Foreign Policy

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The Biggest Threat – USA or Pakistan?

Published February 1, 2015 by vishalvkale

The USA – Friend, Threat Or Foe? Some voices tend to typify the USA as a foe or a threat, and my own articles have been largely critical. An article a few months ago { Biggest Threat} in a leading daily carried a survey that showed The USA as the biggest threat to world peace.. Let us look at the other side of this issue, and examine the relationship in the light of cold logic. 

First, threat. I am no fan of the USA, anyone who has read me knows that. I am a die-hard nationalist Indian, who loves India beyond description {as most people do their nation}, and who sees the USA as something less than nice;  but even to me – the claim of the USA being a threat to the world  sounds a bit far-fetched. The USA as a threat is a bit of a stretch, even for my highly critical imagination. A victim cannot be called a perpetrator; a fool or naive maybe, or a person who made a strategic error : but threat?

The biggest threat to world peace cannot be the person who is trying to maintain world peace; credit where credit is due. Coming from a critic of the USA, this is saying something. That the means adopted by this peacemaker are all cockeyed does nothing to take away the basic premise. Furthermore, this has no link with the issues of Trade; if you were to ask, the biggest threat to real free trade / fair practices to India, I would state The USA each and every time. But that is trade, and each nation has a right to protect its turf, howsoever amoral may the approach be.  This is not about trade – it is about Geopolitics. 


THE GEOPOLITICAL SITUATION
The Geopolitical situation in the world has 2 hotspots : Ukraine, which is a mild political issue, a creation of misbegotten policies on both sides, and is localised to one region with little chance of getting into a world issue unless the USA pushes needlessly; and The Middle East, or more specifically Islamic Terror. The third one – India/Pakistan, the West’s favourite bugbear, is in reality no threat all, for the perfectly simple reason that Pakistan knows fully well that it cannot take on India in straight honest hard combat and win; that is a manifest impossibility. 

A strike from our side would decidedly have a significant downside. The key aspect here is the overall geopolitical situation, which is not in our favour. A unilateral attack from our side can only lead to international intervention due to the Nuclear bugbear, which is exactly what Pakistan wants. Doing that would be playing into Pakistani hands. Personally, I am sure that the Nuclear threat is just a bluff : we are certain to give a disproportionate response. That would mean certain obliteration for Pakistan. Second, it would leave Pakistan’s owner & master the USA with no option but to participate in the response, and step in. For Pakistan, it means complete destruction and/or dismemberment. That is 100% assured. 


And that is what is Pakistan’s play is : it is buffing. And those geniuses in the West are too smart to see through this, the biggest bluff ever perpetrated by any nation. I would request people here to watch state department interviews on youtube – Pakistan is always viewed as a strategic location. Always and everytime. This is blinding the West to the reality; the grand bluff. A master play by a genius – credit where credit is due. Hence, every time there is tension on the border, everyone from The Western Media to The Western Leaders begin their nightmare scenarios, forcing intervention.

{This analysis taken from  my article :India, Pakistan and The West}

That only leaves the Middle East, and more specifically Islamic Terror, which the USA is trying to fight. That much is the truth. I need not state much on that; the inroads being made by Islamic Terror are known by all. Please note that this is a threat that is not limited to the borders, but rather has the capacity to reach into the innermost and most secure and safe civilian locations within our towns, cities, homes and offices.  From our POV, that the steps taken by the USA or The West at times go aginst our interests does not make them a threat; it only means that we have to strengthen our own response, and ensure that the other side understands the error of their strategy. This can only be through negotiation and discussion. 


THE BIGGEST THREAT?
Pakistan, period. It is a known fact that Pakistani Armed Forces are in cahoots with the terrorists, with deep and systemic links to terror organisations both India-specific and world-focussed. Pakistan is also home to rabid fundamentalism {not my words, words to this effect have also been stated by some forward-looking and worried Pakistanis} for ex :”

The common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic Radicalisation is a problem only in FATA, and that  madrassas are the only institutions serving as Jehad factories. This is a serious misconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan’s towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except  strictly their own kind. The kind of mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation-state… “ :  Pervez Hoodbhoy, in Newsline,  January 2009




This is a nation that has nuclear weapons; is highly unstable; with an economy in deep trouble, and no genuine efforts to repair the same; with a fundamentalist population; is a known recruiting and breeding ground for terrorists; with deep, systemic and well-thought-out and supported contacts with terrorist bases and organisations; is increasingly anti-Western; has a  modern & professional Armed Forces; with deep cultural, religious and other contacts with the entire Islamic World. That they have become like this due in part to Western {particularly US } handling does not excuse them from the sins they have or will commit. 

For more specifics, read this : The War On Terror : India Versus Pakistan


That the USA and the entire West are wrong in their handling of Pakistan is beyond debate; that they have created this entire problem is also beyond debate; that does not make them sinners, only erroneous in their approach. That we understand Pakistan better than anyone is also no surprise, for the perfectly simple reason that Pakistan itself is a mirage, with no basis in history, culture or reality – an imagined never-never land. Pakistanis are, after all, howsoever much they may deny it, Indians. That is an inescapable fact. 

How to handle this? I dont know. Going to war with them is not the solution, neither is ostracizing them. Pakistan cannot be wished away; best would be to help Pakistan build its own identity by strengthening moderate forces within Pakistan, and evolving an identity different from India. But that is another story, not relevant here.


Obama And Our Love Affair…

Published January 28, 2015 by vishalvkale

Another US President visits; and yet again, we go ballistic in our Media interest, in our public adulation and in our analysis! The focus is immediately, yet again, on the visit and its impact, and how it brings the two “natural partners” closer in a friendship, and also how this visit is a landmark visit. Hope is being given that at last, India and the USA are friends, and that there is a convergence of interests…

Let us not compare the incomparables. For example, Clinton came 14 years ago under vastly different geopolitical, economic realities on both the Indian as well as the global scenario, and are thus completely incomparable. Not only that, we have had 14 full years to analyse the impact of the Clinton event, whereas the Obama visit is way too fresh for an impartial and complete analyses.  

Clinton was a watershed; it marked a near-total reversal in some aspects of American policies towards India, while remaining unchanged on any number of policy fronts, largely due to internal dichotomies within the American establishment. This was driven not by geopolitics but by economics, and was in the backdrop of India’s economic growth since 1991, and its opening up of the markets. 

Obama is a precise copy of the above; it is driven largely by Economics, and the desire to increase business. This is proven by his statement regarding American exports to India, which was the focus of the entire visit. The reverse does not feature as prominently, which is understandable from the US point of view, and not quite so understandable from the Indian POV.  Further, this approach wont endear Obama to the Government or to the masses, as the current mood is making India a manufacturing hub, which is diametrically opposed to exports to India from the USA. 

On strategic convergence, US-India differences on Geopolitics stand as they are; China notwithstanding. While China may have been discussed, the real picture will only emerge after May 2015, when Narendra Modi visits China. The Indian Foreign Policy has been clearly Look East for nearly two decades now, and it has been further sped up to Act East under the current dispensation. India is committed to increasing trade in the SAARC region and China, ASEAN and the contiguous region. Nepal and Sri Lanka have been recently engaged quite successfully with a combination of strategies, the result from which has yet to come in, positive or negative. 

Furthermore, there is little chance of India fomenting trouble by  baiting China, which is sitting slam-bang on its border, and has surrounded India nicely and cleanly from Hambuntota to Gwadar, and is actively goading and building Pakistan. The fact that China, while giving arms to Pakistan, has never supported it actively on many aspects in international fora will not have been missed in New Delhi. Not when both countries are beginning to at least talk of de-escalation, and trade. And with Russia now building bridges with China, the situation is fluid to say the least. For one thing seems certain : Russia will never abandon India in the near future, as well as in the mid-term. 

The USA has a large economic exposure to China; as does India, albeit with a lopsided balance. Its strategic interests endear it to a continuance of a relationship with Pakistan; it has no choice. This is exactly the opposite of India’s desires, and strategic interests. On Climate, or trade, or most other parameters, there is little short or long term convergence to speak of. It is still a transactional relationship, as opposed to a stragic relationship. 

In this scenario, it is by no means certain that India will play ball with the USA on anything, let alone China. Furthermore, Narendra Modi and his party are hard-core nationalists {I mean that word in the positive sense}, rightists, and committed to the immediate region. On top of that, 100% of strategic issues leave India and the USA firmly arraigned on opposite sides of the fence. Just as in 2000, nothing has changed. 

Past history is revealing : India stands as the only hurdle against the USA on just about each and every international fora of negotiation. That hasnt changed, and isnt going to. If it didnt change during UPA, it certainly wont during the NDA, rest assured. Again, nothing has changed. As in 2000, so in 2014. We are still on opposite sides. 

On the security parameter, the USA isnt doing us a favour. India has  a proven track record of weapons and high-technology development skills with a string of successes in Satellites and Weapons both, with a couple being actually best in class. Add to that our frugal skills. The icing on the cake, the simple fact that we are the biggest importer of weapon systems. The USA needs us as much as we need them, period. It is a plain and simple business deal as of now; we are developing utlra-high-end weapons with the Russians, and only beginning to talk of development with the USA. Nothing has changed, only thing is that now we are talking. Thats it. 

On Pakistan, the USA is still favouring it, its pointless comments notwithstanding. Anyone can shout Pakistan shouldnt do this and that; talk is cheap. We will believe the USA when it stops supplying weapons to Pakistan! And of that, given the ISIS and the American perceptions of it, wont change, not until the USA realises that Pakistan is the core problem and not the victim, or just a part of the problem. 

Thus, from most parameters, it seems as of now that there is no difference, and change in the status quo. Given our people-to-people connections with the USA, any US President’s visit is an event; add to that the status of the USA as the single superpower. From my memory, if I try and eliminate the recency bias, there was not much of a difference in the public reception in both the cases. On other aspects, only time will tell.

Obama parting shot on Religious tolerance are the only point that makes me think that Clinton was better. Having said that, I have no memory of Clinton saying anything like that; neither have I any memory of his keeping silent – and I havent checked. That is why I said, “If I remove the recency factor”. Having said that, that last comment revealed that underneath the bonhomie, nothing has changed in Washington, which still has its coloured glasses in place. Obama needs a score, USA needs business; India needs technology, FDI and manufacturing. That is the only natural fit, as it always was. Nothing has changed, folks. 

India, Pakistan and The West

Published October 21, 2014 by vishalvkale

India and the Pakistan problem… I have been hearing a lot on the streets from people – the final solution, or words to that effect. We Indians are now getting tired of the constant violence. It is a common strand of discussion here among normal civilian citizens- let us finish Pakistan once and for all. Ek Jung- one war, end it all. Aar yaa paar ki jung. A last fight to the bloody finish with Pakistan.

Or, it is a fervent advise to the Government  that we should be more assertive militarily, and strike the terror outfits operating from within Pakistan, or statements to that effect; statements that advocate a much more aggressive posture as compared to the current calibrated and measured response, which is reactive, firm and yet non-escalatory, with a clearly held olive branch of talks. 
Much the same threat has also been voiced by our politicians as well, with one major political leader – an erudite, highly respected and incorrupt man – openly declaring words to the effect that “one more repitition of Mumbai 2008 – and all bets are off” Tolerance levels Pan India are at historical lows, and even a small incident can set off a chain of events. 

Blunt, Frank and Straight – Modern India is in no mood to accept further bloodshed of any sort, at least in my reading. We dont want to absorb anything, or change the bloody world. We just want to be left in peace. We have no illusions on that score and trust me, that is precisely what our Foreign Policy also speaks, with its clear reaching out to the neighborhood, as well as other steps. The message is clear – dont push us. We know how to push back, and very, very hard. Observe the steps of both the UPA as well as the BJP on that score, right from the Diplomat incident to invites to China, and strategic support – unequivocal openly voiced support to Russia in open defiance to the West.

I dont think it is feasible for India to hold back from responding anymore, if recent events and forces, Political positions are anything to judge by. And please trust me, non-Indians- on this point, nearly all India stands united regardless of religion, political dispensation or whatever. This is not an issue that can be ignored anymore; something has to be done to reign in those idiots to the West. This cannot be ignored; not with the rise of the ISIS.

Or can we just ignore Pakistan, and move on in the hope that things will be all right? Can we continue on our path of growth, with our justified dreams of regional and world leadership, in the backdrop of the problems we have? What happens if there is another attack? Can we so easily dehyphenate? Esp when the world does not want to dehyphenate the 2 of us? Can we pretend that we have larger roles to play in the world, and never mind the terror? Can we be assured that Pakistan wont foment trouble for us? 

Most critically, how can we lay claim to genuine global recognition, when the same globe does not realise, and does not want to realise, that the one nation to pay the heaviest price, and pay it willingly, quietly, is our India? To my mind, the two are not reconcilable; you cannot brush these things under the carpet for ever. You cannot have a global recognition, in the backdrop of manifest, crystal clear and provable duality of treatment as is the current situation. There will come a time when this duality will rub people the wrong way. Perhaps, this process of alienation has already started… with India’s crystal clear pro-Asian tilt…


How can we reconcile this manifest duality – calling India a great nation etc, and supplying arms to, and ignoring Pakistani antics, by the west? Iraq was destroyed merely on suspicion, whereas Pakistan, the ONLY nation to actually threaten a Nuclear Attack on another – {India} was not even considered for consideration for even an admonishment. India has seen 43000+ deaths due to Pakistan, and indirectly the USA, as their arms flow into Pakistan; as they started the Jihad nonsense in 1985 {Afghan misadventure}. Other examples from around the world can be readily found.Is this model sustainable? How can we play a larger global role, with trouble surrounding us on all sides in Asia? 


 Call it wishful thinking, but I still feel that if the world wants to, it can make Pakistan come to its senses by assertive action – like isolation, or severe pressure or joint action. Sure, it would mean severe internal issues for Pakistan; and massive kickbacks at the West as well as the Government; which is precisely why the West does not want to do anything about it, forgetting they created the problem in the first place, making it their moral obligation to clear it up. {Well, ok, The USA – UK} 

It is living in a dream’s world if I were to believe anyone would do the above out of the goodness of their heart. Straight, Frank and Blunt : Only one nation has done anything selflessly : India, period. So we can be sure the above is not going to happen. Well, my respectful submission : study the period 1930 – 1939. In detail.. Study how the WW2 started, why it started, why it happened. The parallel is perfect. The appeasement of Germany led to WW2; the appeasement of Pakistan has led to the unprecedented rise of Islamic Terror. And while you are about it, study the WW1 in detail, and especially what happened immediately afterwards; and compare to the present, History repeats itself. 

This time, it is not the perpetrators who are paying : thanks to technological advancements, it is the criminals and the unconnected innocents who are paying. Read that “unconnected” bit as “India”. That we are right is easily proven: Despite having 150 Million Muslim Citizens, India is an ocean of peace and calm in a relative sense, while the rest of the world implodes; even the West has been jolted by the inroads made by the ISIS. Our wish is only to protect this hard-fought peace; it has come at a price heavier than anything paid by anyone on the planet; given we are not responsible for even an iota of what transpired. And that seems to be rather difficult to do at this point in time. 

A peaceful nation can only ignore or forget the past and the present reality around it for so long; beyond that point, inaction can be equated with stupidity. An old maxim fits here : beware the temper of the quiet man. Everyone would do well to remember that.

Add to that Pakistan’s assumed importance as a gateway to Afghanistan; yet again refurbished due to the rise of the ISIS. And who benefits? Pakistan. Smart, very smart indeed. Heads I win, tails you lose. 

Today’s newspaper had an interesting article – our – aah, what was it – bosom friend, cohort, brother, partner etc etc whatnot – The USA, who else – is building a dam in POK, despite Indian objection. Even the World Bank backed off when India objected. Strident objections, might I add. And, only 20 days after the Modi visit. Interesting, isnt it? What  strategic partnership? Note – India does not repeat not repeat not have any repeat any repeat any friend on this planet, Russia aside. Even Israel, due to US pressure, is not reliable. And the Indian Government knows this. Watch Putin’s visit. Low-key, but bet you that some pretty important decisions will be taken. Guaranteed. 

Despite the manifest fact that we have paid a higher price than any nation on this planet due to terrorism, no one will step forward to help. 

The key, the absolutely vital key, is to dissociate Pakistan from the West; to force the West to act. We should, in my opinion,, albeit layman’s opinion, start building serious pressure on The West to quit the bullshit with Pakistan, and use – really use – the UN. One way that occurs to me is to threaten to pull out of the UN. Or we could actually quit; it wont make much of a difference. And make the reason clear : it isnt because of Pakistan, but because of the unequal nature of the body. 

Properly done, we could set off a cascade reaction. There may be other ways to do the same; the objective is clear – make any support to Pakistan by The West untenable; you could threaten retaliatory action, like cancelling arms deals, stopping business, or stopping relations of any sort. 

Unless The West steps aside, I dont think military action is an option. Because, all on its own, Pakistan knows that a Nuke attack will only ascertain extinction for Pakistan. After a Nuke, Indian Public, Armed Forces or Government will not stop at anything less than annihilation, in my opinion. And Pakistan uses the Nuke bluff only and only to terrorise the West, which is too smart to understand. Too smart by half.

As regards a strike on Pakistan, only an Armed Forces Officer is in the proper place to comment; only such a person has the requisite exposure and knowledge. We, as civilians, should in my opinion keep silent about such options, and trust our Armed Forces and Politicians to take the right calls. So far, save for once, they have been right each and every time. An exemplary record, if I may say so. 

A strike would decidedly have a significant downside. The key aspect here is the overall geopolitical situation, which is not in our favour. A unilateral attack from our side can only lead to international intervention due to the Nuclear bugbear, which is exactly what Pakistan wants. Doing that would be playing into Pakistani hands. Personally, I am sure that the Nuclear threat is just a bluff : we are certain to give a disproportionate response. That would mean certain obliteration for Pakistan. Second, it would leave Pakistan’s owner & master the USA with no option but to participate in the response, and step in. For Pakistan, it means complete destruction and/or dismemberment. That is 100% assured. 

And that is what is Pakistan’s play is : it is buffing. And those morons in the West are too smart to see through this, the biggest bluff ever perpetrated by any nation. I would request people here to watch state department interviews on youtube – Pakistan is always viewed as a strategic location. Always and everytime. This is blinding the West to the reality; the grand bluff. A master play by a genius – credit where credit is due. Hence, every time there is tension on the border, everyone from The Western Media to The Western Leaders begin their nightmare scenarios, forcing intervention.

And that is why, an aggressive posture, combined with an olive branch vis-a-vis Pakistan is the only way out of this; this is where the current Government is excelling. It is holding out an olive branch – while being far more aggressive than its predecessor. The message is in equal parts to Pakistan as well as its owners in The Great West : We are in no mood to take any nonsense. Unless the West gets out of the way, and stops propping up Pakistan, no solution is feasible… 

India-Pakistan : Joining Hearts Vs Pointed Guns

Published October 12, 2014 by vishalvkale

JOINING HEARTS VS POINTED GUNS : THE DEBATE CONTINUES

An effort of peace, of bridging the gap, in the backdrop of blazing guns… and not the first, either. I was part of one such initiative : Jodey Dilon Ko, which was an interesting experience. In this post, I had observed : “Will this interaction {culture + trade} bridge the divide? All that lies in the future, and depends upon a peaceful coexistence between the two of us, devoid of terrorist attacks, and cross-border violence. That is the core, the non-negotiable reality. The ball is firmly in Pakistan’s court; I just hope the moderates in Pakistan win the day…”

Today, as we stare at yet another violation in the backdrop of this peace process, it is time for us to try and analyse whether these efforts are worth it, or are they a complete waste of time and energy. This is especially so, since we now have a Government that is intent on a firm stance – no talks in the shadow of the gun. This is a shift, a significant shift, that cannot be ignored, as it has far-reaching implications


THE POLITICAL BACDROP

It has been a real pleasure, seeing the response from the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the Indian Government : No Talks, No Discussions in the shadow of the Gun. This, combined with an invite to the Pakistani PM for the swearing in ceremony, sends a clear signal – we are open to discussions, we are open to talks : but not until the Guns stop blazing. This has now been firmly established as a non-negotiable reality, a bottomline for normalcy. 

This seemingly over-the-top and ultra-hardline response is welcome, since we have soft pedaled the entire Pakistani intervention and violence for far too long; virtually everything has been tried. We have been talking to them for donkeys years with absolutely nothing to show for it. It seems to me, a lay citizen, that even those Pakistani commitments actually made in talks arent worth the paper they are written on. And, while we talk, blood has continued to flow, the flow stemmed only by the iron-will of our security forces, and their incessant sacrifices. The price we Indians have paid for Pakistani violence has been heavy indeed – a price the entire world ignores in totality. It is a story written in large amounts of blood, and the blood-soaked words on the parchment of history are still wet. 

This response is in reality, only mildly tougher, and eminently reasonable : it stands as one of the Narendra Modi-led governments successes, and acts of sheer brilliance. All The Government of India is saying is : Talk to us, and only to us; Dont create trouble while we are talking to each other; No Violence; And No intervention. This is, any which way you look at it, a completely reasonable stance, and sets a paradigm in which some progress can perhaps be genuinely attempted. 

Critically, it sets a bar for the Pakistanis – a bar that will have to be reached by them in order to demonstrate their genuine commitment to peace, and order. We are willing to talk – it isnt on our terms, as some in the Media have reported it. It is simply that we are willing to talk in conditions that can foster calm discussion, negotiation, genuine sharing of views in a conducive atmosphere. This is a basic minimum for talks, for discussions that can lead to a solution, and a win-win situation – howsoever remote that may seem under the current set of circumstances. 


THE WAY FORWARD

It is in the backdrop above that peace moves and cultural interchanges have to be seen; it is in the above backdrop that the way forward has to be analysed. A full analysis is of course beyond the scope of this blog, but we normal citizens can at least get a grip on the entirety of the situation across the border, and view it in its entirety, not through our own views, opinions and experiences

There are 2 views in primacy – a view of enmity and perhaps open dislike, even hatred; and another view of bridging the divide or the gap, and moving on, side-stepping the violence. It is my submission that both are way off the mark; one being dangerous, and the other ludicrous.  On both sides, emotions can get away with themselves; leading to hasty statements. Such hasty statements, if made by people like you and me, may or may not have a significant impact; but such hasty statements made by someone in authority – perhaps influenced by public opinion, can be extremely effective in swinging things, if you get my point. 

The NaMo handling of this entire affair has set off jingoistic chest-thumping and showers of praise on side of the spectrum, with its attendant social media chatter. These are emotion-charged, and are extremely effective in building public opinion, which is vital in the modern world. While there can be no question that the entire matter has been handled with elan and class by NaMo, let us not go overboard. Please remember that Indians have died on the border; Indian blood has been spilt. Spare a thought for them. Fine, we didnt start the shooting, but that doesnt mean we celebrate or go over-emotional; not in this powder keg. 

A calm and satisfied response is, in my opinion, what is most called for : Calm and Satisfied since the violence has been  met, defeated, a stern message sent by an excellent Government, a hard spine has been revealed, and a tungsten core shown to the world, a view of a nation not in a mood for nonsense of any kind. That would also be the best support to this Government, and in keeping with our PMs quiet, firm and clear stance and words.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have events like the 2 referred to above, efforts which bring the people of the 2 warring nations together in cultural exchanges of views, or in trade, or other such peaceful activities. While no doubt welcome, we cannot set much store by such activities, for they completely ignore the ground reality of Pakistan, and its internal conflicts, and makeup; as also the one fundamental fact that is unalterable – Pakistan is in every way a nation that defines itself as Not-India. 

History is proof of the above – for example, even as the conference in Lahore was underway, and platitudes of peace were being stated, The Kargil War was being planned. There have been regular episodes of  violence from the other side, even as talks continued; terror was and is constantly being exported from that nation. This is a fact that cannot change; and is not likely to in the foreseeable future. What use is cultural interchange as a method of pushing peace, when that same nation is exporting terror to us? 

Cultural interchange can only bring about appreciation for each others similarity, or culture, or some such aspect. These aspects are of no importance in the sphere of politics and defence – and the issues are defence related issues. Further, the people of that other nation are in no position to alter the fundamental positions taken by their Armed Forces and politicians. Not now, not in the foreseeable future. Seen in that light, all such measures frankly make for good Media coverage, but have no impact on the relations between the two sides, inasmuch as the participants are completely unable to make a dent on their nations’ policies on one side of the border. Enough said. 

That is why it is far better to me middle of the road on this – not go in for too much jingoism, and not go in for too much hoopla over peace initiatives. There is precisely nothing to celebrate about – we, too have spilt blood. Fine, they started it first, and we have responded emphatically. We are not to blame, but try and tell that to the families of the dead or should I say, the martyrs. 

If anything, let us be thankful for our open society, democracy and tolerance that has ensured internal peace within a sea of violence all around us; for the presence of a strong-willed Central Government which knows how to handle this matter. Let us be thankful to the Armed Forces and the BSF for keeping us constantly safe, and pray for them, for their well-being. May God grant them continued courage and strength; May God Protect them from harm

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You, all the martyrs who have given their lives so that we may live in peace, and for the men who put their lives in danger for us. We live in  dangerous times; that we a are calm and peaceful nation in a sea of violence all around us, is also a tribute to the selfless sacrifices of these braves who have given their lives for us…

Terror : The Guilty, And The Innocent…

Published August 30, 2014 by vishalvkale


“This ignored the lesson from Afghanistan (where the CIA in the 1980s ran, via Pakistan, the largest covert operation in its history) — that inciting jihad and arming “holy warriors” creates a deadly cocktail, with far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on international security. The Reagan administration openly used Islam as an ideological tool to spur armed resistance to Soviet forces in Afghanistan

In 1985, at a White House ceremony in honour of several Afghan mujahideen — the jihadists out of which al-Qaeda evolved — President Ronald Reagan declared, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of America’s Founding Fathers.” Earlier in 1982, Reagan dedicated the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ to the Afghan resistance. He declared, “Just as the Columbia, we think, represents man’s finest aspirations in the field of science and technology, so too does the struggle of the Afghan people represent man’s highest aspirations for freedom. I am dedicating, on behalf of the American people, the March 22 launch of the Columbia to the people of Afghanistan.”

The Afghan war veterans came to haunt the security of many countries. Less known is the fact that the Islamic State’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — like Libyan militia leader Abdelhakim Belhadj (whom the CIA abducted and subjected to “extraordinary rendition”) and Chechen terrorist leader Airat Vakhitov — become radicalised while under U.S. detention. As torture chambers, U.S. detention centres have served as pressure cookers for extremism.

Had the U.S. and its allies refrained from arming jihadists to topple Mr. Assad, would the Islamic State have emerged as a lethal, marauding force? And would large swaths of upstream territory along the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers in Syria and Iraq have fallen into this monster’s control? The exigencies of the topple-Assad campaign also prompted the Obama administration to turn a blind eye to the flow of Gulf and Turkish aid to the Islamic State.

In fact, the Obama team, until recently, viewed the Islamic State as a “good” terrorist organisation in Syria but a “bad” one in Iraq, especially when it threatened to overrun the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil. In January, Mr. Obama famously dismissed the Islamic State as a local “JV team” trying to imitate al-Qaeda but without the capacity to be a threat to America. It was only after the public outrage in the U.S. over the video-recorded execution of American journalist James Foley and the flight of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis that the White House re-evaluated the threat posed by the Islamic State”

At long last, someone from Mainstream Media has found the guts to publish what has been common knowledge; the World’s best known and worst kept open secret. {If there have been any other articles, I have missed them}. Of note is the statement from 1985 – all the more so since that directly impacted India. Full marks to The Hindu and Mr Brahma Chellaney for this stupendous article. 

You can call these guys Jihadists, or Extremists, or Terrorists – or whatever else passes your fancy. You can now label them as an international threat, a threat to world peace, and what-not. You can now pass judgement on them, and plan their extermination and defeat – now that they are threatening you. You can now call yourselves as fighting against terror, now that the terror has come to hit your nations – I am referring to the USA and any other nations that helped these terrorists in the early days. 

Who gave these terrorists arms in the first place? How is it that these dangers to world peace are armed with the most sophisticated of weapons? How did they make the contacts and processes needed to procure these ultra-modern equipment such that they now sport? How did these weapons reach these terrorists? How is it that in this modern world, sophisticated weaponry is reaching these unsophisticated people? How did it all start? 

When we were warning of what is happening; when we were providing proof of the diversion of the arms to fighting India and instilling terror in India, these very same great Western powers placidly looked away. When blood was flowing in my country, no one cared; while the West continued in its myopic stupidity, supporting dictator after dictator; intervening in nation after nation. 

Then, the moment the monster turned around to attack the West, these freedom fighters became terrorists! And what do you do? Of Course, make the 2 nations  which were creating them the ringleaders in the anti-terror war; with the one nation that has paid a higher price for the follies of the West – My India – being ignored yet again. 

Dont get me wrong – I am thankful The Great West ignored me again. After seeing the price of “help” and “intervention” form the West, {Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc}; I would much rather be ignored than be a friend of such short-sighted and self-centered regimes like the USA etc! I would much rather have an arms-length no intervention relationship with these great helpers. 

Why should these Great Western Powers intervene in other nations? In each and every case, a people relatively at peace {albeit under despots} were ripped apart, their peace destroyed, their economy wrecked, their society in tatters, the future of their children completely destroyed, and all because one Western Power thought it would “help” internal dissatisfied elements in these despotic regimes.

This “Help” has created a cesspool of misery, compared to which what these nations had before intervention was decidedly better and preferable. At least they had a life, an economy, a society and a future for their children. The disenfranchised too, had  a hope – that their struggle will ensure a future for their children – if not in their current country, then elsewhere. Now, as things stand today, all hope is destroyed for everyone in that part of the world. 
  
All because one Great Western Power {or a few powers} decided to “help” things along by “empowering” the dissatisfied elements, setting in motion a chain of events that has now come back to haunt everyone. A chain of terrifying events that now has  control; that has grown into a Frankenstein.  So tell me, who is responsible? Only the terrorists from the Middle East? 

Would the ISI be such a threat if it werent for the training of the CIA? Would the Pakistani terror factory be so efficient were it not for the free instructions, training and arms received during the Afghan campaign? Would so much blood have flowed if the West had kept its noses out of places where it did not belong? Would the Jihad factory  be what it is today without all this? 

So  tell me – who is the Guilty Party? Who is the real Innocent Party here? I can see only one innocent party – The Sovereign, Secular, Democratic Republic Of India. That is it. If the monster is now attacking Pakistan, and The West, it is only turning back on its creators. But in all this, My India has paid a heavy price. 

And, till date 2014, not one Western Leader has appreciated what India has gone through ever since The Afghan Covert Operation began in the Mid-80s. A knife at our throats, drawing blood every single day. Each and every single day; a price paid in blood by our citizens numbering in thousands. But why should they appreciate? It isnt their blood…


NaMo : Excelling on Independence Day; But….

Published August 16, 2014 by vishalvkale

It is rare indeed when a political leader truly connects with the masses; it is rarer still when he both connects with, and rips into the masses and their habits, holding them singularly responsible for a number of habits… This is what Shri Narendra Modi achieved on the 15th of August 2014 from the ramparts of The Red Fort, New Delhi…


At the outset, let me concede that I was extremely lucky on 2 counts : first, I happened to read the speech before I listened to it; and two – I was extremely lucky to see this day with my eyes, and listen to it with my ears. Not because of what some people say – “Vande Mataram, Hindi Speech etc”; but because of some other reasons that I shall detail in this post. I started listening to it on youtube,, but stopped midway – around 14:00 – when the sheer power of his skills in oration began clouding by ability to judge. Our PM is a truly magical persona, indeed… proud to be Indian at this moment…

I subsequently listen to the entire speech, and was truly glad that I did both – read it first, and listened to the speech as well. It was one of the most original, brilliant single pieces of oratory one is likely to see; it was combined with a genuine approach towards the subject matter – at no point was it contrived, or made up. The effort seemed genuine!
Before we go ahead, let us take a look at the bullet points of his speech from http://www.livemint.comPM Speech 15 Aug :

  1. Pradhan Sevak
  2. Nation built by people; Respect Indian Constitution 
  3. Ancient Heritage; Consensus – Not Majority
  4. Dysnfunctional, infighting Bureaucracy
  5. Selfish Masses – I-Me-Myselfism
  6. Rape : Why not ask men and hold them accountable at home, in place of {or in addition to} protecting women?
  7. Nepal example; shed violence; connect with Democracy
  8. Shun Communalism
  9. Sex Ratio; Societal Imbalance; Contribution of Women
  10. Development, Good Governance, People should be service oriented
  11. Bank Account For All
  12. Skill Development
  13. Made In India
  14. Indian Image transformed by our professionals
  15. Cleaniless, filth everywhere; Drive to clean it up
  16. Model Village; schemes not by personality names, but by Sansad
  17. Active involvement of States, Federalism, No Planning Commission
  18. Defeat Poverty by SAARC together
Looked at it in such  a dispassionate manner, bulletted and enumerated : a few points become immediately visible even to the untrained eye. But more of that later; first  let me concentrate on the PM’s delivery skills a bit more. I dont profess to explain it: not possible for me; but he does have almost  a magical pull, a charm about him that forces people to listen to him – that is beyond contest. The way he went about it, and his presentation was tremendous, and well-thought out.

It has been called an extempore speech; I dont think so. It was delivered, or rather – it seemed to be delivered extemporaneously, and spontaneously; but the thought and effort was showing. It was not apparent in the speech; but when you read it – it jumps at you. A good deal of thought, effort and planning went into it; which makes it all the more impressive – as it means that Shri Narendra Modi was intent on sending a message to all Indians on the occasion of Independence Day; He was also sending a clear message to the world as well as Indians. He was blasting his citizens for their ridiculous habits – and I can only feel a tinge of sadness. No pride, just shame and sadness at some of the content…

It is a sad day indeed when the Prime Minister of a nation has to exhort the country for such mundane items as Cleanliness, How to treat Women, Selfishness of the masses, Rape, Sex Ratio… how far have we fallen? How far indeed? I do recall Modiji also saying the same words, or words to that effect. Those words jolted me;  indeed he is right. What have we as a people become? How sad a condition it is if the Prime Minister is having to talk of such things? He held up a mirror to the masses – and the image in it was ugly. 

The good part is that it was nice to see someone of his stature stand up and rip off the mask of propriety from the citizenry in no uncertain terms; it felt good to see Modiji rip off the mask from the farce of Governance we had earlier, and showcase attempts to set things right. Best of all, prima facie, based on current evidence, this is being done by simple tactics without a witch hunt. Will it have an impact? I hope so, given his fan-following and his oratory skills, his tremendous connect with the masses. I am keeping my fingers crossed. 

For the rest, the speech focused on Skill Development, Manufacturing and Industry, & Bank Accounts for all; reams have been written about this in other articles, so I shall not dwell much on this, except to make a couple of observations on Made in India dream – this addresses a significant issue in our economy, or set of issues, rather – if we pull it off, it will be great; and there is no reason why we cant. 

Moving on, I dont agree with other analysts on the lack of substance. Sure, he could have been more specific, and focused on the nitty-gritty : making business environment simpler, introducing GST, etc etc. It has to be remembered that this is not a planning meeting; this is a national address. Such sessions have to, perforce, be high on ideals and goals, and low on the practicalities and the nuts-n-bolts.  This was a vision statement for the nation, as well as a not-so-gentle reminder of our faults from the Head Of The Family. And like it or not, Shri Narendra Modi is the Head Of Our Family, our Prime Minister : whether or not you voted for him. 

And that is where the problem lies. In Skill Development, there was no mention of primary and secondary school education or its quality – let alone plans to address this. The focus lay elsewhere. There was no mention of this serious issue. The vision statement was  totally silent on health issues, and lack of facilities in rural areas. It made no mention of these vital parameters, and related aspects – schools and PHCs in villages – taking education and Health to the masses; this is where the real concentration should have been. It made mention of Bank Accounts and Toilets – but no hint of education and medicine. This is worrying. No mention of rising prices : the single biggest issue facing us in the near term. 

It was totally silent on Corruption – not one word. Not one single word; not even a homily to the masses to stop paying a bribe. If you can exhort the masses to treat women better, clean your cities etc- why cant you attend to this as well? It would have been a relatively easy thing to do; and yet – it was totally ignored. It made not even one observation on the quality of politicians who govern our nation and on the criminalisation of politics. Nothing, nada, zilch. I wonder why? 

Corruption, Education & Health  plus Prices are all as important as toilets and Skill Development; in such a fantastic speech that was genuine and hit all the right notes, these omissions were jarring, leading me to wonder – are we going wrong in our single minded chase to become a developed nation? What about inclusive growth? For, one thing is clear : The focus was development as a people, and development as a nation. Poverty was both mentioned as well as focused –  but the specifics and the practicalities touched upon in the speech did not gel with the goal of poverty eradication. True, these might be taken up later on in the real world – but nevertheless the omission was a jarring note; it needed a mention of these 3 aspects as well… as these are the biggest issues facing India at the moment. 

The reason – there is simply no way or earth that poverty can be reduced without good schools & hospitals where the people need them, at a price they can afford… these, along with corruption, are our biggest problems. And our Prime Minister was silent on these points, which struck the only jarring note in an otherwise flawless speech that was loaded with pertinent and excellent content.. I can only hope that these are on the radar, and will be attended to alongwith the other practicalities… 

Please do update me in case I have missed something, and the negatives were also mentioned; I have no intention of being wrong

The Misunderstood Hindu

Published July 2, 2014 by vishalvkale

As I noted in my previous post, the targeting of the BJP among a set of hardcore religious fundamentalist organisations, most with militant and armed wings – armed with the latest arms and weapons, with a history of armed struggle behind them – is highly suggestive, and confirms the stereotype the West holds us Indians, and especially Hindus, in, as well as underscores the colored glasses and biases held by the West towards Hindus. It pains me, a confirmed moderate, to use these words; but I now have no choice but to call it like it is. 

The list is extremely though provoking, and incites deep questions, disquieting questions, for the BJP is chosen as one among a series of hardcore fundamentalist organisations, equating the approach of the BJP with these organisations, all of rest of which have far more serious repercussions for the USA than the BJP; all with either a chequered or violent history, and all of them being from unstable nations, or Islamic nations, or nations in deep strife – or nations with established terrorism-supporting history. 

By clubbing the BJP with these, the USA has straightaway equated India with these nations – which makes for a wonderful reading : Pakistan, Venezuela, Egypt, Bolivia! India, with its established history of calm and peace, and focus on solving its own internal problems; India, with its non-aggressive culture, internal focus and non-expansionist mindset – is no threat to anyone, and cannot be called a flash-point either. We have proven the ability to sort out our own problems without crying or complaint. 

By targeting the BJP with such  an august list, one straight point has been irrevocably made – the West, especially the USA, does not understand Hinduism, and does not understand India, or its politics or its culture or even its ground realities. It further equates the BJP with they call fundamentalist Hinduism, which can be the only reason for this unacceptable clubbing. 

This can only happen when a nation’s internal realities are not understood by a super-power, and its culture is equated with other cultures. It just cannot see beyond its own narrow conceptualisation of the nation, of the state. It confuses Hinduism with other religions, and also confuses Indian nationality and internal truths with its own biased perceptions, without serious engagement with, or attempt to understand the truth. 

First, Hinduism is not equal to India, and India is not equal to Hinduism. One is a religion and the other a nation. We are a nation of several religions, all of which exist in complete equality. The special privileges to minorities are constitutionally protected, and the state does not equate itself with any religion. Neither does the majority religion – Hinduism make any attempt to do so. There are calls to dismantle some of these – true, but these are dealt with in true democratic fashion, which is our own internal right, as a sovereign nation. 

Hindus, or any of its “supposed” socio-cultural organisations do not target non-Hindus in India. Violent, systematic targeting and vicious targeting is all but absent and sporadic outbursts of violence do not deny this fundamental reality. In fact, the various sub-sects of the minorities peacefully exist in India – unlike any other country, including the USA. No religion is preferred; in fact, the minorities receive special privileges.  We Hindus can differentiate between our religion and our nation. 

Hinduism, even in its most aggressive avatar, isnt even a patch on some of the other fundamentalist scenes we see around the world, and especially so when compared to others on the list. The most aggressive avatar of Hinduism : 

  • does not provoke the spread of extermination; 
  • does not target minorities in the fashion of the others;
  • does not spread armed extremism as in the Islamic world; 
  • does not advocate any  set of oppressive laws; 
  • does not seek to build a political identity across political borders; 
  • does not seek to build a pan-Hindu identity; 
  • does not seek modern arms, or advocate militancy; 
  • does not exterminate populations; 
  • does not seek to spread outside India; 
  • and it does not differentiate between internal streams of thought in Hinduism – unlike the other major religions!

The entire focus of even the most fundamental Hindu is the recognition of India as a Hindu state – which, first of all, is devoid of any fundamentalist overtones as indicated above. The focus is internal – on India; and poses no international threat to any nation. This is an entirely Indian problem, with no one having any locus standi on it. We can deal with it internally, and have the institutions and laws to deal with this by our own selves without any intervention, as recent history has proven beyond any shade of doubt. 

The sad part is that historically, it is the Hindu identity that has been the most viciously targeted by 

  • oppression, 
  • suppression, 
  • external violence, 
  • forced conversion, 
  • destruction of places of worship,
  • denigration of and direct, targeted insults to the religion and its followers,
  • innuendo and false impressions,
  • torture and pain,
  • Racist intolerant views, and 
  • biased, one-sided portrayal of its practices combined with derisive and insulting coverage of its proponents

We have been suppressed for more than  hundreds of years, within our own land; we were forced into practically beggarly existence in the lap of our own mother. Despite this persecution, we opted for a secular polity in the interest of peace – with complete separation of religion and the state, unlike even the USA. We are still made fun of, poked at, derided and insulted on a routine basis by the Westerner in facebook posts, social media, news articles, books, news channels and newspapers. All bad happenings are still blown out of all proportion in international media, with its jaundiced, prejudiced and one-sided portrayal of India and Hinduism both. 

India is the only land where all Islamic sects enjoy peaceful co-existence. India is the only land where all religions enjoy a peaceful coexistence, without state discrimination. And most critically, India is probably the only land most fundamentally impacted by the scourge of Islamic Terrorism. We live surrounded by enemies; we are the closest to Islamic terror. Not only that, we also have the highest {or second-highest} population of Muslims in the world. And yet, By The Grace Of The Lord, India is the one nation that has remained relatively at peace when the rest of the Islamic world goes up in flames!

You will not find a Hindu poking fun at other religions, or questioning them, or deriding them. At least, not as much as others, especially westerners. The Hindu will not intervene in other religions – at times, even when it impacts his or her own practices. This is a tribute to my religion and its openness that allows fundamental thoughts to coexist with moderate & even liberal thoughts, and compete with each other without dogmas and dictats of any kind. It is a further tribute to my land as well as my religion, which ensures peace for all religions.

Despite all this persecution, derision and misunderstandings, The Hindu remains resolute in his faith, non-violent, calm, difficult to arouse, and internally focused. Yes, we have problems – and big ones. Yes, there have been incidences of sectarian violence, which is sad especially considering our tolerance. But what is more important is that we are dealing with these issues on our own, within our own laws, without disturbing other nations. And the people- including The Hindus themselves – are probing, questioning and self-examining. We do not want trouble; there are forces active who are questioning the background, and taking-  or trying to – take corrective action.

Be it Hindus, or Muslims, or Christians, Or Sikhs… we Indians are dealing with our own problems within our own land without disturbing anyone. This is a tribute to followers of all Religions of this Great Land. And this makes us more mature, developed and calm a people than any other nation on Earth. That is the key : without disturbing or involving anyone. If we are wrong, we will pay for it. If we are right, we Indians will reap the benefit. The message : Stay the hell out of our problems. We can deal with them!

It is crystal clear, and has been for some time now, that the USA as well as most of the West continues to map its own perceptions on our internal realities, and confuse right-wing politics and/or what they love to call Hindutva with Fundamentalism. It is a known fact that even the most aggressive Hinduism is not even a patch on other religions, as I observe above. My advice to all such ladies and gentlemen : make an effort to understand Hinduism, its history, its internal realities. You dont have even an iota’s worth of concept of what we are, how advanced we are in our thoughts, and how positively ridiculous your suspicions are. Try and understand us- in place of deriding us – which, incidentally reveals more regarding your nature and exposes you more than us!