Age Islam Edit Bureau
Sep 8, 2017
From silence to speech
Saffron voices chipping away at
S S Dhawan
Why floods are the new normal
Myanmar connect: Bilateral ties
on firm footing, but Naypyidaw needs to resolve Rohingya crisis
Asif dashes to China to stem
Justice catches up with Mumbai
No ‘Doklam dividend’
Vigil on vigilantes: on the
Supreme Court's reminder
Trump Admin Backs Sale Of
F-18/F-16 Fighter Jets To India
N Korea's Nuke Threat To
China's Path To Power
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit
out cow vigilantism
The Prime Minister has spoken
in no uncertain terms on stopping violence in the cow’s name.
Sep 8, 2017, 12:15 am IST
The Supreme Court has given
sage advice to governments on cow vigilantism. It asked every state to appoint
a senior police official in each district to stop the vigilantes from violence
in the name protecting cows.
The vigilantes must be brought
to book promptly, the court said, with the Chief Justice also voicing concern
and pointing out that a mechanism should be in place to arrest this deeply
divisive mania. Cow vigilantism has spread disaffection and caused deaths too
by lynching, which has no place in any civilised society. The ongoing
litigation against the despicable practice also reminds us the Centre can’t
abdicate its constitutional responsibility to instruct the states to take steps
to save innocent lives from mob fury.
The Prime Minister has spoken
in no uncertain terms on stopping violence in the cow’s name. The animal may
have been revered for centuries, but there’s just no place for the depravity of
indiscriminate attacks against those transporting cows due to misplaced
confidence about the attackers being backed by false notions of the strength of
majoritarianism. The zealots don’t seem to care about the damage done to social
harmony by these brazen acts. They may feel encouraged in the current
environment. The number of vigilante events, said to be 66 by one count, is a
clear pointer to the frenzy fed also by videos of such violence being aired on
the social media by mischievous elements. A court-directed system of
accountability in law enforcement must be backed by governments walking the
talk after condemning cow vigilantism.
silence to speech
Those who want to silence
dissent are trying to force people into making the reverse journey
To hear the news of Gauri
Lankesh’s death was like watching the replay of a movie I had seen before. Men
came on a motorbike, shot her and then vanished. No one saw them. M.M.
Kalburgi’s murder was eerily similar. There, too, the men came on a motorbike
and, their job done, vanished. Nobody saw them. Kalburgi was a teacher and
scholar, Gauri a journalist and activist, but they had this in common: They
believed in speaking what they considered was the truth. It is now two years
since Kalburgi’s death, but the men remain untraced. Now, once again there is a
killing, once again the protests, the candle-lit vigils, the banners, the
placards. Once again, the government promises an investigation, a search for
the killers, but can we believe them? Is Gauri’s murder also going to remain an
When a murder takes place, the
priority is obviously finding the killer. But perhaps in Gauri’s case, as in
Kalburgi’s, even if the killers are found, it may provide only a partial answer
to the question who. The killers in these cases, and in the earlier two cases
of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, were obviously professional
assassins. Mercenaries, experienced in killing. Gauri’s killers came in the
dark and vanished like ghosts. Why was Gauri killed is the next question.
All political parties have
condemned the murder, all of them have expressed their shock. The Congress
government even gave her a state funeral! There are conflicting theories doing
the rounds, red herrings are dragged in. Kalburgi’s death was called the result
of a property dispute by the investigating police and some politicians, the
Naxalites hinted at in
Gauri’s death. Protesting on
Gauri’s behalf seems like shadow boxing. Whom are we fighting? The murder seems
to be surrounded by a dark fog of confusion. Is there a power behind the
curtain operating the strings, making the moves? Or is that, too, a chimera?
The one question that urgently demands an answer is: Are we now living in a
country where people are killed because of their ideology, their beliefs? Are
we living in a country where dissent is silenced by a bullet? Two years ago,
there was a protest in India which began with writers and went on to embrace
scientists, film-makers, social scientists, teachers and many others. This
protest erupted after the killing of a man on the suspicion that he had eaten
beef and because of the deaths of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. In spite of
the attempts of the government and its followers to trivialise and sully the
issue, it was one of the most heartening movements of recent times, because the
protestors had no political leanings and no agenda of their own — except to
reassert the idea of India as a country of multiplicities, a country where each
citizen has the right to live life the way she/he wants. Instead, we now have
an idea of a country where one religion, one way of living, one culture, is the
Gauri was a vehement
anti-Hindutva person. She was hated for her views, she was called a Naxal
sympathiser, a Hindu hater. But however strong her views, she posed no threat
to those she opposed. Nor were the three men killed earlier any threat. And yet
all of them were chosen targets, their murders well-planned. There is only one
explanation for this; Gauri and the others were killed to send a message to all
those who oppose this idea of India. The message is: If you dissent, we are
waiting for you. To kill some and instil fears in many is a way of silencing
If you are not with us you are
against us, President George W. Bush told the world after 9/11. This is exactly
the way it is in India today. If you don’t agree with us, you are the enemy.
There are footsoldiers who help by spewing venom on the social networking
sites. Gauri, too, was attacked in the vilest terms. The abuses, the kind of
things being said about her as a woman, the threats of gang rape, the rejoicing
over her death — all these come out of sick minds.
Today, we are being told what
being a patriot or a nationalist means. Those of us who have lived in this
country all our lives and are tied to it by an umbilical cord are bewildered
and angry. Do we need anyone to tell us how to love our country? Perhaps one of
the things these deaths have told us is that one of the best ways of loving our
country is refusing to be afraid, refusing to be silenced.
“The only way to keep ourselves
free is to speak, not to let ourselves be silenced either by pernicious laws or
by mob screaming” — the words of an American crime writer, Sara Paretsky, in an
essay written after 9/11. She speaks of “every writer’s difficult journey” as a
“movement from silence to speech”. Those who want to silence dissent are trying
to force people into making the reverse journey — from speech to silence. But
for a writer, for a journalist, silence is also death. Perumal Murugan knew it,
which is why he announced the death of Perumal Murugan the writer when he
decided to stop writing. Whoever they are, those who are trying to silence
voices forget one thing: Silence one voice and a hundred, a thousand voices
will take its place.
Gauri Lankesh is dead. She was
a brave woman who tried to live a life according to her beliefs and
convictions. Perhaps the protest meetings, the candle-lit vigils, the banners,
the placards may be useful in making people aware of the person who died, of
why the person died. And of how important it is to speak, to refuse to be
voices chipping away at Modi’s persona
By S S
Sep 08, 2017 08:01 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
had painstakingly nurtured and created the persona of a decisive head of the
government whose philosophy is very different from that of the fatigued
Congress leaders. Even the die-hard sceptics had nursed a vain hope that Modi
would change the national discourse and the Indian way of doing things.
Likewise, he struck a chord with his captive audiences overseas and was seen to
be a pragmatic idealist who understood the Indian idiom.
In a perception driven polity,
the BJP too was able to successfully project that it alone is the harbinger of
good governance – a beacon of hope for the nation which would readily give it
even a bigger mandate in 2019.
Almost three years down the
line, with the clock ticking away, such is the presumption that the party does
not even talk of the two 18 months that remain of its tenancy, but of the
magical year 2022 – the watershed moment when all the golden eggs of the BJP
will hatch – including housing and power for all poor, double income for
farmers, a digital and cashless society –essentially a new unstoppable India.
Such is the condescending tone and the single minded obsession to chase numbers
– for instance, ”skill training for 500 million people by 2022” – that the
leadership is not unduly worried that empty promises would resonate across the
nation in 2019 and could even boomerang on the party.
PM Modi is too shrewd a person
not to realise that no nation can live on hubris alone; nor can people subsist
on a staple diet of rhetoric, bluster and half-measures. But the PM is smug in
the belief – rather he is convinced – and the party has internalised this view,
that he has altered the fundamentals of our politics by establishing the BJP’s
hegemony in the states – either by own mandate and, where that is not possible,
by forging post poll opportunistic alliances, “depriving” the other mainstream
party of its mandate, or by inflicting itself on the population by other means.
This, in turn, is expected to
pave the way for a one man, single party, majoritarian rule for at least a
decade. Theoretically speaking, India would of course remain a textbook
democracy with multi-party elections but within this single party matrix. The pecking
order at the Centre will be such that the smaller parties – mostly regional
satraps – will be constrained to share the mandate with the only dominant party
on the landscape – the BJP.
The co-option of the smaller
players will ensure that an “ostracised” Congress cannot even win a
municipality without political crutches; this will effectively confine it to
national catchment areas like Puducherry, on the periphery of the political
divide. However, such a fantasy is possible only if the already diminished
Congress suffers some kind of national erosion. That should explain why the
high decibel “malign Gandhis” project now goes well beyond outsourcing of the
tirade to party mavericks, raking up the alleged legal infringements in the
National Herald and lampooning the infirmities of Rahul Gandhi.
That should also explain the
enthusiasm and audacious presumption with which the BJP spokespersons fritter
away their energies on national TV in targeting the Gandhis, especially Rahul.
So, even as the PM has assumed
the responsibility of ensuring that headlines stay effectively managed in a
perception-driven polity and that he is seen as a development oriented leader,
the RSS is weaving the alternative saffron narrative through the likes of Yogi
Adityanath, whereby it hopes to polarise the population to an extreme. With
this kind of dichotomy, there is no ideological confusion; so, in the RSS
scheme of things Prime Minister Modi will take care of the political outpouring
but the entire country is Yogi’s preserve – his canvas is far bigger, where he
can inflict the saffron notions of cultural nationalism on us.
So far so good, but there is a
There is an inherent
occupational hazard in painstakingly building an entire political narrative
around one’s own persona as PM Modi has done. Because the very mascots of
Hindutva, by their conduct, which is at times incompatible with all-inclusive
development, are deconstructing this myth, bit by bit. Similar saffron claims
were made on prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, too, but he realised that
this kind of template demands total conformism which will constrict his freedom
of choice and tether his agenda of governance.
Also underlying the notion that
the BJP has proprietary rights to good governance is an equally fallacious
assumption that the ease of doing political business is facilitated if the same
party has a government at the Centre and in the state. This power play is
further couched in the simplistic reasoning that the Centre and the states need
to work in tandem if fruits of development are to be shared.
But these fruits of development
are neither visible on the ground, nor are they ripe to be plucked in the
states where BJP is in control; nor do the people feel they are active
participants in the growth process. We perhaps had a glimpse of this disconnect
in Gorakhpur where red tape smothered 70-odd children with its fatal embrace!
The recent derailments have also brought down the façade of development – the
first big embarrassment for the prime minister.
Interestingly, the recent train
derailments too have more to do with the Railways’ misplaced thrust on
peripheral activities – services like Wifi, giving precedence to ‘pizza over
passenger comfort,’ attempts to simulate aircraft like experience on board
trains – rather than improving the existing the assets and infrastructure. All
this again has to do with the perception driven political mindset.
In a perception driven economy
– that is not based on reasonable growth assumptions – the layman, given his
simplistic reasoning, gets into a “hopeful” mode and boards the never-ending
merry-go-round. One can imagine his cynicism when he disembarks and realises
that his level of suffering has enhanced. Instead of getting down to
governance, the BJP has allowed itself to be distracted by frequent elections
and simply frittered away its energies in chasing a mirage of Congress-mukt
Bharat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may continue to believe that he is doing a
great job and that he has a tenacious hold on the power structure, but he is
also allowing the saffron forces to marginalise him, thus diminishing his room
for political manoeuvre. That is neither good for the BJP, nor for PM Modi, in
a perception driven polity.
floods are the new normal this monsoon
Climate change will only
increase as weather and rainfall will only get more variable, more extreme and
more catastrophic.Since rain will come in more ferocious events, we must
engineer for its storage and drainage
The Indian monsoon is never
really ‘normal’. It rains too much or too little. It is variable and more than
often unpredictable. But now the very definition of what is ‘normal’ is
changing. The fact is that Indian monsoon is becoming more extreme and more
variable. In this way, the new normal is flood at the time of drought.
This year, even as 40% of the
districts in India face prospects of drought, close to 25% districts have had
heavy rainfall of more than 100 mm in just a matter of hours. This year, even
as the overall average rainfall in the country is below normal – deficient –
large parts have received much more than their share of rain and worse, this
rain came down in a matter of hours.
Chandigarh, a city of open
parks, was recently submerged in water. It had deficient rainfall till August
21, and then it got 115 mm of rain in just 12 hours. It drowned. In other
words, it got roughly 15% of its annual monsoon rain in just a few hours.
Bengaluru hardly had any rain and then it poured. It got 150 mm of rain in just
about a day, which is close to 30 per cent of its annual monsoon rain. It is no
wonder that the city drowned. Mount Abu got over half its annual monsoon rain
in two days. Then Mumbai got some 300 mm of rain – some 15% of its annual in
This should not surprise us.
Models have predicted that the first impact of a changing climate would be on
increased frequency and intensity of weird and extreme weather events. It was
also predicted that South Asia – our region – would be worst hit by extreme
rain events. It is happening. What should worry us is that models have
predicted that this would only get worse as temperatures rise.
This is a double whammy. On the
one hand, we are getting our water management wrong—we are building in
floodplains, destroying our water-bodies and filling up our water channels.
Mumbai or Chandigarh or Bengaluru did not drown only because of extreme rain.
They drowned also because all drainage systems have been willfully destroyed.
Our city developers only see land for building; not land for water. Now, the
changing climate will make this mismanagement even more deadly.
Just consider the facts. This
year, up to mid-August, India has had 16 extremely heavy rain events, defined
as rainfall over 244 mm in a day and 100 heavy rain events defined as rainfall
between 124 to 244 mm in a day. This means that rain will become a flood.
Worse, in met records, the rain will be shown as normal, not recognising that
it did not rain when it was most needed for sowing or that the rain came in
just one downpour. It came and went. It brought no benefits. Only grief.
It is time we understood this
reality. This means learning to cope with twin scenarios, all at once. This
means being obsessive about how to mitigate floods and how to live with
scarcity of water. But the good news is that doing one can help the other. But
we need to stop debating, dithering or dawdling. We know what to do. And we
have no time to lose — climate change will only increase with time as weather
and rainfall will only get more variable, more extreme and more catastrophic.
The answer to floods is what
has been discussed for long. In fact, it was practised in these flood-prone
regions many decades ago. It requires planning systems that can divert and
channelise water so that it does not flood land and destroy life. It means
linking rivers to ponds, lakes and ditches so that water is free to flow. This
will distribute the water across the region and bring other benefits. It will
recharge groundwater so that in the subsequent months of low rainfall, there is
water for drinking and irrigation. It will also ensure that there is food
during the flood period, as wetlands are highly productive in terms of fish and
Clearly, it is time to accept
that we are beginning to see the impact of climate change. It is time to demand
that the world change its ways to mitigate emissions. It is equally important
we change the way we deal with water. The opportunity lies in making sure that
every drop of the rain is harvested for future economic use. Since rain will
come in more ferocious events we must engineer for its storage and drainage.
Channelising and holding rain water must become the nation’s mission.
This does mean that every water
body, every channel, drain, nullah and every catchment has to be safeguarded.
These are the temples of modern India. Built to worship rain. Built for our
Mitigating floods and droughts
has only one answer: obsessive attention to building millions and millions of
connected and living water structures that will capture rain, be a sponge for
flood and storehouse for drought. The only question is: when will we read the
writing on the wall? Get on with it. Get it right.
connect: Bilateral ties on firm footing, but Naypyidaw needs to resolve
September 8, 2017, 2:00 AM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
first bilateral visit to Myanmar has reaffirmed relations with a crucial
neighbouring country. New Delhi and Naypyidaw share a time-tested bond that
even withstood international sanctions against Myanmar during the latter’s military
regime. Today, when Myanmar is in the process of democratisation and is opening
up to the world, India’s role in building Myanmarese infrastructure and
institutions assumes greater significance. A total of 11 agreements have been
signed between the two sides during this visit, spanning areas like maritime
security, strengthening democratic institutions in Myanmar, health and
Given the history of
insurgencies in India’s northeast, New Delhi would like more help from
Naypyidaw in securing the common border and dismantling anti-India militant
camps operating from Myanmarese soil. Groups like the dreaded NSCN (Khaplang)
continue to find refuge in Myanmar and conduct guerrilla operations against
Indian security forces. Besides, trade and connectivity between the northeast
and Myanmar is vital for actualising India’s Act East policy from which
Naypyidaw too stands to benefit.
That said, it can’t be ignored
that Modi’s visit comes against the backdrop of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s
Rakhine state. An estimated 1,25,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring
Bangladesh after Myanmar’s security forces initiated a crackdown in the wake of
attacks against police and army posts blamed on an armed Rohingya group. But
Rohingyas have been facing discrimination for decades in Myanmar where they are
not recognised as citizens – despite living there for generations – and have
been at the receiving end of violence perpetrated by Buddhist extremists.
In fact, Myanmar’s latest
crackdown against Rohingyas has been described in some quarters as genocide
with reports of murder, rape and torture of civilians filtering in.
Particularly shocking has been the stubborn refusal of Myanmar’s state
counsellor and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to recognise the plight of
Rohingyas. Suu Kyi can’t be selective about championing human rights. On New
Delhi’s part, it’s understandable that Modi doesn’t want to rub Naypyidaw the
wrong way and push it into Beijing’s orbit, as the Chinese have no human rights
scruples. Yet, he could have done more to impress upon Myanmar’s leadership the
need to provide Rohingyas with citizenship. Domestically New Delhi should
rescind its deportation order against Rohingya refugees, which is in terrible
taste considering they are facing such brutality in Myanmar.
dashes to China to stem BRICS damage
Sep 08, 2017 08:07 am
It is a measure of the
perceived damage that the inclusion of Pakistani terror outfits Jaish e-Mohammed
(JeM) and Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT) in the list of terrorist organizations by the
BRICS summit declaration in Beijing has done to Pakistan’s image across the
world that its foreign minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif has had to rush to
Beijing to talk things over with the Chinese establishment. This is the second
successive blow for the Pakistanis after US President Donald Trump recently
warned Pakistan of consequences if it continued to support terror groups
against India and Afghanistan. While the US warning jolted Islamabad, the
Chinese signatures on a document that the BRICS heads of government released on
terrorism in the region has sent shock waves across Pakistan. China has been an
all-weather friend of Pakistan over the years and it is largely because of
Chinese support that Islamabad has been cocking a snook at India, unconcerned
about the reputation that it has earned of being a world crucible of terror.
Pakistan on Tuesday rejected
the BRICS declaration, saying there was no “safe haven” for terrorists on its
soil, but the China visit of Asif is an index that Islamabad is rattled and is
looking for a word of support from the Chinese for whatever it is worth. The
Chinese, if they are concerned about their friend’s negative image, must tell
Asif some home truths. After the Beijing visit Mohammed Asif is expected to
visit Turkey, China, and Russia for consultations on the new South Asia policy
of the US. But critical to Asif’s tour would be the assurances that he is able
to get from China. There can be little doubt that Chinese President Xi realizes
that too much closeness with Pakistan is causing China acute embarrassment. In
stonewalling Indian efforts for the UN to declare JeM chief Masood Azhar as an
international terrorist with sanctions being imposed against him, China is
being increasingly isolated and being seen as an abettor of terrorism. With the
Chinese Communist Party plenary coming up next month, President Xi is keen to
refurbish his image. At the same time, he realizes that Pakistan’s support is
crucial in going through with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which will
give Beijing tremendous strategic advantage.
catches up with Mumbai blasts accused
Sep 08, 2017 08:04 am
The 1993 Mumbai blasts case
finally reached fruition in a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities
(Prevention) Act (TADA) court on Thursday and will now go to the high court a
good 24 years after the deadly blasts ripped through Mumbai (then called
Bombay) killing 257 people and injuring 713 innocents. For those who lost their
next of kin it indeed has been an extraordinarily long and torturous wait for
justice. The special court awarded death sentence to Taher Mohammed Merchant
and Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and sentenced Abu Salem and Karimullah Osan Khan to
life imprisonment with a fine of Rs.2 lakh each. Another accused, Riyaz Ahmed
Siddiqui, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The mastermind of the blasts,
Dawood Ibrahim and many other accused had fled to Pakistan and have escaped
punishment for now by evading the law. It is an open secret that Dawood is
being persistently shielded with connivance of the Pakistan government, which
brazenly denies that this underworld don and fugitive is being sheltered there.
Abu Salem and his then paramour Monica Bedi had escaped to Portugal after the
blasts but were extradited to India in 2005 with the Portuguese government
extracting a commitment from the then Indian government led by Atal Bihari
Vajpayee that he would not be awarded the death penalty and would not be jailed
for a period beyond 25 years. While the special court has awarded him life
imprisonment, it is now for the Modi government to commute it to 25 years
imprisonment in line with the Indian government’s commitment to Portugal.
A series of 13 blasts in quick
succession had ripped through various locations of India’s financial capital on
March 12, 1993. The targets included the Air India Building, the Bombay Stock
Exchange, Zaveri Bazar, hotels SeaRock and Juhu Centaur. Property worth Rs.27
crore was damaged. That only two accused have been given death sentence now and
one, Yakub Memon was hanged earlier makes one wonder whether justice has been
done adequately. That there was a deep-rooted conspiracy of which State or
non-State actors in Pakistan were a part exacerbated the heinousness of the
crime. While international pressure needs to be built up on the Pakistan
government to own up to Dawood’s presence in Pakistan and to extradite him to
India to face the law, a stricter view needs to be taken of the role of other
conspirators in the heinous act. The High Court which would now take up the
prosecution’s appeal for enhancement of sentence must look upon this as a
rarest of rare case because innocent lives were lost in the most tragic of
circumstances en masse.
September 8, 2017 | 2:26 am
At a point in time when
satisfaction and relief was being expressed over the successful diplomatic
resolution of the Sino-Indian stand-off at Doklam, the Chief of the Army Staff
has emphasised the need to “keep the powder dry” ~ and reiterated the
military’s theory that India must remain prepared to fight on two fronts.
Since Gen Bipin Rawat was
hand-picked for the job, few would believe that his seemingly “out of sync”
comment was made off his own bat, there would be suspicions that it was part of
a larger message that New Delhi was seeking to deliver to Beijing.
The reaction from the external
affairs ministry might help clarify the picture, but the Chief’s observations
would seem at variance with the Foreign Secretary’s line that the latest
bilateral interaction of the Chinese and Indian leadership after the BRICS summit
was “forward looking”.
More significant would be the
way in which the Chief’s statement is “read” in China, both its official
spokespersons and commentators had been belligerent during the 73- day impasse
at the Sino-Indian-Bhutanese trijunction, and an earlier comment from Gen Rawat
about fighting on two fronts had provoked vicious rhetoric.
It is to be hoped that the
Chief did not resort to fauji talk because he was addressing a military
audience at a think-tank in New Delhi, he must have been alive to the reality
that given the current context every word of his would be scrutinised, the
“simple soldier” explanation will not suffice.
While Gen Rawat analysed the
potential for conflict with both Pakistan and China, his observations on the
Northern front assumed special significance since the situation at the
trijunction had been explosive until a few days back. “As far as the northern
adversary is concerned, the flexing of muscle has started.
The salami slicing, taking over
territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits of threshold is
something we have to be wary about, and remain prepared for situations emerging
which could gradually emerge into conflict.”
He also noted that China had
engaged in psychological warfare by using the media and information technology
during the Doklam face-off. Not surprisingly he rejected the notion that
credible deterrence could prevent war and sought adequate budgetary provision
for the military. Nor did he subscribe to the view that a nuclearised
environment averted conflict.
“Nuclear weapons are weapons of
deterrence. Yes they are. But to say that they can deter war or they will not
allow nations to go to war, in our context may also not be true.”
During the eyeball-to-eyeball
logjam at Doklam the Indian establishment has opted for very measured
commentary, refused to be tempted into a rhetoric-roughhouse. Hence the Chief’s
falling back on tough talk is a trifle surprising unless part of an unfolding
on vigilantes: on the Supreme Court's reminder
SEPTEMBER 08, 2017 00:15 IST
is a telling commentary on our
times that it needs the Supreme Court to remind those in power that they cannot
remain silent while vigilantes take the law into their own hands in the name of
cow protection. Sending out a stern message that the time has come to end the
activities of aggressive gau rakshaks, the court has asked the States and Union
Territories to appoint nodal police officers in each district to crack down on
such mobs. The order came after the counsel for Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra
and Rajasthan offered to appoint such district nodal officers to check
vigilante groups and act promptly whenever offences take place. For over a year
now, instances of groups beating up and even killing persons allegedly
suspected of transporting cattle or bovine meat have become commonplace. The
court had issued notices to the Centre and some States in April on a writ
petition that demanded action against such cow protection groups. In the few
months since then, more incidents of lynching have taken place. Villagers
killed two persons transporting cattle in West Bengal less than two weeks ago.
Three persons were killed in the same State in June after they were accused of
cattle theft. Three persons were beaten up last month in Bihar. In more than
one State, cow ‘protectors’ have legal recognition as local laws provide
immunity to them if they were acting in good faith. The validity of such
provisions in laws aimed at banning or regulating slaughter of animals and
protecting the cow may be decided in the course of these proceedings.
Curbing cow vigilantism requires
an obvious change in the police’s approach to these incidents. In most cases,
they register cases against the victims for slaughter or theft of cattle.
Typically, the administration seems eager to determine if they were engaged in
cow slaughter or transportation of bovine meat than in arresting the culprits
involved in murder and violence. A related question is whether the Centre ought
to take recourse to Article 256, which empowers it to issue directions to the
States, to put an end to the activities of vigilantes, instead of shirking its
responsibility on the ground that this is essentially a law and order issue to
be addressed by the States. The Centre can no more ignore its credibility
deficit because of the ruling dispensation’s ideological commitment to cow
protection. It has to respond meaningfully to the charge that it is soft on
vigilantism and is keen on pushing animal slaughter rules aimed at making life
difficult for those engaged in the cattle trade for their livelihood. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi declared a few months ago that killing people in the
name of cow worship is unacceptable. The law and the way it is administered
must demonstrate that these are not empty words.
Admin Backs Sale Of F-18/F-16 Fighter Jets To India
Friday, 08 September 2017
Taking the stand that India
needs to be “a net security provider” in the Indo-Pacific region, the Trump
administration has let it be known that it “strongly supports” the sale of F-18
and F-16 fighter jets to New Delhi.
In a testimony before a
Congressional committee on Thursday, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for
South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said the F-18 and F-16 fighter
proposals put forth by Boeing and Lockheed Martin have the potential to take
the bilateral defense relationship to the next level.
“We strongly support these
transfers. If India can seize these opportunities we can enhance
interoperability between our militaries and support thousands of jobs in both
countries,” she said.
As Wells put it, President
Trump’s first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last June “set a
positive tone and ambitious agenda for strengthening bilateral ties,
particularly in the areas of defence, energy, and trade”, with defence and
security cooperation continuing to be a central pillar of the bilateral
While Modi’s address to the
joint session of Congress last year captured the energy and excitement defining
this partnership, Trump is on record that the relationship between the two
nations “has never been stronger, has never been better”, she said.
Wells noted that the US’s designation of
India as a “Major Defence Partner” would give a further boost to bilateral
defence trade that has already risen to over $15 billion over the past decade.
“Defense sales increase our
security cooperation while also generating jobs at home,” she said, adding the
State Department was committed to advocating on behalf of American companies as
they compete for defence deals in the Indian market.
“The reason defense cooperation
with India is so vital to U.S. interests is because we need India to be a net
security provider in the Indo-Pacific, a region that serves as the fulcrum of
global trade and commerce, with nearly half of the in the world’s 90,000
commercial vessels – many sailing under the U.S. flag – and two thirds of 4
traded oil traveling through the region,” she said.
cooperation, projected as a critical priority for both India and the United
States, Well commented: “India is situated in a dangerous neighbourhood, where
terrorist attacks have killed both Indians and Americans alike.”
While highlighting the need to
step up joint training and capacity building to expand the counter- terrorism
cooperation, she said more than 1,100 Indian security personnel have received
training through the department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance programme since
Turning to economic
cooperation, she said bilateral trade has shot up from $45 billion in 2006 to
more than $114 billion in 2016, adding US exports to India were supporting more
than 260,000 American jobs across all 50 states.
Economic relationship, as she
put it, has largely been on a positive trajectory. Even so, America needs to do
more to balance the trade deficit between the two countries, which totalled
nearly $30 billion last year.
“We are working closely with
USTR and the commerce department to address the concerns of the US business
community regarding India, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, subsidies,
localisation policies, restrictions on investment, and intellectual property
concerns that limit market access and impede US exporters and businesses from
entering the Indian market,” Wells said.
Korea's Nuke Threat To China's Path To Power
Friday, 08 September 2017
Two years ago Liu Yunshan, the
visiting Chinese dignitary, and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, tried to
put on a show of friendship, chatting amiably as the cameras rolled, but just
as often they stood silent, staring ahead as a military parade passed before
The stretch of time is a sign
of the distance between two nations with a torturous history: one a rising
power seeking regional dominance, the other an unpredictable neighbor with its
China has made little secret of
its long-term goal to replace the United States as the major power in Asia and
assume what it considers its rightful position at the center of the
fastest-growing, most dynamic region in the world.
But North Korea, which defied
Beijing by testing a sixth nuclear bomb on Sunday, has emerged as an unexpected
and persistent obstacle.
Other major hurdles litter
China's path. The United States, despite signs of retreat in Asia under the
Trump administration, remains the dominant military power. And India and Japan,
China's traditional rivals in the region, have made clear that they intend to
resist its gravitational pull.