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US-China Trade War: WINDFALL FOR INDIA!, By Dr. D.K. Giri, 17 May 2019 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 17 May 2019

US-China Trade War

WINDFALL FOR INDIA!

By Dr. D.K. Giri

(Prof. International Politics, JMI)

 

The trade-war between US and China is escalating day by day without a tangible sign of abating. In fact, today, Indian media reports that China has declared a ‘people’s war’ against US trade aggression. The trade-war between two economic super powers will affect the entire world economy, albeit with varying degrees for countries. An UNCTAD study reports differential impact on major economies. How it impacts India is our concern here.

 

There are two prognoses. One, it will result in marginal gains for India. The UNCTAD Report released this February says, out of $300 billion products tariffed by the US, 6% will be covered by American Companies, European Union’s will register $70 billion growth out of increased exports to the US, Japan and Canada by 20%, Vietnam by 5%, Australia by 4.6%, Brazil by 3.8%, India by 3.5% Philippines 3.2% etc.

 

The other prognosis is that the trade war may affect Indian economy negatively, as a competitive Chinese economy is better for it. Because, China has a different trade basket to offer to US which cannot be replaced or compensated by India. China exports manufactured goods, whereas India does raw materials and semi-finished goods. Indian goods include precious metals (diamond), pharmaceuticals, minerals and vehicles to the US. Chinese goods are electronics, machinery, furniture, toys and plastics.

 

India also exports steel and aluminium which have registered impressive growth. As the US, in March last year, imposed 25% duty on steel and 10% on aluminium coming from China, Indian exports grew by 58% to $221 million. An independent Congressional Research Service confirms this, and that production in major aluminium companies, NALCO, Hindalco and Vedanta has increased.

 

Indian media and commentators are advising preparedness by Government of India and suggesting Indian businesses to formulate strategies to tackle the fall-outs of the said trade-war. The alarmists are concerned about the volume of India-US trade which is quite low compared to that of China-US. When US imposed tariffs on India, it has paid $241 million tax to USA on 30 different goods, and got $238 million from US goods on taxes. So it almost balanced out.

 

Furthermore, India is the 9th trade partner of US. In 2018, it exported $83.2 b of goods, and imported $58.9 b. So India’s trade surplus with US was $24.2 b, whereas US is protesting $375 b trade deficit with China in their off-and-on trade negotiations.

 

However, there is a greater silver lining that escapes Indian media and trade observers. That is, apparently, 150 CEOs have expressed an interest to move their manufacturing from China to India. It’s important to strike the iron when it’s hot. Interestingly, Indian political leadership is caught in elections, although just one more week to go. But India’s ‘all powerful’ bureaucracy, the DGF -- Director General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Department of Economic Affairs, Indian trade promotion agencies, a plethora of officials and technocrats should grab this opportunity. If we do not, countries like Vietnam and Thailand are waiting in the wings.

 

After a week or so, when the political leadership is in place, they must jump in and cash on in the ongoing trade war. Most possibly, it’s going to get a lot worse. This is the perfect time for Indian Prime Minister (whoever it may be) to take advantage and strike a good deal with Donald Trump on trade. It’s time to do perhaps an energy deal, together with next generation of technology development addressing the space, which is US vantage area. There are other areas too, buying into oil technology development.

 

By now, we know, Donald Trump is a transactional person and timing is everything with him. He likes big deals and it has to be bold and new. New Delhi can chip in at this stage. Trump or the US will not concede the technological or military superiority to China. Xi Jinping started the trade war too hard and too soon. China may go to WTO, but the record of US-China conflicts there goes heavily in favour of America. They have taken 23 disputes so far, 19 have gone in favour of US and 4 are pending.

 

China, since the founding of the Communist state has had good relations with US, and has reaped huge benefits. Mao Tse Tung staged the ping-pong diplomacy to break the ice in 1971, Nixon supported him in his stand-off against Soviet Union. In 1950s, Mao overreached. He challenged the Soviet Union leadership in international communist movement. Soviets retaliated by pulling out their scientific and technological advisors, and scrapping aid programmes to China, hitting the undeveloped Chinese socialist economy. Mao was perhaps influenced by the Chinese belief of Middle Kingdom’s rightful rule of ‘tian xia’ everything under heavens.

 

History repeats. Xi Jinping did a similar mistake to challenge US supremacy. He by far is the second most powerful leader of China after Mao. Xi assumed power as CPP General Secretary in late 2012 and President of People’s Republic in early 2013. He changed the Constitution last year to enable himself to stay in power for life. Xi came to power when China was high on its so-called economic miracle and rode on an anti-corruption platform that made him instantly popular. He championed and fed the Chinese dream-prosperity, strength and well-being of people.

 

Obviously, Xi has failed to manage the US-China relationship. He has been explicit in challenging the US presence in Asia. It has taken aggressive steps in Taiwan and South China Sea. Chinese battleships have sailed through American water off the coast of Alaska, although China claimed to be exercising internationally recognised ‘innocent passage’. Undoubtedly, the move meant to be a show of force. In the official media, Anti-American, rhetoric became a routine affair.

 

Beijing has two other dubious mechanisms to compete with other countries. It co-opts the members of Chinese diaspora for political infiltration in other countries and high-tech transfer out of them. China calls it ‘thousand and talents plan’. The other is to use its private companies to gather intelligence for the country under their controversial national intelligence law of 2017. For instance, the Chinese flagship company Huawei rewards its employees for IP theft!

 

As the Americans came to know of these tactics, blue-ribbon scholars and ex-officials in US advocated fundamental change in America’s attitude towards China. In fact, they declared China as America’s Enemy No. 1 and the biggest security threat.

 

Apparently, Xi was oblivious of this radical change in American perception when Trump hit them with a Tariff war. US demanded that China reduces and eliminates the trade deficit, provides verifiable measures for IP rights, and greater access to American goods. The Chinese agency Xinhua claimed that US is fighting China of arrogance as China fights for its legitimate rights.

 

Xi has problems that he did not factor in the fight. China has a greying population. The young work force is depleting and even Xi’s two child-policy hasn’t helped, Chinese economy is in debt. So, under negative dynamics of demography and debt, Xi will find it hard to maintain the fight, as Americans will want to push the knife deeper.

 

To sum up, it would be better for the world economy, if both the economies stopped the trade war. As an UNCTAD representative said about the protective tariffs, “it is a gun that recoils on ourselves”. But, it’s easier said than done. The trade war is complicated, mixed up with the race for world supremacy. We keep our fingers crossed, but New Delhi should be alert and alive to promote its own economic interests I mentioned above. --- INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

New Delhi

15 May 2019

 

 

 

Amid Polling & Counting: SUSPENSE PERIOD POLITICS, By Dr S. Saraswathi, 16 May 2019 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 16 May 2019

Amid Polling & Counting

SUSPENSE PERIOD POLITICS

By Dr S. Saraswathi

(Former Director ICSSR, New Delhi)

 

Polling for 2019  Lok Sabha election, in seven phases stretching to 39 days from April 11-May 19 has completed six phases. It is a period of expectations for some parties and contestants and anxiety for all without exception. While voters and non-voters patiently wait for the counting day and political analysts and observers are busy calculating the chances of the candidates, parties are preparing for post-poll alliances.

 

Seven weeks is a long period for polling and it is certainly a tedious job policing the conduct of political parties and candidates. The vigour of mutual attacks is growing from phase to phase. Several agencies are conducting exit polls but cannot release the findings until all phases of polling are completed.

 

Parties are making their own assessments of polling trends and change their canvassing strategies and post-poll politics. In the meantime, leaders have a common tendency of visualising their own victory to draw voters in the last phase and prepare for post-counting operations.

 

2019 is witnessing by far the most bitter election battle, which instead of subsiding after polling started intensified further. Issues and promises are changing from place to place and along with them the strategies of attacking one another.

 

The Election Commission is presently the most sought after constitutional body to resolve the grievances of parties and candidates. The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is the principal target of attack of the current Opposition parties suspecting and voicing possibilities of manipulation. It is partly preparatory to seeking refuge under the cover of faulty machines in case of failure.

 

Nirvachan Sadan is flooded with complaints of violations of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) never seen before. Derogatory and provocative remarks and lies and distortions in campaign speeches have become common.

 

The EC in this election is cornered for both action and inaction. Recall, on April 15, a Supreme Court bench headed by the CJI had pulled it up for not acting against “hate speeches and statements on religious lines.” After this, the EC took some action against top leaders of the Congress, the BJP and even scrutinised PM’s speeches for violation of MCC. It also blocked the release of the film “PM Narendra Modi” during the election period.

 

Post-poll alliance is the hot topic among many parties looking forward to a hung Parliament and a coalition government. TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, presently sticking to the theme of post-poll alliance to keep the BJP out of power, forecasts only three possibilities --  grouping under Congress leadership; forming a non-Congress, non-BJP grouping with “outside support of Congress” called Third Front; or forming non-BJP alliance inclusive of the Congress. A meeting of Opposition parties on completion of polling to exchange ideas on government formation, including choice of PM is now postponed to take place after announcement of results.

 

To the TDP, the period between polling and counting is a time for bringing together as many non-BJP parties as possible to form and/or help to form a non-BJP government. For some parties, it will mean reconciliation with a rival after a bitter election fight -- a move justified as a “democratic and secular compulsion”. A front of non-Congress and non-BJP parties, i.e. the Third Front of TRS does not appeal to TDP. Replacing Prime Minister Modi is the principal objective of TDP leader.

 

TRS chief KCR, who was keen on a federal front from the beginning of alliance talks in March last year and is hopeful of winning all the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, has resumed the dialogue after four phases of polling. Having opted for State Assembly election before the end of its term and winning again with massive mandate, defeating both the Congress and BJP, he is optimistic of a major role for regional parties in forming the government at the Centre. In the hope of pushing both national parties – the BJP and Congress – to be at the mercy of regional parties to build majority, he has taken initiative to convert other regional parties to his line of thinking.

 

KCR has already met Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan, had a telephonic conversation with Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, and has met DMK chief Stalin, also who does not support Third Front idea.

 

However, the desirability of re-enacting 1996 experiment in 2019 needs to be carefully examined by the potential allies. Politics must be played for national interest and not for party or private benefits. Parties are also readying excuses for bad performance and have picked on the EVM, which is already at the centre of controversy with the Congress leading the Opposition attack on lack of tamper-proof machines.

 

Recall, in February, the Opposition sought 50 per cent random verification of EVMs with Voter Verification Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) slips. The EC objected as this would extend the counting process and delay the results.

 

In an unprecedented move, 21 non-NDA leaders led by AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu moved the Supreme Court nearly a month before the commencement of polling seeking a direction to the EC to count VVPAT slips of at least 50% of EVMs in the General election, i.e. 125 polling booths in every constituency. The signatories to the petition included leaders from NCP, Congress, TMC, LJD, SP, BSP, DMK, CPM, CPI, RJD, AAP, NC, JDS, RLD, AIUDF, HAM, JVM, IUML, NPF, and TJS. Though they have many differences amongst them preventing pre-poll alliances, they are one in blaming the EVMs for their losses in any place.

 

They challenged the EC’s guidelines which make it mandatory for counting of VVPATs from only one random polling station per Assembly constituency, which meant less than 0.44 per cent of EVMs in the country.  So on April 22, the Opposition parties filed a review petition seeking at least “33% or 25%” VVPAT verification, if not 50%. The review plea contended that “Indian democracy could not be left to the mercy of EVM programmers”. It also complained of “large-scale tampering and elective malfunctioning of EVMs in the Lok Sabha polls so far”.

 

The apex Court dismissed the plea to review its judgement rejecting 50 per cent physical verification of EVMs using VVPATs. The court directed the EC to increase physical counting of VVPAT slips to five random EVMs in each Assembly segment/constituency.

 

Following the dismissal of the review petition, a delegation of Opposition parties met the EC seeking “transparency” in its functioning in order to ensure ‘free and fair’ election. It was also explained that the review petition was filed “to underline a grave and serious threat to democracy”. Affirming that they would abide by the Supreme Court’s decision, the delegation expressed its intention of carrying on an all-India campaign “to make the electorate and the citizens aware of the perils and pitfalls of the current electoral process” thus choosing to lead the nation towards a backward progress in the election system. Several complaints of malfunctioning of the EVM-VVPAT machines are also being reported.

 

As the suspense period politics between polling and counting is getting more and more murky, we have to shorten the period since politics cannot be cleansed. ---INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

New Delhi

14 May 2019

   

 

 

2019 Alarming Trends: ARE ELECTIONS A FARCE?, By Dhurjati Mukherjee, 15 May 2019 Print E-mail

Events & Issues

New Delhi, 15 May 2019

2019 Alarming Trends

ARE ELECTIONS A FARCE?

By Dhurjati Mukherjee

 

Elections are almost nearing completion in the world’s largest democracy. But the developments leading to these elections point to the fact that muscle power, violence and abuse not of party policies but also of individuals have been manifest in most parts of the country. Special mention may be made of West Bengal, where violence has been manifest in each of the 42 Lok Sabha seats and musclemen of the party in power in the State has largely been blamed for the terror unleashed wantonly.

 

The other significant factor that marked the elections has been the abusive language used by the leaders of the major political parties. In no previous elections has such attacks and counter attacks been evident. It is indeed shocking that leaders could stoop so low as to criticise their opponents in such manner in a country like India, where leaders have claimed that its civilisation and culture has been among the best in the world.

 

Their clamour for such remarks has been so sickening that educated people are steadily losing faith in their capability to take responsibility for governing a state in a judicious manner. Issues where leaders cannot claim credit or which are beyond their purview are being aired time and again. The credit for the military or the ISRO performance rests largely with their capability and acumen and political leaders really have no hand in this.

 

In a diverse country with people from different castes, creeds, religious affinities live and work, the political parties have been trying to create a wedge in social relations. Reports suggest that minorities are attacked by one party, while the other criticises other parties by taking credit for giving special preference to them. In fact, religious issues have been frequently used by leaders to defame one another.

 

On the financial front, parties do not have any limit on how much they can receive in total; or from any single donor. Though candidates have a stipulated limit on how much they can spend, in reality the expenditure is much more. Now with the introduction of electoral bonds, even foreign governments can and are making donations to political parties. It is indeed a tragedy that money power is the essence in fighting elections and this is well known to the Election Commission.

                   

It is no secret that politicians need financial support from corporate houses which turns out to be a quid pro quo. Obviously, businesses require politicians to get the legitimacy of the policies they prefer, most of which serve their own interests and are anti-poor and therefore are willingly ready to oblige at the time of elections with support in cash or kind.   

 

All this has been happening when the nation is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who had all his life talked of communal harmony and unity of different religions. For him, God represented a supreme being manifested in truth and morality. It can very well be said that these values have been eroded in recent times with religious fundamentalism holding sway which political leaders are merrily encashing for petty electoral gains. Indeed, a sorry state of affairs.

 

The trends obviously reveal that our leaders have little idea about the problems plaguing the country due to wrong policies pursued by subsequent governments. At the very outset while morality has been lacking in governance matters, the lack of effective decentralisation and giving power to the people are basic reasons for such pitiable conditions prevailing across the country. Also the neglect of minorities and tribals has also been a major cause for concern, resulting in lop-sided development.

 

The moot point is that the role of the Election Commission needs to be questioned viz the conduct of free and fair elections. Though a section, like the Opposition, may openly accuse it of  favouring the party in power, which is debatable, it is a fact that Nirvachan Sadan has failed to regulate the political leaders as far as their utterances and conduct are concerned and strictly upholding the Model Code of Conduct. An opinion gaining ground is that it could have played a more effective role in ensuring that candidates, of whichever party, don’t cross limits.

 

The values that we cherish and we want the young generation to follow have been missing during the campaigns. Moreover, some utterances are also said to go against the rules and regulations outlined by the Commission. But it has failed to take stern action and let off candidates by barring them for two to three days from canvassing, which many see as ineffective action, wherein some end up repeating their utterances.                    

 

Political analysts are of the firm opinion, and quite rightly, that political parties do not really want an improvement to take place. The quest for power and money, very much against Gandhian ideals, is provoking many a politician to win the election by hook or by crook. It appears there is actually no desire by most political leaders to adhere to democratic ideals, whereby giving the people a choice to vote for the right candidate based on his integrity, policies and morality.

 

If the present trend continues, it is feared the social structure could face a serious challenge. Similarly, inequality would further widen with the rich becoming richer and the poor stagnant in their incomes. Though corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been introduced, this happens to be a far cry from Gandhi’s theory of trusteeship. Way back in 1947, one may recall his momentous observation: “Today there is gross inequality. The basis of socialism is economic equality. There is no Ram Rajya in the present state of iniquitous inequalities in which a few toll in riches and the masses do not get enough to eat”.

 

The future looks quite bleak as the political parties are desperate to retain or gain power. And to achieve this objective, all values will be sacrificed and money power would hold sway. The Commission has failed in its onerous task and, with the passing of times, things would deteriorate further and society’s intrinsic structure would crumble.  The question that arises before us obviously is whether we can expect most of those elected to ensure proper governance and welfare for the masses, given the means they adopt to come to power? --- INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

New Delhi

13 May 2019

 

Insult Now Asset: MORE RANCID THE BETTER!, By Poonam I Kaushish, 14 May 2019 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 14 May 2019

Insult Now Asset

MORE RANCID THE BETTER!

By Poonam I Kaushish

 

Rajnetik virodhi ya jaani dushman? A question that niggles as the narrative hits a new low with highly vitriolic and acerbic mud-slinging down to gutter-sniping slug-fest between the BJP, Congress and regional Parties over the last few weeks. Which underscores that slander, sleaze, sensation, smear, sully and smirch are the new political dialogues.Serenaded by frenzied audiences’ seetees galore. More vulgar the better, dil maange more!

 

Certainly, the audacious bare-all below-the-belt attack by Modi on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi might not seem behoving of him as one does not speak ill of the dead. Said he: “Rajiv Gandhi may have been declared Mr Clean by his courtiers but he died as “Bhrashtachari No.1. I challenge Congress to fight the polls in his name.” Adding, “Rajiv used the Indian Navy’s premier warship INS Virat as his personal taxi for a family holiday along-with his Italian in-laws and friends and did it with great swag.”

 

Needless to say, it had the Congress frothing and led Rajiv’s progenies to lash out. Beti Priyanka, compared Modi with Mahabharata character ahankari Duryodhana and said, ego and arrogance are two things that are common to both….I have not seen a more coward and weaker Prime Minister”, while beta Rahul dubbed him a rioter and grandiosely responded with a hug. Even as NaMo justified it by asserting “For over a month you have been giving me, my mother and family galis, we have the ability to pay back in the same coin”.

 

True, one can fault Modi for his harsh language, innuendoes, call it too blunt for the political palate and even dismiss it as being brash. Some might shrug it off as part and parcel of political discourse. But the fact is that he alone is not to blame as his intemperate language is no different from what other netas have perfected down the years.

 

Look at Trinamool’s Mamata who averred, “When Modi comes to Bengal and says that I am a top extortionist, I wish to give him one tight slap of democracy." If this was not bad enough she went a step further, “he is a liar …. A person drenched in blood….I will ask him to do 100 sit-ups if corruption charges against my Party are proven wrong.” Countered NaMo, “I advise Didi give a tight slap to some of your Party leaders who stole people’s money in the chit fund scam.”

 

The barbs got uglier when Modi talked about ‘Trinamool’s Tolabaazi (organized extortion racket) Tax’ enforced by Bhua Mamata and her bhatija. Shot back Didi, “Woh ek badtameez nalayak beta hai who does not care for his mother and wife.”  Worse, was RJD’s Rabri Devi who called Modi “A jallad (executioner) with a ‘khoonkhar maansikta” (vicious mindset). Sic.

 

It got more rancid as days went by. A Congress Minister called Modi a “Gandi naali ka keeda aur Ganguteli,” another leader, “Woh ek paagal kutta hai aur Bhasmasur hai…. rabies bimari se peedit bandar hai, rajnitik Dawood Ibrahim hai.” From Hitler, chooha, lahu purush,  asatya ka saudagar, Raavan, saanp, bichoo, ganda aadmi zeher bone vaala” The BJP got a shot at countering this when Rahul’s Guru Sam Pitroda flippantly dismissed the 1984 Sikh genocide as “hua toh hua,” by accusing the Party as khooni.

 

More. Titillating voters has become common whereby anything and everything is game. For the BJP, “Muslims can be identified by removing their clothes (reference to circumcision) to  Samajwadi’s “Jaya Prada wears a khaki (RSS colour) underwear,” and insinuation linking Modi and Mayawati’s single status to a post-poll alliance between the BJP and BSP. “Woh teen baar Modi ki godh mein bathe chukeyi hai” while NCP’s Pawar dubs Modi as “deranged who needs treatment in a mental hospital”.

 

Alas, none want to address critical questions: Why are politicians’ discourses becoming more and more venomous and toxic? Can such language and conduct be condoned? In Delhi the BJP stands accused of calling AAP’s Kejriwal “a dog” and its woman candidate “a prostitute” alongside casteist slurs.

 

Frankly, I am neither surprised as our netagan are only showing their girgit true colours throwing all public decency and decorum to the winds! Gone are the days when jibes and trolls were funny or sarcastic and netas took them in their strides.

 

Today, the lines between an opponent and an enemy have got blurred wherein trash talk and brazen innuendoes seem to be the flavour of the season. Dumping basic courtesies and decencies all take venomous delight in reveling in their baser characteristics swaying to the heady tinkle of cheap thrills and seetees. Wherein gutter-sniping, sordid and spiteful tu-tu-mein-mein between opponents and Parties is the order of the day. Of dirty linen being washed in public, more vulgar the better.

 

Thereby, underscoring the bankruptcy that is manifest in our system wherein netas have perfected the art of cultivating low morality and high greed according to their whims and fancies made more malignant by our fragmented politics. Resulting in immorality becoming a way of life, what damn difference does one more slanderous attack make?

 

Sadly, through this entire diatribe one thing emerges crystal clear: the political skullduggery indulged in mirrors the harsh and horrendous reality of our polity. Where there is no dividing line between statecraft and witchcraft, what is correct and incorrect. Never before has politics denigrated to the sewer level as it has today.

 

In this slugfest of personal insults and character assassinations against rivals along-with a euphemism “I am right,” the BJP vs rest tu-tu-mein-mein is a harsh reflection on the depth of political depravation we have come to. A nouvelle vote-catching mantra in the hope that this cesspit sniping would bring them tripti--- and power. None cares a damn for decency and decorum except for scoring brownie points against each other. Ends matter not the means and winning is the name of the game.

 

Consequently, thanks to our polity’s wind-bagging the very idea of democracy has been vitiated. Add to it the peoples’ distaste for vulgarity, gender insensitivity, sexist thinking and speeches spewing hatred.

 

What next? Clearly, it is time that our politicians realize that they are putting a premium on insult. How long will they allow profligacy be the bedrock of India’s democracy? Undeniably, our leaders need to tone down divisive and personal attacks, engage each other on issues affecting the people and nation and not personalities, put electioneering back on the rails of dignified debate and adopt a zero-tolerance stand on offensive language.

 

The aim should be to raise the bar on public discourse, not lower it any more than has been done. And those who reduce the level of discourse to such depths only do so at the cost of exposing their lack of civility to the electorate and the nation at large.

 

Our leaders should remember one age-old truth: If you point one slanderous finger at another, four other slanderous fingers will point back at you! How long do we suffer the stampede for sensation and slur? Can a nation be bare and bereft of all sense of shame and morality? ---- INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

New Delhi,

11 May 2019

 

 

Masood Azhar Episode: TRIUMPH OF INDIAN DIPLOMACY, By Dr. D.K. Giri, 10 May, 2019 Print E-mail

Round The World

New Delhi, 10 May 2019

Masood Azhar Episode

TRIUMPH OF INDIAN DIPLOMACY

By Dr. D.K. Giri

(Prof. International Politics, JMI)

 

After 10 years of diplomatic endeavours by India, lately backed by France, UK and USA, Massod Azhar, the Jaise-e-Mohammad Chief was declared on 1st May by UNSC as a global terrorist. After JeM claimed they masterminded the 26 February Pulwama attack on our security personnel killing 50 of them, the three powerful permanent members of Security Council pressed for declaring him a global terrorist under 1267 Sanctions Committee. They diplomatically clobbered China to lift the technical hold on the proposal to the Committee. Remember, Beijing had vetoed the proposal to list Azhar as international terrorist and had put a technical hold on 1267 Committee proposal.

 

Notably, US threatened to move a resolution in UNSC, should the technical hold not be lifted by China. If a resolution was moved in UNSC, and if China were to veto it again, it would have been seen as supporting terrorism. This would have been detrimental to China’s insatiate ambition of being a global power. Besides, China is in throes of trade war with USA, and the vibes are, it is losing out to the latter. China took on the US too soon in haste to secure global dominance. Apparently, Xi Jinping did not realise that China was not yet ready for a trade war with America. He overshot. Anyway, this is topic for another discussion.

 

What does this declaration mean for the terrorist, Pakistan, India, and China, the main stakeholders in South Asian Security? For Masood Azhar, the terrorist, it would mean three things: his assets would be frozen immediately. He would be divested of all the bank accounts where he was perhaps receiving donations for sponsoring terror attacks. Second, there will be a travel ban imposed on him. His movements will be restricted, and monitored; he would be kept under house arrest. Third, there will be an arms embargo, which means he cannot acquire or supply arms to any terrorist outfits or groups. These conditions reflect the resolution that designated Azhar as global terrorist-- “Azhar is participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating acts or activities of terrorism, or supplying, selling or transferring arms or related material for the same.”

 

What does it mean for India? It is certainly a diplomatic victory of sorts. Some would say that it is symbolic as Azhar has reached the expiry date for Pakistan. He is ill and ineffective. But, as Syed Akbaruddin, India’s permanent representative to the UN said, “This is for us a significant outcome as we have been at it for years.” France, which is a go-to country for India in UN, replacing Russia, said, “It is a successful realisation of its (France’s) efforts for several years.” It should also be noted that France is advocating for permanent membership in the UNSC of India, Brazil and Japan.

 

India could claim the victory as it successfully mobilised three big powers and had the support of 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council. It also got support of UNSC’s current Chair, Indonesia, represented by Transyan Djani, who was supported for the post by India in 2018. He pushed for a decision by 1st May, as others had given Beijing a deadline of 23rd April to lift the hold or US would move a separate resolution by bypassing 1267 committee. China capitulated under pressure, although supposedly it managed some face-saving by dropping reference to Pulwama attack and so on.

 

The 1267 Committee decision would cast a shadow on Pakistan, which will come under increased scrutiny by the world as a haven for terrorists. Pakistan, expectedly, sought to play down the 1267 Committee decision as it claimed to have taken several actions against Azhar. This is a hoax. At any rate, the spotlight will now turn towards 138-odd UN listed terrorist sheltered in Pakistan. Further, the Financial Action Task Force, which monitors terrorist funding, will blacklist Pakistan, having been put in the grey list before. Pakistan will suffer heavily despite China’s calculated benevolence, as international funding will stop.

 

The third player in Azhar episode, China’s international credibility has nose-dived. It was seen supporting a wrong cause, even if it wanted to play Pakistan against India. Beijing has been plotting to hold India back, so that the latter does not ever question China’s hegemony in Asia or elsewhere.

 

The US played a significant role too. It wants to have India on its side, keep China on its toes. It wants India to help counter Chinese ambition to emerge as a super-power and challenge American supremacy. It took the initiative in moving a resolution after the Pulwama attack, which read: “The Security Council condemns the Pulwama attack and asks all States to cooperate with India and counter threats to international peace.” The US was adamant in putting 23rd April deadline. The 1st May episode has also confirmed that it is still the reigning super-power, and China has a long way to go.

 

In March this year, at the behest of the US, P-3 of UNSC had moved the proposal in 1267 Sanctions Committee, which was created in 1999 to impose sanctions on Al Qaida. The Committee comprises 15 members including P-5 of the Security Council, and takes decisions on the basis of a consensus. Any member can put a hold for seeking more time or greater clarification, information etc. Invoking this procedure, Beijing has been blocking the decision. The hold can last up to six months.

 

What next for India’s diplomacy vis-a-vis China-Pak axis in South Asia? New Delhi has so far been targeting Pakistan. Even in the current Lok Sabha elections, anti-Pakistan rhetoric is the staple diet in the campaign of the ruling BJP. It is easier to build a nationalism narrative by declaring Pakistan as enemy number one. But, is that really the case? As I have argued in this column, it is China, not Pakistan that New Delhi should make the reference point in its foreign policy.

 

New Delhi must realise in its bones that by blocking our move for 10 long years to nail Masson Azhar in UNSC, China has demonstrated its unholy alignment with Pakistan, and that India is not its friend. Second, China has all kinds of fantastic claims on India’s territories, like it has with several other countries. The Azhar episode also has demonstrated that New Delhi will have the support of many other countries that are wary of China’s model of politics -- authoritarian, ambitious and aggrandising.

 

The move to clinch it in the Sanctions Committee was also hastened by the gruesome terror attacks in Sri Lanka. I have argued that New Delhi should have actively engaged with Sri Lanka in handling the aftermath of the attack. If India is leading in advocacy against terrorism in the world, it must fight against it in its neighbourhood.  On the other hand, China seen on the side of terrorists would alienate countries including India, which it is wooing. As some observes apprehend, if here is any quid pro quo between India and China, we will know after 23rd May when a new government will be in place.

 

Leaving those conjectures aside, the world wants India to replace China in Asia as the major power. It gave India the chance in 1950s which India scuppered. Will India be able to grab this opportunity now?---INFA

 

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

 

 

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