Monthly Articles

VOLUME 33 Issue 390 (August 2019)
China’s Defence Posture
On July 24, China released its major military policy document entitled China’s National Defence in the New Era, also known as 2019 Defence White Paper of China. This White Paper evidently embodies President Xi’s self-dictated era, strategy, goals, reforms, and rhetoric. It reflects the Chinese strategy of making China great again under the leadership of President Xi at home and abroad while disallowing any domestic or foreign foe to disrupt this historic mission. China released it first defence white paper in 1998 and since then Beijing has been releasing a new white paper from time to time, discussing various aspects of defence and security related issues pertaining to China.

Perform or Perish!
Global peace is severely imperiled in the wake of ongoing trade spar between China and United States, ongoing stand-off between Teheran and Washington, uncertainty over nuclear weapons of North Korea along with host of other factors like new asymmetrical warfare, increasingly easy access to powerful weapons, violent extremism, cybersecurity and adverse impacts of the vagaries of climate change. These and other related developments have led to the emergence of a new security paradigm wherein the diversification of threats and actors portend new challenges to the defence and security of almost all countries. Geopolitical shifts in tandem with globalization and migration in the wake of changing nature and balance of power along with increasing access of individuals to technological and social resources have proved instrumental in catapulting the world’s vulnerabilities to new levels and casting adverse impact on global peace and security.
Perform or perish has seemingly been the defining mantra entailing ubiquitous pertinence to almost very field across the spectrum – from politics to sports – since ages; nevertheless, it seems to have gained added salience in the present age of cut-throat competition. At a time when India is at the cusp of entering the third decade of the 21st century that is characterized by mass spread of social media, an informed public opinion cannot be expected to be swayed by mere slogans. Political parties can no more take the electorate for a ride to garner electoral support to wrest power, even with the help of fake news or blitzkrieg of disinformation. Even if a particular political entity succeeds in doing so, it can ill-afford to replicate the same next time. Lucrative, enticing and tempting promises are often made by political parties in manifestoes to garner the support of the masses who are either swayed by those promises or scrutinize the past performance of those parties to determine as to what extent those parties have walked the talk. Undoubtedly, electoral politics in India has its own nuances that seldom follow text-book rule and this has been true of the elections held prior to 2014.
Price of Laxity!
Sri Lanka has seemingly paid a very heavy price for laxity in national security despite forewarning on what was going to happen. Though it is an internal affair of Sri Lanka to enquire into what, why, how of what has happened; concurrently, it also sounds warning signals for other democratic countries, including India, which have already been victims of terrorist violence to disallow any kind of laxity in national security, defence preparedness and vigilance. Having been named recently Lonely Planet’s numerouno travel destination for 2019, and this image of Sri Lanka built over the past decade as a stable, relaxed island was shattered in the aftermath of suicide bomb blasts occurring on Easter Sunday on April 21. The end of a bloody, protracted civil war in 2009 had inaugurated an era of peace, prosperity and stability returning to the Sri Lanka and this decade-long spell of peace and stability has been severely jolted by the Sunday Easter suicide bombings sending shock waves throughout the globe. International media has termed this tragic occurrence to be the biggest terror attack in the history of Sri Lanka
Garibi Hatao Redux!
The recent poll-eve announcement of Nyuntam Aay Yojana’, (NYAY),or minimum income guarantee scheme by Congress president Rahul Gandhi entailing the provision of making available Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20% families in the country, if voted to power, is reminiscent of the Garibi Hatao scheme launched by the then prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and concomitantly it also raises the question as to whether it is going to be redux of the Garibi Hatao or a mere election rhetoric.
Wither Hanoi Summit!
Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital is witnessing a two-day summit on 27-28 February between US?President Donald Trump North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This is the second summit being held after a gap of eight months after the historic first summit held in Singapore where both the leaders had pledged to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. On the eve of his departure for Hanoi, President Trump said that he believed he saw ‘eye to eye’ with North Korean leader and that they had developed very ‘good relationship.’ Describing outcome of the Singapore summit as a ‘vaguely worded agreement’ that has produced few results, some US Democratic senators and security officials have warned Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. In the post-Singapore summit period, the Trump administration has reportedly pressed the North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, which combined with its missile capabilities, pose a threat to the United States, before it can expect any concessions. Concurrently, President Trump is also said to have signaled a possible softening, saying he would love to be able to remove sanctions if there is meaningful progress on denuclearization.
Institutional declension
Parliamentary democratic institutions constitute the raison d'être of democracy. Strong institutions serve as main bulwark for safeguarding democratic norms and practices thereby providing the framework for individuals and systems to function. Collapse or breakdown of such institutions leads to the cessation of societal functioning, weakening of democracy, erosion of justice and enfeeblement of the polity. For the smooth functioning of parliamentary democracy in India, framers of the Indian Constitution have envisaged institutions like Parliament, judiciary, Central investigating agencies like CBI, NIA, IB, CVC, Election Commission and other institutional mechanism to maintain an equilibrium between executive, legislature and judiciary under the instrumentality of checks and balances.
Farmers’ Plight!
It is saddening for us in India as a nation to claim ourselves as the fifth largest economy in the world when our Anna-data (food-provider) is forced to leave his farm and march frequently in protest in the national capital and state capitals to get his genuine grievances redressed without any fruitful outcome. Bulk of the farming community, especially the small and marginal farmers, is faced with multiple problems like indebtedness, inability to get proper price for the produce and an array of related problems. The apathy of any dispensation at the helm towards farm sector woes is deplorable. Declining trends in farm sector growth from 5.2 percentage point growth during the years of UPA-II to 2.5% under the present dispensation is worrisome. Neglect of key relief measure providers like MGNREGA and Food Security Act coupled with the bleak employment prospects in non-farm sectors in the wake of mounting debt problem has not only made farming in itself an unsuccessful proposition for the majority of farmers, but led many farmers commit suicides. Broad estimates show that between 1995 and 2015, a total of 3, 18, 528 farmers committed suicides. It does not bode well with fast growing economy like India.
New Trade Order
In the wake of ongoing trade spat between the United States and China and President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Washington’s repeated warnings to EU countries of imposing additional tariffs, there arises a question whether a new trade order is taking shape or not. Optimism for such a surmise gets engendered in the wake of the reported move by non-US members of the TPP to resurrect the erstwhile TPP as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The proposed exit of the UK from the European Union (EU) on March 29, 2019 is also likely to impact the pattern of global trade. Increasing global investment in cleantech, which currently exceeds $1 trillion and will reach $2.5 trillion by 2020, is another emerging decisive factor impacting the pattern of global trade. Blockchain technology that permits multiple players to have access to a live, irreversible digital ledger, entails the potential of offering game-changing prospects for international trade finance. This fintech is gradually moving into the mainstream world of global financial institutions.
Rupee’s Free Fall
Continuous free fall of the rupee in recent days does not bode well with the growing economy, both in short-term and long-term, especially at a time when the pace of growth is gathering momentum. Rupee’s declining value vis-à-vis US dollar is undoubtedly not a new phenomenon, but the steep fall being recorded by it in recent days should be a cause of serious concern. Government’s plea that depreciation of the rupee vis-à-vis US dollar is less as compared to other currencies is no solace because fall in rupee has been worse among the Asian currencies. Some experts opine that at the time India attained independence, the value of one rupee was said to be equivalent to one dollar and over the decades, the rupee has been on a roller coaster ride and by September this year it has plunged to an all-time low of around 72 against one US dollar. Devaluation of rupee in 1966 recorded a depreciation of about 57 per cent, and again in 1991, rupee was devalued to 25.95 against a dollar in the wake of foreign exchange crisis. Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s further contributed to rupee depreciation when it reached a low of about 43 per US dollar.
Perils of OBOR
Euphoria over China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is seemingly on the wane in the wake of growing skepticism in some host countries. Launched with great fanfare in 2013 by the Chinese president Xi, this initiative entails a web of ‘New Silk Road superhighways’ linking China with 68 countries and 4.4 billion people across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe in a labyrinth of multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure projects. Reports appearing in the Chinese state-run media make it discernible that China has invested more than US$60 billion in countries along the OBOR route, while trade volume has reached 5 trillion yuan ($734.29 billion), along with creation of about 200,000 ‘local jobs’. Nevertheless, there are also concurrent reports in the international media about growing skepticism over the Chinese investments in the wake of rising debt burden in the host countries. In March 2018, a report published by the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based think tank, claimed that China was proving a grave risk to the finances of a number of countries as a result of its aid activities and excessive lending. The report listed seven specific countries whose finances were at serious risk: Mongolia, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, the Maldives, Djibouti and Montenegro. A study by some Harvard scholars in May 2018 had highlighted dangers when it cautioned the US State Department about what were perceived to be cheap loans, calling it “debt book diplomacy.” There is a growing feeling that China is using OBOR initiative to enhance its politico-military clout in Southeast Asia and beyond. While rummaging through the vast array of media reports, it can be discerned that there is no dearth of skeptics of China’s OOR initiative and these reports often refer to the evocation of “debt traps” and “vassal states.”
Helsinki Summit
In the absence of authentic details as to what transpired between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at recently concluded one-to-one summit in Helsinki (Finland), media is abuzz with speculative reports. Finland has the distinction of hosting summits between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in 1975, 1988 and 1990 and as a member of the European Union, Finland kept its role as bridge-builder between the West and the East. It hosted two other summits, in 1992 and 1997 — the latter brought together Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. The Trump-Putin summit was held without any prior published agenda for discussion and no communique was issued after the summit was over. However, some issues came to the fore at the post-Summit press conference jointly addressed by President Trump and his Russian counterpart, which inter alia included: the question of Syrian civil war, Russian annexation of Crimea and resumption of U.S.-Russian talks on nuclear arms control.
Singapore Summit & After
Much hyped summit between the US President Donald Trump and the North Korean supremo Kim Jong-un on June 12 held in Singapore has evoked mixed reactions. Apart from Washington and Pyongyang, Seoul and Beijing which behind the scene facilitators for arranging this summit are interpreting the summit outcome from their respective perspectives. While the Trump Administration looks upon this summit as adding a new feather in President Trump’s cap at a time when Trump’s graph of popularity is on decline in the wake of spat over tariffs with Beijing and European Union; nevertheless, Trump’s critics have more negatives about the anticipated outcome of the summit. While terming the summit “woefully short on substance and undermining American national security” by asserting that an agreement to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) between American and North Korean officials was nothing but “a pipe dream.”
Unite or Perish!
The recent swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, heading the Congress-JD(S) alliance government, had brought together opposition leaders in an unprecedented show of strength against the BJP-led Centre in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This gathering is touted to covey the message that non-BJP opposition is one and in 2019 the country will witness a major change in national political situation. The ceremony was attended by national leaders and regional satraps, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Sino-Indian Bonhomie
Much-hyped two-day visit of Prime Minister Modi on April 27-28 to China and his exchange of views with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an informal summit at Wuhan, to be seen beyond the paroxysms of ecstasy in the media, entails two significant outcomes for India: developing a joint economic project in Afghanistan and issuing strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs.
Trump’s Trade War
The US President Donald Trump’s recent move to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports has virtually stirred up a hornet’s nest globally. Media reports indicate that while driving fears about the impact on global economy, this move has reportedly fueled the biggest percentage declines in Wall Street’s three leading indexes along with slump in US stocks. The presidential memorandum signed by President Trump aims at targeting the Chinese imports only after a consultation period and China will have space to respond, reducing the risk of immediate retaliation from Beijing.
Carte Blanche for Scams
Unveiling of host of banking scams recently amounting to billions of rupees amply reflects on present dispensation’s ‘ease of doing business’ in India and ‘ease of living’ abroad. The tone and tenor of unveiling of banking scams every now and then smells a rot in the prevalent banking system and reinforces the skepticism of the official carte blanche authorization of carrying out these scams. Scams seldom occur in isolation. Sequence of events culminating in occurrence of scams of such magnitude indicate prevalence of well-orchestrated nexus between the politicians, banking officials and the scamsters.
Worrisome Indicators
Undoubtedly, Prime Minister NarendraModi tried to project a rosy picture of India in his recent debut address at Davos to garner investment from the foreign investors on the strength of burgeoning economy, commitment to the process of globalization and climate change in accordance with the Paris accord; nevertheless, ground realities within the country and recent indicators released by international organizations hardly support prime minister’s claims. Perhaps encouraged by the optimism relayed by World Bank and IMF in their recent estimates that India’s economy would be the fastest growing economy in coming years, the PM declared that Indian economy would reach to five trillion US dollar economy by 2025.
Deliberate Pretermit
The victory of BJP in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where BJP retained power in Gujarat and wrested Himachal from Congress, sets a mixed trend and an alarming signal for both the national parties. While BJP claims that it has scored a record sixth straight win in Gujarat, the Congress argues that it has restricted the BJP tallyin two digits, the lowest ever since BJP came to power in the stateHimachal. On the other hand has always alternated between Congress and BJP, without exception, a trend that continued this time as well.Presently,themoot question is whether this kind of identification with BJP is peculiar to Gujarat, or can be replicated in other states too. Some trends like substantial rural discontent can be seen, but this alone will not able to create a crescendo large enough to unseat BJP from its urban base that held intact and propelled them to power.
Deliberate Pretermit
Despite agriculture being the major mainstay of Indian economy and the only means of livelihood of the major chunk of rural population, this sector is seemingly falling a prey to deliberate pretermit on the part of the present dispensation at the helm. Farmers’ suicides, their protests and their miserable plight throughout the country have failed to bear fruitful results. Constitution of high-powered committees and their recommendations from time to time to ameliorate the conditions of the farming community have also conked out in their efforts. In March 2015, the Ramesh Chand Committee in its report suggested a new formula to calculate the Minimum Support Price (MSP), which if implemented, could help the MSP to rise by over 50 per cent. The government was also called upon by the Committee to While calling upon the government to modify all instances where the MSP was found to be lower than the cost of production, the Committee also drew attention to the recommendations of the Swaminathan National Farmers Commission that had made analogous recommendation decades ago. No concrete action has thus far seemingly been taken on these recommendations and media reports indicate that farmers are often forced to sell their produce below the MSP across the country.
New Foe!
Environmental pollution, in the form of filthy air and contaminated water, has emerged as humankind’s new foe that is killing more people every year than all war, violence or disaster in the world. According to a recently released study by UK-based Lancet medical journal, environmental pollution claimed about nine million deaths in the world in 2015. The study further discloses whopping financial cost, some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2% of the global economy. Findings of this study puts India on the top of list of individual countries where one out of every four premature deaths in 2015 or some 2.5 million deaths occurred in India, followed by China, with more than 1.8 million deaths. Various other countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, North Korea, South Sudan and Haiti also see nearly a fifth of their premature deaths caused by pollution.
Economy in Dire Straits
Decline of the GDP growth rate to a three-year low at 5.7 per cent in the June quarter of this year has pushed the Indian economy in dire straits. Many experts hold ill-advised demonetization and hasty implementation of GST as major factors contributing to this economic slowdown. Undoubtedly, the adverse impact of economic slowdown is now being experienced by almost all segments of the society across the county because of shrinking job market and soaring prices of commodities, including petrol and diesel; nevertheless, government officials and BJP spokespersons continue to remain in denial mode by insisting on justifying before the government’s demonetization misadventure.
Extolling R2P
R2P or Right to Privacy has been held as a fundamental right by a recent unanimous judgment of 9 Judges of the Supreme Court. While asserting that R2P inheres to every human being regardless of his caste, creed, gender or orientation, the Apex Court held that it is a natural, inalienable right that is inseparable from human existence and an intrinsic part of the human element. It has been unequivocally held by the Supreme Court that the right to privacy is a sine qua non for the enjoyment of other rights under Part III of the Constitution of India and thereby recognises the overlapping of fundamental rights under our Constitutional scheme.
Drug Menace
Drug menace is assuming serious proportions in the wake of recent reports of drug-related suicides in many states of the Indian Union. Media reports indicate that in the wake of recent drug-related suicides in Telangana, the state officials have launched the massive crackdown on junkies. Undoubtedly, state authorities claim Telangana’s place is much lower than the other states in the numbers’ game and as far as the drug menace is concerned in India; nonetheless, the possibility of  a strong presence of narcotic drugs, from marijuana to cocaine, especially in a few sections of the society, cannot be ruled out by some experts.
India & Gulf Kerfuffle
The Gulf kerfuffle that has obtained in the wake of Saudi Arabia, along with some other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) cutting off ties with Qatar on June 5, over Qatar’s alleged support to Islamists and Iran; the regional power play in the Arab Gulf region has put India in a spot from geostrategic and geo-economic perspectives. India imports bulk of its oil and gas supplies from the GCC countries and the region is also significant for India from trade and investment aspects. Besides, over 8 million Indians are working the Gulf and their remittances constitute an important part of national economy. In other words, any toward development in the Gulf region entails potential of jeopardizing India’s geopolitical and geo-economic stakes in the region.
Jobless Growth
Present dispensation led by Prime Minister NarendraModi at the Centre has completed three years in office in May this year. Modi, then the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, in his election speeches in 2014, would pointedly tell new voters among the youth to give the BJP a chance to improve their lives as they finished their education and entered the labour market. After having been in power for three years, the Modi government has proved to be an utter failure on this metric alone. Under the Modi-led NDA government, there has been a sheer decline in organized sector. Under the UPA-II, during the three years from 2009 to 2011, when India’s GDP was still growing at an average 8.5%, the organised sector was opening avenues on average 9.5 lakh for new jobs every year; and even this was seen relatively as ‘jobless growth’ by the economists. The past two years, 2015 and 2016, have witnessed the average employment generation plummeting to less than 2 lakh jobs a year, which is less than 25% of the annual employment generated before 2011.
Curbing Maoist Violence
Brutal killing of 26 police personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 24 April by the militants of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in an ambush in Sukma district, apart from sending shock waves throughout the nation, also raises many questions about capabilities of the central government as well as states of the Red Corridor in dealing with mounting Maoist menace. Media reports indicate that this was the worst attack on security forces in the region since the April 2010 attack when Maoists killed 74 men of the CRPF in the nearby Dantewada district.
New Health Policy
Union Government has unveiled New Health Policy 2017 (NHP 2017), which seems to be high on promises and it is to be seen whether it will be able to fulfill those promises or will remain low on delivery. Some of the tangible promises envisaged in NHP 2017, inter alia, include: raising the allocation for health to 2.5 per cent of GDP, improving hospital bed availability, reforms in medical and paramedic education, strategic purchasing of private care for poor families/underserved areas through public-private-partnerships (PPPs), management of determinants, control/elimination of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Declining Electoral Ethos
Electoral ethos is witnessing a high rate of decline after each election – either General Elections or state assembly polls. The recently held polls to five state assemblies, apart from vast array of other issues, will also be remembered for the low and steadily deteriorating standards of electioneering. The terms of discourse and debate in these assembly polls, especially in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have been foul, even abusive, more often than not. All parties are guilty, but the Congress, the BJP, SP and BSP must share the bulk of the blame in the context of UP. Unless the rot is stemmed and reversed, what is going on today might magnify manifold in April-May 2019 LokSabha elections.
Imperiled World!
We inhabit an imperiled world, where apart from the vast devastating potential of nuclear weapons, vagaries of climate change and growing inequalities between the rich and the poor, along with associated events, have pushed the entire humankind on the threshold of catastrophe. Climate change has emerged as the major threat to the very existence of humankind after nuclear weapons. In the absence of a continuum of policies designed to reduce people's exposure and vulnerability to climate change, poverty and inequality would only increase. The impacts of climate change are prone to worsen the conditions of low-income people, who already face inequality, thereby making it a double burden for them. According to a recently released UN report, a total of 6,457 weather-related disasters occurred during 1995-2015, which claimed more than 600,000 lives and affected another 4.2 billion people. Combating the menace of climate change, especially in developing countries, requires international resources.
Wither Democracy!
Parliamentary democracy in India is hailed as the largest democracy in the world. This may deem theoretically sound, yet functionally this system is being permeated with many ills that are eating into the very vital foundations of this democracy. Democracy implies norms and values, which are enshrined in our Constitution; however, these are being eroded day by day. Saddest aspect of this erosion is the systematic weakening of democratic institutions, especially the Parliament.
Wither Opposition!
The recent demonetization move by the NDA government provided a golden opportunity for the non-BJP Opposition parties, including the Congress, to put a united front against the Modi government and mobilize mass support. In RajyaSabha, the Opposition unity was visible in attacking the Modi government on its demonetization drive and NDA ally Shiv Sena participating in the protest march to RashtrapatiBhawan. However, on ground zero, the Opposition gave a semblance of disunity when a call for Bharat bandh was given. The BJP is drawing comfort from the apparent ‘disunity’ in the Opposition parties and the fact that their criticism has largely been regarding the implementation of the demonetization drive.
Menace of Air Pollution
Air pollution has been described by WHO as the world’s biggest environmental risk, which is killing nearly one million people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75 per cent of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. Findings from a recent WHO study that adverse effects of air pollution may linger on in Delhi for generations to come have unsettled pollution experts and doctors.
SDGs-One Year After
September 25 this year has marked the first anniversary of the launching of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On this day in 2015, the 193-Member United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 Agenda with a new set of SDGs, also known as Global Goals. Participating global leaders pledged to the 17 SDGs to overcome poverty and restore human dignity by 2030 and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the Global Goals as "a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world".
Rio Olympics Fiasco
By contributing just two medals to the total medal tally of India at the recently concluded 2016 Rio Olympics, despite the fact that India had sent its largest contingent ever this time, the Indian contingent has kept the past tradition of its dismal performance at the Olympics. Of the total members of the Indian contingent, around 84 per cent performed below their qualifying marks. Of the 85 individual participants - excluding the 32 in men and women's hockey - just 13 matched their personal best, justified their world ranking or advanced past the opening round.
Price Rise Conundrum
Price rise has seemingly emerged as a recurring phenomenon that visits every regime, be it NDA regime or UPA regime. The government of the day is well-equipped with technical and intelligence wherewithal to monitor the prices, hoarding of the essential commodities and marketing strategies of creating artificial scarcity on one pretext or the other. Drought and floods are frequently used as commonly pliable excuses responsible for price hike. During the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament, Congress seized the opportunity provided by price rise to target the government in Parliament with the 'Arhar Modi' slogan, much to the dislike of the ruling party. However, there were sufficient indications available of a likely spike in prices which the government perhaps chose to ignore. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), during its last monetary policy review, had cautioned on upside risks, including "firming international commodity prices, particularly of crude oil; and the implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission awards, which will have to be factored into projections as soon as clarity on implementation emerges".
NSG Fiasco
Recent scuttling of India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) points towards many chinks in the Indian armour of nuclear diplomacy and foreign policy. This fiasco is serious enough to warrant a serious review of India's diplomatic and foreign policy strategy. Undoubtedly, China played a prominent role in scuttling India's NSG bid; nevertheless, Beijing played its cards openly and at this juncture, merely laying blame at China's door-step without a serious introspection of our own failures is unlikely to serve any useful purpose.
Wither Opposition!
Political discourse in contemporary India is missing a sound and effective Opposition. Divested of the accurate characteristics of an opposition, the present Opposition in India is in disarray and can be described as a conglomeration of heterogeneous groups which are fundamentally and ideologically opposed to each other.
Paris Agreement!
The signing of the historic agreement on climate change on 22 April at Paris is being hailed as a milestone, with a record 175 countries along with European Union, including India, having signed it. The agreement will come into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions formally join it, a process initially expected to take until 2020.
National Interest!
Almost all political parties swear by safeguarding India's national interest. Preservation of national interests in the realms of defence and foreign affairs are governed and nurtured by the well-defined and set norms established over the years since the attainment of India's independence and all political parties are almost unanimous on it. However, domestic parameters of national interest are defined by each political party according to its own whims and fancies. Recent developments in country's prestigious institutions and the response of the ruling dispensation to these developments has given new perspectives to the national interest which has come to be construed in terms of 'national versus anti-national' and it has given rise to the debate on nationalism.
Boom or Gloom!
Efforts have been made by the ruling dispensation at the Centre to present a rosy picture of nation's economy in its Economic Survey for 2016-2017 presented in Parliament a couple of days before the actual presentation of the budget. The Survey broadly reaffirms the positive growth numbers that have been projected by many global agencies, including the International Monetary Fund and this can be construed to provide a measure of confidence to the Union Finance Minister to show the business-friendly side of his government with a reform-oriented road map.
Financing the SDGs?
With the inauguration of the process of implementation of the 17 SDGs along with its 169 targets since January 2016 having been set in motion, the big question that is puzzling minds, especially in developing countries, is the significant ramp-up in resources required to achieve these ambitious goals. It is generally agreed that 'business as usual' is not going to get world where it needs to be by 2030.
Politics of Climate Change
Recently concluded climate change deal at Paris, after 13 days of intense bargaining, demonstrated a rare show of near-universal accord, as poor and wealthy nations from across the political and geographic spectrum expressed support for measures that require all to take steps to battle climate change. The agreement binds together pledges by individual nations to cut or limit emissions from fossil-fuel burning. Sincere implementation of the agreement entails the potential of putting nations on a course that could fundamentally change the way energy is produced and consumed, gradually reducing reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy. The Paris agreement has evoked mixed reactions expressed through the opinions of leaders which reveal both high praise and harsh condemnation of the global accord.
Renascent Bihar
The recent landslide stunning victory of Mahagathbandhan, comprising Janata Dal-United or JD (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, in Bihar under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has manifested the political maturity of the people of Bihar and rejection of attempts to polarize society on communal lines. The massive support for Mahagathbandhan had cut across communities, without which it would not have been possible for it to garner gigantic victory by winning an impressive 178 seats in a house of 243 seats.
From Bad to Worse
Global geopolitics is seemingly undergoing massive transformation and the emerging scenario is more chaotic in the wake of vast array of problems that have come to engulf the forces of peace, stability and prosperity, especially the growing financial crisis, problem of refugees and the unabated adverse impact of ongoing process of climate change. Another financial crisis is seemingly in the offing as can be discerned from the recent report of International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has warned of $3.3 trillion worth of "over borrowing" in emerging markets. In 2004, the level of emerging market corporate debt, outside the banking sector, was $4 trillion.
Sustainable Development Goals
The 193 U.N. member nations on 25 September formally adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and called for shared peace and prosperity. Described by the United Nations secretary-general as "a to-do list for people and planet," The 17 SDGs, are to be implemented over the next 15 years with a big global push to win public and political support. The document, titled "Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," not only outlines 17 broad goals but sets 169 specific targets.
Electoral Slugfest
The 'Swabhiman Rally' held on 30 August at Patna's Gandhi Maidan, which brought the Congress, the JD (U), RJD and SP on a single platform, has seemingly unfolded the contours of the electoral battle in the run-up to the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar.
Independence Day
Observance of Independence Day on 15 August each year has seemingly become an annual ritual for most of us who celebrate it like any other national holiday without understanding its real significance. Our political leaders
Impending Financial Crunch!
The ongoing debt crisis in Greece has made the world going bonkers over the development and some developing countries fear an impending financial crunch of greater magnitude than that of 2008.
Government of U-Turns
The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has completed one year in office. The government came to power amid much fanfare and the tall promises made by its leadership had aroused huge expectations amongst the gullible masses.
Nepal's Tragedy
The earthquake that devastated Nepal on April 25 has left behind an untold and terrifying story. The quake that hit Nepal on past Sunday had a magnitude of 7.8 at Richter scale. The quake that was followed by aftershocks has wreaked havoc in terms of immense loss of human lives and by causing tremendous damage to property and infrastructure in Nepal and northern states of India, especially those bordering Nepal. Bangladesh and China have also been affected by it.
Palestinian Conundrum
For about seven decades now, the question of Palestine has almost become a conundrum for the international comity of nations owing to Israeli intransigence to vacate the occupied Palestinian territories. However, some ray of hope is there in the wake of reported move of France to start discussions in the coming weeks on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set out the steps for a negotiated end of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
BJP's Predicament
Whether at the helm of affairs or in the opposition, the BJP is often found at the horns of dilemma when it comes to delivering the promises. Populist slogans aided by the social media campaigns, bizarre rhetoric and media blitzkrieg indulged in by the BJP proved instrumental in hoodwinking the gullible masses to translate their disenchantment with the UPA into so-called electoral victory.
Common Man's Plight
The common man, hailing from all genders, has always been on the forefront of regime changes, revolutions, social movements and electoral campaigns and his wretched plight has been passed on from posterity to posterity despite tall promises.
Wrong Move
A recent media report on a major shift being considered in India's Palestine policy is both alarming and unwarranted at this juncture. The reported move of the NDA government to alter
Whither SAARC!
The trends emerging from the recently concluded 18th SAARC summit in Nepal have presented a mix bag of hope and despair, with despair outweighing the hope. The Indian Prime Minister's 'invitation diplomacy' to the SAARC
Politics of Black Money
Recent media blitzkrieg over black money in India has transformed an economic offence into a political game which is being tossed by political parties against each other to score points without knowing the ground realities.
Scourge of Ebola
As the world leaders converged in New York this week-end for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, an annual ritual, the agenda was hijacked on 26 September by a virus called Ebola that was barely even on the world's radar when the General Assembly met this same time last year.
Uneasy Calm
Uneasy calm pervades the Middle East, especially in Gaza Strip, Libya and Iraq, Ukraine, North-East Asia, South Asia, especially in the Indian Subcontinent and some parts of Africa. This entails the potential of endangering international peace and security and as such calls for
India and Turbulent Gaza
The situation in the Gaza Strip has assumed serious proportions in the wake of exchange of armed hostilities between the Hamas and Israeli forces. More than one thousand people, including both Palestinians and Israelis, have been killed since the fighting began in early July this year.
Drug Abuse
Drug abuse not only causes immense human distress but also is an important factor leading to crimes and violence all over the globe. Drug abuse and trafficking has become so rampant that almost every part of the globe is seemingly affected it.
Recalibrating Economy
Recent years have witnessed India's economic growth falling into a tailspin. According to some experts, factors like bureaucratic gridlock, internal party bickering and renegade ministers of the outgoing government were responsible for dragging the economy down.
Existential Crisis Dilemma
With the 2014 general elections nearing the end, the tone and tenor of the election campaign is slipping to a new low with each passing day. With electioneering at its peak, insalubrious political sparring and nasty remarks by the leaders of almost political parties have become the order of the day.
Ukraine: History's Nightmare
James Joyce's famous statement that "history is a nightmare", from which we should try to awake, pertinently describes current spate of events obtaining in the Ukraine. Major events like chaos in Maidan Square, new dispensation at the helm of power in Kiev,
Deliver or Perish!
The political discourse in contemporary India is taking a dramatic turn towards new horizons where the old and hackneyed style of bizarre politics may yield place to more transparent, accountable and proactive politics that would survive on the mantra of deliver or perish.
Craving for Stability
The past couple of decades have been characterized by the striking transformation of India's politics and the defining feature of that transformation is what is termed as 'party proliferation.' India's politics has been transformed since 1989 by the relentless rise of regional parties across the country.
AAP Phenomenon

The spectacular emergence of Aam Adami Party (AAP) as victorious in the recently held elections to the Delhi State Assembly marks the rise of a new phenomenon in party politics in contemporary Indian polity.

Nuclear Deal with Iran

The historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the six Western powers that constitute the so-called P-5+1 Group, inclusive of the United States, signed on 24 November this year has evoked considerable euphoria of optimism on both sides.

The NOTA Option

Supreme Court's recent landmark order on installing an additional provision for voters to record a ‘none-of-the-above’ (NOTA) option to reject all candidates in the fray is acclaimed by some as a step towards ushering in a key electoral reform in India, which has seemingly found favour in the past with the Election Commission of India and even the Law Commission.

Currency Crunch
India's current currency crisis is indicative of yet another major emerging market economy, along with Brazil, China, and Russia, that is already slowing markedly. In recent weeks the Indian rupee has plunged by over 14 percent bringing its total decline over the past two years to almost 30 percent.
Mideast Peace Talks
Approval accorded by the Israeli cabinet on 28 July this year for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners who had been in jail since before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 has paved way the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington from 29 July.
BJP's Predicament
BJP - nation's principal opposition party - is confronted with an existential dilemma - to keep chugging along on the Centrist-Right path or revert to the original communal and unambiguously Rightwing road with Narendra Modi in the driving seat to sail through the 2014 general election.
Morass of Sleaze
Sports and politics attract large horde of people because of money and power combination. Besides, sports and politics have historically been bonded like Siamese twins since before the great city states of ancient Greece engaged in inter-city athletic competitions when they weren't engaged in destructive wars against one another. Over the centuries this combination between politics and sports has become inseparable.
Parliamentary Gravitas
India prides itself being world's largest democracy; nevertheless this sense of pride is undermined by the erosion of credibility of the Parliament. Our Constitution represents the societal consensus on the philosophy, direction and instrumentalities of governance of the Indian Republic and Parliament is the pre-eminent institution created by this Constitution which symbolises the will and aspirations of the Indian people.
Economy Imperiled
The pre-Budget Economic Survey for 2012-13, tabled in Parliament on 27 February has exuded confidence that the Indian economy would bounce back to achieve higher growth of around 6.1 to 6.7%, up from the advance estimates of 5% economic growth in the current financial year.
Taxing the Super Rich
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's reported statement on 24 January this year that "there is an argument that when the government requires more resources, the very rich should willingly pay a little more," has set in motion a debate on taxing the 'super rich' and evoked mixed reactions.
Overcoming Diplomatic Lassitude
India's diplomacy can be said to have been characterized by lassitude, especially in the past couple of years. Some analysts have argued that recent developments in India's own backyard prominently manifest the limits of India's influence and still weak diplomatic force.
Viva Palestine
On 28 November this year the 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations from "entity" to "non- member state," the same status as the Vatican, by an overwhelming majority of 138 Yes votes to nine No votes and 41 abstentions.
Needed New Political Order
Prevailing political order in India is dominated by two major national political parties, namely the Congress and the BJP. The other parties, especially the Left parties are lying low and in the past two decades regional satraps have come to dictate terms at the Centre.
Reforms for Whom?
The latest dose of so-called economic reforms is designed to benefit one per cent at the cost of remaining 99 per cent, which are better known as Aam Adami. Similar discriminatory approach is being followed in the United States and in a way present ruling dispensation is stepping into the shoes of Uncle Sam by Americanizing the Indian economy.
Strength of NAM
The successful conclusion of the NAM Summit in Tehran recently proves the inherent strength of the movement which has not lost its relevance in the rapidly changing geopolitical and geo-economic complexities pervading the contemporary world. After the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the most important world body.
Unlocking the Impasse
Turbulence pervades some countries of the Middle East, especially Libya, Syria, Lebanon and some other Arab countries. In the wake of the so-called 'Arab Spring', these countries are afflicted by turmoil, political instability and deterioration in socio-economic conditions.
Unabated 25 years

April 06, 2012. Third Concept completes its 25 years of uninterrupted publication. To mark the occasion of Third Concept's Silver Jubilee Celebrations, a book titled "Perspectives on Women" edited by me, was released by Smt Meira Kumar, Honourable Speaker of Lok Sabha at the India International Centre, New Delhi.

Emancipating The Women

Women's present status in India is determined by the indicators like women's household decision making power, financial autonomy, freedom of movement, women's acceptance of unequal gender roles, exposure to media, access to education, women's experience of domestic violence etc.

Another Independence Day

Another Independence Day Mother Independence Day is fast approaching and the Prime Minister will unfurl the National   Flag and address the nation from the ramparts of historic Red Fort.

UPA-II in Focus
On 22 May UPA-II government has completed one year in power and there have bee' mixed reactions to achievements of the go\'emment. It is an acknowledged tact that the sntallercJnstituent
Turbulent Legacy
Even on the eve of departure of 2009, we are still in turbulent times. A year after shameful Gazamassacre by Israel, the Palestinians are still nursing their wounds and there seems no let up in store for them.
India and Nuclear Tests
Ast the next NPT Review is approaching near, the pressure is being built on those countries like india and others which have not sighned the NPT to sighn the treaty. On the other hand, some members of the scientific community in India have called for conducting further nuclear tests.
Nonnuclear World
The U.N.Security Council unanimously approved a historic U.S.-sponsored resolution on 24 September. with US President Barack Obama presiding over the session committing all nations to work for a Russia. China and developing nations supporting the measure.

UPA Again

The electoral verdict in the recently-held elections to the Lok Sabha has gone in favour of UPA with Congress as the major leading partner. However, this time the composition of the constituents of the UPA is slightly different from what it was in 2004. The RJO has been replaced by Trinamool Congress led by Ms Mamta Bannerji...........                                                                                                                                                                            More...

India-Egypt Relations (p 7 - 10)
India and Egypt, two ancient civilizations, share friendly relations, dating back to three millennia B.C., and the recent visit of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to India has proved instrumental in further concretizing.......

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Corruption in India’s Water Sector (p 11 - 13)
Corruption seems to have a ubiquitous phenomenon which has eneveloped water also in its fold. While citing the findings of TI’s Global Corruption Report 2008 dealin.......

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Zimbabwe’s Mounting Inflation: New Paradigms (p 15 - 27)
An appraisal of the status, causes and consequences of mounting inflation in Zimbabwe is attempted in this article, which also reviews the long term impact of globalization.........

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