The brouhaha in sections of the Indian media on the Army’s tactic to place a trussed up Kashmiri man on the bonnet of a jeep touring a riot site in Srinagar, a precautionary measure against jihadi stone throwers was cheap grandstanding. The man was released unharmed following the return of the jeep to base. No one was killed or injured during the exercise, as has been the case in recent weeks and months, hence the ends clearly justified the means. Yes, the tactic was anything but pleasant, but sitting pretty in offices hundreds of miles from the Kashmir valley and pontificate, secure in the knowledge that they are safe to do and write as they please without fear of death or injury to their persons. Is easy.
What the media and the Indian political class in their political slumbers have been slow to recognize – if they recognize it at all – is that India in a state of undeclared war imposed on her by Pakistan and its jihadi separatist allies in the Kashmir valley. This state of affairs may not have adhered to the prescribed formalities of International law, but in our troubled world certain states, most notably Pakistan, use terrorism in statecraft, as a proxy in a novel form of warfare. The form is secondary, the substantive reality is all. Extraordinary situations call for out-of-the-box countermeasures in the interests of our common survival and our democratic way of life sustained by the rule of law.
The Government of India, wisely, has upheld the Army’s decision, recognizing military personnel have right to life and the recourse to all reasonable means (in dire circumstances) to safeguard that right and life itself (Times of India April 16 et al, and Asian Voice comment).
Triple talaq protection
Muslim men guilty of arbitrary misuse of the triple talaq will be subjected to social ostracism, warned the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which stated: ‘Whoever gives the triple talaq without valid Sharia reasons will be boycotted by society….so that such cases do not arise in future.’ (Hindu April 17)
This is welcome statement of intent, but ‘boycott’ is vague and impossible to enforce. The law of the land must surely be the upholder and enforcer of justice irrespective of gender, belief, ethnicity or caste.
Airports on full alert from terror strike
India’s International airports at Mumbai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai were put on full alert after a report that a terrorist hijacking was in the planning. The Mumbai police was warned of the plan from an unidentified woman in Hyderabad. As per the procedure, preventive measures were put in place at these airports and an alert issued. The woman in an e-mail communication said the report could be true or untrue but she felt it her duty to inform the police of what she had learnt (Hindu set al April 17).
Of mice and men
A bevy of retired Indian diplomats appear to take fright at the hint of an external crisis. The Kulbhushan Jadhav case, has sent K.C. Singh scuttling for cover. In a column in the Hindu (April 17), he warned against the ‘Dovalisation’ of India’s Pakistan policy – Ajit Doval being the government’s National Security Adviser and a perceived hardliner on Pakistan. Singh warns that Pakistan is militarily strong, politically stable, with active support from China and the more measured of the United States. He thus warns of the perils of India’s likely isolation. So what’s new? It’s something of a miracle that India stand tall internationally, without the much advised cringe to salvation in the next round at Delhi’s cocktail circuit.
Sanskrit slokas at Good Friday service
A Hindu group recited Sanskrit slokas at a Good Friday Service at Goa’s largest cathedral. The group belonging to the Swadhyaya Parivar founded by Pandurang Shastri Athawale, recited slokas from the Naryana Upanishads, just befor the start of the service. The 115 foot high cathedral is one od Asia’s largest.
‘This is a shining example of how people should live together,’ said Father Alfred Vaz, the parish priest (Times of India April 17).
BJP’s winning streak
The results of ten Assembly seats in by-elections across India demonstrated the BJP’s continuing hold over the country. BJP won five of these seats, while Congress won both in Karnataka. The Aam Aadmi party in Delhi was routed by the BJP, while in West Bengal Trinamool helds its own, although the opposition space saw the BJP gain at the expense of the Communists and Congress (Times of India April 14).
India’s growth potential 8-9 per cent
The Indian economy has the potential to grow at 8-9 per cent annually, whatever the political constraints, said Lord Professor Megnad Desai in a newspaper interview in India. Drawing attention to the parallel with Margaret Thatcher’s second term in office as British prime minister, Professor Desai, once of the London School of Economics, said that India’s economic reforms could move up a only after Prime Minister Modi’s government won it second term at the next general election in 2019. (Business Line April 14).
TCS, Carnegie Mellon tie-up for next level
A state-of-the-art research facility is to be set up at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University camps at Pittsburgh with an unprecedented $35 million grant – the largest ever industry donation to CMU - from the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT company. The aim is to lay the foundation of the fourth industrial revolution. The facility when completed next year, will become the CMU-TCS hub for the promotion of the next generation technology. ‘Today… we are looking at a collaboration of intellectual skills and the development of of two countries together that might bring about global understanding between people,’ said Ratan Tata Chairman Emeritus Tata Sons, at the ceremony of the site of TCS Hall. With him were, TCS Chairman N. Chandrasekharan and Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh (Business Line April 15).
Rolls Royce, DRDO collaboration
India and Britain have arranged to cooperate on developing advanced defence products such as high-end gas turbine engines and air defence missile systems and on aspects of aircraft carrier technology. Collaboration is underway between Rolls Royce and and India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) on the engine technology.
Statement of intent
‘We have also agreed to extend our defence equipment cooperation to enable Indian defence companies to develop new technologies such as gas turbine engines and air defence systems,’ said British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on his recent visit to India. ‘The next step is to have a technology demonstration in 12 months,’ said Stephen Phipson, Head of Defence and Security Organization, which he said would be ‘the highest thrust gas turbine.’ Details of work share and quantum of investment are still to be worked out. (Hindu April 14).
India, Russia for unique drill
This happens to be the 70 th year of India-Russia diplomatic relations. In keeping with its spirit India and Russia are to hold a unique combined military exercise in October-November of the Army, Air Force and Navy. in Russia’s Far East. This is the first exercise of its kind that India has held with any country.
Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance and concurrent Defence Minister is to visit Moscow for the international conference on International Security (Times of India April 20).
The IAF will shortly be testing the co-developed India-Russia supersonic cruise BrahMos from one of its frontline aircraft, its weight reduced to integrate the missile with the weapons systems. It is already in service with the Army and Navy, a formidable force multiplier that will be fearsome when the hypersonic model (5-7 times the speed of sound), is ready for testing. (Mint April 13).
India to buy three Scorpenes
India is to step negotiations with France for the purchase of three further Scorpene submarines to the six already contracted for service with the Indian Navy. The talks will also include the integration of several upgrades in the new submarines. ‘We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the upgrades or carry on with the acquisitions of the next line of submarines as planned,’ said an official.
After a series of delays, the first Scorpene, Kalvari, is undergoing advanced sea trial before entering service. The second Scorpene was commissioned in January and is ready for sea trials (Hindu April 14).
Chinese invitations to Darjeeling schools
Chinese Consul General Ma Zhangwu has issued an invitation to two of Darjeeling’s most famous public schools, St Paul’s and St Joseph’s (North Point) to make an educational tour of China. This followed a similar invitation to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Apropos of the one to the Darjeeling schools, the Consul General said that details of the visit were being worked out between the school authorities and the Chinese government. He hinted that Chinese students might study there. Mr Zhangwu expressed his pleasure at Mamata Banerjee’s acceptance of China’s invitation. (Telegraph April 14).