Profit Motive instills efficiency

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Brahma Chellaney's blogpost on China's Salami Slicing foreign policy

China’s furtive, incremental encroachments into neighboring countries’ borderlands — propelled by its relative power advantage — have emerged as a key destabilizing element in the Asian security landscape. While China’s navy and a part of its air force focus on asserting revanchist territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, its army has been active in the mountainous borderlands with India, trying to alter the line of control bit by bit.

Beijing’s favored frontier strategy to change the territorial and maritime status quo is apparently anchored in “salami slicing.” This involves making a steady progression of small actions, none of which serves as a casus belli by itself, yet which over time lead cumulatively to a strategic transformation in China’s favor.

By relying on quiet salami slicing rather than on overt aggression, China’s strategy aims to seriously limit the options of the targeted countries by confounding their deterrence plans and making it difficult for them to devise proportionate or effective counteractions.

This, in part, is because the strategy — while bearing all the hallmarks of modern Chinese brinksmanship, such as a reliance on surprise and a disregard for the risks of wider military escalation — seeks to ensure the initiative remains with China.
Changing the territorial status quo has been the unfinished business of the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949. The early forcible absorption of the sprawling Xinjiang and Tibetan plateau more than doubled the landmass of China.
This was followed by the advent of the earliest incarnation of the salami-slicing strategy, which led to China gaining control, step by step between 1954 and 1962, of the Switzerland-size Aksai Chin plateau of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. An emboldened China then went on to seize the Paracel Islands in 1974, the Johnson Reef in 1988, the Mischief Reef in 1995 and, most recently, the Scarborough Shoal (2012).
At the core of the challenge posed by China to Asian security today is its lack of respect for existing frontier lines. In other words, China is still working to redraw political boundaries.
Along land frontiers, rodent-style surreptitious attacks usually precede its salami slicing. The aim is to start eating into enemy land like giant rodents and thereby facilitate salami slicing. The use of this strategy is becoming increasingly apparent along the Himalayan border with India, the world’s longest disputed frontier.

Here one form of attacks has involved the Chinese military bringing ethnic Han pastoralists to the valleys along the Himalayan line of control and giving them cover to range across it, in the process driving Indian herdsmen from their traditional pasturelands and opening the path to salami slicing. This strategy, which can also begin with the Chinese military nibbling at an unprotected border area, has been especially employed in the two highly strategic Buddhist regions located on opposite ends of the Himalayan frontier — Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

To assert its claims in the South and East China Seas, China unabashedly plays salami slicer. The tools of salami slicing here range from granting hydrocarbon-exploration leases to asserting expansive fishing rights — all designed to advance its territorial and maritime claims.

In the East China Sea, China has employed paramilitary agencies, such as the Maritime Safety Administration, the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command, and the State Oceanic Administration, in a campaign of attrition against Japan over the Senkaku Islands, which it calls Diaoyu — an offensive that has already succeeded in shaking the status quo by making the rest of the world recognize the existence of a dispute. This has emboldened Beijing to gradually increase the frequency of Chinese maritime surveillance ships sent into the 12-nautical-mile zone regarded as the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands and to violate the airspace over them.

Taking on Japan, its former occupier and historical rival, is part of China’s larger search for new seabed resources and for strategic ascendancy in the western Pacific by breaking out of what it perceives to be “first island chain” — a string that includes the Senkakus, Taiwan, and some islands controlled by Vietnam and the Philippines.

China’s aim in the South China Sea is to slowly but surely legitimize its presence in the 80 percent of the sea it now claims formally. Through repeated and growing acts, China is etching a lasting presence in the claimed zones.
Among the ways Beijing has sought to establish new “facts” on the ground in the South China Sea is to lease hydrocarbon and fishing blocks inside other disputant states’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs), as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Such leases are designed to circumscribe the UNCLOS-granted economic rights of states such as Vietnam and the Philippines while expanding China’s control of the region’s oil-and-gas wealth.
China has even established “Sansha City” on Woody Island in the Paracels as its administrative base for the South China Sea, setting up a local civilian government and a military garrison there to oversee the entire region. And in its latest effort to present a fait accompli over its occupation of the Paracels, it has started tourist cruises to those disputed islands.
To be sure, Beijing usually is careful to slice very thinly so as to avoid any dramatic action that could become a cause of war. Indeed, it has has a knack of disaggregating any action into several parts and then pursuing each element separately in such a manner as to allow the different pieces to fall in place.

This shrewdness helps to keep its opponents off balance and in a bind on how to respond. In fact, as a skillful salami slicer that acts insidiously, camouflaging offense as defense, China acts in ways not only to undercut its opponents’ deterrence but also to cast the burden of starting a war on them.

Any targeted state is presented with a strategic Hobson’s choice: either endure the salami slicing or face a dangerous and costly war with an emerging great power. This is the choice, for example, Manila has faced over China’s effective seizure of the Scarborough Shoal.

China’s tactics and strategy thus pose an increasing challenge to several of its neighbors who face a deepening dilemma over how to thwart the salami slicing. Exchanging notes with each other — and with the United States, the geographically nonresident Asian power — may be necessary to find ways to try and stop this creeping, covert warfare.
After all, China’s multipronged actions, cumulatively, carry the potential of fundamentally altering the Asian power dynamics to shape a Sino-centric region.

How Madhya Pradesh solved its power crisis in 3 years

Read this ET article on how an Indian state managed its "power" problem. NEW DELHI: It took 5,000 young professionals, guidance from PricewaterhouseCoopers and dogged determination from officials to inject a performance-driven culture in an orthodox set up, but in barely three years, Madhya Pradesh has wiped out huge electricity shortages and losses in a rare success story in the distribution sector.
After a series of reforms, tariff hikes, involvement of private firms in supplying electricity to some cities and customer-friendly initiatives, Madhya Pradesh now enjoys 24-hour power supply.
Latest data available with the Central Electricity Authority shows that the state does not have power deficit. Distribution losses, which have crippled many state utilities, have fallen from 37% to 27%, narrowing the gap between revenue and cost to 60 paise per unit from 1. The gap is expected to fall to 43 paise this fiscal. Losses in the transmission segment are at 3.5%, which is one of the lowest in the country.
To bring fresh air in the system, the state hired and trained 5,000 young professionals, including 1,500 engineers in the past three years. It also framed new service rules to ensure a performance-driven culture.
Madhya Pradesh principal energy secretary Mohammed Suleman said the government began with identifying the problem areas, including assessing the actual demand for electricity of the state.
States accept the demand projections given by the Central Electricity Authority and Planning Commission. The state's assessment showed the demand to be far higher than the earlier projections for the state.
The state hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for providing all-round consultancy to the government and the generation, distribution and transmission companies. "PwC undertook a six-month long detailed modeling of districts for assessing the demand. We have a fair idea of power demand in relation to GDP till 2020 and we have accordingly planned for the availability," Suleman said.
PwC executive director (infrastructure) Kameswara Rao said the state needed a strong leadership, a clear action plan and the discipline to implement it. The consultancy firm helped the government in designing, implementing and monitoring the broad-based reform implementation work in various key functional areas like finance, technology and regulatory framework.
Madhya Pradesh invested about 9,700 crore in expanding and upgrading electricity distribution network by piggybacking on the Centre's flagship schemes. It also laid separate electricity feeder lines to rural houses. These steps helped it to increase the consumer base to 110 lakh in 2013 from 65 lakh in 2004.
The state pushed for electricity generation improvement, leading to a 126% increase in availability of long-term contracted power. At present, about 5,000 MW of new capacity is under development with which Madhya Pradesh will be power surplus by 2018 and its power procurement costs will be among the cheapest.
The distribution companies have launched many customer-focused measures for easier bill payment, timely issue of new connections. The state government implemented a financial restructuring plan by converting loans, and offering transition period support to distribution companies. The state regulatory commission has also been raising tariffs annually. Structural reforms were taken up sincerely along with the investments.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Sleeping Tiger has awoken - VISHY ANAND defeats ARONIAN with the black pieces in an IMMORTAL GAME

The Sleeping tiger has woken up. After a very uninspiring performance last year the World champion has really showed his mettle in this game.

The moves like Bc5!!!! and Nde5!!! and the various checkmate lines in this game are simply ridiculous.
All hail King Anand!!!!
Even Huffington Post has found this game to give a special mention Huffington post article on this game

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Week article on Goa's Mining Problem

Read a nice article on Illegal Mining at Goa which is coming at a severe cost to the state exchequer as well as the degrading of the natural resources of Goa.

The pain on the faces of farmers in Goa's Sirigaon village tells a tale. A tale of ruin. Their wells and lakes have dried up. The soil has been corroded. Lush farms have become mere memories. Memories grimy with dirt from the iron mines. “In our childhood, we used to play in the fields you now see a large crater. Today, children can't go anywhere near it,” says Dinanath Gaonkar, 50. “We used to grow ragi and vegetables there. Now, they are all gone. Half the village, including our 100-year-old temple, is under mining lease.”
The situation in Pisurli village is no different. While 74 wells in Sirigaon dried up, Pisurli lost 86. “Agriculture has come to a halt. Half the population of the village—like most others—has become financially dependent on the mining companies, as they took loans to buy trucks to transport the iron ore,” says Gaonkar. “Most drivers are from other states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh, and the owners drown in liquor shops.”
There are liquor shacks in almost every second building in these villages. Studies in Goa's mining belts say the percentage of widows in the 40-45 age group has gone up, courtesy rise in alcoholism. “We used to welcome tourists to show our natural beauty and biodiversity. Future generations, I fear, will have just the devastation to show,” says Gaonkar, as he points to large craters left behind by excessive mining. Not many companies fill the pits after mining though it is mandatory. The unfilled pits seem to be minor offences if one reads the Justice P.B. Shah Commission report on illegal mining in Goa. The report, a copy of which is with THE WEEK, points out gross violation of environment, forest and revenue laws by almost every single mine operating in the state. It says illegal mining has caused a loss of Rs35,000 crore to the public exchequer. “Decisions to renew the expired mining lease and licences were not taken promptly and hence, many lease/licence holders misused the concept of ‘deemed extension for a lease for unlimited period on the basis of Rule 24 A (6),” notes the report. “The companies not only kept on mining illegally but also encroached huge lands....” The commission slams the rot: “There is enormous and large scale multi-state illegal mining of iron and manganese ore running into thousands of crore every year, having several pernicious evil effects on the national economy.... It has encouraged huge corruption at all different levels in public life, mafia in society and money power.” Besides a detailed list of illegal mining activities in Goa, the report nails the lease holders who got their mining leases condoned—“illegally and arbitrarily”—and also the ministers who passed them, often overruling the mining secretary. The report indicts former Congress chief ministers Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat, who handled the mines portfolio, for “illegally” condoning 30 and 10 mine leases, respectively. The commission says it is “amply clear that the honourable minister of mines and chief minister were aware of the non-compliance of conditions and other illegalities happening in the mining sector”. In one case, an application for the renewal of the mining lease was submitted 706 days after its expiry. The petitioner claimed that a renewal fee of Rs500 had been paid through a bank challan at the time of expiry, and requested that his application be condoned. The mining secretary, like his predecessor, rejected the application citing the delay and the “laxity on part of the petitioner”. The matter was forwarded to the minister of mines, Kamat. He noted in his order: “Renewal fees should have been accepted only after receipt of renewal of application in Form 'J'. It was wrong on the part of the department... It is evident that the applicant had paid the application fees on 30/12/1998 [and this] goes to indicate that his clear intention was to have renewal of mining lease for further period. Only, there was lack of proper guidance to the applicant in the matter. ...since number of cases of delay in filing the application for renewal of mining lease have been considered favourably by the government in the past, the request of applicant for condonation of delay is allowed.” In simple words, Rs500 was said to be paid in 1998; the application was filed in 2000; and the condonation was done in 2006. And till then, mining continued without any official monitoring. The Shah commission makes the following observations: * The application was rejected by the Centre, the ultimate authority * The payment of fees was not brought to the notice of the state mines department, and its genuineness had not been verified. Hence, the issue of the department “accepting payment” does not arise * It is unclear under which “provisions and powers under mining laws” the mines minister “heard the matter” * The delay condonation by the minister is “against the law and abuse of power”, as it was “against the order of the Central government” In the case of the lease of D.M. Naigue, it had expired in 1988 and the renewal application was filed in 1997! Yet, the delay was condoned, again “illegally”. Furthermore, the lessee continued mining without environment clearance. “The leased area is at a distance of less than 1km from the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary,” notes the commission. “Illegal mining in the leased area was in the full knowledge of Director (Mines) and other officials of the Mines Department and Forest Department. No action has been taken against the lessee as could be seen from the file. This can only happen by adopting corrupt practice. Action has to be initiated against all the officers concerned....” There are at least 40 such cases, including ones where mining continued for years even after the formal surrender of the land. The commission's report also mentions cases where the mandatory mine plan—with details of pit size, its refilling and aforestaion—was not submitted to the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM). The commission mentions the 16 lease holders operating 44 different lease rights, though no lease holder is allowed to further sub-lease the mining rights. “Today, almost 50 per cent of the mining in Goa is done by the Vedanta group and other players have given it their leases. This is illegal, but every political leader keeps mum,” alleges Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation, which has been fighting legal battles against mining. The foundation's latest petition in the Supreme Court was filed by activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan. It seeks restraining of resumption of mining in Goa, as almost all mines in the state were functioning without clearances from the National Board of Wildlife. And of 93 mines, 33 fall within 1.5km range of wildlife sanctuaries, despite the NBWL marking off a 10km radius as eco-sensitive zone. Furthermore, many of the mining companies have been listed in the Shah Commission report for continuing illegal mining activities in the encroached areas. In fact, the commission, which visited many encroached sites, and bolstered its report with Google Earth images. “The total encroachment so identified is 2,796.24 ha.,” according to the report. The commission concludes its report citing the loss to the public exchequer through illegal mining, since 2006: “By taking average export cost at $60 per metric tonne of iron ore from 2006 to 2011 with conversion rate of Rs47 per dollar, the total loss to the state... is almost Rs35,000 crore. This is calculated assuming that the depth of mining and extraction of iron ore is only 10m below the ground level but in reality, it's deeper than 50m.... And in such case, the extracted ore is far more than the calculated.” Ramesh Gauns, school teacher and environmentalist, who has been opposing illegal mining for more than a decade, offers another calculation. “The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association's web site says in the past decade, on an average, 31 million tonnes of iron ore was exported every year. At an average export price and exchange rate the figure amounts to Rs1.4 lakh crore. Last year alone, the exports touched 54 million tonnes at an average price of Rs5,000 per tonne. Over 80 per cent of this went to China. The state exchequer got only Rs986 crore, thanks to illegal mining, bogus challans and duplicate invoicing,” says Gauns. That's not it, says Alvares. “Not a single mining company has paid the lease stamp duty in the past 25 years. That will amount to another few thousand crores in the loss tally,” he says. “Not one authority has bothered ever to crosscheck this.” The authorities have turned a blind eye even to surveys and reports by reputable agencies, adds Gauns. “For instance, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) submitted an extensive research report to the High Court, stating the depletion of ground water sources and land degradation in Sirigaon village, and nailed the illegal mining in the area, but the government shied away from taking action.” Apparently, in a reply to an RTI application filed by Gauns, the water resource department concedes that it has no details on ground water status. “Of the 105km north-to-south stretch of Goa, 73km is under mining. And there are at least 60 mines on the 50km east-to-west stretch. Imagine the impact on the state's ecology and environment,” he says. The largest 30 mines are situated in the catchment area of the Mandovi river. The Zuari river, too, has been highly silted with mining waste. “These two rivers are Goa's lifelines, accounting for 67 per cent of the state's freshwater sources,” says Gauns. The issue of mining has muddied the waters on the political front, too, with the ruling BJP and the Congress engaged in a mudslinging contest. Soon after the Shah Commission report was submitted in Parliament, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar stopped all mining activities in the state through an ordinance, and promised to file FIRs against Rane and Kamat, and order criminal proceedings against all culprits. Union Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan soon landed in Goa to announce suspension of environmental clearances given to 93 mining leases in the state, and accused Parrikar of trying to score brownie points. Under media pressure, Rane said at a press conference, “I demand an investigation team to be set up under the monitoring of Supreme Court on the basis of the recommendations of the Shah Commission. I am ready for the investigation.” As the BJP tried to corner the opposition, Congress leader Jitendra Deshprabhu argued that Parrikar, too, should be charged since he was chief minister till 2005. The move boomeranged as Parrikar shot back that the mines ministry was headed by Kamat, who was then with the BJP. Incidentally, Deshprabhu was arrested in August 2011 for illegal mining! The case hotted up further with the recent suicide of D. Bhave, a geologist in the mines and geology department. He was among a group of officials suspended for alleged involvement in the scam. Allegations of harassing officials to shield the real black sheep were hurled at Parrikar. A Congress leader went on to file an FIR against him for abetting suicide, though the party distanced itself from the move. Interestingly, the BJP state unit directed its government to go after the “big fish as well as small fish”. The All-India Youth Front joined the protest, seeking action against mine owners and corrupt politicians. “Has the government got any guts to investigate these heavyweights? Suspension of a few employees will not curb illegal mining in Goa,” said AIYF state chief Suhaas Naik. Currently, Parrikar is in a catch-22. On the one hand, he is under tremendous pressure to act against the powerful mining lobby. On the other, issues such as the livelihood of the thousands of people employed in the mining sector haunt him. For instance, reports say there are 22,000 trucks and 357 barges operating in the sector. But activists say these excuses are a facade to let the big fish off the hook. “Initially, he promised stern action. But now his statements and actions speak differently,” says Alvares. “He has appointed a committee headed by [principal secretary] R.K. Verma to study the Shah Commission's report and decide on the actions to be taken. But Verma himself has been indicted by the commission!” Alvares says Parrikar had stated in the Assembly that the Vedanta group had donated Rs800 crore to the Congress and Rs400 crore to the BJP. “Now, how can we expect a fair probe?” Gauns says Parrikar has gone soft after a series of meeting with delegations of mining companies. “Now he has started talking about the so called stake holders like truck owners, barge owners, hoteliers and bar owners and says that their interests have to be considered,” says Gauns. “The chief minister has not bothered so far about the real stake owners—the farmers who lost their livelihood. He doesn't talk about the restoration of ecologically damaged regions. He does not talk about the recovery of restoration costs from the mining companies.” Gauns also rubbishes Parrikar's claim that mining is the backbone of Goan economy. “Mining contributes only 6 per cent to the state GDP—the same as agriculture,” he points out. About 400 million tonnes of iron ore has been extracted from Goa. Now hardly 300 million tonnes remain. At a rate of 50-60 million tonnes a year, mining can go on for a maximum of 10 years. After that, activists like Gauns fear, the companies will pack their bags. And the people of Goa?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Govt of India's incompetence in building a business friendly environment

Article in TOI by Jaithirth Rao. The sarcastic and humorous nature in which the article was written only explains the state of Indian Enterpreneurs...... if the govt allows any enterpreneurs to exist.
The irony of the present impasse in our country is that Indian businesses may have been freer under British rule than under our own political masters. Of course, throughout the permit-licence raj this fact was so obvious that no one even bothered to bring it up as a matter worth discussing. In the 1920s, JN Tata was able to build a steel plant in India. Between 1956 and 1991, no citizen of free India was allowed to imitate JN Tata.
In the early nineties, the understated (and under-estimated?) Narasimha Rao liberated Indian entrepreneurs. Within a decade, Indian businesses had delivered spectacularly and had proved that once they were unshackled they were as good as any of their counterparts anywhere in the world. And then the creeping comeback of the permit-licence raj began all over again.
Large sections of the Indian political class, many academics in the miasmal landscapes of places like JNU and Jamia, and most members of our omnipresent bureaucracy never fully or properly bought into liberalisation. They have waged a steady guerrilla war against freedom for India's businesses. Many Indian businesspersons who preferred cozy crony capitalism have been their willing accomplices.
Net-net the permit licence raj is back with us in forms far more insidious and debilitating than the earlier Udyog Bhavan Avatar. We have been made to give up our "Narasimha-Swatantrata" and today we are steadily and inexorably embracing the capricious, wealth-destroying regime of the hapless Mohammed bin Tughlaq.
The most intriguing similarity between Tughlaq and our present sultans is their habit of changing their minds so frequently that no one in his right mind would want to start a business given that the rules can get altered, amended and then retracted all in a matter of days, weeks and months. Farmers were forbidden from exporting cotton; two days later they were told that they could do so.
The highest court in the land told Vodafone that there was no obligation on their part to withhold taxes which were in any case not payable by the redoubtable Li Ka-shing. Some days later, they were told that way back in 1961, the brilliant parliamentarians of India definitely intended that they should have withheld what Li was definitely liable to pay! Actually, Mohammed bin Tughlaq was probably less whimsical and certainly not given to such gross terminological inexactitude.

Udyog Bhavan, JCCIE (the august Joint Chief Controller of Imports and Exports), the DGTD (the even more august Director of Trade and Development, who funnily enough believed neither in trade nor in development) have been replaced with a whole new set of umrah of the new sultanate that we now have in place in imperious Delhi.
Now let us assume that the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals has issued you a letter inviting you to explore for oil and gas in Telaurgaspur district. Mind you, it took you five years of much effort and great expenditure working on the bidding process, qualifying and re-qualifying several times... and finally you have got the invite.
As far as I can tell the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals is part of the Government of India (Dear Reader: if in your opinion this is not the case, please provide me the superior information that you have). So you assume that the Government of India has invited you. You start ordering rigs, you start recruiting drilling engineers, you raise capital, you line up suppliers and you turn up at Telaurgaspur.
Now you discover, that the august Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals is as powerless as any other harassed citizen of India. What they propose can and is promptly disposed off by the august Ministry of Environmental Affairs. This august ministry now informs you that Telaurgaspur district, which shows up in all atlases as desert country actually possesses a "desert forest". Now please do not ask me what a desert forest is. The august Government of India is committed to preserving our glorious ancient culture and heritage.
Classical Sanskrit writers have talked about the fact that the power of "naamakarana" - the power to give names is one of the greatest powers conferred on humans by the Creator. Once the august Ministry of Environmental Affairs has classified any part of India's map as a "desert forest" then trust me, it is a desert forest.
And even though the august Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals (which now it turns out is not part of the Government of India, but part of the Government of East Timor!) may have "invited" you to drill and explore, that invitation is quite worthless.
Even though you are frustrated, you console yourself with the fact that at least the invitation to explore in the Telaurgaspur district will still be valid. No such luck. The august Ministry of Defence (of you guessed it, the Government of India, not the Government of East Timor) have concluded that Telaurgaspur may be along the flight path of rockets that our country likes to test once every six months.
You try arguing with them that since the tests take place only once in six months, there can and should be some way this can be coordinated. You mention the fact that the august Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals has invited you so courteously. Now that was your fatal error Your argument might have succeeded on its merits. But mentioning the name of another august ministry is an error of great magnitude. For in our country today, it has been decreed by the great gods above that every august ministry of our august government will implacably oppose, derail, sabotage and subvert the efforts of every other august ministry.
These august ministries have decided that it is the "dharma" of each of them to fight with the other and in the process strangle Indian businesses and keep the country gripped in a paralysed gridlock.
Now let us assume that you are half way through a project building what you think is a world class aluminium plant. You are feeling good about it. But you too failed to see that while the august ministry of aluminium may be on your side, the more august Ministry of Environmental Affairs and the most august Ministry of Tribal Affairs have a different point of view.
Quite frankly they do not like you. When you point out that the beneficiaries of this blockage will be Canadian and Scandinavian aluminium companies, the redoubtable august Ministry of External Affairs chips in (after all, they too want to do something, don't they?) that India has friendly relations with Canada and Scandinavia.
Now let us assume that you are building a world class hill resort. You have been given all the approvals and permissions by an august state government. Aha - there you go. It is the sworn "dharma" of the august Government of India to oppose anything that is approved of by august state governments.
You are suddenly informed that all these years, though you may not have known it, and though the august state government may or may not have known it, the fact of the matter is that all along you needed the blessings of - you guessed it - the august Ministry of Environmental Affairs.
Once more the endless dharmic civil strife between august governments and government departments results in your being stopped, strangled, suffocated and of course bewildered.
But having said all of this, I must say that all is not bad for the Indian businessman and businesswoman. Indian entrepreneurs are free and welcome in Singapore and Dubai. Those who manage to get an H-1 visa are pretty free in California.
Free to go ahead with their plans, free not to get caught in a tug of war between august ministries, free to assume that a rule made or a permission given will not be arbitrarily and capriciously overturned, free to assume that when one part of the government is welcoming so are other parts, free to get on with the business of business rather than keep running around from one august ministry to another.
Subhash Chandra Bose gave the slogan "Delhi Chalo" to Indians in Singapore and Burma. Our present rulers have given Indian businesspersons the slogan "Singapore Chalo, Dubai Chalo, California Chalo".
Dear Reader: On that happy note, I end with every good wish to all Indian citizens on our 65th Independence Day. Jai Hind!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mr Brahma Chellaney Post on the Indo-US Diplomacy : Losing more than what we gained

The following article by Mr Brahma Chellaney was published in Japan Times. Such an insightful article about Indian Diplomacy by a reputed India found a place in a Japanese News agency but not in any Indian media outlet.Careful dissection of Indian diplomacy like this article does is sometimes too smart for our Dumb Indian Media. India Losing out on US Diplomacy : Losing more than what we have gained
WASHINGTON — Was the U.S.-India strategic partnership oversold to the extent that it has failed to yield tangible benefits for the United States? Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just held detailed discussions in New Delhi, an increasing number of analysts in Washington have already concluded that the overhyped relationship is losing momentum. The skeptics cite two high-visibility issues in particular: India’s rejection of separate bids by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. to sell 126 fighter-jets, and New Delhi’s reluctance to snap energy ties with Iran. The discussion over these issues, however, obscures key facts. Take the aircraft deal. Despite that setback, U.S. firms have clinched several other multibillion-dollar arms deals in recent years. These contracts have been secured on a government-to-government basis, without any competitive bidding. But in the one case where India invited bids, American firms failed to make it beyond the competition’s first round because they did not match the price and other terms offered by the French manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft and the European consortium that makes the Eurofighter Typhoon. The most-startling yet little-publicized fact is America’s quiet emergence as the largest arms seller to India. In the decade since President George W. Bush launched the vaunted U.S.-Indian strategic partnership, India has fundamentally reoriented its defense procurement, moving away from its traditional reliance on Russia. Indeed, nearly half of all Indian defense deals by value in recent years have been bagged by the U.S. alone, with Israel a distant second and Russia relegated to the third slot. Given that India has become the world’s largest arms importer and the United States remains the biggest exporter, U.S. firms are set to secure more contracts in India, which plans to spend more than $100 billion over the next four years to upgrade its military capabilities, including by buying submarines, heavy lift and attack helicopters, howitzers, and tanks. Now consider the Iran issue. Just as the Indian rejection of the Boeing’s F/A 18 and Lockheed-Martin’s F-16 bids has made big news but the U.S. landing of multiple arms contracts has received little notice, India’s reluctance to publicly support U.S. energy sanctions on Iran has been in the spotlight but not the quiet Indian strategy since the late 1990s to let the share of Iranian oil in India’s energy imports gradually decline — a trend that has seen the importance of Iranian oil supplies for India considerably weaken. Few in India consider Iran a friend. But given India’s troubled neighborhood, with the country wedged in an arc of problematic states, New Delhi is reluctant to rupture its ties with Iran, its gateway to Afghanistan — the top recipient of Indian aid. India already has paid a heavy price for taking America’s side on some critical issues in its long-running battle against Iran, even though Washington doesn’t take India’s side in its disputes with China or Pakistan. The Bush administration persuaded India not to conclude any new long-term energy contracts with Iran, and — in return for a civil nuclear deal with the U.S. — abandon its plan to build a gas pipeline from Iran. New Delhi, by voting against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s governing board in 2005 and 2006, invited Iranian reprisal in the form of cancellation of a 25-year, $22-billion liquefied natural gas deal which had terms highly favorable to India. That deal’s scrapping alone left India poorer by several billion dollars. Now the U.S. energy embargo against Iran has pushed international oil prices higher, significantly increasing India’s oil bill. The embargo also threatens to undercut India’s import-diversification strategy by making it place most of its eggs in the basket of the Islamist-bankrolling, Saudi Arabia-led oil monarchies that continue to play a role in South Asia detrimental to Indian interests. In fact, thanks to the U.S. embargo against Iran, the swelling coffers of the iron-fisted oil sheikhdoms are set to overflow, increasing their leverage in the region and beyond. Lost in the U.S. public discussion is an important fact — the declining share of Iranian crude in India’s total oil imports as part of a conscious Indian effort to reduce supply-disruption risks linked with the lurking potential for Iran-related conflict. Since 2008 alone, Iranian oil imports have swiftly fallen from 16.4 percent to 10.3 percent. Given India’s soaring oil imports and search for new sources of supply, the Iranian share is set to decline further, even without India’s participation in the U.S. embargo. Make no mistake: India shares U.S. objectives on Iran but the exigencies of its regional situation compel it to toe a more cautious line. The repositioning of the U.S.-India relationship was never intended to be transactional. Rather it was designed as an important geostrategic move to underpin Asian security and serve the long-term U.S. and Indian interests. But even if the relationship were viewed in transactional terms, the U.S. has reaped handsome dividends. On Iran, the right course for U.S. policy would be to encourage India to continue reducing Iranian oil imports by granting it a waiver from American sanctions law — as Washington has to Japan and nine other countries — and by helping to finance the retrofitting of Indian refineries that presently have a technical capacity to process only Iranian oil. More fundamentally, just as the Bush administration exaggerated the importance of a single deal with India, contending that the nuclear deal would be fundamentally transformative, it is an overstatement that the U.S.-India relationship today is losing momentum. The geostrategic direction of the relationship is irreversibly set — toward closer collaboration. Even trade between the countries has continued to grow impressively, from $9 billion in 1995 to $100 billion in 2011. While it is too much to expect a congruence of U.S. and Indian national-security objectives in all spheres, the two countries are likely to deepen their cooperation in areas where their interests converge, such as ensuring Asian power equilibrium. Barack Obama had stroked India’s collective ego by inviting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his presidency’s first state dinner, leading to the joke that while China gets a deferential America and Pakistan secures billions of dollars in U.S. aid periodically, India is easily won over with a sumptuous dinner and nice compliments. The mutual optimism and excitement that characterized the blooming U.S.-Indian ties during the Bush years, admittedly, has given way to more realistic assessments as the relationship has matured. Geostrategic and economic forces, however, continue to drive the two countries closer. Indeed, Obama’s recent pivot to Asia has made closer U.S. strategic collaboration with India critical.