uncategorized

Reality Check: Where Is The ‘56-Inch’ Chest?

India fending off the US on oil imports from Iran and on buying arms from Russia narendra-modiNow that the Modi government has done more than four years and we still do not know as yet whether Modi will succeed in his plan to succeed himself as Prime Minister following the 2019 general election, it is time to draw a balance sheet of India’s ‘Modified’ foreign policy with its emphasis on a “56-inch chest”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) heads of state/government for his inauguration, a gesture that was almost universally praised by the media and the academia with none pointing out that it was an attempt to project himself as the 'new emperor' of South Asia. If the intention was, as advertised assiduously, was to improve relations with the neighbours, the current state of disrepair in relations with Pakistan and Nepal shows that Modi has been floundering. As to do full justice to the theme would require a series of essays, or better still, a book, this article will confine itself to two topics about how India under Modi has dealt with the US. Dealing with the US is, for most countries, the most important part of foreign policy despite the fashionable talk of our living in a multi-polar world. That we live in a financially unipolar world dominated by the US dollar with US imposing sanctions on other states, either through an obedient UN Security Council, or otherwise, is often ignored. The first topic for us is US’ sanctions on Iran, and the second is US sanctions on states entering into ‘significant’ defense deals with Russia in the context of the deal with Russia on S-400 anti-missile system. (more…)

October 24th, 2018 | category:uncategorized |
uncategorized

The Attempted Coup in Turkey: What Next?

Turkey military Coup To the relief of most Turks and of most of the global community, the military coup attempt in Turkey failed miserably. But the coup attempt itself and subsequent events in Turkey raise a number of questions that are of concern to Turks and the well-wishers of that geopolitically important country. While the elected government of President Erdogan deserved to survive, it does not follow that, in that process, democracy in Turkey got strengthened. If the coup had succeeded, Turkey would have entered an unchartered and perilous territory. It now appears that Turkey is being led by Erdogan in a direction that is dangerous for the country. To briefly recall the events in chronological order: When the coup started with rebel military units taking control over the Bosporus Bridge linking Asia and Europe at 10:29 p.m. local time on Friday, 15 July 2016, President Erdogan was holidaying in the beach resort of Mirmaris. The rebels took control of some airports and traffic hubs, bombed the parliament and deployed tanks in front of the palace of the President in Ankara. The rebels got the state television to read out their statement by 11:25 p.m., in which they claimed that they had taken over power and advised the people to remain indoors. Only a few minutes later, it became known that the army chief was under detention. By 11:47 p.m., Erdogan whose whereabouts was unknown, availed of his smart phone to address the people through private TV channels. He told the people that he was in charge and exhorted them to come out into the street and defy the ban imposed by the rebels. The mosques too got active and the faithful were told to be on the street to confront the tanks of the rebels. Hundreds responded, the rebels got cold feet, and many of them were beaten up by the enraged citizens. By 03:20 a.m., Erdogan’s business jet landed at Istanbul airport which had been secured by his supporters. By 04:00 a.m., Erdogan addressed the nation on television. By 06:39 a.m., he addressed a large crowd on the street. And by 06:49 a.m., the rebels guarding the Bosporus Bridge surrendered themselves to the police and the people, marking the collapse of the coup. In short, the coup started to collapse when Erdogan talked to the people through his smart phone and the collapse was completed in practical terms when the rebels surrendered at the Bosporus. (more…)

July 21st, 2016 | category:uncategorized |
speeches, uncategorized

V. K. Krishna Menon Memorial Lecture 2014

krishna_menon14It is indeed a high honor and privilege to be addressing this august audience assembled here to pay homage to Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon whose life and work reminds one of Thomas Carlyle’s dictums:

NO GREAT MAN LIVES IN VAIN...HISTORY OF THE WORLD IS BUT THE BIOGRAPHY OF GREAT MEN.

When Krishna Menon started speaking for India on the world stage, the establishment in the West started a cottage industry of demonizing him.

Some in India obediently joined the demonizing game.

Why did US want to demonize him?

Because, he was seen as ‘dangerously persuasive’

That is what the CIA told MI5.

The MI5 once seriously considered assassinating Krishna Menon when he was High Commissioner in London. Fortunately, the Agency reconsidered the matter.

This is revealed in the book Defence of the Realm, written by Professor Christopher Andrew of the Cambridge University, published in 2009. He was commissioned to write a history of MI5 at the time of its centennial. MI5 was set up in 1909.

Our IB (Intelligence Bureau) was established in 1887.  Did any one think of publishing its history in 1987?

(more…)

June 30th, 2014 | category:speeches, uncategorized |
uncategorized

Chess Game over Crimea

Crimea Russia Ukraine Map
Crimea Russia Ukraine Map
Crimea Russia Ukraine MapRussia has won the chess game. President Putin played well. The other side consisting of the fledgling government in Kiev, President Obama, and the European Union could have played a better game. There was a significant failure on the part of Obama, his advisers such as Ambassador Samantha Power, the European Union, and the rest of the West in understanding the ground realities and grasping the big picture. For example, Obama and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seem to have believed that Russia was not serious about annexing Crimea and that by threatening dire consequences Putin could be made to change his course. Part of the reason for West’s failure lies in their habit of ignoring history. The Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol was established by Prince Potemkin in 1783. This is the only warm water base that Russia has. The 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine divided the fleet between them, 81.7% for Russia and 18.3% for Ukraine; Russia was given the right to use the port of Sevastopol for 20 years. In 2009, Ukraine sent out signals that the treaty would not be extended when it expires in 2017. Finally, an agreement was made in 2010 to extend the treaty by 25 years in 2017 with a provision for an additional 5 years taking it to 2047. (more…)

March 20th, 2014 | category:uncategorized |
uncategorized

Italy Erred in Dealing with Marines Case

“Masters of the art of diplomacy have failed to tackle the Indo-Italian imbroglio, emerging out of the killing of two fishermen of Kerala, in a mature way,” K P Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy and the diplomat-in-residence of KPS Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University has said. “Masters of the art of diplomacy have failed to tackle the Indo-Italian imbroglio, emerging out of the killing of two fishermen of Kerala, in a mature way,” K P Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy and the diplomat-in-residence of KPS Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University has said. He was delivering a special lecture on ‘Indo-Italian Imbroglio’ at the KPS Menon Chair here on Wednesday. Ambassador Fabian said the Italian government has erred in dealing with the marines case right from the day of the incident. (more…)

March 06th, 2014 | category:uncategorized |
book-reviews, uncategorized

Book Review: AN UNCERTAIN GLORY

An Uncertain Glory – India And Its Contradictions by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen Penguin Books, London 433 pages; Rs 503 An Uncertain Glory Tale of inequality An Uncertain Glory is an indictment of the Indian state for failing the poor by not addressing the disparities between the privileged class and the rest despite its stated aim. I found it difficult to put this book down. I read it with a unique mixture of pleasure and pain: pleasure, because the book is a study in lucid writing and public reasoning; pain, on seeing the pathetic picture of the human condition in India that emerged. (more…)

September 12th, 2013 | category:book-reviews, uncategorized |
book-reviews, uncategorized

Book Review: INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY

India's Foreign Policy - Coping with the Changing World by Muchkund Dubey Pearson, New Delhi, 2012 306 pages Foreign policy lessons This book is refreshingly different from what most other retired diplomats have written. There is no sharing of personal experience or boasting of being present on momentous occasions. There is no attempt at esoteric theorising. The author shares with the reader his lucid thoughts on the evolution of India’s foreign policy. He also makes cogent recommendations for action. The title says it all. Is not foreign policy all about how the country copes with the changing world around it and takes care of its interests? The author is much more than a retired diplomat. After retiring in 1991, he was Professor at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University for eight years. He is an economist and is quick to spot the economic considerations behind foreign policy decisions. (more…)

August 15th, 2013 | category:book-reviews, uncategorized |
book-reviews, uncategorized

Book Review: SAMUDRA MANTHAN

Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific By C. Raja Mohan On the United States and the strategic rivalry between India and China in the Indo-Pacific region. samudra-manthan This is an important contribution to strategic literature by an author whose credentials are well known. He invokes ancient mythology to explain what is happening in the Indo-Pacific. “In the Hindu fable of Samudra Manthan, angels and demons churn the ocean in search of an elixir that will give them immortality. Lord Vishnu intervenes at every stage to tilt the long quest in favour of the angels and ensure they emerge victorious in the end. The legend of Samudra Manthan lives again as the United States shapes and is shaped by the rivalry between China and India in the waters of Asia.” (more…)

July 21st, 2013 | category:book-reviews, uncategorized |
international-affairs, politics, uncategorized

DEVELOPMENT, JUSTICE, AND DEMOCRACY: SOME REFLECTIONS

The Indian ParliamentAs I am writing this essay on the Republic Day 2011, naturally my thoughts wended their way to the Constitution of India adopted on January 26, 1950. Till then King George VI was the head of state of India. India’s ambassadors till that day carried their letters of accreditation from the King. On that day, Dr. Rajendra Prasad took over as President. Therefore, January 26, 1950 completed India’s journey to political independence. It is important to realize that what was gained in 1947-50 was only political independence. Economic independence was yet not there. Economic independence implies that all Indians can live with dignity, eat well, be literate, afford to send their children to schools where there are good and competent teachers, have access to good and affordable health care, have an adequate income , and, above all, hold their heads high without fear, and proud of their motherland and its position in the comity of nations. In the first half of the twentieth century India’s per capita income grew at 0.1% annually.  We should note, en passant, that per capita income as such is a misleading indicator of the true state of the majority of the people. Yet, it is historically important to take note of the growth rate of income under the British Raj. (more…)

February 14th, 2011 | category:international-affairs, politics, uncategorized |

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