he gave signs of a new friendly Gaddafi on the horizon. He handed over his intelligence officers to the West for trial. He paid huge compensations to the relatives of those who died in the two explosions aboard a French and US aircraft. He kept away from Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda. After the US found out about his nuclear acquisitions with the help of Pakistan’s A.Q.Khan, he made a clean breast of his nuclear acquisitions and destroyed them to the satisfaction of the West. This merited a “Thank you” visit to Libya by the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

5. Gaddafi fondly hoped that these mitigating actions by him would spare him a brutal fate. They didn’t. The ideal thing would have been for the West to ensure that like Iraq’s Saddam Hussain, Gadaffi too died in the gallows after a due process of law. Instead, it let him be killed in an uncivilised manner by his enraged captors, who will be the new rulers of Libya.

6. One might blame his captors for their uncivilised behaviour, but many in the Islamic world would convince themselves that this uncivilised behaviour could have been prevented if the West had wanted to. The West wanted his death to be a grim warning to others of Gaddafi’s ilk who stood in the way of Western interests. He died in a horrible manner, but his death could haunt the West for some years to come.

7. Other nuclear aspirants like the rulers of Iran and North Korea would conclude, rightly or wrongly, that it was unwise on the part of Gaddafi to have voluntarily given by his nuclear card. The West would find Iran and North Korea even more recalcitrant on the nuclear issue.

8. There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before the US intervention in 2003. AQ, Iraq, was born as a result of the US intervention. Its founding father Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed some years ago, but there are other trained cadres who have been keeping Iraq bleeding.

9. Gaddafi kept AQ many fathoms away from Libya,but he could not prevent angry individual Libyans from gravitating to the Af-Pak region to join AQ. Abu Faraj al-Libi, now in Guantanamao Bay, is one such example. There are other Libyan recruits in the AQ.A new AQ, Libya, to avenge the US-sponsored or at least blessed intervention in Libya will be on the cards.

10. There is an ominous aspect about Libya which was not there in Iraq. In return for the Libyan funding of Pakistan’s Islamic bomb, A.Q.Khan had trained many Libyan nuclear scientists in Pakistan’s nuclear establishments to run Libya’s nuclear infrastructure. To please the US and the UK, Gaddafi dismantled his nuclear infrastructure to their satisfaction, but the Pakistan-trained nuclear scientists are still around.AQ will look for them. ( 22-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, October 17, 2011



On October 12,2011, the ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group PetroVietnam (PV) signed at New Delhi an agreement on cooperation in the field of oil and gas. It was signed in the presence of the President of Vietnam Mr. Truong Tan Sang, who was on a visit to India, and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

2.It will be a framework agreement, which will be in force for three years. Its aim is to promote long-term cooperation in the field of oil and gas. The co-operation, which is already in force since 1988 under framework agreements signed from time to time since then, covers aspects such as the exchange of information on the petroleum industry, exchange of working visits by officials and specialists in various domains of the petroleum industry, new investments, expansion and operations of oil and gas exploration and production including refining, transportation and supply in Vietnam and India, and as well as to third countries.

3. The starting-block of the co-operation was the signing of a Production Sharing Contract ( PSC) between the Hydrocarbon India Ltd., (renamed later as ONGC Videsh Limited) and PetroVietnam on May 19, 1988, under which the Indian company was allowed to explore for gas in Block 06.1. This block contributes about 50% of the gas requirement of Vietnam.

4. Subsequently, in June 2006, PetroVietnam awarded two more blocks for exploration to the Indian company. These blocks called blocks 127 and 128 in the Phu Kanh basin in Vietnam were awarded to OVL after a regular bidding process.

5. Details of these three blocks as disseminated by the Indian company through the web are as follows:

Block 06.1 :

Participating Companies and their Shares :OVL-45%,BP-35% ,PV-20% ,(Operator - British Petroleum (BP))
OVL, British Petroleum (Operator) and PetroVietnam have developed the Lan Tay field in Block 06.1 offshore Vietnam. The field started commercial production of Gas in January, 2003. The project is operated by British Petroleum. OVL’s share of production from the project was 2.249 BCM of gas and 0.038 MMT of condensate during 2010-11 as compared to 1.967 BCM of gas and 0.042 MMT of condensate during 2009-10. OVL’s share of the development expenditure was about USD 244 Million till March 31, 2011.

Block 127 :

It is an offshore deepwater Block, located at water depth of more than 400 meters with 9,246 sq km area in Vietnam. The PSC for the Block was signed on 24th May, 2006. OVL holds 100% stake in the Block with Operatorship. OVL has acquired 1,150 sq km 3D seismic data in the Block and the interpretation of the seismic data has been completed. Location for drilling of exploration well was identified and a well was drilled in July 2009 to a depth of 1265 mts. As there was no hydrocarbon presence, the Company has decided to relinquish the block to Petrovietnam. The Company had invested approx USD 68 million till March 31, 2010.

Block 128 :

OVL signed a contract for 100% stake in the project in May, 2006. The project is operated by OVL. OVL had deployed the Rig Hakuryu-V on well B 128-RV-1X on 2nd September 2009 for drilling. However, the rig could not be anchored despite adding Piggy Back to the existing anchors. The drilling activity was terminated and it is planned that the location would be drilled in 2012 subject to successful field testing of anchors. OVL has invested about USD 46 million till March 31, 2011.

6. In June 2006, the OVL had said as follows: “With this, OVL has bagged both blocks it had bid for among nine offered for global competitive bidding in Vietnam's 2004 Licensing Round. "With the award of Blocks 127 and 128 for offshore exploration in Vietnam, OVL is consolidating its existing presence with 45 percent participating interest in the gas-producing properties of Lan Do and Lan Tay offshore blocks," said OVL chairman Subir Raha. Blocks 127 and 128 are close to Nam Con Son project that sources gas from Lan Do and Lan Tay fields discovered by OVL (then Hydrocarbons India Ltd) in 1992 and 1993 respectively. OVL holds 45 percent participating interest in exploration activities in what is the biggest oil and gas project in Vietnam. The new exploration blocks awarded to OVL have in-place reserves of around 190 million tonnes of oil and oil-equivalent gas. With oil equity or participating interests in over a dozen countries including Russia and Sudan, OVL now has operatorship in four offshore exploration blocks. This includes the Farsi block in Iran, Najweet Najeem in Qatar and Blocks 127 and 128 in Vietnam. OVL is also the operator of an onshore exploration block in Libya.”

7. In September 2010,PetroVietnam chairman Dinh La Thang confirmed that his group had planned to submit a proposal to buy stakes in BP’s upstream offshore projects. Vietnam and BP are involved in four projects, the Lan Tay-Lan Do gas field in Block 06.1, Nam Con Son pipeline system, Phu My 3 power plant and BP Petco lubricant joint venture. BP planned to transfer stakes from the first three projects, but not the last one. A BP Vietnam representative said BP had informed the Vietnamese Government of its intention to explore options for divestment of its upstream assets and was now awaiting approval. She said: “Our top priority is to continue safe and reliable operations now, during transition and thereafter.”

8.Dinh was quoted by the local press as saying that under the agreement signed among partners of the above projects, if one of the partners wanted to withdraw the investment capital or quit the project it would offer priority rights to buy stakes to the other partners in the project. “We have already made a plan to coordinate with the Indian partner [the third partner in those projects] to buy those stakes,” he said. Sections of the media quoted India’s then Petroleum Secretary S Sundareshan as saying that India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and PetroVietnam would jointly bid for BP’s assets in Vietnam.

9. Thus, since May 1988,the OVL had been involved in oil and gas exploration in Vietnam. In the first block 06.1 awarded in May 1988, the OVL had a 45 per cent stake, the BP had a 35 per cent stake and the PV a 20 per cent stake. Even though the project has been working successfully, BP decided last year to disinvest its holdings reportedly due to poor security conditions and talks were on for the OVL and the PV to buy it.

10. In the remaining two blocks awarded to the OVL in 2006, the OVL has a 100 per cent stake. In Block 127 no oil or gas has been found and there were reports that the OVL was planning to disinvest it to the PV. Exploration work is still going on in Block 128 without any discovery of oil or gas so far. In the meanwhile, there have been reports that Essar, another Indian company, was also planning to enter the field of oil and gas exploration in co-operation with the PV.

11. China did not formally raise any objection to any of the agreements or projects till last year despite the fact that Indo-Vietnamese co-operation in the field of oil and gas is now 23 years old. Last year on two occasions, Chinese officials were reported to have privately informed their US counterparts that China considered the South China Sea also as its core interest in addition to Taiwan and Tibet. By core interest, China means an issue on which no compromise on the question of sovereignty is possible. Neither the US nor the ASEAN countries have accepted the new Chinese assertion of the South China Sea as of core interest to China with Chinese sovereignty paramount.

12. Since the beginning of this year, sections of the Chinese media and non-Governmental experts have mounted a campaign to oppose the Vietnamese action in awarding these three blocks to an Indian company for exploration on the ground that these blocks belonged to China. The Chinese contention has been rejected by Vietnam.

13. The firm adherence of the OVL and the PV to the contracts of 1988 and 2006 in respect of these blocks has infuriated the Chinese. After the signing of the three-year framework agreement at New Delhi on October 12, the party-owned “Global Times” and the “China Energy News”, owned by the party-owned “People’s Daily”, have come out with comments of a jingoistic nature on the subject.

14. In an editorial published on October 14, the “Global Times” wrote: “Both countries clearly know what this means for China. China may consider taking actions to show its stance and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China in the area. By inking pacts with Vietnam, India probably has deeper considerations in its regional strategy than simply getting barrels of oil and gas. India is willing to fish in the troubled waters of the South China Sea so as to accumulate bargaining chips on other issues with China. There is strong political motivation behind the exploration projects. China's vocal objections may not be heeded. China must take practical and firm actions to make these projects fall through. China should denounce this agreement as illegal. Once India and Vietnam initiate their exploration, China can send non-military forces to disturb their work, and cause dispute or friction to halt the two countries' exploration. In other words, China should let them know that economic profits via such cooperation can hardly match the risk.” .

15.In a front-page commentary published on October 16, the “China Energy News” said: “India is playing with fire by agreeing to explore for oil with Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea. India's energy strategy is slipping into an extremely dangerous whirlpool. On the question of cooperation with Vietnam, the bottom line for Indian companies is that they must not enter into the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Challenging the core interests of a large, rising country for unknown oil at the bottom of the sea will not only lead to a crushing defeat for the Indian oil company, but will most likely seriously harm India's whole energy security and interrupt its economic development. Indian oil company policy makers should consider the interests of their own country, and turn around at the soonest opportunity and leave the South China Sea."

16.The association of the Indian company with exploration for oil and gas in the blocks awarded by Vietnam is 23 years old. One of the blocks is already producing gas, in one block exploration has been given up as there was no oil or gas and in the third the exploration is still going on.

17.After having kept quiet for 23 years, sections of the party-owned media in China have mounted a jingoistic campaign against India and Vietnam ---more particularly against India--- on the ground that the exploration violates China’s core interest. Till now, for the last 23 years, China had never tried to disrupt the Indian exploration through the use of force, but now the “Global Times” has urged the Government to use force to disrupt the Indian exploration.

18.It is not yet known whether the media comments reflect the views of the Chinese Government. The options available to India if the Chinese security forces use force in future to disrupt the exploration have to be carefully examined so that we are not taken by surprise. At the same time, the matter has to be discussed at the diplomatic level with the Chinese authorities. It is apparent from the campaign that there is a lot of lack of knowledge of the long Indian association with oil/gas exploration in the community of Chinese strategic analysts. This has to be rectified. ( 17-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, October 15, 2011



According to Tibetan sources in the Sichuan province of China, leaflets in the Tibetan language have been circulating in the Tibetan areas of the province calling for a day of protests and fasting on October 19 in solidarity with a similar observance by Tibetans all over the world to condemn the continued oppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese and the military detention of a large number of Tibetan monks of the Kirti monastery in the province since March following the self-immolation of a young monk.

2. Anger over the military detention of the monks ostensibly for self-education has led to seven incidents of self-immolation by monks since then. The anger has been further aggravated by the arrests of many monks by the Chinese on charges of abetment at suicide for not stopping the self-immolations and by the Chinese refusal to hand over the dead bodies of the monks who committed self-immolation to the monastery or the village to which they belonged. The Chinese have been cremating the dead bodies and handing over only the ashes.

3. Since the beginning of this month there has been a number of incidents of peaceful street protests and closing down of shops by Tibetans in the Sichuan province. Three days of protests and shop closures between October 8 and 10 have been reported from the Ngaba area of Sichuan . There have been many incidents of Tibetan flags being hoisted in public places after removing the Chinese national flags. The Chinese authorities have detained a number of persons to interrogate them as to who is behind these incidents, but they have not been able to stop such incidents

4. In one incident reported on October 13 from the Khakor subdistrict of Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county of Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture, some local Tibetans managed to remove a Chinese flag from a police station and hoist a Tibetan flag .

5. On October 1, the Chinese National Day, about 200 Tibetans had staged a protest demonstration at Serthar after the police tore a Tibetan flag and a large photo of his Holiness the Dalai Lama from a building and threw them into the street.

6. There has been a war of words between the Chinese authorities and the Tibetan Government-in-exile headed by Harvard-educated Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay over these incidents. On October 11, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin accused the members of the so-called "Dalai clique" of not only failing to condemn the self-immolations, but also publicizing them to inspire more self-immolations. The Tibetan government-in-exile condemned these remarks and said that China should first put an end to its "repression" in Tibet. It also accused Chinese security personnel of violating basic human rights by assaulting monks who attempted self-immolation.

7. No incidents have been reported from Tibet itself. The protest movement has till now been confined to the Sichuan province. (15-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, October 14, 2011




When Abu Zubaidah, who was reportedly No.3 of Al Qaeda at the time of 9/11, was ultimately traced to his rabbit-hole and arrested, it was not in the tribal belt. It was in the house of a local office-bearer of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Faislabad, a city of Pakistani Punjab.

2. When Ramzi Binalshib, another top gun of Al Qaeda, was ultimately traced to his rabbit-hole and arrested, it was found to be in Karachi.

3. When Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who co-ordinated the 9/11 strikes in the US on behalf of Osama bin Laden and who slit the throat of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, was ultimately traced to his rabbit-hole and arrested, it was found to be in the house of a women’s wing leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in Rawalpindi right under the nose of the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army.

4. When Osama bin Laden himself was ultimately traced to his rabbit-hole and killed, it was found to be in Abbottabad near the training academy of the Pakistan Army.

5. The US is now looking for the rabbit-holes of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has taken over the leadership of Al Qaeda, Jallaludin and Serajuddin Haqqani of the so-called Haqqani network, Mulla Mohammad Omar of the Afghan Taliban, and Hakimullah Mehsud of the Pakistani Taliban.

6.Their rabbit-holes are likely to be in areas outside the reach of the Drones. While continuing the Drone strikes to keep the jihadi top guns running for cover, the US should also look for other Abbottabads strewn across Pakistan.

7. It was good human intelligence that led the CIA to the rabbit-hole of OBL. The Navy SEALS followed later. It is good human intelligence which will again lead the CIA to the rabbit-holes of others badly wanted.

8. The US should seek allies in this hunt. Those allies could come from the Mohajirs of Karachi, the Balochs of Karachi and Balochistan and the Shias of the Kurram Agency and Gilgit-Baltistan. They are as fed up with the jihadis and their ISI master as the US.

9. The US should constitute them into a Southern Alliance against terrorism and give them the capability and the resources to hunt effectively. They will expect a quid pro quo in the form political support for their grievances. The US should not hesitate to give them the support they want.

10. It is time to think strategically of a future dispensation in Pakistan that would help in achieving final and durable victory against jihadi terrorism with ISI’s characteristics. A Southern Alliance of non-radical elements of the present Pakistan, which are as unhappy about jihadi terrorism and the ISI as the US, has to be the linchpin of such a strategy.

11. Start thinking, start acting. ( 15-10-11 )

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: .Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )





Acting on an alert from the Delhi Police, the Haryana Police are reported to have seized a car containing concealed explosives ( about 5 KGs), five detonators and two timers which had been parked in a parking lot of the Ambala Railway Station on October 13,2011.

2. The owners of the car and those responsible for keeping the explosive, detonators and timers in the car have not yet been found. The source information of the Delhi Police is that the car had probably come to Ambala from the Jammu area and that the improvised explosive device materials found in the car were meant to be used for causing an explosion in Delhi around Diwali (October 25-26). The Delhi Police’s source information is that the explosive materials were intended to be used in a joint operation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).

3. Of the various Khalistani terrorist organisations, the BKI, after the Dal Khalsa, has had the longest history of contacts with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).Talwinder Singh Parmar of the BKI, Vancouver, who had masterminded the blowing-up of the Kanishka aircraft of Air India in June,1985, had been given shelter in Palistan by the ISI after the terrorist attack on the plane.

4. In 1992, one of the Western intelligence agencies established his presence in Pakistan. The ISI asked him to leave Pakistan. He crossed over into Indian Punjab where he was killed in an encounter by the Punjab Police. Since then other BKI leaders such as Wadhwa Singh had been living in Pakistan.

5.The ISI started helping the various Khalistani organisations such as the Dal Khalsa, the BKI and the International Sikh Youth Federation in the 1970s with a view to using them to destabilise Punjab. They were given training assistance and supplied with arms and ammunition and explosives.

6. The ISI believed that the destabilisation of Punjab would weaken the ability of the Indian security forces to deal with terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and thereby facilitate a change of the status quo in J&K.

7. The ISI was helping the Khalistani terrorists directly as well as through the Jamaat-e-Islami. In addition, when Nawaz Sharif was the Chief Minister of Punjab after the death of Zia-ul-Haq in 1988, the Khalistani terrorists were also in receipt of assistance from the Special Branch of the Punjab Police.

8. The ISI had code-named the operation for using the Khalistani terrorists to destabilise Punjab and weaken the capability of the Indian security forces in J&K as the K-2 project---meaning the Kashmir-Khalistan project. The JEI and jihadi terrorist organisations under the control of the ISI such as the LET were also sought to be used for the execution of the K-2 project.

9. The recovery of the explosive-laden car and the source information of the Delhi Police indicate an attempt by the ISI to revive the K-2 project . ( 14-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011



In an attempt to rectify the anti-democratic policies and human rights violations of the past by the military junta that ruled the country for 23 years till a few months ago, the Government of President Thein Sein, a military strongman-turned civilian to head an ostensibly civilian Government, has started releasing from October 12,2011, political prisoners who were languishing in jail under the military dictatorship for many years.

2. The decision to release the prisoners under a general amnesty came in the wake of talks held by the Government –including the President-- with Ms.Aung San Sui Kyi, the leader of the pro-democracy movement, who was released earlier this year.

3. The decision to grant an amnesty was a sequel not only to the talks between her and the Government, but also to stepped-up interactions between the Government and US interlocutors, including Mr.Kurt Campbell, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who has been monitoring developments in Myanmar on behalf of President Barack Obama in order to nudge the Government to make a break with the authoritarian past .

4. In recent weeks---particularly after the dialogue between Suu Kyi and the Government started--- there were signs of excitement in the international community over what seemed to be the beginning of the blowing of winds of change in Myanmar. International observers noted that their fears that the Government of Thein Sein, which came to office after an election manipulated to keep Suu Kyi and her associates out of power, might turn out to be nothing but the old military wine in a new civilian bottle had not proved correct.

5.The seemingly civilian Government, which consists of many military members of the previous junta who had discarded their uniforms and projected themselves as civilian political leaders, started giving indications of new thinking on the road ahead for Myanmar.

6. Two indicators of the new thinking were reports that the Government seemed keen to find ways of associating Suu Kyi with the new dispensation without letting her get into the driving seat of power and the decision to suspend the construction of a huge hydel project by a Chinese company in the Northern Kachin State because of strong opposition to the project on environmental and other grounds by Suu Kyi and her party, by Kachin leaders and non-governmental environment protection groups.

7. The significant decision to suspend the Chinese-driven project, which would have benefited the Yunan province of China more than the Kachin State of Myanmar, gave cause for hope that Chinese interests, which played an important role in influencing the decisions and policies of the military junta, may no longer play the same role under the new Government.

8. Will the winds of change affect positively not only the political and economic landscape of Myanmar, but also its future diplomacy? That was a question that increasingly excited analysts.

9. In the context of these developments, it was, therefore, no wonder that in remarks made in Bangkok on October 10, Campbell hailed the recent developments in Myanmar, including what he described as "very consequential dialogue" between Suu Kyi and the leadership. Campbell, one of many US officials to hold rare talks with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in Washington recently, added that while concerns remained, "it is also undeniably the case that there are dramatic developments under way".

10. Against this background, the release of the first batch of political prisoners by the Government on October 12 was less daring and more hesitant. The first batch consisted largely of those arrested in recent years, including some activists of the monks’ unrest of 2007, but did not include any of the founding fathers of the pro-democracy movement who took to the streets in 1988, thereby triggering off a ruthless retaliation by the Army.

11. No exact figures of those released on October 12 are available. The Government itself has put the number at about 300 out of a total of about 2000 political prisoners. Non-Governmental organisations such as the Human Rights Watch of the US say that the number involved is less, including 28 monks. Among the prominent persons released were comedian Zarganar, who was arrested in June 2008 and sentenced to 59 years imprisonment for criticising the military junta’s poor and inhuman response to a cyclone disaster that allegedly killed 140,000 people, Sai Say Htan, an ethnic Shan leader sentenced to 104 years in 2005 for refusing to help draft a new constitution, and Su Su Nway, who was serving a 12-year jail term since 2008. Among the more prominent persons not released so far are the then student leaders of the 1988 movement, including Min Ko Naing. Some of them have been in jail for over two decades.

12. While the evidently hesitant first steps have been welcomed by Myanmar political activists, there are concerns that a group of pro-Chinese hardliners from the Army who had served in the junta in the past might be exercising pressure on Thein Sein to go slow and even reverse his policies. In this context, the visit of the Foreign Minister to Beijing reportedly for talks with the Chinese authorities on the decision to suspend the construction of the Chinese-driven hydel project has been noted with concern.

13. According to China’s State-owned Xinhua news agency, talks were held in Beijing on October 10 between Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin, who was visiting China as a special envoy of President Thein Sein. A press release issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry after the talks said that the two sides conducted a thorough consultation over the Myitsone hydel project, which was ordered to be suspended by Myanmar's President. The two Foreign Ministers also exchanged views on bilateral relations and other issues of common concern, with both voicing commitments to push forward the bilateral comprehensive and strategic partnership in a bid to achieve joint development, the press release said. The visiting Myanmar Foreign Minister was also received by Vice President Xi Jinping.

14. It is not known whether the Myanmar Foreign Minister’s visit had been previously scheduled before the suspension of the hydel project or was triggered off by expressions of Chinese unhappiness over the suspension.

15. Suu Kyi has said she believes Thein Sein genuinely wants to push through reforms, but cautioned it was too soon to say whether he would succeed. The release of the first batch of prisoners came shortly before the departure of President Thein Sein, who has already visited China after assuming office, on his first visit to India.

16. While India has reasons to be gratified over the rectification of the past---even if it be hesitant---- it should avoid any expressions or actions that could create an impression of a policy convergence on Myanmar between India and the US. The situation in Myanmar is still delicate.India should carefully watch its steps and control its mouth. ( 13-11-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, October 10, 2011



The Communist Party of China (CPC) and its leaders headed by President Hu Jintao are less nervous about the likely impact of memories of past events on China’s Generation Next.

2 This has become evident from the observance of two important anniversaries in Beijing. The first was the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, which overthrew one of the longest spells of autocratic rule in the world by the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and ushered in a republican Government, which gave way 38 years later to the one-party rule of the CPC.

3.It was a genuine democratic revolution which began with an armed uprising on October 10,1911 in the central city of Wuchang, part of present-day Wuhan, resulting in the fall of the Qing dynasty the next year. Since the CPC came to power in 1949, there has been less and less recall of the democratic revolution by the CPC and Governmental leadership lest the autocratic rule of the CPC be challenged by the people by taking inspiration from the struggle against the autocratic rule of the Qing dynasty.

4. In the light of the concerns of the leadership over the dangers of commemorating an event that led to the end of a long spell of autocratic rule of one kind, different from the autocratic rule of the CPC, many analysts were closely watching to see whether the present leadership would have the political courage and confidence to commemorate the event.

5.The priority given by the leadership to the observance in June last of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CPC and the silence on the approaching 100th anniversary of the 1911 revolution made it appear that the CPC leadership still did not have the courage and confidence to celebrate an event that might remind China’s GenNext that it has had other political role models in past history different from the models of the CPC.

6. It, therefore, came as a refreshing surprise that the CPC observed in public the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution at a function in Beijing on October 9 chaired by President Hu Jintao and attended, among others, by some of the past leaders of the CPC, including former President Jiang Zemin, the predecessor of Hu, who had disappeared from the public view ( but not from the social media networks) since his participation in the function held in June to mark the 90th anniversary of the CPC. His absence since then had given rise to feverish Net speculation that he was seriously ill or even dead.

7. In his keynote address as reported by the State-controlled Xinhua news agency, President Hu Jintao described the 1911 Revolution as "a thoroughly modern, national and democratic revolution" which shook the world and ushered in unprecedented social changes in China. He praised Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the 1911 revolution, as "a great national hero, a great patriot and a great leader of the Chinese democratic revolution". Hu added that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation must be achieved by adhering to socialism with Chinese characteristics, with patriotism, and by upholding peace, development and cooperation. Hu said that the mainland and Taiwan should work together for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and called for the peaceful reunification of China.

8. While celebrating the event and recalling the role of Sun Yat-sen in seeking to usher in democracy in China, the CPC leadership has sought to emphasise the continuity of the CPC rule by projecting the emergence of the CPC as a natural outcome of the 1911 Revolution and not a distortion of it.

9.Beijing-based dissident historian Shi Binhai has been quoted by Radio Free Asia, sponsored by the US State Department, as saying that Jiang's appearance at the function served as a reminder that the Communist Party's line on historical events, and on Taiwan, would remain unchanged.

10. Chinese political dissidents and human rights activists have alleged that while holding a strictly-controlled and CPC-sponsored celebration of the 1911 Revolution, the Chinese security agencies stepped up surveillance on suspected dissidents in the main cities of the country---particularly in Wuhan. They also closely monitored the Net due to apparent concerns that the GenNext might exploit the even to revive its attempts for a Jasmine Revolution in China for the restoration of the long-lost democracy.

11. Radio Free Asia has quoted veteran pro-democracy activist He Depu as saying as follows in Beijing: “It has been 100 years since the 1911 revolution, when they overthrew the Qing dynasty to build a democratic China. We have struggled all these years and we still haven't made that happen." Despite the strict surveillance of micro-blogs, some of them managed to post calls for a new democratic revolution in China.

12. The second important anniversary that has been observed not by the CPC or the Government, but by a group of non-Governmental and non-party activists is the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Gang of Four headed by the wife of Mao Zedong, which led to the rise of Deng Xiaoping with his policy of economic reforms.

13.The event held in Beijing on October 5,2011, was titled "Remembering the smashing of the Gang of Four, 35 Years On". It was reportedly organised by Hu Deping, son of late disgraced former Premier Hu Yaobang, whose funeral sparked the 1989 student movement. Participants included the son of Hua Guofeng, Mao's short-tenured designated successor, and the daughter of Li Xiannian, Hua's chief economic adviser.

14.Some of the participants allegedly called for a new Cultural Revolution to put an end to corruption and moral decay, but their call did not find majority support among the about 200 participants from the past. The majority view was that genuine democracy and the rule of law were the only ways of achieving these laudable objectives.

15. The observance of these two anniversaries---one on the initiative of the CPC itself and the other on that of some political remnants of the past without much political influence---- indicates a continuing confidence in the present leadership that it has the on-going debate on the need for political reforms to buttress the economic reforms firmly under control and that revival of memories of certain past events would not divert the debate in a direction not desired by the Party.

16. It also reflects the assessment of the present leadership that China’s GenNext, while increasingly articulate and active in the Net in discussing new political ideas and models, would not create instability. China’s GenNext has benefited from China’s economic progress and would not like this to be jeopardised by destabilising political ideas and movements. ( 11-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Asssociate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Sunday, October 9, 2011



Slowly, but steadily and unrelentingly, India has been expanding its strategic presence.

2. One dimension of this became evident during the recent visit of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to New Delhi on October 4 and 5,2011. The visit saw the signing of a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between India and Afghanistan covering military as well as non-military aspects of the relationship.

3. The non-military aspects were open and well known to the international community even earlier. These included, inter alia, Indian assistance to Afghanistan in the development of its strategic infrastructure and in strengthening its democratic and non-radical foundation. A democratic and non-radical Afghanistan is in India’s strategic interest as it is in the strategic interest of many other countries.

4. Pakistan views a genuinely democratic and non-radical Afghanistan as not conducive to its interests. Hence, its strong opposition even to India’s non-military assistance to Afghanistan. It made out even India’s political and economic links with Afghanistan as designed to trap Pakistan in an India-Afghanistan nutcracker.

5.The staged Pakistani hysteria on this subject initially met with a sympathetic and understanding response from the West, but as the West’s understanding of the real nature of Pakistan and its role as a catalyst of radicalism increased---particularly in the wake of the Abbottabad raid of May 2 by the US Navy SEALS to kill Osama bin Laden--- the West has come to realise that a robust Indian presence in Afghanistan after the West thins out its presence is desirable and necessary. One hears less and less from the West past articulations of concerns regarding the impact of the Indian presence on the psyche of Pakistan.

6. The SPA seeks to expand the Indian role from the non-military to the military sphere with an active Indian involvement in the training of the Afghan National Security Forces. The details of this training----what will be the magnitude of it, where will it be carried out, in Indian or Afghan territory---- are still to be worked out, but a decision in principle has been taken to make firm commitments to Afghanistan in the military field too, just as India has made in the economic field in the past.

7.The second dimension of this became evident coincidentally in the recent decisions of the Government of India not to let itself be inhibited in expanding its strategic ties with Vietnam by fears of Chinese concerns over it. In the past, India’s strategic ties with Vietnam were restricted to expanding the political and economic presence in Vietnam’s land territory and laying the foundation for a strong military-military relationship without rubbing China on the wrong side in relation to the South China Sea and the island territories in it under Vietnam’s control and sovereignty, which are challenged by Beijing.

8. The recently reported decision of the Government of India to permit a Government-connected oil company to accept from Vietnam oil and gas exploration rights from Vietnam in respect of two blocks belonging to Vietnam, which are claimed by China as its territory, is an indication of a decision in New Delhi not to let itself be inhibited any longer in expanding the strategic relationship with Vietnam by staged Chinese dramatics over the South China Sea and the island territories.

9. These are very important decisions indicative of a well thought-out Indian strategy for an incremental increase in Indian activism in areas which are of interest and concern not only to India, but also to the US. Whether India has kept the US informed of its moves and sought its blessings or not, its moves will ultimately redound to helping the strategic interests of the US too in Afghanistan as well as in the South China Sea area. The open signs of Indian activism should also be welcome to the ASEAN countries, Japan and South Korea .

10. India has proclaimed subtly, but firmly that its continuing desire for friendly relations with Pakistan and China would not come in the way of its promoting its legitimate strategic role and interests in the Af-Pak and Sino-Vietnamese regions.

11. To embark on a policy of activism is easier than to keep the activism sustained. Sustaining it would require better intelligence and military capabilities. There is bound to be resistance from Pakistan and China to the Indian strategic activism and to the expansion of the Indian strategic presence to areas which they consider as coming under their sphere of influence. Do we have the required national capabilities to counter their resistance separately and jointly? If not, how to strengthen them quickly and what role the US can and should play in this regard are important questions, which should be addressed by the Task Force on National Security headed by Shri Naresh Chandra. ( 10-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, October 8, 2011



The following are my answers yo E-mailed questions on the above-mentioned subject received from a UK-based analyst:

1) In your view, what is Pakistan's goal in Afghanistan? Do they want their interests to be respected in any peace settlement or do they want their interests to be the settlement? What is the view of the Indian government, officially and unofficially?


2) In your view, what are India's strategic objectives in Afghanistan? How does it differ from its stated policy, if at all?


3) How do you rate the MI6-ISI intelligence relationship? What is the view of the Indian government? Is there a similarly strong relationship with RAW?


4) Given David Cameron wants to build a "special relationship" with India, what would the UK need to do vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Pakistan to help build such a relationship?


5) What could India offer the UK to make such a relationship reciprocal? Could RAW fill the vacuum of an ISI break from MI6?


6) What is your view of Cameron's remarks last year about Pakistan "exporting terror"?


7) How do you rate the idea of a UK-India "special relationship"?


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, October 7, 2011


These are my answers in reply to E-mailed questions received from the Islamabad correspondent of a well-known US weekly:

What is India's role in the war on terror?

Exchange of intelligence, knowledge,experience and capabilities and mutual assistance in legal matters with interested countries, including the US..

- India has been the victim of several terror attacks recently. What is your opinion on New Delhi's approach to combating terrorist attacks? Do you think there is untapped potential for exchanging information between India and Pakistan on how to deal with terrorist actions?

Since much of the jihadi threat in India is from Pakistan-based organisations working under the control of the ISI, there is no scope for exchange of intelligence or mutual legal assistance between India and Pakistan.Terrorism is one of the weapons in Pakistan's anti-India arsenal. It is not going to help India in blunting that weapon. Having said this, I have been arguing in my interviews and writings that there must be some kind of institutional interface between the ISI and the R&AW to reduce the present high level of distrust between the two. This could come about only over a longer period and not in the short-term, but this should be an important objective of both.

With an increasing presence in Afghanistan, what role do you think India could play in Kabul following the U.S. withdrawal?

By helping in the economic development and in the spread of modern education in Afghanistan and by assisting Afghanistan in strengthening the capabilities of its armed forces, India could contribute to preventing the re-Talibanisation of the Afghan State and society and the return of Al Qaeda to its sanctuaries in Afghan territory after the US and other NATO forces thin out.

Do you believe the Haqqani network is still based in Pakistan or have they moved to Afghanistan, as claimed in recent interviews with Sirajuddin Haqqani?

My assessment is that the Haqqani network no longer operates from North Waziristan. It now operates from the Kurram agency of Pakistan.The cadres and the training camps are in the Kurram Agency, but the leaders, who are high-value targets for US Drones, are spread out across Pakistan in order to escape Drone attacks.The cadres carry out hit and withdraw raids into Afghanistan.

What role could India play if conditions between Pakistan and the U.S. continue to deteriorate?

The US will never strategically co-operate with India against Pakistan. While the CIA and the Pentagon are not averse to ideas of limited Indo-US co-operation in dealing with threats originating from Pakistan, the State Department has always been cautious in endorsing such ideas. I had seen this vividly while I was in service and I continue to see this in my retirement.The only role India can play is to keep nudging the US to act more strongly against Pakistan without unrealistic hopes that the US wil,in fact, do so.When the US talks of strategic co-operation with India, it has China in mind and not Pakistan.

In interviews, Pakistan Army leaders have said they still consider India to be their biggest threat. Do you think India feels the same about Pakistan?

India can any day deal with Pakistan and put it in its place.What India is worried is the increasing strategic threat from the developing Sino-Pakistani axis.Unfortunately, Washington does not seem to view this axis with the same concern as India does.The developing China-Pakistan axis is the real axis of evil.

- Despite its efforts in the war on terror, Pakistan still has a substantial terrorist problem. Can peace be achieved between India and Pakistan while suspected terrorists still reside here?

There is unlikely to be a normal good-neighbours relationship between India and Pakistan in the short and medium terms.Pakistani complexes relating to India will come in the way. That doesn't mean the two countries should not try for a more benign and less malign relationship. There is a need for a common vision.The leaders of the two countries should meet more frequently to get to know and like each other and work painstakingly and without undue illusions towards such a common vision.

Following Al Qaeda, what terrorist group is the biggest threat to stability in South Asia, in your opinion.

The Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the two Talibans in that order.I do not consider the Haqqani network as a separate terrorist organisation. It is a wing of the Afghan Taliban, but with some autonomy in its operations.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75)

Thursday, October 6, 2011



( Based on salient points of my intervention during a panel discussion on the subject organised by the US Consulate-General in Hyderabad and the TV 5 news channel on October 5,2011. The other members of the panel were : Professor Javeed Alam, former chairperson of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, Dr. Syed Mazher Hussain, founder of COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations) – a network of about 800 organizations working on communal harmony and community empowerment issues in the states of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir and peace in the sub-continent covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and Ms. Jameela Nishat, founder and manager of the NGO Shaheen, which works with disadvantaged Muslim and dalit populations. )

Extremism has two dimensions---- as a threat to law and order and internal security and as a phenomenon with political, religious, social, economic, psychological and other aspects. Both dimensions need to be tackled simultaneously.

2.Anger is a common cause of all types of extremism---whether religious, sectarian, ethnic, political or economic. Anger identification and mitigation has to form an important part of all strategies to deal with extremism.

3.A study of the published literature of all extremist movements in India would indicate that the anger which triggered the resort to violence by some members of the community was often caused by three perceptions of exploitation, injustice and unfairness of the system to the affected community. Unless these three perceptions and the resulting anger are tackled, any strategy to deal with extremism would remain incomplete and only partially effective.

4.The conventional wisdom that economic development and attention to factors such as eradication of unemployment would defeat extremism is not tenable. Young people are in the driving seat of most extremist movements. They organised the extremist movement and keep it alive. They rarely speak of social and economic grievances such as unemployment, reservations for minorities etc. They invariably speak of exploitation, injustice and unfairness in the system directed against the community to which they belong. Members of the civil society are collateral victims of their anger, but their anger is directed not against the civil society, but against the State and the Government.

5. One finds a growing divide between the youth and the elder sections of the people in each community and between the youth and the policy-makers constituting the administration in the nation as a whole. Neither elder members of the community from which extremism has arisen nor the Government have been able to address the phenomenon of the alienation of sections of the youth, which drives them to take to violence.

6. While votaries of extremism have been able to mobilise sections of the youth in support of resort to extremist methods, the State and the political parties have not been able to mobilise law-abiding sections of the youth in support of the strategy to deal with extremism. This creates an unfortunate and untrue image of a clash between the State and the youth as a whole of the affected community.

7. The police is the most visible part of the State and the administration. It has to play an important role in dealing with extremism not only as a threat, but also as a phenomenon. The better the interactions and the relations between the police and the community, the more effective will be any strategy to deal with extremism. Unfortunate perceptions/image of the police as uncaring, unjust and oppressive aggravate extremism.

8.Any community-focussed strategy to deal with extremism should, therefore, have the following core components:

(a).Continuous and well-sustained interactions between the State/administration and the affected community in order to identify the incipient signs of the emergence of anger in a community and take timely action to deal with them before they turn into extremist violence and in dealing with the threat and the phenomenon if the anger results in an extremist movement despite the best efforts of the State to prevent it. Such interactions have to be a two-way street. The community should be encouraged to go to the State and the administration with its grievances and the State and the administration should go to the community in order to ascertain its grievances and feel its pulse of anger. Very often, the community and its members do not go to the State due to a feeling that it is indifferent and unresponsive to their grievances. The greater the responsiveness of the State the more will be the readiness of the community to go to the State with its grievances.

(b). Improve interactions between the police and the affected community and take steps to improve the image of the police in the community. This again has to be a two-way street.

( c ).Take action to address the wrong perceptions of the youth and wean it away from resort to violence. For this, the State has to seek the co-operation of the elder members of the community. (7-10-11 )

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )