Friday, August 31, 2012




1.Rediff's interesting report on NaMo's online publicity blitzkrieg …

2.I have been drawing attention to this for more than 18 months. I had also drawn attention last year to online blitzkrieg of Anna's team.

3. NaMo and Team Anna were helped by excellent IT brains---domestic in case of Anna and NRIs in case of NaMo. There has been online fatigue ..... contd

4. in case of Team Anna, but not in case of Team NaMo. If Team NaMo can moderate their language and use facts and figures and not abuses and .....  contd

5.invectives, one cannot object to their online blitzkrieg. Team NaMo has had a headstart online. Cong is waking up only now to  CONTD potential.A bit too late. At same time, online reach in India is limited. Team NaMo will have some advantage, but not crucial.FINI









Mr.Liang Guanglie, the Chinese Defence Minister, who is in Sri Lanka since August 29,2012, on an official visit at the head of a 23-member delegation, is reaching New Delhi on September 2,2012, for a three-day official visit before proceeding to Laos from where he will return home.

2. His visit to India has  aroused considerable interest in India and outside. After a gap of eight years, a Chinese Defence Minister will be visiting India. The visit will be taking place on the eve of the forthcoming leadership changes in the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government after the present leadership completes his 10-year-term.The changes in the party leadership will be taking place in October and the Government leadership in March next year.

3. In Mao Dze-dong and Deng Xiao-ping China had produced commanding individual leaders who imparted their personal stamp to policy-making----Mao in respect of foreign policy and Deng in respect of economic policies. After the departure of Deng, China has not produced a leader of similar commanding presence and influence. Amongst the expected leaders of the coming decade, one does not see anyone, who might play  such a commanding role and impart far-reaching changes to policy-making.

4.Collective leadership will continue to be the norm in the coming decade with important policies being decided collectively by the party leadership and implemented by the Government. It is, therefore, unlikely that the Chinese Defence Minister will give any indications of possible policy changes under the coming new leadership.

5. The visit will mark an improvement in the military-military relationship between the Armed Forces and the Defence Ministries of the two countries. This relationship, which had improved between 2004 and 2008 after the last visit of a Chinese Defence Minister,  suffered a set-back after some actions taken by China which indicated a possible identification of Chinese thinking and policies with those of Pakistan in matters relating to Jammu & Kashmir.

6. The first of these actions was the Chinese reluctance to issue a normal visa to a senior officer of the Indian Army posted in Jammu & Kashmir to visit China at the head of a delegation for one of the routine talks with their Chinese counterparts. This was the first time India had nominated a senior Army officer posted in J&K to head a military delegation for bilateral talks in China.

7. The Chinese reportedly took up the stand that India should either nominate an officer posted outside J&K or if it insisted on sending this particular officer, it would issue to him a special visa on a plain piece of paper and not the normal visa on his Indian passport. India rightly did not agree to this and as a result the normal Army-Army exchanges were  downgraded by India, if not suspended. It has been reported that the Chinese have since given up their hesitation to issue normal visas to officers of the Indian Armed Forces posted in J&K for official visits to China. As a result, military exchanges have again resumed and started improving.

8. The second Chinese action relating to J&K that has caused concern in India is their de facto and officially unannounced recognition of Pakistani claims of sovereignty over Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which is still a disputed territory with conflicting claims of sovereignty by India and Pakistan. This de facto recognition could be seen in their acceptance without any objection of leaders and officials of the Gilgit-Baltistan administration in official delegations headed by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani visiting China. The Chinese have never raised the issue of any special visas for Pakistani officials, civilian or military, posted in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan who are required to visit China.

9.The third Chinese action relating to J&K that has caused concern in Indian military circles relates to the reported induction of a number of personnel of the engineering divisions of the PLA into the POK and GB for the upgradation of the Karakoram Highway and additional personnel from their infantry divisions for providing protection to their engineering units.

10.In such issues relating to J&K, the Chinese Defence Ministry and  Armed forces play an important role in guiding policy-making. The Chinese actions in going ahead with these moves unmindful of the sensitivities and concerns of India indicate certain pro-Pakistani constants in Chinese strategic policy-making relating to its relations with India and Pakistan.

11. The Chinese have reportedly sought to address Indian sensitivities relating to the issue of visas to Indian military officers posted in J & K, but they have not shown any willingness to address the Indian sensitivities and concerns over their actions in the POK and GB. However, the Government of India has apparently decided not to let this come in the way of the resumption of military-military exchanges and confidence-building measures between the two countries. The visit of the Chinese Defence Minister will impart the political stamp of approval to various steps being considered for further strengthening the exchanges and CBMs. Among such measures being speculated about are the  resumption of the joint counter-terrorism exercises which are in a state of suspension since 2008, a possible joint air force exercise,  the upgradation of the level of military representation in the Embassies of the two countries  in each other’s capital and greater co-ordination of the anti-Somali piracy operations of the Navies of the two countries. It has been reported by “The Hindu” that the Chinese are keen to have separate Attaches from their Navy and Air Force in their Embassy in New Delhi on a reciprocal basis and that New Delhi may agree to this.

12.Chinese intentions and capabilities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and in those areas of Xinjiang adjoining  J&K continue to be a matter of concern to Indian military circles. In addition to strengthening their military-related infrastructure and deployments in the TAR, the Chinese have been stepping up the level, diversity, frequency and complexity of their military exercises in the TAR since October 2010. These exercises have a domestic as well as an India-focussed dimension.

13. The domestic dimension relates to strengthening their capability for putting down any disturbances after the death of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Last month, the Chinese internal security agencies held joint counter-terrorism exercises in the Lhasa region. They are trying to strengthen the helicopter-lift capability of their Army in the plateau areas. They are extending their rail and road networks and constructing more airfields in the TAR. All these at present seem to be related to strengthening their capability to prevent any instability in Tibet after His Holiness, but these value-additions could also help them in any military operations against India in the Arunachal Pradesh sector.

14. The India-focussed dimension is about the increasing participation of the Chinese Air Force in military exercises in the TAR. Why this increasing importance to the role of the Air Force in Tibet? It cannot be to meet internal instability. It has to be to meet eventualities in the event of a military conflict with India.

15.In the past, some Indian analysts were of the view that the Indian Army might not have suffered a humiliation at the hands of the Chinese Army in 1962 if India had used its Air Force to disrupt the Chinese lines of communications. It is now mentally accepted in both the countries that if there is another conventional military conflict between the two countries, the two Air Forces will play an active role. It should be evident from the recent exercises with the active participation of the Chinese Air Force that the Chinese are improving the training of their Army and Air Force for eventual joint operations if there is a military conflict with India

16. The importance of such high-level visits lies not only in the formalities of the discussions and exchanges across the table, but also in the informalities of the brain-picking during the opportunities for informal interactions provided by the visits. Indian military officials will definitely try to find out what exactly is the Chinese military thinking relating to operations mounted from Tibet, but they are unlikely to get an answer. The answer has to come from our intelligence agencies.

17.The prevailing wisdom presently is that if there is another military conflict with China, it will be an Army-Air Force joint operation from both sides across the border with no involvement by the Navies. Has the time come to revisit that wisdom and re-examine the likely role of the two Navies? It is in this context that the Indian Navy ought to be viewing and assessing the growing Chinese military interest in countries such as  Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Seychelles.

18. The Chinese military’s interest in these  countries has two dimensions. The first is strengthening the military supply relationship in order to create a dependence on Chinese military equipment. The second is to strengthen  the Chinese role in port development and to improve the Navy-Navy exchanges. The strategic implications of the second dimension ought to be a matter of growing concern for the Indian Navy. At present, the seeming Chinese interest is in protecting their supplies of energy and other essential goods for which their Navy requires a presence in countries en route.

19. What could be the impact of the Navy-related capabilities in the Indian Ocean region that they are developing on a future military conflict between India and China? That is a question that has to be seriously examined by us.

20. The Chinese are puzzled and worried by the visibles and invisibles of our developing strategic relationship with the US.Is it purely an ad hoc and one-night courting or is there a strategic durability to the Indo-US coming together? Does it purely have an ocean-related dimension relating to jointly protecting the respective interests of India and the US in the Indian Ocean region or does it have a South China Sea dimension too? What is the extent of the strategic co-operation between the Armies and Air Forces of India and the US? What kind of scenarios warranting ground co-operation they are discussing? Is the possibility of an opportunistic foray into Tibet in the event of instability there one of the scenarios being discussed?

21.These are questions to which the Chinese have been trying to find an answer. It is likely that during the informal discussions between the two delegations, the Chinese will try to pick our brains on these questions bothering them. It will be in our interest to keep them guessing and worried.

22. A conventional wisdom at present in thinking and analytical circles in both India and the US is that the Chinese are mighty worried over the possibility of India and the US coming together to contain China. I do not subscribe to this. Their first worry now  is the implications of the India-US military co-operation for their attempts to pacify Tibet and in any military conflict between India and China over the unresolved border issue. We should keep this constantly in mind in our strategic planning.( 1-9-12)

(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)









Pakistani media reports on the meeting between our Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in the margins of the NAM summit in Tehran on August 29,2012, are tinged with ill-concealed disappointment over the perceived reluctance of our Prime Minister to make a definitive commitment over a possible visit by him to Pakistan.

2. A few weeks ago Mr Zardari was reported to have written to Dr.Manmohan Singh inviting him to visit the Sikh holy shrines in and around Lahore  coming November.

3. According to reliable Pakistani sources, no formal reply to the invitation has so far gone to Islamabad from New Delhi. Pakistani leaders were hoping that some positive indications of a likely acceptance of the invitation might be forthcoming during the meeting between the two leaders in Tehran.

4. The indications from New Delhi before our Prime Minister’s departure for Tehran that India would not be taking up with Pakistan the allegations of a possible Pakistani State role in the dissemination through the cyber space of exaggerated  and false accounts of the recent anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and India with the help of morphed images and creation of feelings of nervousness and panic among the people from India’s North-East living in South India and Pune added to the Pakistani hopes of a positive reply from our Prime Minister.

5. Before the Prime Minister’s departure for Tehran, sections of the Indian media had carried what appeared to be authoritative though unattributed reports that Dr.Manmohan Singh would not raise this issue with Mr.Zardari for want of evidence regarding any role of the Pakistani State in the dissemination.

6. This lowered the somewhat high temperature created following briefings that had earlier come from officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India insinuating a possible role of the Pakistani State agencies.

7.According to Pakistani journalists who had accompanied Mr.Zardari to Tehran, Dr.Manmohan Singh confined himself to reiterating the importance of early and satisfactory prosecution of the master conspirators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai now facing trial before a special anti-terrorism tribunal in Rawalpindi. He was reported to have stated that effective action by Pakistan to take the trial to its logical conclusion would be an important confidence-building measure.

8. While Pakistani sources describe the atmosphere during the discussions as good, there is a disappointment over the continuing reluctance of the Prime Minister to  visit Pakistan. It is stated that while keeping open the possibility of a visit at an appropriate time, Dr. Manmohan Singh was disinclined to give definitive indications of dates.

9.According to reliable Pakistani sources, Dr.Manmohan Singh was a little more cautious than he was during the visit of Mr.Zardari to Delhi in April last on the question of a possible visit by him to Pakistan.

10. Despite the implication of Pakistani state agencies by Abu Jundal, the Indian terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who had played a role in the orchestration from Karachi of the 26/11 terrorist strikes, there has been no negative factors of a serious nature in the bilateral relations since Mr.Zardari’s visit.

11. If reports from my Pakistani sources of an extra-cautious Dr.Manmohan Singh on the question of a visit to Pakistan are correct, it is my assessment that this could not be due to any fresh negative factors in the bilateral relations. This could be more due to the fact that the Congress Party is toying with the idea of mid-term polls either this year-end or in the beginning of next year.

12. In the calculations of the  Congress Party, simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the Gujarat Assembly would keep Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, bottled up in Gujarat and come in the way of his playing an active role in the campaign in the rest of India. Early mid-term polls would also prevent Anna Hazare and his followers from politically organising themselves.

13. If the Congress decides in favour of mid-term polls, any new initiative in Indo-Pakistan relations such as a visit to Pakistan by the Prime Minister could prove unwise and counter-productive.

14. Hence, the Prime Minister’s reported extra caution during his talks with Mr.Zardari in Tehran. ( 30-8-12)

(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)