Tuesday, May 14, 2013




Prime Minister Li Kequiang of China, who took over  in March last, is to visit India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany during his first round of overseas visits after taking over as the Prime Minister.

2. His clubbing together his visits to India and Pakistan on his way to Europe indicates the equal importance which the newly-elected Chinese leadership attaches to China’s relations with India and Pakistan.

3. The visit to India from May 19 to 21 threatened to come under a cloud following the intrusion by a platoon of PLA troops into Indian  territory in the Daulat Beg Oldie area of Eastern Ladakh on April 15 and their camping in tents there for nearly three weeks.

4.The resulting stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) created trans-Line of Actual Control tensions and led to demands in India for the postponement of the visit of our Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to Beijing to make preparations for Li’s visit. The stand-off also revived the distrust of China in Indian strategic circles.

5. The two countries managed to avert an embarrassing postponement of the visits by agreeing on the restoration of the status quo ante. The Chinese troops then vacated the Indian territory into which they had intruded.

6. Two questions remain unclear. Firstly, why did the Chinese troops intrude into this area even at the risk of their intrusion casting a shadow on the first visit of their new Prime Minister to India? Secondly, was there an Indian quid pro quo for the Chinese withdrawal? Sections of the Indian media had reported that India had  agreed to remove some temporary infrastructure like bunkers for sheltering patrolling Indian troops from its territory. If media accounts of the quid pro quo are correct, it could ultimately turn out to be to the detriment of our sovereignty claims in that area.

7.While the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India has been a little more forthcoming on the Indian right to build defensive and logistics infrastructure in our territory, the Ministry of External Affairs has been evasive.

8.Ever since Xi Jinping took over as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November last year, he has been talking of the need for a border settlement “ as early as possible.” The previous leaderships used to talk of the need for time and patience in reaching a border accord and for not allowing this to come in the way of the development of the bilateral relations in the economic and other fields. India had been going along with this formulation of the past leaderships.

9. From the various remarks of Xi  on Sino-Indian relations since he took over, it would seem that he wants a time-frame for finding a border accord without allowing the pressure for a time-frame coming in the way of strengthening relations in other fields. The recent intrusion, in this regard, could be interpreted as an attempt by the new leadership to press the need for a solution “ as early as possible” without letting the negotiations drag on endlessly.

10. It would be in India’s interest too to work for a border accord “as early as possible.” At the same time, India should not accept the Chinese formulation that the absence of a border accord should not come in the way of the economic and other relations. This formulation has immensely benefitted China.

11.Much of the delay till now has been due to Beijing dragging its feet on exchanging maps of  the line of actual control, which has to be the first step. During the forthcoming visit of the Chinese Prime Minister, we should make it clear that we too want a border accord “ as early as possible”, but this would depend upon the Chinese taking the first step of exchanging maps of the LAC which have to be the basis of further negotiations.

12. We should also make it clear that relations in the economic and other fields cannot improve without satisfactory progress in the border talks.  (15-5-13)

( 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. Twitter: @SORBONNE75  )




(Medical history. Will be 77 in August next )


27-9-2009—Heavy blood in urine after I returned from evening walk. Only one episode.Underwent cystoscopy in Apollo Main, Chennai. Urologist—Dr. Murali Venkataraman.Biopsy result: “ Bladder biopsies superficial and deep and prostatic chips showing features of a high grade carcinoma. The morphology is suggestive of a prostatic adenocarcinoma. Immunobiochemistry is advised for confirmation.”

Gleeson score test was not done. At the time of bleeding my PSA was around 4 only.

Full body PET CT scan was done on 3-11-09. Its conclusion:

“ Known case of high-grade carcinoma of the prostate.

“ Enlarged prostate with hetrogenous increased metabolic activity predominantly in the left half of the gland and in the intravesical component involving the bladder base. No obvious involvement of seminal vesicles. Metabolically active left obturator and internal illac lymadenopathy--- metastasis.

“Hypermetabolic skeletal metastasis involving the right aia of sacrum and left inferior public ramus.”

Severe urinal bleeding on the night of November 1,2009. Stopped on its own

Dr. Murali Venkataraman and Dr. I Raja, Oncologist of Apollo, Chennai, advised me to undergo total androgen blocade. Was given one Lucrin  depot injection once a quarter from November 18,2009. Took one tablet of Calutide 50 daily.

My PSA level, which was already normal, came down below one.Dr. Venkataraman stopped the Lucrin depot injection from November 18,2011. Felt  after two years of injection, it could make my bones fragile. Continued taking Calutide 50.

My PSA level started going up from Feb 11,2012, ( 1.67) and reached 14.28 on November 27,2012

In November,2012, started feeling weak, legs swollen, pain while walking, gasping.

My haemoglobin level was taken in Apollo Main 5.9.

Ultrasound scan in Bharath Scan showed:

“Bladder diffusely thickened measuring 4.8 mm.

“Presence of multiple polypoidal growths noted within the urinary bladder, largest measuring 78 + 50 mm.

“ Significant postvoid residual urine in the bladder vol 205 ml”

“ Volume of prostate is 17 ml.

“It shows altered echo pattern.

“ Evidence of calcification. “

Admitted in Fortis Malar, Chennai, hospital under care of Dr. Pari, Urologist on Dec 3,2012. Cystoscopy , CT scan and biopsy were done. Cystoscopy  conclusion :

 Bladder tumour.

“Prostate fossa—Normal

“Large tumour from anterior wall of bladder 7 cm extending from bladder neck.”

Biopsy conclusion:

“Papillary urothelial neoplasm---high grade.

“Extent of invasion – Lamina propria

“Lymphatic/vascular invasion---Not detected.

“Histological type---Usual.

“Pattern of growth---Nodular.”

The CT scan in Malar Fortis did not indicate any abnormality in liver.

Overall diagnosis of Dr. Pari:

“ CT whole abdomen showed enhancing bladder growth with dilated and thickened perivesial lymphatic.Large hiatus hernia”

On his recommendation underwent 36 doses of radiation in Apollo Cancer Hospital under care of Dr. Ratna Devi, Radiologist, from January 2,2013 to Feb 23,2013.

On her advice, a PET CT scan of the  abdomen was taken in the Apollo Cancer hospital, Chennai, on April 29,2013. Observations:

“Multiple hypodense lesions are seen in both lobes of liver, largest in segment V measures 3.5 + 4.7 cms. No focal lesion seen. Portal vein is normal. Intra hepatic biliary radicals are not dilated.

“Enlarged retroperitoneal, retro crural and bilateral common iliac nodes noted, largest paraaortic node measures 1.9 + 1.4 cms.Ne mesenteric or peritoneal deposits. No ascites.

“Hypodense lesion noted in right adrenal gland measures 2.0 + 0.8 cms.

“ Prostate measures 3.8 + 2.6 + 4.2 cms.No focal lesions.

“ Bladder wall irregularly thickened. The seminal vesicles are normal. No significant pelvic adenopathy.

“Paraoesophageal hiatus hernia noted.

“Multiple subpleural and parenchymal nodules are seen in visualised lung bases.

“Hypermetabolic hepatic, right adrenal, retroperitoneal and bilateral common iliac nodal and marrow metastases.

“ No other demonstrable, significant metabolically active disease in rest of the abdominal and pelvic regions.’

Side-effects of radiation that still continue 10 weeks after radiation was completed:

(a)      Burning sensation while passing urine. Urispass of no benefit,

(b)      Periodic constipation aggravating a long-standing piles complaint.

(c)      Severe flatulence causing discomfort in lower part of abdomen all the time.

(d). Severe & frequent belching. Sucrafil and Domstahl of no benefit

Dr. Sankar Srinivasan, Oncologist, Apollo Cancer Hospital, has been my consultant since May 9,2013.


B.Raman, 11-5-2013. Will be 77 in August.

Friday, May 10, 2013



 There is a need to restrain euphoric expectations from the positive statements on relations with India coming out of some mainstream Pakistani political leaders such as Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML—N).

2.Nawaz Sharif, in particular, has gone out of his way in befriending some of the Indian journalists covering the just-ended Pakistani election campaign and expressing his intention to improve relations with India and hold an enquiry into the Kargil military conflict of 1999, which, according o him, was initiated by Gen.Pervez Musharraf, the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), without his (Nawaz’s) knowledge.

3. Such statements have created unwarranted expectations of better India-Pakistan relations in sections of the Indian media.

4.The assessment in media circles in Pakistan is that the PML (N) may emerge as the largest single party in the elections being held on May 11 followed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) and the united front of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and  the Awami National Party (ANP), which have been viewed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as liberal parties and have been the targets of violent attacks by the TTP to disrupt their poll prospects.

5.Whoever comes out on top in the elections, the period after the elections will see competitive attempts to form a new coalition to rule the country. During the period of the coalition formation, foreign policy, except  the policy towards the Afghan Taliban and on opposition to the US war on global terrorism, particularly the use of the Drone strikes by the US against targets in Pakistani territory, is expected to occupy a low priority.

6.Better relations with India will be a minefield. The sensitivities of the Army and the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations may have to be taken into consideration by the mainstream parties doing well in the elections before they take any major initiative for a policy change in a positive direction. They have to go very slow and keep down their enthusiasm. Better relations with India are, therefore, unlikely to be for tomorrow unless the PML (N)  comes out with an absolute majority of its own.

7.India’s immediate policy interest ought to be not in the prospects for a quick improvement in the bilateral relations , but in the prospects for  better internal stability and better internal security in Pakistan with a genuine control over the activities of the TTP, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and other jihadi organisations.

8. India has had a contentious relationship with Pakistan ever since the two countries became independent in 1947.If this contentious relationship continues for some more years, we can live with it provided the new ruling dispensation in Pakistan shows the courage and foresight to take on the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations and defeat them in the interest of the people of Pakistan and at the same time persuade the Army to co-operate with the civilian leadership in this direction.

9. If and when the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations are removed from the scene, the obstacles in the way of better ties with India will get gradually diluted.  (11-5-13)

( 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. Twitter : @SORBONNE75  )

Tuesday, May 7, 2013



The reported accident at an election meeting in Lahore on May 7,2013, at which Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI),  was injured requiring hospitalisation, has added to the unpredictability of the Pakistani elections being held on May 11.

2.The election campaign has already lost much of its value due to the systematic violent campaign of intimidation and retribution unleashed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) against the three perceived liberal parties ---namely, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), which has resulted in about 100 deaths since the campaign began a month ago.

3.The calculated reluctance of the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif ( PML-N) and the PTI of Imran to condemn the violence partly out of intimidation and partly out of selfish electoral motives of gains has made the elections, which should have marked an important landmark in the coming of age of Pakistani democracy after five years of uninterrupted civilian rule, anything but a genuine exercise in democracy.

4.Public disillusionment with the democratic process is bound to increase. The beneficiaries will be the Army and the religious groups enjoying the patronage of the Army and political forces allied with the Army. The elections might take the country further away from whatever little liberal influence the country has and make the fundamentalist and jihadi forces the continued arbiters of Pakistan’s future.

5.In maintaining silence in the face of the Taliban’s violence, the PML (N) and the PTI have been short-sighted in calculating their electoral gains of questionable value and closing their eyes to the damage being inflicted to the cause of democracy.

6.The PTI may still do well despite the injuries to Imran Khan in the vital closing stages of the campaign. The PPP, the MQM and the ANP may retain their following in their traditional areas of support in Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa (KP) and the Seraiki areas of Southern Punjab, but the injuries sustained by the democratic process in Pakistan will take a long time to heal. The religious fundamentalist and jihadi forces will continue to hold the country to ransom for many more years to come.

7. Instead of presenting a united front to the fundamentalist and jihadi forces determined to keep the country bleeding till the fundamentalist forces succeed in capturing power, the partisan electoral calculations of the non-fundamentalist forces and their inability to unite against these dark forces will ensure that Pakistan remains on the road to darkness despite five years of seeming civilian democracy. (8-5-13)

( 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. Twitter: @SORBONNE75  )

Monday, May 6, 2013





SITE, an Internet monitoring group, has drawn attention to a new web-based jihadi magazine in English called “Azan”.

2.According to SITE, the magazine is believed to have been started by jihadis in Afghanistan and Pakistan and its first web issue appeared on May 5,2013.

3. The English jihadi magazine, which is apparently meant to cater to English-literate Muslims in South Asia, including Afghanistan, is similar to “Inspire”. the English jihadi magazine of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula operating from Yemen, which has a readership among the Muslims of South India. Some Muslims arrested by the Bengaluru police last year were alleged by the Police to have been motivated by the articles carried by “Inspire”

4.It is not yet clear who has started “Azan”. One suspect is the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is the Pakistani Taliban. The other suspect is  Al Qaeda headquarters in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan.

5. An article attacks the Pakistan Army for turning its back on traditional enemy India to fight in the tribal areas. It appeals to young Pakistani soldiers to turn away from the military. “Azan” says it considers the entire Pakistani  state apparatus – from the army to police to intelligence agencies – as the enemy. It also carries an article on the evils of democracy.

6. It appeals to Muslims around the world to come up with technology to hack into or manipulate Drones. It said the Drones were affecting the jihad in the Waziristan area of Pakistan and represented a challenge to the Ummah.

7.It says: “With the death of so many Muslim assets, this is one of the utmost important issues that the Ummah must unite and come up with an answer to. Any opinions, thoughts, ideas and practical implementations to defeat this Drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy.”

8. The magazine carries extracts from past speeches of the late Osama bin Laden and Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Afghan Taliban, and carries articles on the state of the jihad in Syria, Mali and other places. ( 7-5-2013)

( 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. Twitter: @SORBONNE75)













Saturday, May 4, 2013





According to the Xinhua news agency, the Xinjiang authorities have arrested 11 more suspected terrorists in connection with the investigation of a violent incident on April 23,2013, in a town in Kashgar’s Bachu county, 1200 kms south-west of Urumqi, in which 21 persons allegedly  belonging to different communities were killed.

2. Since the clash, 19 arrests have been made by the police from the  Kashgar Prefecture, the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin and  Urumqi.

3. The Xinjiang Police have blamed the clash on a new terrorist group headed by one  Qasim Muhammat, which, according to them, was founded in September 2012.

4. The Police have alleged that since  early December 2012, the members of this group used to   gather at the house of one Muhanmetemin Barat,  to undergo training with the help of video clips.

5. The Police further alleged that in March, they fabricated explosive devices and tested them. The clash occurred when the Police and some members of the local community co-operating with the police tried to arrest them.

6. The World Uighur Congress (WUC) based in Munich and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organisation (UNPO) based in Holland have strongly questioned the police version and called upon the European Parliament to urge an international enquiry into the incident.

7.The Chinese authorities are worried that despite frequent occurrence of violent incidents in different parts of Xinjiang, they have not been able to convince the international community that these incidents are due to terrorism sponsored from outside.

8. In an article contributed to the “Global Times” of the Communist Party of China, an associate research fellow of the Sociology Institute with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences has stated: “The Bachu incident  reflects the severe social conflicts within Xinjiang. In recent years, Xinjiang has achieved substantial progress in terms of economic development, the social insurance system and people's livelihoods. However, the social conflicts in Xinjiang remain complicated.

“While the policies made by local authorities are mainly to improve the economy, they are still inadequate in fully and timely responding to the political demands of ethnic groups. Social conflicts have been accumulating rather than being resolved.

“The Bachu incident has aroused international attention, and external observers mainly cast doubt on whether this violent attack was really terrorism.

“The nature of terrorist attacks in China is not very different with that in Western countries. They are, cruelly and inhumanely, targeted randomly at innocent civilians.

“What's different is that the terrorist attacks in Western countries can be traced to external input, while those in Xinjiang have shown a tendency to come from inside.

“There have been terrorist activities in Xinjiang, but so far there hasn't been enough evidence to show a concrete terrorist organization exists.

“A terrorist organization needs an explicit political doctrine, leading figures and a set of organizational bodies to raise funds, train its staff, purchase arms and support logistics. Judging from this, there is no terrorist organization in Xinjiang.

“The terrorist activities are committed mainly under the influence of terrorist thought and partly because of dissatisfaction with local governments and the Han people.

“In the long run, violent terrorism is likely to take place in Xinjiang again, and a terrorist organization in the real sense may emerge. But terrorism is preventable and its head can be lowered. It depends on whether we conduct solid work.”

9.The PLA’s concerns over the internal security situation in the peripheral regions inhabited by Tibetans and Uighurs were reflected at a meeting convened by the Central Military Commission at Beijing on May 2,2013, to underline the PLA’s role in the economic development and internal stability of China’s soft Western region.

10.According to Xinhua, addressing the meeting, Xu Qiliang, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the military should prioritize improving people's livelihoods and addressing issues that affect their most immediate interests, while participating in the development of western regions.

11.He asked the PLA  to make utmost efforts to maintain border security, enhance solidarity between the military, local governments and the public, as well as to uphold ethnic solidarity.

12.Xinhua has quoted him as saying as follows: “The prosperity, development and stability of western regions are of strategic importance to national security and development. The military should  be fully aware that helping develop the west boosts the military's capacity to carry out diversified tasks.”

13. There are no indications that the meeting might have been triggered by the Indo-Chinese stand-off in Eastern Ladakh, but the PLA’s inability to strengthen internal security in the Tibetan and Uighur areas and signs of continuing anti-Han alienation among the Tibetans and Uighurs is a factor that needs to be continuously monitored and assessed by Indian policy makers.( 5-5-2013)

( 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. Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )



Thursday, May 2, 2013



It is more than two weeks now since a platoon of the PLA of China moved about 19 kms into Indian-claimed territory in Eastern Ladakh which, according to India, is on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) and set up a temporary camp with tents.

2.Media reports suggest that the Chinese action seems to be in retaliation for India strengthening its military-related infrastructure around the Daulat Beg Oldie area within Indian-claimed LOAC.

3. Three flag meetings at the level of local military commanders have not persuaded the Chinese authorities to vacate the Indian territory occupied by them. The Chinese attitude has been deliberately vague and evasive. It is not even clear whether the Chinese are projecting their vacation as a quid pro quo for India suspending its work on its infrastructure.

4. Ever since Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister visited China in 1988 and had a cordial meeting with Deng Xiao-Ping, the two countries have been following a policy of continuing with the border talks while not allowing the lack of progress in it to affect the development of bilateral relations in the political and economic fields. They have also been following a policy of not taking any action that could affect peace and tranquillity across the LOAC.

5. While de jure adhering to the various confidence-building measures agreed to by  the two countries, the Chinese have de facto been trying to change the ground rules in their favour through a series of steps the implications of which were not initially grasped by India.

6. Firstly, they have avoided for over 20 years exchanging maps indicating the LOAC. As a result, they have sought to make where the LOAC lays a matter of conjecture suiting them than settled fact. Secondly, they went back on the understanding reached between our Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and their former Prime Minister Mr. Wen Jiabao that any border adjustments in the Arunachal Pradesh area  (Eastern sector) should not affect populated areas. Thirdly, they unilaterally introduced a drastically reduced measurement of the length of the disputed border in the Ladakh sector in a disguised attempt to pave the way for inducting Pakistan as an interested party in the Western sector at a suitable opportunity. And now, fourthly, they have unilaterally sought to change the perceived, but not yet marked LOAC thereby preparing the ground for increasing their sovereignty claims in this area.

7.While  subtly changing the ground situation in their favour and to the detriment of India, they have fully benefitted economically from the agreement not to let the border dispute affect the relations in the political and economic fields. China has become India’s biggest trading partner with a huge surplus trade balance in its favour. The Chinese manufacturing industry has benefited immensely from its ability to export its goods to the Indian market. India has emerged as the largest market for Chinese construction companies which have won more construction contracts in India than in any other country of the world. The relaxed Indian attitude to security considerations have enabled Chinese telecom companies, some of them owned by retired PLA officers, which have been facing difficulties in the West, particularly the US, having a free run of the Indian market. Indian IT companies have not benefitted to the extent expected from their presence in China.

8. Thus, China has been the beneficiary of the policy followed till now. The time has come to revisit this policy and make it clear to China that unless and until the border dispute is settled to mutual satisfaction,  the relations in other fields cannot improve.

9. The Prime Minister should immediately convene a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss a new strategy with the following components and initiate action for their implementation:

Firstly, all exchanges of visits between the leaders of the two countries, and planned joint military exercises should be postponed till China vacates its occupation of Indian territory.

Secondly, India should go ahead with the strengthening of its infrastructure in its territory in all the sectors.

Thirdly, no new construction contracts should be awarded to Chinese companies till the border issue is settled.

Fourthly, no replacement visas should be issued in respect of on-going construction contracts.

10. Our Army should strengthen its presence in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh to pre-empt the Chinese surprising us there as they have done in Eastern Ladakh. ( 3-5-13)

( 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 Fror China Studies. Twitter @SORBONNE75)