rediff published this with some fairly significant edits at http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/dec/08mumterror-are-we-heading-to-being-a-failed-state.htm — to some extent the piece was rendered toothless — and so here is the original copy I sent them.

Towards a failed State – Ghori, Jaichand and friends redux

Rajeev Srinivasan on the attack on Mumbai

The invasion of Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists – and undoubtedly local collaborators – is but a replay of times past: the periodic and predictable arrival of barbarians over the Khyber Pass, laying waste to the countryside, and wreaking untold damage on a long-suffering populace. The only crime that the average Indian committed was to focus on the creation of wealth; of course, the barbarians came because of the wealth. Today, once again, India is generating capital, and the intention is to thwart its economic rise.

Then, as now, the rulers failed the populace. There is an implicit contract between the rulers and the ruled: you pay the taxes, obey the rules, and we ensure that your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are unhindered. India’s ruling class failed signally to honor this contract – they never did figure out that the simple expedient of defending the Khyber and Bolan passes would be enough to save the plains, because Nature had been kind enough to build the impregnable Himalayas all around India.

I have never got a satisfactory answer to the question as to why we didn’t build the Great Wall of India. The Chinese built a 1,500-mile wall; Indians could surely have built a 15-mile wall and kept the marauders out. But there was clearly a failure in leadership and in strategic thinking. Time after time, the barbarians would pour in through the passes, march to Panipat or Tarain, and there, in a desperate last-ditch battle, the Indians would lose, again and again. The result: disaster.

Furthermore, there were traitors in-house, too. They would collude with the invaders to the detriment of their fellow-Indians. Jaichand, during the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, turned the tide of the battle by allying with Mahmud of Ghori against Prithviraj Chauhan, with the result that Northern India suffered 700 years of Mohammedan tyranny – it was a clear tipping point. Or take the battle of Talikota that ended the magnificient Vijayanagar empire: it was their own troops that betrayed them.

Fast forward to today. India is under withering attack on all fronts. To the east, there is the demographic invasion by Bangladeshis, including unhindered infiltration by terrorist elements. The entire Northeast is in danger of secession, given both the narrow and hard-to-defend Chicken’s Neck that connects the area to the Gangetic plain, as well as the Christian fundamentalism and terrorism that is on the verge of turning into a move to secede on religious and ethnic grounds, a la East Timor.

The northern frontier is restive, with Nepal, a former ally and buffer state transformed into hostile territory, with its porous borders turned into a way of infiltrating Mohammedan terrorists and Communist terrorists into India, with the declared intent of capturing the “Pasupati-to-Tirupati corridor”, in other words, most of the eastern half of the country.

China is making increasingly belligerent noises about Tawang and all of Arunachal Pradesh. They are gambling that, despite the summit that just took place in Dharmasala, the steam has gone out of the Tibetan resistance movement. They have been emboldened by the fact that Tibetans were not able to disrupt the Olympics, and the more immediate betrayal by the British (International Herald Tribune, “Did Britain Just Sell Tibet?” http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/25/opinion/edbarnet.php) , who declared, contrary to all the historical evidence, that Tibet was always a part of China. Besides, the Chinese fully intend to move forward with the diversion of the Brahmaputra, which is in effect a declaration of war against the lower riparian State, India.

It is likely that the Chinese will march into Tawang – there is a lot of chatter in Chinese circles (see, an analysis by D S Rajan at the Chennai Center for China Studies http://www.c3sindia.org/strategicissues/419) about a “limited India-China war”, a replay of 1962. The Chinese have, in addition to pure geopolitics, another reason to do this, as was pointed out by strategy expert Brahma Chellaney – as in the years preceding 1962, the world is now once again hyphenating India and China. By handing India a sharp conventional military defeat, China would like that hyphenation to be removed decisively, as it surely would be. India will once again be seen as the loser it has been during the entire 1947-2000 period.

In the Northwest, Kashmir burns. The population clearly views India as a colony – they want Indian money, but they are not willing to make the slightest concessions to Hindu sentiments. It is very convenient for them to have the cake and eat it too – there is the little-known fact that J&K has practically nobody under the poverty line (2% and falling), as compared to the average of some 20% in the country as a whole. Kashmiris have prospered mightily despite – or is it because of? – the brutal ethnic cleansing of 400,000 Pundits now languishing in refugee camps.

In the traditionally quiet Peninsula, there is evidence of tremendous terrorist activity. In Kerala, it has been reported widely in the Malayalam media that 300 youths have been hired, trained and dispatched to Kashmir with explicit instructions – kill Indian soldiers and support Pakistani intrusions. Terrorism is just another job. Sleeper cells exist in every town, sometimes in the guise of “Kashmiri emporia”. The Konkan and Malabar coasts are dotted with safe harbors, where weapons, counterfeit currency and contraband are cached. The preferred mechanism – bomb blasts to inflict maximum damage. Logistics, safe houses, surveillance, forged documents, etc. are provided by a wide network.

In the tribal lands of central India, the Northeast and in Orissa, Christian terrorists are joining hands with Communist terrorists. In fact they often are one and the same, as confessed by an alleged Communist leader on TV. Their preferred weapon – liquidation of inconvenient people, as they did in the case of Swami Lakshmananda, the 84-year-old monk that they attacked with AK-47s.

The fact is that all these threats are overwhelming the security apparatus in the country, such as it is. It is quite likely that the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing and the Anti-Terrorism Squad had some inkling of something big being planned, including the movement of small arms on the Ratnagiri coastline, and the logistics-related activities of known suspects. It is unclear why they didn’t take preventive action.

There is a terrifying possibility – that they in fact had no idea this was going on. There is an aphorism that you cannot stop all terrorist activity, but in India the situation is such that no terrorist activity is stopped – they strike at will, and the populace is left to pick up the pieces of broken lives. This is no way to run a country.

The frightening possibility is that the Jaichands have in fact taken over the State. In which case, we can anticipate the total dismemberment of India – possibly preceded by an interregnum where it is failed State – in the near future.

There is one other possibility – that the Army will have to take over. It is a remote possibility, for two reasons – the Indian Army has been determinedly apolitical; and the State has continually striven to weaken it. Someone once made the ridiculous statement that India really didn’t need an army, only a police force, and it appears the entire political class and bureaucracy have internalized this slogan.

See also http://in.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/19rajeev.htm

From 1962 – as always, on November 18th I silently saluted the martyrs of the Battle of Rezang-La, where C Company, 13th Kumaon died heroically to the last man – when the ill-equipped troops froze to death on the Himalayan heights, to the refusal to increase military salaries when the bureaucrats awarded themselves 300% increases recently, the State has told the military that it doesn’t value them. All the Services are starved of funds. The recent open attack on Lt. Col. Purohit is another signal that the State despises the military . As Ashok Malik pointed out in the Pioneer (“A Hindu Dreyfus Affair?” http://www.dailypioneer.com/135567/A-Hindu-Dreyfus-Affair.html ), this is a near-repeat of the celebrated Dreyfus case in France, and alas, we have no Emile Zola to cry “J’accuse!” .

See also http://indiaabroad.com/news/1998/jul/23rajeev.htm

One possible outcome is that the Indian military forces will gradually wither away and die, thus making the statement about India not needing an army a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is another possibility – that of a military coup d’etat. Normally, the prospect of a military takeover – given that they all end up badly – from a democracy is not something one would welcome. But then India is not a democracy – it is a kakistocracy, rule by the very worst possible people – which has the trappings of a democracy but not the substance, so I wonder if military rule could possibly be any worse.

But the chances are getting increasingly good that the Indian State will collapse, just like Pakistan already has. A recent risk assessment by the World Economic Forum and CII (“India@Risk 2008”) considers the economic, energy, food/agriculture and national security that face India. The report is more concerned about the first three items, assuming that India is secure enough as a nation.

I hope they are right, but this invasion of Mumbai – so daring and audacious – makes me wonder. I have considered a nightmare scenario of Chinese battleships arriving in triumph at the Gateway of India, to be welcomed with marigold garlands by the Jaichands, but I have to admit I never thought a motley crew of Pakistani terrorists would invade. The very future of the Indian State, suddenly, is in question. And it is mostly from self-inflicted, avoidable wounds. The failure of leadership is causing India to cease to exist.

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Nomenclature terrorism

November 2, 2008

Nomenclature terrorism

Rajeev Srinivasan on the fuss about “Hindu terrorists”

The recent fuss about alleged “Hindu terrorists” has entertained me hugely because all the usual suspects played their expected roles to perfection. The pseudo-secular media had a field day insinuating that Hindu terrorism is as major a problem in India as is Mohammedan and Christist terrorism. The UPA forgot its axiom that “terrorism has no religion”, and joyously crowed about “Hindu terrorists”. The BJP was apoplectic in its attempts to distance itself from the alleged “Hindu terrorists”.

Meanwhile, some actual – not imagined — terrorism activity has been going on in Kerala, where at least 300 people have been recruited by Mohammedan fundamentalists to wage war on the Indian State. Newspaper reports suggest that at least 96 young men from Kerala, who were given military training by SIMI, are at large. 16 of them are in Kashmir, the others in Bangalore or Kerala, according to Intelligence Bureau reports. Apparently there are special instructions in Malayalam in SIMI jungle camps held all over the country, for the poor dears are not so proficient in Urdu/Arabic.

These young men were dispatched to Kashmir with simple instructions: kill Indian soldiers and facilitate infiltration by the Pakistanis. Terrorism has now become just a job. So much so that so-called “spiritual advisers” (“paymaster” may be a more accurate designation) are out there recruiting known gangsters, converting them and sending them off to Kashmir. A particular gang of Christist criminals in Cochin has apparently supplied several converts who made the trek to Kashmir: including one Verghese aka Yasin who took a bullet in his head from the Indian Army and had to be identified from his fingerprints.

All this is ironic: Kerala has long been a supplier of manpower and womanpower – first it was the clerks and petty shopkeepers all over India, as well as a lot of soldiers; then it has been nurses, next construction labor and professionals for the Persian Gulf and America, and most recently, Christist padres and nuns for the conversion industry and as gastarbeiter for the shrinking seminaries of Europe.

I guess it is but a small step to terrorism as a profession. As Adi Sankara said in a slightly different context some centuries ago, “udara nimittam bahu krta vesham” (one wears various roles to satisfy that despotic stomach). It is said that in parts of Malabar, the UAE dirham, the Saudi riyal, and the US dollar are almost as much legal tender as the Indian rupee: there is so much of that stuff floating around. Not to speak of absolutely authentic-looking Pakistani-made Indian rupee notes. A while ago, an entire ocean-going container full of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 counterfeit notes – from Pakistan with love via Dubai – was intercepted in Kerala. That is a boatload of money, indeed.

And then there’s the news about serial blasts in Manipur and – as I write this – in Assam, that have killed large numbers of innocent people. There are all the other blasts – there have been so many we begin to lose count – in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, etc. etc. etc. – where the perpetrators unambiguously let it be known that they were Mohammedans inflamed by religious fundamentalism and jihad.

Christist terrorists have been running rampant in the Northeast for some time: their modus operandi is a little different – they prefer the AK-47 and they generally target specific individuals. They have ethnically-cleansed 45,000 Reang tribals from Mizoram for refusing to convert; they shot respected litterateur and patriot, Bineshwar Brahma in Guwahati; they shot Hindu priest Shanti Tripura in his own temple; and most recently, they shot Swami Lakshmananda in Orissa (let’s not kid around about this: even the alleged Communist terrorist who was trotted out, suitably incognito, on TV to exonerate Christists admitted that most of his flock were Christists).

Not to mention that almost the entire top echelon of the dreaded Tamil Tigers are Christists, and the non-Christists mysteriously suffer “accidents” or are captured by the Sri Lankan Army or “commit suicide”. Velupillai Prabhakaran, Anton Balasingham, et al are all Christists. So was Dhanu, the suicide bomber who blew up Rajiv Nehru Gandhi. There is reason to believe that the so-called Maoists in Nepal are also crypto-Christists, especially some of their top brass.

Of course, none of this qualifies for the “religious terrorism” moniker as far as the lovely English-Language Media and the UPA are concerned. Their sound and fury is reserved for some poor Hindu nun who is, by the power of “truth by repeated assertion”, subjected to an electronic lynch, deemed a terrorist and subjected to tejovadham. This is to be expected, as the ELM and the pseudo-seculars in India have a sworn duty: that of cultural extinction of the native civilization of this country. Once you understand this axiom, their baffling acts are self-consistent in a certain bizarre frame of reference.

Whether the pseudo-seculars do this for money, or they have been brainwashed by the predatory State, is not entirely clear. But then it doesn’t matter, does it, since the end result is the same?

And this deliberate use of nomenclature terrorism – the use of insinuation to demonize and to create defensiveness – is a purely Goebbelsian propaganda tactic. I tried a little experiment on the pseudo-seculars some years ago by returning the favor. I started referring to their ideology as Nehruvian Stalinism. Their immediate knee-jerk reaction was to label me a Hindu fundamentalist, Hindu fascist etc. Which I was prepared for: I told them, fine, maybe I am all that, but you, you are Nehruvian Stalinists.

I got the reaction I expected: when the tables were turned, the pseudo-seculars did exactly what they expect others to do under their attacks. They got defensive, they labored to explain why they were not Stalinists, and how different Nehru was from Stalin. They grew increasingly exasperated as I kept insisting that Nehru was a lot like Stalin: the personality cult, the imperiousness, the purges, the heavy-industry fetish, etc., and how Jawaharlal was merely a little less effective in his ruthlessness.

Happily, I got a few pseudo-seculars into an absolute tizzy denying these allegations; they practically foamed at the mouth. I had succeeded – I had got them to play on my terms, on the playing field I defined; instead of protesting that I was not a fascist, I had changed the terms of reference and forced them to defend their cherished shibboleths. It was good to watch them squirm.

That, I submit, is the way to play this game. Hindus should not bother to try and prove that they are not terrorists. We should say “Yes, there must be Hindu terrorists, just like you guys are Communist terrorists, or Christist terrorists, or Mohammedan terrorists. Any questions?” If they continue to blather, one might hint darkly of caches of AK-47s and RDX.

It is evident that the pseudo-seculars are cowards and bullies, and this will shut them up. Only, gentle reader, I suggest you be careful in your choice of words, just in case somebody has a hidden camera – make veiled threats, where you cannot be pinned down to anything specific. And occasionally mutter knowingly about some atrocity perpetrated by the Christist or Communist or Mohammedan terrorists, and insinuate that you have certain “friends” and you know where the pseudo-seculars live. You know, the kind of thing the Mafioso say in those gangster movies.

Nomenclature terrorism is a game two can play, and the sinister Nehruvian Stalinists can be – as in the quaint phrase they use – hoist on their own petard.

Published by the New Indian Express on 9th Sept 2008 as an op-ed

Who lost India?

By Rajeev Srinivasan

One of these days, the New York Times will run a story titled “Who lost India?” Pundits will pontificate about what caused India to be irretrievably ‘lost’ – that is, it no longer functions as a viable and friendly ally of the West, particularly of America. Though they will never admit it, the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement currently being shoved down India’s throat would have been the tipping point that did India in.

Given the parlous security situation in the neighborhood, as well as the various separatist movements gaining strength from external sources, this may well be the first step in the unraveling of India. That would be a disaster not only for India and Indians, but also for America, because India is just about the only friend it has in that giant arc from East Africa to Southeast Asia, full of failed and failing states. Adding India to that list is not going to help anyone.

What is not known to most Americans is the extraordinary goodwill that ordinary Indians have towards America. At a time when the US is regularly pilloried as anywhere between monstrous and appalling by large numbers of people, India is demonstrably the country where the average person on the street has the most positive perception of America. A Pew Trust survey on global attitudes in 2006 showed this: Indians were the most pro-American, far more so than Chinese, Saudi Arabians, and Pakistanis, to pick a few American allies.

Perhaps that’s not such a big deal to Americans accustomed to basking in the sunshine of admiration and envy from all quarters, based on both hard and soft power. But consider this: India, with all its problems, is no banana republic. According to the widely followed reports from Goldman Sachs, India may well overtake the US as the world’s second largest economy by 2050.

Besides, odd as it might sound when you hear it for the first time, India is a lot like America. That is my gut feel after having spent half my life in India and the other half in America. There are many similarities, but the most striking one is the openness and friendliness of the people. Whatever you may think of their respective governments, it is a fact that the people of America and of India are warm, friendly and hospitable. This carries over into many things: plurality, tolerance for different ideas, innovativeness.

In fact, I’d be so bold as to claim that India’s core competencies are quite like America’s: fertile land, soft power, innovation. What India has lacked is the financial resources of a vast virgin continent and what’s been termed ‘strategic intent’ by management guru C K Prahalad – the ability to imagine itself as Numero Uno, and to act accordingly.

There are historic reasons to believe that superpowerdom for India is not a wet-dream. India was, throughout most of recorded history, the richest country in the world, astonishing as this may seem. According to economic historian Angus Maddison, India was the world’s largest economy from 0 CE to 1500 CE; China was its closest competitor towards the end of that period. Then the land was ravaged by colonialism, which destroyed many of the wealth-generating systems that had emerged over millennia, notably the innovative small businesses in textiles and light engineering goods.

Indian prowess in intellectual property is not given due credit: some of the greatest inventions in history came from there, including the Indian numeral system, the cornerstone of all mathematics; the context-free grammar of Panini from 500 BCE, which underlies all computing; the infinite series of Madhava from 1300 CE, which provides the underpinnings of the differential calculus and thus of the Industrial Revolution.

But these are in the past, one might say. What has India done lately? That is fair criticism. I am forced to ask you to take it on faith that, just as India appeared out of the blue in high-technology, it has the intellectual capability to be a partner in the knowledge economy of tomorrow. Sociologist Joel Kotkin remarked that “engineering is the oil of the 21st century”; and that is what Indians are strong at.

There are the ingredients, then, of a successful rapprochement between India and the US. Why hasn’t this worked for so long? There are many who share the blame; some of it can be attributed to the knee-jerk anti-Americanism of the Nehru dynasty which lectured the US and propped up the comical non-aligned movement. America’s explicit support of Pakistan has also been an irritant; so has the derision made most explicit in the Nixon Tapes.

Those days are past, though, and there are the glimmerings of a beautiful relationship. But the so-called Nuclear Deal has the potential to be a huge thorn in the flesh. The deal is a bad one. It is such a bad deal for India, and it is being railroaded through with such deceit and opaqueness by the Manmohan Singh administration, that it will almost certainly be revoked unilaterally by a future Indian government. Given the contours of the NSG waiver, this will invite serious punitive sanctions on India.

The problem is that India is being sold a bill of goods. The deal is being sold to Indians as a guarantee of energy security and a harbinger of close co-operation with America. But it is obvious that this is neither; it is about non-proliferation, and about the bringing to heel of the one big nation that has challenged the apparently divinely mandated monopoly the P-5 have arrogated to themselves. India is being conned into signing the NPT as a non-weapons-state, with no guarantee that anybody will supply uranium for the obsolete fission reactors India will buy at, undoubtedly, vastly inflated prices.

Losing its small nuclear arsenal is not an option for India, which is threatened by two bellicose nuclear-armed neighbors: China and Pakistan. China has almost certainly proliferated nukes and missiles to Pakistan. And Pakistan’s nuclear Wal-Mart is well-known.

Being unable to deter China in its adventurism, India will not also be able to adequately deter its proxies Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal. The result of this is could even be a extinction of the India nation, as Bangladesh pursues its lebensraum, China pursues the diversion of the Brahmaputra, Pakistan pursues the death by a thousand cuts, and Nepal’s newly emboldened communists pursue their Pasupati-to-Tirupati corridor.

This is no way to treat a partner and an ally. In the long run, the US faces China, an implacable and ruthless foe. To subjugate the one nation in Asia that can match and counteract China, just to satisfy a bunch of non-proliferation fundamentalist Cold Warriors, and for the benefit of GE and Westinghouse, is not sensible. If I may be so bold as to say so, America doesn’t want to lose India.

Rajeev Srinivasan is a management consultant. His blog is at https://rajeev2007.wordpress.com

Published by rediff.com on 8th Sept 2008 at http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/08rajeev.htm

We have energy security in our time. Praise the Lord!

Rajeev Srinivasan on the misinformation campaign about the nuclear deal

There have been hosannas and hallelujahs aplenty about the fact that the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group has decided to provide a waiver of sorts to India. The fine print is yet to be deciphered, but already the usual suspects are taking credit for having brought about “energy security in our time”.

I am reminded of Neville Chamberlain, a British prime minister (his other claim to fame was his ever-present umbrella) returning to the UK from a conclave in Munich, where he had participated in appeasing Germany by giving away the Sudetenland. Chamberlain said:

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time…
Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

He said this on September 30th, 1938. Alas for him, on September 1st, 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and two days later, Britain declared war on Germany. Famous last words, indeed.

But I am being unfair to poor Chamberlain. He honestly believed that he had achieved something for his country. Not so with the bigwigs of the UPA. It has been abundantly clear for a very long time that the so-called nuclear deal stinks to high heaven, and that interests wholly unrelated to India’s energy needs are driving it. The UPA knows what they are getting into, and they have been lying continuously to the Indian people.

It would be unseemly for me to name names (not to mention unwise, given the propensity of the UPA to cry ‘libel’ at the drop of a hat – fortunately, a New Jersey court just threw out a wholly frivolous case filed by overseas acolytes of the UPA, who I do hope will get slapped with large punitive damages), but circumstantial evidence suggests that Jaswant Singh was not far off the mark when he talked about American ‘moles’ high up in the Indian government.

The confidential letter from the US State Department to the House Foreign Relations Committee, as publicized by Rep. Howard Berman, is refreshingly candid about the real facts behind the deal: to use pithy Americanisms, the Indians are being taken to the cleaners. Being sold a bill of goods. Led to the slaughter. Being totally sold snake-oil, with the active connivance of their leaders.

Perhaps the apt historical analogy is not Chamberlain, but the East India Company. Or better yet, the capitulation to China over Tibet. India gave away its substantial treaty rights in Tibet to China in return for… vague promises of brotherhood. Here India is giving away its hard-won nuclear deterrent, the one thing that prevents the Chinese from running rampant in Asia, in return for… honeyed words from the Americans about strategic partnership!

I exaggerate, of course. There must be more. Nehru, being naive, believed in the bhai-bhai thing with China. But today’s leaders are hard-boiled, and are doing this for other, very good reasons. What these reasons are, we shall never know, notwithstanding the Right To Information Act. The Indian government is extremely good at obfuscation.

What is being celebrated as a Great Victory (over what I am not sure) at the NSG is a little puzzling. I hate to be the little boy who asked about the Emperor’s new clothes, but what exactly is India getting? After all the huffing and puffing, India has now been granted the privilege of spending enormous amounts of money – absolute billions – to buy nuclear fission reactors and uranium? This is a good thing? Let us remember that the NSG was set up in 1974 as a secret cabal to punish India for its first nuclear test.

There is an old proverb in Malayalam about spending good money to buy a dog that then proceeds to bite you. India is now going to spend at least $50 billion to buy all these dangerous fission reactors from the US and France and Japan, only to be left with the possibility of Australians and Americans holding the Damocles’ Sword of disruptions in uranium supplies over us? This is better than being held hostage by OPEC over fossil fuels?

And if all goes well, India will be left holding the bag for mountains of extremely dangerous and long-lived (10,000 years, say) radioactive waste, which we will not be allowed to reprocess lest we extract something useful out of it. Of course all the reactors and the radioactive waste must be making our friendly neighborhood terrorists rub their hands with glee in anticipation. Did I mention something about giving someone a stick to beat you with?

I think it should be obvious by now that India has been coerced into de facto accession to the NPT, the CTBT, the FMCT, and all the other alphabet-soup treaties that were set up to keep India muzzled. America’s non-proliferation ayatollahs, barring a last-minute reprieve like the US Congress voting down the 123 Agreement (I am tempted to chant “Berman saranam, Markey saranam”, etc.) have accomplished ‘cap, rollback, and eliminate’.

The letter leaked by Berman, as well as the fact that Article 2 of the 123 Agreement explicitly states that “national laws” (read: the Hyde Amendment, with the clever little Barack Obama Amendment – yes, Virginia, Obama did get his fingers into this pie too) govern the 123 Agreement, clarify that India is at the mercy of any US administration that sees fit to unilaterally abrogate the thing. Remember Tarapur? There was a similar little artifice of domestic legislation that was used by the US to weasel out of a binding international treaty. The 123 Agreement is really not worth the paper it’s written on.

Let us note that of the other hold-outs to the NPT, nobody is putting any pressure on Israel to sign anything, and they are getting all the fuel they need from sugar-daddy America; and Pakistan gets everything, including their bombs and their missiles, from their main squeeze China, while minor sugar-daddy America beams indulgently.

The sad part is that none of this does a thing for the only issue that matters, India’s energy security. While the rest of the world has, rightly, looked upon the nuclear deal as a non-proliferation issue, the propaganda experts and spin-meisters in India have sold it to the gullible public as a way of gaining energy independence. Alas, this is not true at all.

Here are a few facts about energy. I am indebted to, among others, the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (STEP) in Bangalore for this information.

Present world energy use: 15 terawatt-years per year

Potential availability of energy from different sources (in terawatt-years) [Source: Harvard]

  • Oil and Gas: 3000
  • Coal: 5000
  • Uranium (conventional reactors): 2000
  • Uranium (breeder reactors): 2,000,000
  • Solar: 30,000 (per year)

Do note that last two numbers. One, solar energy accessible per year far exceeds the sum total energy available from fossil fuels and uranium-fission reactors in toto, ie. by completely exhausting all known oil and gas and uranium. Two, breeder reactors can leverage thorium (turned into uranium-233) endlessly by creating more fuel than is exhausted, but the technology will take time.

Now, take a look at the amount of energy India generates, and how it is used up [Source: CSTEP and Lawrence Livermore Labs]

Total consumption: 5,721 billion kwh, of which:

  • Lost energy: 3,257 billion kwh
  • Useful energy: 2,364 billion kwh

Generation is from:

  • Hydro: 84
  • Wind: 5
  • Solar: 0
  • Nuclear: 58
  • Bio-fuels: 1682
  • Coal: 1852
  • Natural Gas: 225
  • Petroleum: 1645

Usage is by:

  • Unaccounted electricity: 99
  • Agriculture: 301
  • Residential: 1511
  • Commercial: 132
  • Industrial: 1548
  • Light Vehicles: 132
  • Heavy Vehicles: 330
  • Aircraft: 65
  • Railways: 43

I believe the data is for 2005. What is startling is the enormous amount of wasted energy: more than the amount of useful energy. Besides, unaccounted for electricity is almost the same as the amount of energy used up by all air and railroad traffic in India! Thus, the very first thing that can pay huge dividends would be to get better accounting for energy use and to reduce wastage (as for example due to traffic congestion in cities).

Consider the capital costs of various types of energy: [Source: CSTEP]

  • Natural Gas: $600/kW with 4-10cents/kWh in fuel costs
    • Plus cost of pipelines and LNG terminals
  • Wind: $1200/kW
    • Plus cost of transmission lines from windy regions
  • Hydro: n/a
  • Biomass: n/a
  • Coal: $1135/kW and 4c/kWh in fuel costs
    • With CO2 cleanup: $2601/kW and 22c/kWh in fuel costs
    • Plus cost of railroads and other infrastructure
  • Solar Thermal: $4000/kW
  • Solar Photovoltaic: $6000/kW
  • Nuclear Fission: $3000/kW and 8c/kWh in fuel costs
    • Plus cost of radioactive waste disposal
    • [Source: World Nuclear Association, “The Economics of Nuclear Power”]

It can be seen that the cost of nuclear power is very high, even if the costs of waste management are discounted: and this number is from the cheer-leaders of nuclear energy. In addition, there has to be a substantial risk premium for the fact that the raw material is in short supply and is under the control of a cartel. A “uranium shock” can be far more painful than the recent oil-shock, because it will simply mean the shuttering of a lot of the expensive plants acquired at extortionate prices.

All things considered, including the environmental impact and the carbon footprint, solar is the most sensible route for India. The capital costs for solar will come down significantly as new thin-film technology reduces the manufacturing cost, and conversion efficiency rises – 40% has been accomplished in the lab. Besides, if you look at the fully loaded cost, that is taking into account the gigantic public outlay already incurred for fossil fuels (as an example, there is a pipeline running 20 km out to sea at Cochin Refineries so that large tankers can deliver oil without coming close to shore), solar is currently not very overpriced.

And of course, you cannot beat the price of fuel: free, no need to get any certificates from the NSG, available in plenty for at least 300 days of the year. If large solar farms are set up in a few places (they may be 10km x 10km in size, and surely this can be put up in arid areas like the Thar Desert), then solar energy is likely to be attractive. Besides, there will be economies of scale in manufacturing once demand is seeded by subsidies and tax breaks. Large-scale solar plants are becoming a reality: two giant solar farms, totally 880 MW, have just been approved by Pacific Gas and Electric in California: this is a huge step considering the largest solar plant in the US now is just 14 MW.

In addition, there are technological breakthroughs just around the corner in solar energy, as venture money is flowing into alternative energy. If only India were to invest in solar research and subsidies the billions that the UPA wants to spend on imported white elephant fission technology, India will truly gain energy independence.

The entire nuclear deal is a red-herring and a diversion. It is a colossal blunder; and when this is coming at such an enormous cost – loss of the independent nuclear deterrent and intrusive inspection of the nuclear setup, which happy proliferator China is not subject to – this is perhaps the worst act any government has taken since independence. The UPA is subjecting India to colonialism. The beneficiaries are China, Pakistan, and the US.

This deal may well mark the tipping point that causes India to collapse: without a nuclear deterrent, India is a sitting duck for Chinese blackmail including the proposed diversion of the Brahmaputra, for Pakistani-fomented insurrections, and Bangladeshi demographic invasion. India must be the very first large State in history that has consciously and voluntarily decided to dismantle itself.

Comments welcome at my blog at https://rajeev2007.wordpress.com

2000 words, September 6, 2008

Olympic Machismo

August 5, 2008

Published by the New Indian Express at http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IE720080806012039&Page=7&Title=TheOped&Topic=0

Olympic machismo: The tale the medals tell

Rajeev Srinivasan on the pathetic failure of Indian sports

I am always embarrassed by India’s wretched showing in the Olympics, which is a metaphor for the two things that haunt India – lack of a strategic intent, and lack of leadership. It is not that Indians are physically weak or incapable of competing at Olympic levels: in many sports at the junior level, Indians do very well indeed. The failure is in developing that early promise. This is like that devastating remark about Brazil that it is condemned to always be the country of the future.

One failure is in identifying an overarching goal: that of being the best in the world. This is an implicit assumption made by Americans: that America is the best of the best. Similarly, China has historically viewed itself as the Middle Kingdom and the center of civilization, deeming all others to be barbarians. But Indians have been content to be second-best, the sporting losers. We apparently do not believe we can win.

In India people actually say, and with conviction, “What is important is participating, not winning.” My jaw almost hit the floor the first time someone assured me of this. They ignored my protests that the only thing that counts is winning, good sportsmanship be damned. The Indian contingent genuinely does go to the Olympics to form part of the scenery. I remember On the Waterfront, and failed and betrayed boxer Marlon Brando saying, “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum”. Indians are happy to be nobodies.

The second failure is in leadership. No political or business leader takes any interest in Olympic sports. For instance, track queen P T Usha’s school, intended to produce Olympians, is struggling for funds. Promising sportspeople have to scrounge for jobs and small stipends so that they can feed themselves and buy the equipment they need.

A Kerala girl who was a member of the national rowing team committed suicide because she simply couldn’t afford to train. Contrast this with the Chinese rowing team. A New York Times story on them showed how the Chinese zeroed in on rowing, which has a lot of medals, to increase their possible medal tally. They paid handsomely to get the world’s best coaches and training facilities, and national team members are genuine heroes.

China is a particularly good example of a certain Olympic machismo and corresponding State patronage. The Chinese are obsessed with demonstrating to the world that they are better than anybody else. In sport after sport, starting with swimming, Chinese athletes have been systematically discovered in childhood through country-wide sporting events, carefully nurtured in sports academies, plied with whatever steroids and hormones they can get away with – and they do get caught sometimes – and turned into world-class athletes with the mental and physical toughness needed to win.

There is no reason why Indians cannot do something like this; undoubtedly, among a billion Indians there are potential champions who are today condemned to be like the “full many a flower [that] is born to blush unseen”. Somehow, promising Indians fade away from lack of… something, perhaps a killer instinct, perhaps self-confidence, perhaps sponsors. I am reminded of what was in tennis dubbed the “ABC powers”: Amritraj, Borg and Connors, all of whom appeared on the scene as youngsters at the same time. Yet Amritraj faded, while the others became champions.

There is a failure in India to encourage fresh blood, and to tell the famous to retire when their time is up. Rusty old war-horses become dogs-in-the-manger, not good enough in a sporting world where youth is at a premium, yet unwilling to yield the limelight. This is exemplified by a track and field athlete who has never been higher than some tenth in the world. Bizarrely, the media and sports establishment lionizes and trots her out as a ‘medal hope’ in all major meets; she regularly manages to be seventh in a field of eight, humiliating herself, yet refusing to bow out gracefully. Do go “gentle into that good night”, please! That also applies to many others past their prime.

There is yet another failure in India, the stranglehold cricket has on the imagination. Billions are spent on cricket, but all other sports starve. Case in point: India’s once-mighty field-hockey team, which once upon a time bestrode the Olympics like a colossus, failed to even qualify this time. India, one-seventh of humanity, will probably win a bronze in shooting – that’s all – in Beijing 2008, but cricket fans are blithely unaware and uncaring. Tragic, isn’t it?

If you step back and look at the big picture, there is a valid question as to whether there is any correlation between a country’s medal tally and its quality of life. Should the ranking of countries be based on total medals or medals per million population? If you choose the latter, according to the Economist, the Athens 2004 list is dominated by the Bahamas, Cuba, Estonia, Slovenia, Jamaica etc. – a motley crew indeed, and not exactly the most desirable places to live in – not the US, Russia, or China. Australia is the only country that shows up in the top 10 under both criteria. Yes, Australia does have a fairly good quality of life.

But the counter-example is regimented Communist States that produce good athletes: who can forget, for instance, the muscular, slightly mustachioed East German or Soviet female athletes of yore? The reasons are clear: they had a pathological obsession with winning, and treated the Olympics as a major prestige issue. It had little to do with quality of life and a lot to do with paranoia and one-up-manship. So yes, it is possible to go to extremes for medals while ignoring ground realities.

Nevertheless, a large Olympic haul does show that a nation can imagine, plan and execute. This has implications for strategy, and indeed, survival. After all, the original Greek Olympics were set up as a bloodless substitute for war. Olympians are our samurai, our alter-egos, fighting on our behalf.

Comments welcome at https://rajeev2007.wordpress.com

999 words

Who lost India?

July 21, 2008

Who lost India?

By Rajeev Srinivasan

podcast at http://rajeev.posterous.com/podcast-of-who-lost-india-arti

One of these days, the New York Times will run a story titled “Who lost India?” Pundits will pontificate about what caused India to be irretrievably ‘lost’ – that is, it no longer functions as a viable and friendly ally of the West, particularly of America. Though they would deny it, the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement currently being shoved down India’s throat would have been the tipping point that did India in.

Given the parlous security situation in the neighborhood, as well as the various separatist movements gaining strength from external sources, this may well be the first step in the unraveling of India. That would be a disaster not only for India and Indians, but also for America, because India is just about the only friend it has in that giant arc from East Africa to Southeast Asia, full of failed and failing states. Adding India to that list is not going to help anyone.

What is not known to most Americans is the extraordinary goodwill that ordinary Indians have towards America. At a time when the US is regularly pilloried as anywhere between monstrous and appalling by large numbers of people, India is the country where the average person on the street has the most positive perception of America. A Pew Trust survey on global attitudes in 2006 showed this: Indians were the most pro-American, far more so than Chinese, Saudi Arabians, and Pakistanis, to pick a few American allies.

Perhaps that’s not such a big deal to Americans accustomed to basking in the sunshine of admiration and envy from all quarters, based on both hard and soft power. But consider this: India, with all its problems, is no banana republic. According to the widely followed reports from Goldman Sachs, India may well overtake the US as the world’s second largest economy by 2050.

Besides, odd as it might sound when you hear it for the first time, India is a lot like America. That is my gut feel after having spent half my life in India and the other half in America. There are many similarities, but the most striking one is the openness and friendliness of the people. Whatever you may think of their respective governments, it is a fact that the people of America and of India are warm, friendly and hospitable. This carries over into many things: plurality, tolerance for different ideas, innovativeness.

In fact, I’d be so bold as to claim that India’s core competencies are quite like America’s: fertile land, soft power, innovation. What India has lacked is the financial resources of a vast virgin continent and what’s been termed ‘strategic intent’ by management guru C K Prahalad – the ability to imagine itself as Numero Uno, and to act accordingly.

There are historic reasons to believe that superpowerdom for India is not a wet-dream. India was, throughout most of recorded history, the richest country in the world, astonishing as this may seem. According to economic historian Angus Maddison, India was the world’s largest economy from 0 CE to 1500 CE; China was its competitor towards the end of that period. Then the land was ravaged by colonialism, which destroyed many of the wealth-generating systems that had emerged over millennia, notably the innovative small businesses in textiles and light engineering goods.

Indian prowess in intellectual property is not given due credit: some of the greatest inventions in history came from there, including the Indian numeral system, the cornerstone of all mathematics; the context-free grammar of Panini from 500 BCE, which underlies all computing; the infinite series of Madhava from 1300 CE, which provides the underpinnings of the differential calculus and thus of the Industrial Revolution.

But these are in the past, one might say. What has India done lately? That is fair criticism. I am forced to ask you to take it on faith that, just as India appeared out of the blue in high-technology, it has the intellectual capability to be a partner in the knowledge economy of tomorrow. Sociologist Joel Kotkin remarked that “engineering is the oil of the 21st century”; and that is what Indians are strong at.

There are the ingredients, then, of a successful rapprochement between India and the US. Why hasn’t this worked for so long? There are many who share the blame; some of it can be attributed to the knee-jerk anti-Americanism of the Nehru dynasty which lectured the US and propped up the comical non-aligned movement. America’s explicit support of Pakistan has also been an irritant; so has the derision made most explicit in the Nixon Tapes.

Those days are past, though, and there are the glimmerings of a beautiful relationship. But the so-called Nuclear Deal has the potential to be a huge thorn in the flesh. The deal is a bad one. It is such a bad deal for India, and it is being railroaded through with such deceit and opaqueness by the Manmohan Singh administration, that it will almost certainly be revoked unilaterally by a future Indian government. Given the contours of the IAEA agreement, this will invite serious punitive sanctions on India.

The problem is that India is being sold a bill of goods. The deal is being sold to Indians as a guarantee of energy security and a harbinger of close co-operation with America. But it is obvious that this is neither; it is about non-proliferation, and about the bringing to heel of the one big nation that has challenged the apparently divinely mandated monopoly the P-5 have arrogated to themselves.

There has been a full-court press on India to accept the deal as the best and last deal India will ever get. This in itself is laughable, not to mention the assurances from many American worthies that this deal is “good for India” – as though they cared about India’s interests. It is clear that the champions of “cap, rollback and eliminate” who have lingered in Foggy Bottom through the Clinton and Bush administrations has now figured out, via a pliant Indian government, how to get the deed signed and delivered.

India is being conned into signing the NPT as a non-weapons-state, with no guarantee that anybody will supply uranium for the obsolete fission reactors India will buy at, undoubtedly, vastly inflated prices. India would be far better off investing its billions in emerging energy technologies, most notably solar, which is on the verge of a breakthrough. And India is nothing if not rich in sunshine. To give up its nuclear deterrent in the pursuit of a vague fission-based energy security is totally quixotic.

There really is no energy security in the proposed treaty. The version of the agreement that has been made public:

  • Does not give India any unique status, but is identical to the agreement with non-nuclear weapons states; thus India is treated on par with rogue states like Pakistan and North Korea
  • Does not guarantee fuel supply, but guarantees perpetual IAEA inspections
  • Does conform to US domestic legislation like the Hyde Act
  • Does not allow India, unlike the P-5, to unilaterally withdraw its facilities from intrusive inspections
  • Does not specify what “corrective steps”, if any, India may take in case of supply disruptions; to wit, there are no corrective steps

The net result of all this is that India will lose its strategic independence in terms of seeking a credible deterrent. Losing its small nuclear arsenal is not an option for India, which is threatened by two bellicose nuclear-armed neighbors: China and Pakistan. China has proliferated nukes and missiles to Pakistan. And Pakistan’s A Q Khan and his nuclear Wal-Mart, proliferating to Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, are well-known.

Being unable to deter China in its adventurism, India will not also be able to adequately deter its proxies Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal. The result of this is could even be an extinction of the India nation, as Bangladesh pursues lebensraum and detaches India’s Northeast as its fiefdom, China pursues the diversion of the Brahmaputra, Pakistan pursues the death by a thousand cuts, and Nepal’s newly emboldened communists pursue their Pasupati-to-Tirupati corridor.

This is no way to treat a partner and an ally. In the long run, the US faces China, an implacable and ruthless foe. To subjugate the one nation in Asia that can match and counteract China, just to satisfy a bunch of non-proliferation fundamentalist Cold Warriors, and for the benefit of GE and Westinghouse, is plain folly. I don’t think America wants to lose India.

Rajeev Srinivasan considers San Francisco and Kerala his two homes.

1400 words, July 13, 2008

Published on rediff as http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/22rajeev.htm

Oh tangled web: a conspiracy behind the Nuclear Agreement?

Rajeev Srinivasan remains skeptical of the much-ballyhooed Indo-US deal

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
– Sir Walter Scott

It is worth asking once again whether the Indo-US nuclear deal is beneficial to India. Not being a subject-matter expert on the minutiae of the IAEA agreement, I read the published views of a many commentators. It appears that the verbiage is so ambiguous that it has not changed anyone’s minds: those who opposed the deal before have not been convinced that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread; those who liked it before continue to like it.

It appears to me, based on the above, that the agreement:

  • Does not give India any unique status, but is identical to the agreement with non-nuclear weapons states, and quite different from one with the P-5
  • Does not guarantee fuel supply, but guarantees perpetual IAEA inspections
  • Does conform to US domestic legislation like the Hyde Act
  • Does not allow India, unlike the P-5, to unilaterally withdraw its facilities from intrusive inspections
  • Does not specify what “corrective steps”, if any, India may take in case of supply disruptions; to wit, there are no corrective steps

None of these is desirable. These justify my concerns about this exercise as expressed in several previous columns: The deal that refuses to die, http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/apr/23rajeev.htm , That hoax called non-proliferation, http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/oct/12rajeev.htm , Bushwhacked: Why the nuclear deal is (still) a bad idea, http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/apr/06rajeev.htm , That Obscure Object of Desire: Nuclear Energy

http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/oct/24rajeev.htm

It is useful to remember what the deal is supposed to be all about from the Indian point of view: it is about one tangible outcome – the acquisition of energy security; and about one intangible outcome – the cooperation and support of the US in making India a major strategic power. However, it is not clear that either of these outcomes is a given. There are no guarantees being given by anybody that they will ensure the supply of uranium to India in perpetuity in exchange for India opening up its civilian facilities to intrusive inspections by the IAEA. And the US is certainly not giving India the status of one of its close allies, like those in NATO.

Therefore, it appears that the agreement is all about satisfying the American point of view – which is almost entirely about non-proliferation, and about bringing India under the ambit of a number of treaties. It is strictly about India signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapons state, which leads to what American non-proliferation fundamentalists have been pushing all along: “cap, rollback, and eliminate”.

In addition, India is also signing the CTBT through the back door, possibly the FMCT, and putting many of its facilities under intrusive inspections by the IAEA (the same IAEA, we note in passing, that conveniently reported that Iraq had nuclear weapons.)

The problem with all this is that, far from assuring India’s energy security and helping it become a top-notch military power, this agreement merely guarantees that India will be a sitting duck for Chinese and Pakistani nuclear blackmail. This may have disastrous consequences.

Being unable to deter China in its adventurism, India will not also be able to adequately deter its proxies Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal. The result of this is could even be a extinction of the India nation, as Bangladesh pursues its lebensraum, China pursues the diversion of the Brahmaputra, Pakistan pursues the death by a thousand cuts, and Nepal’s newly emboldened communists pursue their Pasupati-to-Tirupati corridor.

It is unclear why the Americans are going along with this agenda, except that they may still be suffering from Cold-war-itis. The Americans are obviously considering this a coup for themselves, and I speculate they have several objectives, none of which is good for India:

  1. mercantilist: to support companies like GE and Westinghouse (http://www.rediff.com/money/2008/jul/21bweek.htm) which will benefit from the sales of reactors
  2. strategic: to keep India militarily weak as a precursor to prying loose the Northeast in an operation similar to how East Timor was detached from Indonesia
  3. tactical: to ensure that India continues to be as dependent on uranium suppliers as it has been on oil suppliers, which means outsiders have their hand on India’s jugular, and the spigot can be turned on or off to keep India docile and obedient
  4. just plain opportunistic: to strike while the iron is hot, while their good friend controls the Indian government

The fact that the Americans are up to no good is evident from the heavy-duty pressure tactics they have been up to, including the snake-oil-salesman techniques bordering on a “protection racket” a la the late lamented Al Capone – something you would see in a film-noir with its betrayals and double-crossings: I am reminded specifically of the brilliant Chinatown, where an unsuspecting Owens Valley is relieved of all its water. India is similarly being relieved of its right to protect itself.

And what is China’s angle in all this? An India defanged as a forever inferior non-nuclear State is good news for China, as it can pursue unfettered imperialism in Asia. In that case why have China’s proxies, India’s Communists, been so loud in their opposition to the deal? Maybe China has only been pretending to oppose the deal as a rhetorical ploy?

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I am beginning to wonder if this isn’t a great example of collusion between the US and China. If so, the two have played the Good Cop-Bad Cop routine to perfection. At the end of the day, India would have been hoodwinked into permanently giving up any hope of escaping from banana-republic-dom. This is a Himalayan blunder for India, but just perfect for the US and China.

The Chinese made all the proper noises about how they hated the deal, and their acolytes the Communists were strident in their opposition to it. To their credit, they did not mince words: they said it would hurt China. This convinced many in India who subscribe to the axiom that anything the Communists like is bad for India; conversely, something they dislike must be good for India. Only, in this case the truism didn’t hold good, but Indians, Pavlovian-fashion, rushed in, to mix metaphors wildly.

Besides, the mega-propaganda campaign unleashed by the UPA recently has been a great success. There is no news about inflation; nor about terrorists continuing to lob grenades at Amarnath pilgrims http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gZI3q6edKoFk9v5vUpHNPoc3-KSw ; or anything else at all, other than the unseemly circus in Parliament. Tremendous diversionary tactics, indeed!

The net result is that the Americans (and possibly the Chinese) have pulled off a coup. It’s Tibet redux: India gave away its substantial treaty rights in Tibet to China in return for absolutely nothing, prodded by an imperious prime minister. A member of his dynasty has now engineered the giving away of India’s strategic independence in return for nothing. India is being sold a bill of goods. Yet again.

For once, Marx was right: history is repeating itself, once as tragedy, next as farce.

1180 words, 21st July 2008