Saturday, March 31, 2012



The current controversy relating to Gen.V.K.Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has led to some worrisome aspects in the media coverage of the controversy. The likely impact on national security has not been kept in view not only by some sections of the media, but even by some retired public servants who have been commenting on the controversy in TV debates.

2. Some sections of the media and some individual journalists as well as some public servants, who have held senior positions in the Government, have crossed the Laxman Rekha in their reporting and panel comments.

3. The Government has also been a passive spectator of the way the controversy has crossed one Laxman Rekha after another. It is generally the tradition in other countries that when a sensitive document indicating deficiencies in defence preparedness leaks out, the Governments deny in public their authenticity, but enquire into the leakage in secret.

4. When the contents of the COAS’ letter of March 12, 2012, on the defence preparedness leaked out, the immediate reflex of a clued-up Government would have been to deny its authenticity in public and order a secret enquiry.

5. Instead, many responsible members of the Government including the Defence Minister and the COAS have made public comments tending to corroborate its authenticity, thereby providing official confirmation to our adversaries that the serious deficiencies mentioned in the letter are correct.

6. In the UK whenever serious controversies and leakages likely to affect National Security break out, the Defence Ministry immediately moves and issues what is called a Defence Advisory (DA) notice requesting the media, the journos and others to exercise restraint in reporting and commenting so that national security is not damaged.

7. The DA Notices cannot be legally enforced. Whoever doesn’t observe them does not commit any offence. But it is a strong reminder to all concerned of their ethical responsibility in the matter. Fears that they may fall foul of the public by not paying heed to the DA notices act as a check on the journos and others.

8. There are certain standing DA notices which are of a permanent nature. Some others are issued from time to time whenever a controversy breaks out.

9. The standing DA Notices relate to the following:

DA-Notice 01: Military Operations, Plans & Capabilities

DA-Notice 02: Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons and Equipment

DA-Notice 03: Ciphers and Secure Communications

DA-Notice 04: Sensitive Installations and Home Addresses

DA-Notice 05: United Kingdom Security & Intelligence Special Services.

10. In recent years, DA Notices have also been issued relating to terrorism and documents leaked by Wikileaks.

11. The time has come for the Government to institute a DA Notice system in India. Australia follows a similar practice. ( 1-4-12 )

( 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, March 30, 2012


An Open Letter To The PM

Dear Mr.Prime Minister,

The Government needs to be complimented for maintaining its cool and dignity in the face of some of the recent ill-advised actions and public comments of Gen.V.K.Singh, the outgoing Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), who will be retiring on May 31,2012. Any hasty action against him or slanging match with him will lower the dignity of the office of the COAS. National interest demands that this dignity of this high office must be maintained in the eyes of the officers and jawans of the Army as well as the public. An Army marches and fights on its pride in itself, in its officers and in its chief and this pride should not be damaged.

2. Whatever be his ill-advised actions and comments, Gen.Singh enjoys a high reputation for his personal integrity and his professionalism. These positive qualities of his have to be recognised and respected. In the Government’s feelings of hurt over his ill-advised actions and public comments, his record as an officer in leading his men and serving the country should not be forgotten.

3. Certain worrisome issues have come to the fore during this controversy. These relate to the slowing down of the procurement process in the Armed Services as a whole which seems to have had an impact on the arms and ammunition and other equipment holdings of the Army and the casual and non-serious manner in which allegations of corruption are handled both in the Army Headquarters and the Defence Ministry. There have been serious sins of commission and omission in both and by both, which have at least partly contributed to the present controversy.

4.Not only members of the public, but also the soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces in their barracks and cantonments would be discussing and analysing the merits of some of the issues raised by the COAS, the validity of which cannot and should not be questioned. These issues have to be addressed seriously and the public and the Armed Forces convinced that the Government has not been and will not be indifferent to the serious and worrisome issues projected by the COAS----whatever might have been his motive in projecting them from the roof top instead of across the table within the confines of the offices of the South Block.

5.The Government should immediately initiate action to address the deficiencies in the state of our defence preparedness pointed out by the COAS. The action has to be two-fold--- immediate procurement on an emergency basis of the various items mentioned by the COAS in his letter of March 12 to you and short and medium term measures for removing the bottler-necks and speed-breakers that seem to have crept into our procurement process during the last 10 years.

6. I would strongly recommend the appointment of an Eminent Chiefs Group of the Armed Forces consisting of one past chief each of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy headed by the nominee of the Army to go into the contents of the COAS letter of March 12 and recommend a time-bound plan of action.

7. While it is important to establish how the contents of the letter leaked to the media and initiate disciplinary action against the person found responsible for the serious breach of security, the Government should not allow its anger and discomfiture over the leak to divert its attention from the need to address immediately the worrisome state of affairs pointed out by the COAS.

8. Another issue calling for action is to go into the procedure adopted by the Armed Forces Headquarters and the Defence Ministry for dealing with complaints of corruption so that the public and the three forces are reassured that there is no attempt to cover them up . This enquiry could be entrusted to an eminent retired Judge of the Supreme Court. He could go into various issues such as the role of the Central Vigilance Commissioner in checking corruption in the Armed Forces and the Defence Ministry, the existing vigilance mechanism in them and the trigger mechanism by which action is triggered when there is a complaint. While it is important to weed out corruption, it is equally important to ensure that motivated allegations and suspicions planted with an ulterior motive do not slow down the procurement process to the detriment of the Armed Forces.

9. During the course of the public debate on the sequel to L’Affaire COAS certain lingering issues from the past have also been raised---such as the non-implementation of the recommendations of the Arun Singh Task Force regarding the reorganisation and modernisation of defence management and an alleged disuse of the past practice of the Prime Minister personally interacting with the three chiefs on various issues relating to the three services and the state of our defence preparedness.

10. Shri Arun Singh is a highly regarded expert on matters relating to the modernisation of defence management and enjoys tremendous respect in the Armed Forces as well as among the civilian bureaucracy. I would suggest that he should be requested to go into this aspect once again and suggest remedial measures. It is important for the Prime Minister to take the initiative for periodically interacting with the three service chiefs.

11. Many countries including Japan and China have the practice of periodically issuing a White Paper on Defence to create greater transparency about defence matters. This is a practice which is worthy of emulation by us. The Government should quickly come out with a White Paper on the various measures already taken or proposed to be taken for the modernisation of the Armed Forces and the defence management.

12. I know personally that some of the allegations being made projecting the civilian bureaucracy as the villain of the piece in the tardy implementation of the recommendations of the Arun Singh Task Force are due to misperceptions for want of transparency and accurate information. The well-informed among us know that the non-implementation of some of the recommendations was not due to any stonewalling by the civilian bureaucracy, but because of a lack of consensus on the follow-up action among the three services.

13. A White Paper and a debate on it in the Parliament and outside would go some way in removing these misperceptions.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India.

Dr.Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister,
New Delhi.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012




The second Nuclear Security Summit currently being held in Seoul, South Korea, would make a fresh evaluation , inter alia, of the security of nuclear materials in the possession of many countries.

2. Threats to nuclear security arise from two factors--- accidents in nuclear establishments arising from natural or man-made causes and illegal acquisitions of nuclear materials and technology by State as well as non-State actors.

3. While there is a laid down and frequently tested drill for coping with nuclear accidents, preventive and protective measures to prevent the illegal acquisition of nuclear materials and know-how by State and non-State actors have not been satisfactory.

4.While Pakistan and North Korea are two instances of State actors illegally acquiring nuclear capability, Iran is threatening to join their ranks as a result of past complicity of Pakistan and North Korea.

5. Fears of non-State actors clandestinely acquiring nuclear materials and technology acquired a new dimension in the late 1990s after the famous interviews given by Osama bin Laden to US journalists from Kandahar, where he was then based, justifying the right of Muslims to acquire a nuclear weapon and to use it, if necessary, to protect Islam.

6. Since then fears of Pakistan‘s Islamic bomb, as it is referred to by Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist organisations, being transformed into a jihadi bomb in the hands of Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been preoccupying the minds of nuclear security experts. These fears were aggravated after the US troops which defeated the Taliban after 9/11 unearthed evidence to show that Sultan Bashiruddin and Abdul Majid, two retired nuclear scientists of Pakistan, were in touch with OBL and had visited him in Kandahar. The two were arrested by the Pakistanis and interrogated by the Americans.

7. The interrogation did not unearth any incriminating evidence against them. Despite this, the fact that two Pakistani nuclear scientists, who had occupied important positions in its nuclear establishments, were in contact with OBL, showed that jihadi and other terrorist organisations might be able acquire a nuclear capability not only through theft or other illegal means, but also by the complicity of the personnel of Pakistan’s nuclear establishments. This fear would now extend to the personnel of Iran’s nuclear establishments. In the case of North Korea, the dangers of non-State actors getting hold of its capability are not rated high.

8.The death of OBL on May 2 last year has not removed or diluted the threat of jihadi terrorist organisations acquiring a nuclear capability. True, there has been no statement from Al Qaeda or its associates or their leaders after the initial statements of OBL in the 1990s, about the right of the Muslims to acquire a nuclear capability.

9. The absence of statements on this subject by jihadi leaders and their organisations cannot and should not be interpreted as indicating that these organisations and their present leaders did not attach the same priority to this jihadi task as OBL did.

10. Al Qaeda has definitely suffered a set-back as a result of the death of OBL and other leaders in the Af-Pak region and Yemen due to special operations undertaken by the US. Despite the decimation of its leadership, its GenNext continues to show a high level of motivation as was seen by the recent terrorist incidents in France. There has been a geographic spread of its activities.

11. The threat from Al Qaeda and its affiliates and the dangers of their acquiring a nuclear capability have to be factored into in any security planning for nuclear establishments and personnel. The discussions in conferences such as the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and the present one in Seoul focus on physical security measures to prevent acquisitions through thefts and other illegal means.

12. With countries such as Pakistan participating in their deliberations, it would not be possible for them to have any meaningful discussions to prevent acquisition of nuclear capability by terrorist organisations through the complicity of personnel in nuclear establishments. This is a matter that has to be discussed in more restricted meetings of experts of intelligence agencies from India, the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Russia and the EU countries. This would require a high level of HUMINT and TECHINT capability, joint operations to collect intelligence and arrangements for sharing and analysing the collected intelligence. India should take the leadership in working for such a mechanism if it has not already done so. (27-3-12)

( 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, March 26, 2012



The disclosure made by Gen.V.K.Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), in an interview to “The Hindu” ( March 26,2012) that he had refused an offer of a bribe of Rs.14 crores in connection with a commercial transaction relating to the purchase of vehicles for the Army some months ago and that he had reported it to Shri A.K.Antony, the Defence Minister, if correct, raises serious questions regarding the way corruption allegations are handled in the Government of India. Subsequent reports have alleged that the bribe was offered by a senior retired officer of the Army.

2. As per the normal procedures, the COAS should have immediately taken the following action:

( a ). Report the matter to the Minister.

( b ). Address a formal Demi-official letter to the Minister in confirmation of what he had reported orally and requesting for an enquiry.

( c ).Call from his office the file relating to this transaction and record a note that he (the COAS) was offered a bribe by a retired Army officer which he refused and that he had reported it to the Defence Minister orally and in writing and asked for an enquiry.

( d ). Address a note to his office that the retired Army officer who offered the bribe should not be issued a security pass in future to visit Army offices and that action should be initiated for suspending his pension payments till the final outcome of the enquiry.

3. Apart from orally reporting to the Defence Minister, the COAS does not appear to have taken any other action as expected under the normal office procedures when there is an attempted bribery. His disclosing the incident now in a media interview would naturally give rise to a strong suspicion that his belated disclosure two months before the end of the controversial final months of his career because of his differences with the MOD regarding his date of birth must have been motivated with a personal agenda.

4. When the COAS orally reported the matter to him, the Defence Minister should have immediately taken the following action:

( a ). Record a formal note in the relevant file of his office regarding the disclosure of the COAS and stating that he was ordering the Defence Secretary to refer the matter to the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), for a Preliminary Enquiry ( PE) to be followed by a formal investigation if found correct.

( b ) Address a formal DO letter to the Defence Secretary with copies to the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to refer the matter to the CBI for a PE.

5. The Defence Minister does not appear to have taken any of these actions. This related to a case of attempted bribery in an office of the Government of India. It did not require the concurrence of any State Government or any other authority for ordering a PE by the CBI. The Minister was competent to do so and should have done so.

6. There have been serious acts of omission by the COAS as well as by the Defence Minister and these amount to a serious case of dereliction of duty. Before the controversy gets dirtier due to allegations and counter-allegations and suspicions and counter-suspicions, the Prime Minister should ask the Cabinet Secretary to take over the responsibility for further enquiries to establish the truth. (27-3-12)

( 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, March 25, 2012



Beijing seems as normal as ever. Widespread rumours disseminated by Chinese microblogs about a tussle for power and even an attempted coup after the March 15,2012, sacking of Bo Xilai , an informal, easily accessible and populist party functionary from his post of Party chief of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, have proved false.

2. According to some of these rumours, Bo enjoyed the support of Zhou Yongkang, the ninth-ranking member of the Standing Committee of the Politbureau of the Communist Party of China, who has been the head of the Party's powerful Political and Legal Affairs Committee, which oversees police and judicial matters, since 2007.

3.These rumours even alleged that there was an attempted coup by elements in the Ministry of Public Security associated with Zhou Yongkang and speculated that Zhou might also be on the way out.

4.These rumours spread by China’s 300 million strong Netizen community have proved false. Things have been normal in Beijing. President Hu Jintao arrived in Seoul on the afternoon of March 25 to attend the nuclear security summit and he is going ahead with his plans to visit New Delhi the coming week to attend the BRIC summit and to pay a bilateral visit to Cambodia. The Chinese have not suggested any changes in the programmes of foreign visitors to Beijing. Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to take over from Hu later this year, met former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio in Beijing, on March 23.

5. Even Zhou, who has been in the centre of these rumours, has been visible and functioning normally. The State-owned Xinhua news agency disseminated on March 22, a letter reported to have been written by Zhou to a conference of police and public security officials stressing the importance of better interactions between law enforcement officials and the public in order to improve their public image.

6. In the meanwhile, Radio Free Asia, funded by the US State Department, has disseminated a report that over 3000 police and public security officials from the provinces have been called to Beijing to attend a re-training programme starting on March 26. The significance of this retraining programme is not clear. Is this connected to the removal of Bo, whose No 2 and police chief, had allegedly made an unsuccessful attempt to seek asylum in the US Consulate in Chengdu?

7. While the rumours have proved to be false, the fact that the rumours spread so fast and so widely should be a matter of concern to the Chinese leaders. This shows that anti-State and anti-Government elements have a capability for causing instability through orchestrated disinformation through the Net.

8. China’s real world seems to be normal, but not its virtual world which is being skilfully used by anti-State elements to create confusion. ( 25-3-12)

( 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, March 24, 2012


I have received the following comment from a Chinese analyst:


About your " India’s Evolving China Policy "

Crossed to your article from internet and wanted to say something to share with you.

First of all, your view is fairly in a matter-of-fact way, which opens up the door for others to comment and discuss further. Not like you, I don't have much influence in China policy making process. But many of common Chinese have similar thinking as mine in that India and China have a lot in common. Only the border dispute has been causing two counties some troubles and such tension will not to go away any time soon, look like. But this shouldn't stop the two countries from keeping a close relation and work together rather than seeing each other as the main threat and enemy. Like I and many of my India friends, if we don't touch such sensitive topic, we can stay together and work together fine. Then what's the solution for this sensitive border dispute? Both India and China are stakeholders who have interests in this field. This should be treated in a business-like manor and both parties share the ownership, invest to it and share
the profit out of this investment. Thinking about eliminating the heavy arm buildup in this region, the cost saving from this along will be very significant to both parties. Hope the policy makers from both India and China have the same view.

I'd like to ready your new articles on such topic in the future. Send me a copy if you have a new one next time. Thank you very much.



The unhappiness in Sri Lanka over the Indian vote in favour of the resolution in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the question of the human rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils ---action in respect of past violations during the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE and to safeguard their human rights in future in the form of a political solution to the grievances and aspirations of the Tamils--- is understandable.

2. This unhappiness is unlikely to turn into bitterness. Even in the past, the Sinhalese were unhappy over what they perceived as the Indian support to the LTTE in the years before its assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. This unhappiness never turned into bitterness and hatred for India.

3. Anyone who knows Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese well would be aware of their genuine goodwill for India. There were instances in the past when Sri Lankan Governments had taken steps which were detrimental to Indian interests. A typical example was before the 1971 India-Pakistan war when they allowed Pakistani Air Force planes carrying men and supplies to East Pakistan to refuel in Sri Lankan airports. When Indira Gandhi strongly objected to this, they discontinued it.

4. Their anger and unhappiness against India tend to remain ephemeral. Despite their best or worst efforts, neither China nor Pakistan has ever been able to create a permanent estrangement between India and Sri Lanka. There are historic, cultural and religious bonds between the Indians and the Sri Lankans. These are natural and evolved over hundreds of years. No synthetic bonds of Sri Lanka with China or Pakistan, created during moments of unhappiness and opportunism, can replace the natural bonds between India and Sri Lanka.

5. I do not rate highly the dangers of Sri Lanka throwing itself into the arms of China or Pakistan to spite India for its vote against it in Geneva. When the unhappiness subsides---as it is likely to--- Sri Lanka will realise that the Indian role in Geneva was more nuanced with considerable empathy for it. India stood in the way of the undoubted Human Rights violations being equated with war crimes. We equally stood in the way of a Human Rights Diktat to Sri Lanka by the US and other Western powers.

6. The resolution was neither a reprimand nor a rebuke. It was an expression of concern over the evasive attitude of the Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa on the question of action against those who committed serious Human Rights violations in the final stages of the anti-LTTE operations. India was as much concerned over this evasion as the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Western powers. India chose to give expression to these concerns bilaterally during political and diplomatic interactions with the Sri Lankan leaders and officials. Since the Rajapaksa Government chose to literally ignore the bilateral expression of these concerns, the Government of India found itself with no other option but to join in a multilateral expression of concern in Geneva.

7.Initially, I was not in favour of India joining the US-led exercise in Geneva to take a more assertive position against the evasive attitude of the Rajapaksa Government. But, after seeing the way the Government of India played a moderating role in Geneva in making the resolution a reasonable and not authoritarian expression of concerns, I do praise the delicate Indian diplomacy.

8. We do not have to be worried about the Chinese grand-standing at Geneva. The vigorous Chinese opposition was dictated not by a profusion of grief and tears for Sri Lanka, but by fears of what could happen if the international focus turns to the continued Chinese violations of the Human Rights of the Tibetans and the Uighurs. It goes to our credit that we did not allow fears of similar allegations against our counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations to restrain the expression of our concerns over the violations of the Human Rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils. There was less political hypocrisy in our stand as compared to that of China.

9. India too has reasons to be unhappy with the Rajapaksa Government for trying to wriggle out of its commitments to the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Government of India to find a political solution to the grievances and aspirations of the Tamils. After having prevailed against the LTTE with considerable Indian help, it has deplorably gone back on its commitments. If it continues to follow on the path of evasion and tries to impose a dictated solution on the Tamils, India has to act tough. I said so recently before the Geneva vote and I say so again. ( 25-3-12)

( 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, March 17, 2012



"Your portrait of Bo is the one-sided flattering version cultivated by him and which is swallowed by the netizen community. Bo was a charismatic but ruthless politician whose pursuit of "mafia" figures was carried out with considerable excesses. Some would argue that Bo sought, in doing so, to entrench himself as the paramount leader in Chongqing. His assiduous courting of the digital media and his public warfare against the mafia made his Party colleagues uneasy. Bo's family however brazenly wore the trappings of power - his son drove a Ferrari - suggesting that Bo himself was not the uncompromising moral crusader he made himself out to be.

"The Party leadership has never been comfortable with those who aspired to high office through high profile, public campaigns as these risked the collective, consensus-moded and cautious Party approach they favoured. The abortive attempt by the Police Chief to seek asylum at the US consulate was seen by Beijing as symptomatic of Bo's inability to manage the situation - regardless of the circumstances, this was a highly public and humiliating outcome. Whilst Bo was busily mounting his anti-corruption rhetoric, the detained Chief made a series of allegations (unfounded or not) against Bo that provided his Party detractors with the weapon to remove a person whose pathway to the highest Party positions was increasingly perceived as being based on building public opinion rather than on the Party's favoured internal consultative mechanisms."



The state-owned Xinhua News Agency of China announced on March 15,2012, shortly after the end of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s Parliament, that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CCP) has decided to remove Bo Xilai , an informal, easily accessible and populist party functionary from his post of Party chief of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. He continues to be in the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee.

2.Bo, born in July 1949, had earlier served as the Mayor of Dalian in the Liaoning province, and then as the Governor of Liaoning and Minister of Commerce before being appointed as the Party chief of Chongqing in 2007.

3.He has been replaced by Zhang Dejiang a native of Tai'an in the Liaoning province. Zhang has been a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee since 2002 and a Vice- premier in the State Council since 2008.

4.Between 1995 and 2007,Zhang had served as Party chief in Jilin, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. Both Zhang and Bo were considered protégés of Jiang Zemin, the predecessor of Hu Jintao as the President and Party General Secretary.

5.Bo Xilai is the son of Bo Yibo, one of the Eight Elders of the CCP, and was considered a steadily rising member of the CCP’s new leadership. Because of his easy accessibility and informal and relaxed style of interaction with the people, he was a popular figure in the world of China’s GenNext and particularly among the rapidly growing community of China’s Netizens. He had more admirers and followers in the virtual world than in the real world.

6.What added to his popularity was his campaign against corruption and organised crime wherever he was posted and his image of being a people-friendly party functionary, who believed that the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong had its positive aspect in its caring for the ordinary people, which should not be discarded. While pursuing a policy of double-digit economic growth, he attached importance to welfare schemes for the less-privileged people. He was perceived as a votary of a New Left movement in the party and as a Maoist without the embarrassing evils of Maoism which made the Cultural Revolution a hated phenomenon.

7. He did not pose a threat to the present party leadership consisting of President Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Nor was he perceived as likely to pose a threat to the new leadership consisting of Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is expected to take over from President Hu later this year and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang who is tipped to take over from Prime Minister Wen before the next NPC session in March next year.

8. But, Bo was a source of increasing unease and embarrassment because of his popularity in the large community of netizens, his advocacy of people-friendly economic policies, his transparent and charismatic style of leadership which was in refreshing contrast to the old style of leadership which kept a distance from the people (barring Wen) and his praise for some aspects of Mao’s policies.

9. Easing him out could have proved counter-productive, but the embarrassing action of Bo’s No2 Wang Lijun, the police chief, in visiting the US Consulate in Chengdu allegedly in an unsuccessful attempt to seek political asylum in the US, provided the leadership with an opportunity to tar Bo and have him eased out.

10. The party has taken care not to cite the action of Wang as the immediate cause of Bo’s removal. His policy mistakes have been cited as the cause for his removal. At the same time, the Party leadership is keen that Bo’s removal is not viewed by the netizens as an attempt by the leadership to prevent political reforms. In his briefing of the media on the NPC proceedings a day before the decision to sack Bo, Wen underlined the importance of political reforms without specifying what kind of reforms he had in mind and stressed the importance of preventing another Cultural Revolution.

11. In a speech to party cadre trainees delivered on March 1 and published in the Party media on March 16,Xi, who will also be taking over as the Party Secretary from Hu, has stressed the importance of purity of thought and party unity. It was a hint to the party cadres that Bo’s (whose name was not mentioned by Xi) policies and actions threatened to distort the party’s ideology and create disunity. "To maintain the party's ideological purity is to guarantee the unity of the party," said Xi, accusing some members of "a lack or principles and corrupt behaviour which is not conducive to the purity of the party".

12. Bo did not have much of a following outside the areas where he had served. He was a competent and popular regional leader who looked upon himself as having a national stature. He was politically ambitious. His undoubted following in the community of Netizens would not have been sufficient to propel him forward on his ambitious path. By cutting his wings in time, the party leadership has sought to ensure that he will not be able to take off. ( 17-3-12)

( 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, March 15, 2012



( Prepared for my intervention during the session on “Strategy & Security Imperatives” at the seminar on India & China: The Way Forward being organised by the Chennai Centre For China Studies on March 16,2012)

Stability maintenance and sovereignty assertion are the two sides of China’s strategic policy-making.

2. Stability maintenance refers to coping effectively with internal security problems which continue to confront the country in increasing measure not merely in the peripheral areas of Xinjiang,Tibet and Inner Mongolia inhabited by ethnic minorities, but also in the Han-inhabited hinterland.

3. The Chinese Government and Communist Party have not succeeded in pacifying the ethnic minorities despite large-scale economic development, which has definitely improved the quality of life for the Muslim Uighurs and the Buddhist Tibetans and Mongols.

4. Despite their considerable intelligence, Chinese policy-makers have not been able to understand that man does not live by bread alone. He wants self-respect. He wants recognition of his unique personality and ethnic characteristics. He wants to be able to admire his own icons and choose his own leaders, instead of having to pay homage to icons and leaders imposed on him by the Government and the party.

5. The Chinese Government and Party have given the ethnic minorities enough and to eat, a quality of life the like of which they had not enjoyed before---modern roads and railways, modern telecommunications, modern technologies, opportunities for better education, better jobs with better salaries than in the past and modern medicare.

6. In spite of this, they have not been to create in the Tibetans feelings of loyalty to the Government and the Party and devotion to the Panchen Lama of the Party creation. Their loyalty and devotion continue to be to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and they yearn for the days when the Dalai Lamas used to live in their midst and spiritually guide them.

7. The ideologues of the Communist Party have not been able to understand the meaning and importance of spirituality. They think more and better quality bread is all that matters. The Uighurs and the Tibetans struggling for their self-assertion have shown with determination that they want more than bread, that they continue to be proud of their past and their ethnicity and that they want the spiritual and ethnic aspects of their past back.

8. The continuing clashes between the will of the State and the Party and the will of the individuals and their community are to be seen in the increasing flow of reports from the Tibetan and Uighur areas regarding self-immolations of Tibetan monks, protests by students and others over the attempts to impose the Han culture on them, the spread of the Be Tibetan, Speak Tibetan, Dress Tibetan and Live Tibetan non-coperation movement patterned after Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha against the British and violent clashes between Uighur youth and the security forces.

9. The dissatisfaction and alienation of the minorities have been compounded by the dissatisfaction of growing sections of even the Han majority over the arbitrary aspects of governance and decision making. This arbitrariness has been vividly demonstrated in land acquisitions in different parts of the country for the development of infrastructure and in the growing indifference of the affluent new class of the Party to the feelings, grievances and anger of the common man.

10. It is not only the ethnic minorities who have been asserting themselves. It is also the common man in the Han majority who has started asserting himself through protests, gherao (act of surrounding) of Government and party officials and resistance to the enforcement of arbitrary decisions.2011 was the year the common man in the Han community made himself seen and heard by the outside world.

11.There is a new destabilising factor on the horizon in China--- the vast community of netizens, who have no access to the traditional Government and party controlled media, but who have been able to take advantage of their access to the virtual world to expose the affluence of the new class in the party and government, the unhappiness of the people and the lack of democracy and the arbitrariness in governance which have made the Chinese economic miracle possible.

12. Till now, the world has been dazzled by the Chinese economic miracle without realising at what human cost it has come. Thanks to the Chinese netizens, the world is gradually becoming aware of the darker side of the miracle.

13. Threats to China’s internal stability are increasingly an important factor in its strategic policy-making. Modernisation of the internal security apparatus has consequently been receiving greater budgetary allocations than the modernisation of its external security apparatus.

14. Despite their growing preoccupation with the internal security situation, the Chinese Government and Party have not given up or diluted their attempts to assert what they consider as their historic territorial sovereignty--- whether in the East China Sea against Japan or South China Sea against some ASEAN countries or across the Himalayas against India. China’s preoccupation with its internal security problems should not induce us to underestimate its determination to assert its territorial sovereignty. Its pursuit of economic, military and Net power have two objectives--- sovereignty assertion and power enhancement and projection. It has not allowed the increasing cost of internal stability maintenance to come in the way of enhancing its military strength and capabilities.

15. These are the ground realities of China today. Arising from these ground realities, three scenarios are possible in the coming years:

( a ).Scenario I: The Chinese Government and Party are overwhelmed by a relentless assertion of the will of the common man, resulting in a collapse of communism in Chinese colours as a binding factor.

(b). Scenario II: Because of its internal security problems, China adopts a more restrained and a more moderate external posture and controls its assertive impulses.

(c ).Scenario III: It gives free rein to its assertive impulses abroad in order to divert attention from its internal security problems and rationalise and justify its suppression of domestic dissidence.

16. It would be difficult to predict which scenario is more likely. All the three are equally possible. While hoping for the first or second scenario, India should not fail to prepare itself for the third. The lead-time available to India is already much reduced because of our tardy start, our belated realisation of the implications of a militarily strong China and our poor implementation of even the inadequate plans that we have drawn up for strengthening our infrastructure on the Chinese border and for modernising our armed forces.

17. Unfortunately, we continue to suffer from a Pakistan obsession in our thinking and planning. While we should continue to monitor Pakistan, our focus has to shift to China--- whether in our intelligence community or in the armed forces or in our policy-makers or in our still vastly inadequate community of strategic thinkers. ( 16-3-12)

( 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, March 14, 2012



We have seen how the human rights violation issue is often used by terrorist and insurgent organisations and their supporters to demoralise the security forces.

2. We had seen how after the Khalistani terrorism was defeated in Punjab, dozens of police officers were sought to be harassed in Punjab on the ground that they had allegedly violated the human rights of the people while putting down terrorism. A senior Indian Police Service officer, who was harassed by human rights activists, even committed suicide. He was unable to bear the humiliation and the mental harassment.

3. We had also seen how India was sought to be reprimanded before the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1994 for allegedly violating the human rights of the Kashmiris. Pakistan, which spearheaded the campaign against India, failed to have India rebuked due to lack of support from Iran and other countries.

4. We should keep our past experience in mind while taking a decision on what should be our stand on the resolution which is proposed to be moved by the US and some other countries in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva against Sri Lanka for alleged violations of the human rights of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan Army while putting down the terrorism and insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

5. Certain issues need to be underlined. Firstly, the Sri Lankan Army had every right and obligation to crush the LTTE, which had carried out innumerable acts of horrendous terrorism in Sri Lankan and Indian territory, including the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, our former Prime Minister, in May 1991.

6. Secondly, there were serious violations of the human rights of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan Army during its anti-LTTE operations. These violations were partly due to the disproportionate use of force by the Sri Lankan Army and partly due to the deliberate use of civilians by the LTTE in order to protect itself.

7. Thirdly, disproportionate use of force during counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations had taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan too, but they were not considered as amounting to war crimes. It will be absurd and unfair to treat the violations in Sri Lanka as amounting to war crimes, as demanded by the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora which has been in the forefront of the campaign against the Sri Lankan Government.

8. Fourthly, the fact that the LTTE had indulged in horrible acts of terrorism against the civilian population is not an excuse for the violations of the human rights of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan security forces. These violations call for a full-fledged enquiry and follow-up action against those responsible. Instead of doing so, the Sri Lankan Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been conducting itself in an unsophisticated and crude manner while evading its responsibility for holding enquiries that would carry conviction to the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, whose conviction is more important than that of the Tamil diaspora.
9. Fifthly, the credibility of the Rajapaksa Government has been further undermined by its wriggling out of the commitments to India and other States of the international community for finding a satisfactory political solution to meet the aspirations of the Tamils. After having crushed the LTTE, it has been trying to impose a dictated political solution on the Tamils and has disregarded all the promises that it had made to India in this regard.

10. Sixthly, the Government of India finds itself in a dilemma as a result of the duplicity of the Rajapaksa Government after it succeeded against the LTTE.

11.Despite India’s justified dissatisfaction against the Rajapaksa Government, it would be counter-productive for it to join the US and other countries in having Sri Lanka condemned before the UN HRC. It is totally incorrect and unwise on the part of the Tamil Nadu political parties to exercise undue pressure on an increasingly weakening Manmohan Singh Government to join the US and others in having Sri Lanka condemned.

12. While standing against the condemnation of Sri Lanka by the UNHRC, India should use all means of political and economic pressure at its disposal to make the Rajapaksa Government hold credible enquiries into the human rights violations with follow-up action against those responsible and to meet its commitments to the Tamil people.

13. India should not hesitate to use the big stick against the Rajapaksa Government due to fears that it might drive it into the arms of China and Pakistan. Indian unhappiness can hurt Sri Lanka and it should be made clear that we would not hesitate to hurt it if it continues to follow its present policy of duplicity.

14. Our present dilemma in Sri Lanka is due to our inability and unwillingness to talk and act tough when the time for it has come. The time to use the big stick has come.( 15-3-12)

( 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 )



The Tibetan unrest against the repressive policies of the Chinese authorities has spread from the Tibetan areas of Western Sichuan to Qinghai. According to details received late, Qinghai has been in a state of growing unrest since the beginning of February with large numbers of Tibetan monks and students frequently protesting in the streets---separately as well as jointly. The situation in Qinghai since February last is slowly getting to resemble that in Western Sichuan since March last year.

2. The spreading wave of unrest started in the Nangchen county in Qinghai province's Yulshul prefecture on February 8, 2012. At a local stadium, a large number of students and other civilians gathered and shouted slogans such as "Freedom for Tibet" and "Long Live the Dalai Lama." The same day, another large group of Tibetans, including many monks, gathered in the main monastery in Nangchen town, and chanted prayers for the return of His Holiness.

3.The Chinese authorities did not intervene against the protesters, but allowed the demonstrations to take place, but subsequently they have been rounding up people who participated in the demonstrations. They have also circulated leaflets calling on people who joined the demonstrations to voluntarily surrender to the police.

4. On March 13,2012, about 4,000 middle school students held demonstrations in Rebkong and in neighboring Tsekhog (in Chinese, Zeku) county in protest against the replacement of Tibetan by Chinese as the medium of instruction in the local schools. Similar demonstrations on the same issue had taken place in October 2010.The Chinese authorities have reportedly closed down the schools where demonstrations took place on March 13 and detained the suspected participants in the school premises pending investigation by the police.

5. The next day, a 30-year-old Tibetan monk tried to commit self-immolation at a monastery in Qinghai's Rebkong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The Chinese intervened and put out the fire. He survived with severe burns.

6. According to one report, when the Chinese tried to take him to a local hospital for admission, hundreds of Tibetans rescued him from Chinese custody and took him back to his monastery. Demonstrations against the Chinese authorities were held in the town. Further details are awaited.

7. In the meanwhile, the Chinese have reportedly expelled about 100 out of the 200 monks in the Karma monastery in Chamdo county in the Tibet Autonomous Region on the ground that they did not have valid identification papers. They have been asked to go home and the remaining 100 monks who have been allowed to stay in the monastery have been forced to attend re-education classes to re-affirm their loyalty to the Chinese Government and Communist Party. The Chinese have stepped up surveillance of the monastery since October last when there was an explosion in a local Government building. (15-3-12)

( 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, March 9, 2012



Lt.Gen.Mohammed Zahir-ul-Islam, a low profile officer of the Pakistan Army, has been chosen by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani as the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to succeed Lt.Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha on March 19.

2. Has appointment, which was announced by Gilani on March 9, was made out of a short list of three Lts.Gen recommended by Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). The names were reportedly discussed by Zardari and Gilani with Kayani last week and Zahir-ul-Islam was chosen. His appointment was the outcome of a consensus between the political and military leadership and could contribute to a lowering of the present high trust deficit between the two.

3.Zahir-ul-Islam, who is reported to have done one training course in the US as a middle level officer, has had the least exposure to the US as a senior Army officer. At the same time, of all the senior officers, he was the least suspected of having had any role in facilitating the clandestine stay of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad from 2005 till his death at the hands of the US Special Forces on May 2,2011.During this period, he was the GOC of Murree, then Deputy Director-General in charge of Counter-Intelligence in the ISI from September 2008 to October 2010, when he was posted as the Corps Commander of Karachi, the post that he now holds.

4. The civilian leadership has no reason to distrust him because he was not considered a protégé of Pervez Musharraf and his name had not figured in the suspicions of the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) relating to the failure of the Musharraf regime to protect Benazir Bhutto.If at all, he is a protégé of Kayani under whom he earned his promotion as Lt.Gen.

5.All indications are that the civilian leadership is keen to mend fences with the US. Zahir-ul-Islam could be the right man for the job because he was never very close to the US and, at the same time, was never suspected by the US of being mixed up with the jihadi terrorists.

6. As the Deputy DG, Counter-Intelligence, his job in the ISI was to keep a surveillance on the activities of foreign diplomats in Pakistan---particularly Indian and US diplomats--- and to prevent the infiltration of the Armed Forces by extremist organisations such as the Hizbut Tehrir. He was also handling internal security situations like those in Balochistan and Karachi. While there was considerable ham-handedness in Balochistan, he avoided strong-arm methods in Karachi as the Deputy DG of the ISI and subsequently as the Karachi Corps Commander. He was not very effective in dealing with the situations either in Balochistan or in Karachi.

7.At Karachi, he won high praise from the Chinese for the smooth way he assisted the medical relief team of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which was deputed to Sindh for flood relief work.

8.Like many senior officers of the Pakistan Army, Zahir-ul-Islam comes from a family which has contributed many officers to the Army. His father is a retired Colonel of the Army and three of his brothers had also joined the Army. His sister is married to an Army officer.

9. The 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai by the ISI-sponsored Lashkar-e-Toiba took place seven weeks after Pasha had taken over as the DG of the ISI and Zahir-ul-Islam as his No.2.It is generally believed by well-informed sources that the terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the 26/11 strikes in Mumbai had the signature of Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj, the predecessor of Pasha as the ISI Chief. If Pasha and Zahir-ul-Islam had wanted they could have called off the terrorist strikes in Mumbai, but they didn’t. ( 10-3-12)

( 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:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012



( Paper prepared for delivery at the third Asian Relations Conference being organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) at Sapru House, New Delhi, on March 9 and 10,2012)

There has been a steady expansion of the list of non-traditional threats to human security ever since this subject started receiving serious attention in 2001.From about 10 threats identified in the past, it has expanded to over 50 since then---including new additions such as threats to information security, threats to economic development due to corruption etc. I notice that some Chinese scholars have included threats to economic stability arising from financial turmoil also as a non-traditional threat to human security.

2. If we have to deal with non-traditional threats effectively through national and multilateral action, we have to be careful in identifying such threats, prioritising them for attention and action and promoting multilateral co-operation where necessary and possible and avoid politicising the concept for exterior purposes.

3.We have to make a clear distinction between issues of core concern relating to human security and clearly identified and universally perceived non-traditional threats to human security. Everything which is of concern need not necessarily be a threat. A clear example is corruption which has been figuring since 2003 in the expanded agenda of Western scholars as a non-traditional threat to human security because it stands in the way of economic development and effective governance. Corruption has been sought to be included in the list ostensibly for benign reasons, but its inclusion also provides the Western countries with a malign stick with which to beat States whose economic and other policies are not in consonance with the desires of these States.

4. I would divide the constantly expanding list of non- traditional threats to human security into three categories:

( a ).Firstly, threats that are universally accepted as such and in meeting which there can be regional and international co-operation. I would place in this category threats arising from natural and man-made disasters, industrial accidents with catastrophic and/or trans-national consequences, nuclear accidents, epidemics, environmental damage on land as well as in the sea and piracy. There is already considerable multilateral co-operation in dealing with such threats in the form of advance information sharing, joint action, crisis management and mutual assistance in capacity building. This co-operation needs to be further encouraged and enhanced by setting up regional consultancy and brain-storming mechanisms so that we constantly improve our state of preparedness for dealing with such threats when they materialise.

( b ).Secondly, non-traditional threats over which there was some inter-State consensus till some years ago, but it has been steadily weakening due to the tendency of some States to use non-traditional means of creating problems for their adversaries and weakening them internally. Two such threats that can be clearly identified are trans-national terrorism and trans-national crime. The use by certain States of trans-national terrorists and criminals as a strategic weapon against their adversaries has created a new category of para-military threats to security---- that is, threats that are neither traditional or conventional in the sense of being military in origin nor non-traditional in the sense of being not military in origin. Whereas there is growing acceptance of the need for regional and international co-operation in dealing with trans-national terrorism, efforts towards co-operation have been stymied by the use of such non-traditional means by certain States against their adversaries. The UN Security Council Resolutions adopted after 9/11 had clearly called upon member-states to act against this evil. But very few States that sponsor terrorism have done so.

( c ).Thirdly, new areas of concern such as threats to computer networks of critical infrastructure, corruption, and lack of transparency in the policies of foreign companies setting up industrial projects of a potentially hazardous nature in other countries. While threats to computer networks of critical infrastructure from non-State hackers are increasingly recognised as a new non-traditional threat to human security with potentially catastrophic implications, the debates over the scope for multilateral co-operation in meeting this threat have been desultory. This needs serious attention and calls for a meaningful debate. The dangers of the lack of transparency in the policies of foreign companies setting up potentially hazardous industrial projects in foreign countries were dramatically illustrated by the accident in the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in 1984, which led to the death of thousands of innocent persons. Neither the local Government nor the local population had been kept informed by the company of the threats that could arise from an accident and the precautions to be taken in the event of an accident. While transparency in the policies of the private sector has certainly improved, it is not yet totally satisfactory. Companies whose manufacturing involves hazardous products and/or processes still avoid total sharing of knowledge of the dangers. This affects the effectiveness of the state of preparedness. Improving transparency in the policies and practices of the private sector needs priority attention.

5. I am still not convinced about the wisdom of including corruption as a non-traditional threat to human security calling for multilateral action to combat it. Corruption has been a major evil in India retarding our economic development. Since last year, there has been a groundswell of public opinion in India against corruption. But it is an evil that has to be countered nationally. Action against corruption should not be allowed to be used as a political weapon against inconvenient States.

6.Finally, there is an unfortunate and disquieting tendency on the part of some non-governmental organisations and experts to create a paranoia about non-traditional threats to human security. They do not understand that this tendency to create paranoia is itself affecting human security. A typical example is the campaign unleashed by some motivated NGOs and individual activists against a nuclear power station constructed at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. Even though the people of the State have been suffering from acute power shortages, these NGOs and activists have prevented the commissioning of the power station on the ground that it could pose serious threats to human security and the environment. The Government has taken all the precautions mandated by various national and international protocols on nuclear safety. It had appointed experts’ committees to certify that all necessary precautions had been taken. Despite this, the agitators have till now prevented the commissioning of the power station. This is a clear attempt to misuse the idea of non-traditional threats to human security to create irrational fears in the minds of the people for non-professional reasons and prevent the development of nuclear power. Such ill-motivated attempts need to be decried. ( 8-3-12)

( 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, March 6, 2012



The most significant aspect of the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly the results for which were announced on March 6,2012, was not even the rout of the Congress Party, but the humiliation suffered by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi in what has been described as their pocket boroughs of Rae Bareli and Amethi.

2.The Lucknow correspondent of the “Deccan Herald” has described this humiliation in the following words: “None, not even the “Nehru-Gandhi family,” would have expected such a drubbing even on its home turf of Rae Bareli and Amethi, represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively. The entire “family” had descended on the twin constituencies to ensure a smooth sailing for party candidates. Yet, the party’s performance was “pathetic.” The Congress, which had secured seven of the ten assembly seats in Rae Bareli and Amethi, could win only two seats this time—Jagadishpur and Tiloi in the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. In Rae Bareli, it ceded all five seats to SP candidates by good margins. In three seats, the Congress nominees finished third, compounding its agony. The signals were ominous for the party from the very beginning of the campaign. Priyanka was initially greeted by angry crowds, which complained that the local MLAs did not take any interest in the area’s development.”

3.The message that has come out loud and clear from UP as a whole as well as from these pocket boroughs is that the decline of the political influence of Sonia Gandhi has started and that the personality cult built around her, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi by the party functionaries has started dissipating.

4.The decline of the political influence of Sonia Gandhi could be attributed to various factors--- the decline in her health and the consequent public perception that she is already a leader of the passee and not of the future, the failure of Rahul Gandhi to compensate for the decline in her political influence by building a political image and a political connectivity of his own, his tendency to depend on political gimmicks rather than on exciting ideas and a vision for the future which failed to establish an empathetic vibration with the people and the failure of the Congress Government in the Centre headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh and the local Congress leaders in UP to come up to the expectations of the people.

5.The people wanted new policies, new ideas and exciting new faces and brains. Instead what they got was the same old faces of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka, endless repetition of the same old devotion to the family and the same old bankruptcy in thinking and strategizing. It has come out clearly that neither the magic of the family name nor personal charisma---particularly in the case of Priyanka--- nor gimmicks could attract the electorate any longer.

6. The emergence of Akhilesh Yadav, son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the leader of the Samajwadi Party which has won a spectacular victory on its own, as the new shining star of UP politics was totally unexpected by large sections of the public and the Congress Party. The electorate tired of old faces and old style of politics and gimmicks was looking for a Mr.Different and they saw Mr.Different in Akhilesh. Whereas they found Rahul young in looks, but old in thinking and articulation, they found Akhilesh young in looks and young and refreshingly different in his thinking and articulation.

7.When one saw Akhilesh and Rahul on the TV screen, the difference between the two young personalities was striking. What came out in the case of Akhilesh was his earnestness, seriousness, sincerity and his ability to articulate in a manner that could carry conviction to the public. What came out in the case of Rahul was a lack of such qualities. Akhilesh’s ability to connect instantly with the public and the media stood in refreshing contrast to the inability of Rahul to do so.

8. Whether Congress functionaries admit it or not, the UP elections clearly marked the beginning of at least a temporary eclipse of Rahul as an up and coming political leader of Prime Ministerial calibre. He is not even of provincial calibre. The electorate in UP, his home State, has not taken him seriously. Will he be able to make the rest of the country take him seriously before the next Parliamentary elections whenever they are held----in 2014 as scheduled or before that if the Manmohan Singh Government as a result of the after-shocks of the UP’s political quake falls?

9.Political eclipses tend to be temporary when the affected leader has merits of his own and does not seek to shine through the reflected glory of his family. Rahul has still to convince large section of the public of this country that he has merits of his own. He has to project himself before the people as an intelligent, well-informed, articulate and thinking leader bubbling with new ideas and not just new gimmicks. He has to make the party jettison the remnants of the personality cult built around his mother. He has to encourage GenNext leaders in the party to come to the forefront and empower them to compete in equal terms with him and Priyanka. He should convert the Congress into a party of the people and not a party of the family.

10. As the party prepares itself for the next parliamentary elections, the Government led by it at the Centre has to be led by someone with a positive image. Dr.Manmohan Singh has developed a negative image which he will not be able to discard easily. Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister. has a positive image. He is respected by large sections of the people. He has sharp professional and political instincts. The time has come for him to take over as the Prime Minister. If petty memories and petty suspicions of the family continue to keep him out, it is the party which will suffer.

11. Akhilesh is a promising and exciting young find, but he has won only the first lap of his political race by contributing significantly to the success of his party in the elections. Proving himself to be a good campaigner is only the beginning. He has to prove himself to be a good administrator and a wise policy-maker. Will he be able to do it? ( 7-3-12)

( 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 )


( Written at the request of Editor, Tribune, Chandigarh)

India has been facing the evil of terrorism since 1971 when two members of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore and set it on fire after asking the passengers and crew to leave the plane.

Except in J&K and the North-East, where the Army had to be asked to take over the leadership of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, in the rest of the country, the responsibility for dealing with terrorism vested with the State Police. In Punjab, it was the Police under the able leadership of K.P.S.Gill, the Director-General of Police, that effectively brought the so-called Khalistani terrorism under control.

In Tamil Nadu, it was again the Police that brought the activities of the so-called Al Umma, a local terrorist organisation, under control. The Police also dealt with the activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In Mumbai, the successful investigation of the 1993 serial blasts was carried out by the Police. Thus between 1971 and 1993, the Police forces in different States were able to deal effectively with terrorism with the help of intelligence inputs and guidance, where necessary, from the central intelligence agencies.

The infiltration of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and other Pakistani terrorist organisations into India----firstly into J&K and subsequently into other States of India--- from 1993 onwards gave a new pan-Indian dimension to the evil of terrorism and made Indian counter-terrorism experts realise that the Police alone, however capable, would not be able to deal with the jihadi octopus of Pakistani origin. The problem was aggravated by the emergence of the so-called Indian Mujahideen in 2007.

The need for a pan-Indian counter-terrorism doctrine and architecture was increasingly felt in the post-1993 years, but unfortunately no action has been taken to evolve such a doctrine and architecture. Despite terrorism of the jihadi kind, originating from Pakistan, assuming a pan-Indian and global dimension, we continued to deal with it in an ad hoc manner with the help of the Police in different States.

The Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus, headed by G.C.Saxena, former chief of the R&AW, which was set up by the Atal Behari Vajpayee Government in 2000, drew attention to our failure to address the problem of pan-Indian terrorism in a professional manner and suggested the creation of a Counter-Terrorism Centre (CTC) in the Intelligence Bureau to deal with terrorism in a coordinated manner.

The CTC suggested by it was patterned after the CTC of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was then responsible for counter-terrorism in the US, since the terrorist threats to the US before 9/11 mainly emanated from abroad and were largely directed at US nationals and interests abroad. Since terrorism in India---whether regional or pan-Indian—was largely directed at homeland targets, the Saxena Task Force, of which I was a member, suggested that the proposed CTC should be part of the Intelligence Bureau and should work under the direction of the Director, Intelligence Bureau (DIB).

The CTC, as proposed by the Saxena Task Force, was essentially a preventive architecture responsible for introducing the principle of jointness in preventing terrorism. Jointness meant counter-terrorism experts from different agencies of the Government of India working together under the leadership of the DIB for analysing and assessing the intelligence collected by different agencies and the Police and giving directions for follow-up action.

The idea was that the follow-up action would still be taken by the State Police, but on the guidance and directions of the CTC, which was not given any executive powers of its own. The Vajpayee Government set up the CTC in the IB, but named it the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC). Since it was not given any executive powers to act independently on its own in the jurisdiction of the State Police, there was no objection to its creation from the States.

Before his death in January 2002, R.N.Kao, the founding father of the R&AW, met Vajpayee and told him that without the co-operation of the State Police, the Government of India would not be able to deal with terrorism effectively. He also expressed the view that the National Security Adviser, being an officer of the Indian Foreign Service, with no exposure to the State Police, would not be able to command the required co-operation from the State Police. He, therefore, suggested the creation of a post of Deputy NSA to be manned by a senior officer of the Indian Police Service either from the States or the IB.

Kao told me that Vajpayee reacted positively to his advice and said that he would initiate action for the creation of a post of DyNSA to be manned by a Police officer, who was an expert in internal security and who commanded the confidence of the State Police. By the time this post came into being, Kao passed away. When this post was created, it was filled up by another IFS officer who was an unknown quantity in the States and who had very little expertise in internal security matters.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland brought out inadequacies in the functioning of the CTC of the CIA. It was decided by the George Bush Administration in 2004 to set up an independent organisation called the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) for ensuring jointmanship in dealing with terrorism and place it under the Director, National Intelligence. It also modified the counter-terrorism architecture in the US by creating a Homeland Security Council, which was distinct from the NSC, and placing it under a Homeland Security Adviser, distinct from the NSA.

When the Dr.Manmohan Singh Government came to office in 2004, it created a separate post of Internal Security Adviser on the pattern of the USA’s Homeland Security Adviser and made him exercise leadership in all internal security matters, including counter-terrorism. M.K.Narayanan, former DIB, was appointed to this post.

In 2005, after the death of J.N Dixit, the then National Security Adviser, Narayanan was designated as the NSA and asked to perform both the tasks of co-ordinating external and internal security duties. He was not able to devote adequate attention to internal security matters because of his preoccupation with the negotiation with the US on civil nuclear co-operation.

Internal Security Management in the Centre consequently suffered. The progress in the implementation of the Saxena Task Force’s recommendation on counter-terrorism was slow and no attempt was made to draw up a co-ordinated Counter-Terrorism Doctrine and revamp our counter-terrorism architecture.

The result: The 26/11 terrorist strikes, which dramatically exposed the poor state of our preventive architecture. There was no co-ordinated follow-up action even on the limited intelligence that reportedly came from the US through the R&AW regarding the plans of the LET to launch sea-borne terrorist strikes in Mumbai.

After taking over as the Home Minister post-26/11, Chidambaram, who has assumed total responsibility for counter-terrorism management, has sought to revamp the counter-terrorism architecture. He initiated in particular four steps. Firstly, he decentralised the deployment of the National Security Guards and created the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to improve our investigation capabilities. Secondly, he instituted a system of daily meetings of the intelligence chiefs under his chairmanship to discuss the available intelligence and assess the evolving threats. Thirdly, he speeded up the implementation of the Saxena Task Force recommendation for the Multi-Agency Centre, which had gone into doldrums under Shiv Raj Patil, his predecessor. And fourthly, after a visit to the US, he decided to set up an NCTC partly---not totally--- on the pattern of the USA’s counterpart.

While his first three steps did not meet with any opposition from the States, his attempt to create the NCTC has met with serious opposition because of his decision to keep it as part of the IB and give it independent executive powers of arrest and searches without the prior knowledge of the State Police. His idea probably was that to meet situations where a State Police dragged its feet for making an arrest, the NCTC should have its own powers of arrest so that it could make an arrest, produce the suspect before the Police and direct it to act against him.

This was a major encroachment on the powers of the State Police without the prior concurrence of the States. In his NCTC architecture, Chidambaram has made two significant departures from existing practices in countries such as the US. Instead of making the NCTC an independent institution, he has made it a part of the IB. By giving the NCTC independent powers of arrest, he has violated the widely held principle in other democracies that a clandestine intelligence agency should not have police powers of arrest which could be misused for political purposes.

His failure to consult the States beforehand and his attempt to confront the States with a fait accompli which would have definitely infringed on their rights have created so much opposition that the very principle of jointmanship in preventing terrorism through a body like the NCTC, now stands suspected as a politicised measure to circumvent the States.

Apparently, there were inadequate consultations even at the Centre as one could see from the opposition expressed by an increasing number of ex-R&AW officers to the move to make the NCTC a part of the IB. The controversy has not only become a Centre vs State issue, but is also threatening to become an IB Vs R&AW issue.

At a time when there is an urgent need for unity of action against terrorism, creation of a preventive architecture against terrorism has become a highly contentious and politicised issue. While one has to welcome Chidambaram’s decision to postpone the implementation till belated consultations are held with the States, it is doubtful whether the opposition-ruled States, whose suspicions have been aroused, will now agree to the creation of the NCTC at all even if it is not given executive powers. The whole concept, which is necessary, has become suspect in their eyes. It is very unfortunate.

There is no hurry to create the NCTC now. The MAC could continue to handle the tasks of follow-up action on the intelligence collected and prevention. The States have not objected to the MAC and got used to it. Instead, Chidambaram should focus on revamping the counter-terrorism architecture by making the NCTC an independent institution without executive powers working under the direction of the DIB, who could wear two hats as the head of the IB and of the NCTC. The NCTC could work under the DIB but without becoming a part of the IB. It would be similar to the R&AW and the Directorate-General of Security, which are independent institutions working under Secretary (R ), who wears two hats.

In his address to IB officers in 2010, Chidambaram had suggested the creation of a Ministry of Internal Security to focus exclusively on the operational aspects of Internal Security Management. There has been no follow-up on this since then. The time has come to consider this proposal as part of the over-all revamping. None of these ideas would work unless he manages to reach a political consensus with other political parties and the States. Prior consultations with the States should be sincere and serious and not just a gimmick.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), R&AW, Cabinet Secretariat )

Saturday, March 3, 2012



The unrest in the minority-inhabited areas of the Tibetan belt and the Xinjiang province of China continues unabated.

2. While the protest by the Buddhist Tibetans against the suppression of their religion and culture by the Han majority continues to take the forms of self-immolation by Tibetan monks---mainly in the Sichuan province--- and non-cooperation with the authorities and non-observance of their instructions, the protest by the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province has been taking violent forms.

3. Despite their strong campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama whom they have accused of instigating the self-immolations and despite the mass round-up of Tibetans present at the scenes of self-immolations on charges of instigating suicides, the Chinese have not been able to stop the self-immolations.

4. Simultaneously, the Tibetan campaign for the assertion of their Tibetan identity in which a large number of GenNext are participating has been confronting the authorities with a new situation which they do not know how to handle. They do not want to suppress it lest they be accused of seeking to destroy the Tibetan identity. At the same time, they are worried that this novel form of protest might strengthen the demand for Tibetan independence right across the Tibetan belt.

5. The non-cooperation movement took a new form during the Tibetan New Year (Losar) holidays towards the end of February. Reports received from the Tibetan areas indicate that large numbers of Tibetans refrained from celebrating their New Year in protest against the Chinese policies. They observed it as a period of mourning in memory of those who committed self-immolation since March last year.

6. The attempts of the Chinese authorities to force the Tibetans to celebrate their New Year failed. They then organised New Year celebrations in parts of Lhasa and other places, which were largely attended by the Han Chinese. The Government and Party-controlled media disseminated stories that these celebrations were actually organised by the Tibetans.

7.The non-cooperation movement has remained remarkably non-violent except three incidents of violence in the Sichuan province involving clashes between the protesting Tibetans and the local Police. In two of these incidents, local police stations were attacked and in the third there was an explosion in a police building in which the office of the intelligence set-up was located. A Tibetan carrying an explosive device was allegedly killed due to a premature detonation.

8. The Chinese security authorities are used to dealing ruthlessly with violent outbreaks, but they are confused by the spread of the non-violent non-cooperation movement and do not know how to deal with it.

9. The spread of the non-cooperation movement seems to be the result of local initiatives with calls for non-cooperation disseminated through word of mouth, but the Chinese fear that there is a hitherto unidentified Tibetan group which has been orchestrating the protest movement.

10. The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which was behind the violent upheaval of 2008, has been quiet. There has been no evidence of any role by it in the current non-violent protest movement.

11. This non-violent non-cooperation movement has been causing greater nervousness in Government and party circles in Beijing than the violent incidents of 2008. This nervousness was reflected in the speeches calling for strong action against the so-called Tibetan splittists inspired by His Holiness which were delivered at a conference on Tibet held at Beijing on March 1. The importance of safeguarding social harmony and stability in the Tibetan region extending across Tibet, Sichuan,Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan was stressed by Jia Qinglin, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

12. The Party-owned “People’s Daily” quoted him as having said as follows: “Currently, the clique of the Dalai Lama are trying in vain to continuously create incidents in Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in the four provinces. Authorities should implement the prescribed measures well to resolutely crush the Dalai Lama clique's conspiracy of making Tibetan-inhabited areas unstable, thus making the masses able to live and work there comfortably."

13. While the Buddhist Tibetans thus continue to protest by following Gandhian methods of non-violent non-cooperation, the resentment of the Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang province has been taking violent forms. On the night of February 28, there were violent clashes between the Han Chinese and local Uighurs in the Kashgar area following some insulting remarks allegedly made by some Hans. The protesting Uighurs allegedly stabbed 13 Hans to death. The Police then intervened and shot dead seven Uighurs who had allegedly taken part in the violent incidents.

14. It has been reported that in recent months there has been a fresh Government-organised migration of Hans into Xinjiang and this has aggravated the anti-Han resentment of the Uighurs, who have already been reduced to a minority in their homeland.

15. As part of their pacification policy, the Chinese authorities have embarked on a crash economic development programme in the Tibetan belt and in Xinjiang, but the locals allege that the economic benefits of this programme have been mainly going to the Hans settled in these areas to whom priority is given in the matter of jobs. Moreover, under the pretext of facilitating economic development, more Hans are being settled in the minority areas. ( 4-3-12)

( 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, March 1, 2012



The need for balancing our strategic need for close relations with the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam in order to be able to cope with present and future security challenges from China with the tactical need for avoiding any action that could sound the alarm bells in policy-making circles in the Chinese Government and Communist Party has been a defining characteristic of our foreign and strategic policy and should continue to be so.

2. Both these needs are clearly understood in policy-making circles in New Delhi and in our intelligence community. We are not yet in a position to change the gear of our policy from a defensively cautious to a confidently activist mode. Our projects for infrastructure development in the areas bordering China are still in the process of implementation. Our plans for the modernisation of our armed forces lack the required urgency and have been hampered in implementation by the widespread atmosphere of suspicion in respect of defence procurement. This has been created by the public campaign against corruption and the activism---how wise, how unwise---of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India in scrutinising all commercial deals including those impacting national security with the yardstick of self-righteousness not tempered with the need to avoid creating bureaucratic and political diffidence in taking decisions in national security matters. Our intelligence community is still in the process of re-orienting its focus from Pakistan to China. Our intelligence priorities and capabilities in the light of the security challenges from the Sino-Pak region are yet to be clearly defined.

3. Presently, our assessments on China are almost exclusively based on our perceptions of China’s military and economic strengths and its cyber capabilities. China is undoubtedly an emerging power which is far ahead of us from the point of view of various parameters having a bearing on comprehensive national security. But it is also a power, which is facing increasing vulnerabilities because of its uncertain and unpredictable internal security situation. It has not been able to seek reconciliation with the increasing anti-Han activism of its Tibetan and Uighur minorities. Even the Hans in different parts of the country have been increasingly challenging the policy-makers on various issues in the town halls and in cyber space. It doesn’t know how to cope with the increasing belligerence of its netizens. There is greater defiance in the air---in real as well as virtual terms.

4.Unless we take into account the vulnerabilities of China in shaping our policy and in sowing the seeds of the architecture of our strategic co-operation with the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam we may end up with a policy which is over-focussed on traditional military aspects and under-focussed on non-traditional aspects of internal frictions and fragilities in China. China’s military and economic strengths should be a matter of core concern. Its increasing vulnerabilities should be a matter of core interest.

5. How to evolve a strategic policy , which will be the outcome of an intelligent blend of our core concerns and core interests in relation to China is a question which needs attention in our governmental and non-governmental circles which have an impact on our policy-making. It is also a question which should increasingly receive greater attention in our discussions with our perceived strategic partners.

6. It is necessary to evolve a comprehensive China policy which would strengthen our strategic manoeuvrability without damaging the basic strengths of our relations with China. It will be unwise to have a hostile and suspicious China on our border and in our periphery. At the same time, it will be equally unwise to avoid new thinking and new policy options for fear of adding to the suspicions and hostility of China.

7. It is in this context that one has to welcome the Indian stance in the talks between our Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi which were held in New Delhi on February 29 and March 1, 2012. India was right in responding positively to the Chinese suggestion for maritime security co-operation in dealing with piracy . I have myself been advocating this for many years, pointing out that while talk of Sino-Indian co-operation against land-based terrorism was meaningless, co-operation against maritime terrorism and piracy has considerable sense and needs to be promoted.

8. One should also welcome the re-affirmation of India’s policy of dissociating itself from the anti-Beijing activities of the Tibetans while avoiding any action against them as repeatedly demanded by China--- a demand which was reportedly reiterated by the Chinese Foreign Minister.

9. While the exercise for new confidence-building measures with the Chinese should continue, the exercise for new opportunity-building measures with our strategic partners---the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam—should also continue to receive equal attention. It will be an exercise demanding considerable delicatesse d’esprit and d’action. Our policy-makers are capable of it. (2-3-12)

( 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 )