Amateur, inexperienced and perhaps innocent late Rajiv Gandhi was crucified by powerful cartel of middlemen leading to destruction of India’s oldest political party. The present government and the pro-active courts must order re investigation of the BOFORS SCAM to focus on exposing middlemen rather than the past ruling establishment because we felt that bofors scam triggered birth to a new class of “dalals” in India and they overpowered the crucial institutions, establishing India as one of the most corrupt country in the world. Though we are fortunate to have fiscally clean Prime Minister's in the last few decades yet the corruption is rampant in the country. Where it went wrong? The answer is simple, the country is held hostage at the mercy of middlemen operating in politics, bureaucracy, legal and media domain. The country is bleeding from corruption and common man misery continued unabated.
In this backdrop, it is vital to explore the Bofors scandal that changed politics of the country some 33 years ago in 1987. With revelations in 1987 by Swedish Radio alleging kickbacks in the purchase of guns for the Indian Army tremors started in Indian polity and press that shook the roots of Congress regime under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Unfortunately, there were several bigwigs cutting across party lines with incriminating links to this scam and they colluded to sabotage this case allowing several culprits to escape public scrutiny and legal prosecution.
Part 1: Background
A healthy democracy evolves through legislature, executive, judiciary and media. The Bofors scandal in 1980s set in motion a process of decay in all the organs of democracy whereby they were compromised to save the guilty that were among the country’s powerful elite. It may well be that the allegedly guilty leader of the then ruling party was beguiled by his cronies for their own vested interests. It is also true that propriety demands that a dead person should not be accused since he cannot respond and clear his name (We will strictly follow the convention). However, the country has a right to know the whole truth once it was established that money exchanged hands in the deal. Corruption in the defense establishment should be treated as treachery against the nation and it must be investigated under IPC and stringent NSA guidelines. In 2005, the Delhi High Court quashed charges against all other people who were accused in the Bofors case, including the Hinduja brothers who were also accused of being middlemen in the deal. The CBI plea against the High Court verdict was filed in February 2018 after an extraordinarily long delay of 13 years; it was rejected by the SC. The Court should have taken note of the fact that UPA I & UPA II were in power from 2004-2014, hence the question of an appeal in top court during this period would have been impossible. However, one ex BJP worker and Advocate Ajay Agrawal had filed an appeal against the Delhi High Court judgment in 2005 itself. The Supreme Court agreed to hear Agrawal's plea and the case is currently pending in the court. The Supreme Court told the CBI that it could make itself heard during the hearings on Agrawal's plea. Will the CBI under BJP regime now file an Intervention Application (IA) in the Ajay Agrawal’s case?
Background: Mohan Guruswamy wrote investigative reports on the case to know the scam's political background and the business nexus behind it. Olaf Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden was an influential and respected name in world affairs and had strenuously opposed the US war on Vietnam. He inspired Rajiv Gandhi to take the initiative on nuclear disarmament. The quid pro quo for facilitating Rajiv Gandhi's easy entry to the global high table was the purchase of the Bofors FH45 Howitzer. Palme was also facing a re-election and his party's coffers needed topping up. The Indian Army’s Howitzer order would do the trick. The competition was shortlisted in to M/s Sofma of France, M/s AB Bofors of Sweden, M/s International Military Services of the United Kingdom, and M/s Voest Alpine of Austria. In the first six evaluations, the Sofma 155mm TR howitzer, with its extended range, was decisively preferred to the Bofors gun. Financial considerations also gave the French manufacturer what seemed to be an unbeatable lead. The donation by the Bofors Foundation at Karlskrona to the Swedish SDP is solid proof.
Losing this lucrative order made the Arun Nehru led Austrian competitor Voest Alpine furious since it was confident of bagging it, largely because its product was the best gun and preferred choice of the armed forces technical committee. Austrian leader Eisenberger told the parliamentary committee that the funds they wanted accounted for were paid to the Congress party and that a kinsman of the Indian Prime Minister had received them. The Austrian government then advised the Indian government to have this money returned and close the matter. This was the first time the new Indian Prime Minister heard about the dirty game played by his known set of close people. He was furious. A very powerful Minister in his government was summarily sacked. Now a way was sought to set this account right. Bofors was required to close this hole. This was being arranged via a Swiss banker Francis Laffont. The route went like this. Bofors pays Laffont, Laffont pays Voest Alpine and the money already paid in India stays where it is. Eisenberger alleged that Voest Alpine's representative in Delhi, a man called Unterweger was Ottavio Quatrochhi's neighbor in New Delhi. Being expatriate businessmen, they became good friends and both were good friends of Rajiv Gandhi’s wife Sonia Gandhi and her sister Anushka’s then husband Walter Vinci. It is a well-documented fact that Vinci was in the group of Rajiv Gandhi’s delegation which signed the Bofors deal. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy many times petitioned to Central Governments on probing the role of Vinci who got a major cut in the deal and later buzzed off from Sonia’s family.
As was the well-established practice then, Unterweger also cut a deal with Quattrocchi. What Unterweger did not know was that Quattrocchi had similar deals cut with Bofors and Sofma, the French howitzer manufacturer. When the Voest Alpine deal collapsed, Quattrocchi was required to close that account, as did the Congress party. So one more pay off stream was organised by Bofors to Quattrochi to close this hole. The Hinduja brothers took this to the next level. People like the Hindujas have friends in all parties and many countries. Lest we forget, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who wrote to then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao seeking closure of the Bofors case against the Hinduja brothers. And it was Srichand Hinduja who accompanied Vajpayee’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra to his meetings with then British PM Tony Blair and then French PM Jacques Chirac after the nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee and Mishra were actively canvassing for approval of the controversial proposed Hinduja power plant at Vizagapatam. Not surprisingly, even today the plant is under tremendous debt burden and the public sector banks are at high risk of losing tax payers money. Adding to the trouble, there is a massive litigation going on between the state government, state power regulator and the Hinduja’s.
So far, the Indian Government has been given two names by the Swedish journalists who are involved in the story. One is Win Chadha, a Delhi-based arms dealer who represents a number of companies abroad, including Bofors. Chadha has denied that he received any payments, and claimed that he stopped representing Bofors in 1985 after the agreement between Rajiv and the then Swedish premier Olof Palme that no middlemen would be involved. A photograph published in several Swedish dailies, which elicited amused comment in Stockholm, was that of a jubilant Chadha celebrating with champagne, with Bofors officials, after the contract was clinched. The other name given is that of Commander M.R.A. Rao, who used to represent Bofors in the late '70s, but retired from the arms business after Chadha's appointment. More over there is a big hidden aspect in this Bofors saga. The kickback money paid to Quattrocchi and Walter Vinci came from a shell firm AE Services. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who was also Law Minister during 1990-91 and saw many prosecution files and investigators reports, repeatedly stated that M/s AE Service was first promoted by Congress leader P Chidambaram’s elder cousin and industrialist AC Muthaiah. Swamy many times demanded probe into Muthaiah’s role in Bofors kickback arrangement. However CBI even during BJP regime from 1998 to 2004 and till now in 2020 has kept silent on this fact. Even BJP leader Arun Jaitley, whose career brightened as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) in charge of the Bofors case during VP Singh regime, always kept quiet on this aspect due to his proximity with Chidambaram. Like Jaitley, all BJP leaders kept silence on the role of Hinduja brothers due to latter's proximity to Vajpayee. The worst role in the cover up was that of the Law Minister Ram Jethmalani who handled the files of Bofors in law ministry and later against all norms administrative and political morality, became the advocate of Hinduja Brothers.
Such is the sordid and nefarious saga of the Bofors case in which powerful businessmen and politicians cutting across party lines colluded to deceive the Indian public and nation.
Bofors Scandal – The murky tale of sabotage: Who are all responsible?
The real sabotage started in Bofors case when trial started in 2000. The corruption case came to light in 1987 and it politically finished Rajiv Gandhi though the subsequent investigation showed his innocence in person. The beneficiaries could have been his colleagues, close family acquaintance and surely the middlemen and corporate Dalal’s.
Part – 2
In 1997, Swedish Government submitted a box full of documents about Bofors case to India. Journalist Chitra Subramanium, who first exposed the Swedish Radio’s revelation of 1987 was present in the function of the box handing over to Indian Ambassador by Swedish Federal Bureau of Police along with other journalists. Defence Minister George Fernandez many times complained that Prime Minister AB Vajpayee never allowed him to touch this box or any of the Bofors files. Why? Answer is simple: the role of Vajpayee protégé Hinduja Brothers in the Bofors kickback would have been exposed. Now the question is where is the box handed over by Swedish Police to CBI? CBI never mentioned about this box in their charge sheet filed after five years.
Legal Battle: The charge-sheet filed on October 9, 2000 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Delhi court of Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke, along with the detailed post-April 1987 record of the media investigation and other documents and reports to make two things clear. While there is nothing new in the claim made by the Hinduja Brothers about their "non-involvement in the Bofors case", a mass of multi-faceted documentary evidence and information gives the lie to this claim. On April 22, 1987, the respected Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), quoting highly placed company sources in an original report, identified the Hindujas as recipients of the "commission" paid by Bofors in connection with winning the Bofors-India howitzer contract of March 24, 1986. The first irrefutable documentary basis of the Hindujas’ involvement in the Bofors-India payoff scandal came in the form of six documents relating to the PitcoMoresco: 'Lotus', 'Mont Blanc', 'Tulip' accounts track of 'commission' payments, amounting to nearly SEK 81 million, published and analysed in The Hindu of April 22, 1988 and June 25, 1988. Especially important were three transaction documents which made the link, "Pitco, c/o Sangam Ltd" and "Pitco, c/o Mr G.P. Hinduja Sangam Ltd.," for 1982 and 1984. By June 1988, the independent media investigation had acquired and published a large number of authoritative Bofors documents that gave the lie to the 'winding up', 'no middlemen', 'no commission', 'no Indian recipient' story. By late1989, a great deal of further evidence and information, notably from the Martin Ardbo diary entries and notes for 1987 seized by the Swedish police and from The Hindu investigation's interaction with the Hindujas had revealed the involvement of the Hinduja Brothers as lead actors in the crisis-management and cover up. In fact, these developments strongly indicated that the Hinduja's role in the Bofors howitzer scandal went deeper than the role of anyone.
After a regular criminal case was registered by the CBI in 1990, this strategy of blanket denial continued with S.P. Hinduja and G.P. Hinduja reportedly claiming to the CBI investigators, as late as 1991, that "our family has never dealt with Bofors" and S.P. Hinduja going so far as to assert, in a newspaper interview published on April 14, 1991, that "we are not an appellant before Swiss courts on the Bofors matter." This unsavory chapter should have come to an end with the incriminating documents received in December 1999 by India's premier criminal investigation agency from the Swiss authorities in execution of the letter of rogatory of February 7, 1990. But during a phase of pre-charge sheet jitters, the denial continued with new variants of the falsehood in desperate attempts to block and even derail the lawful investigation. No longer was it possible to deny the fact of Bofors payments into the coded accounts opened by a Panama based front spelt as M/s Mc Intyre Corporation and M/s Mac Intire Corporation, or ownership of this 'M...' corporation (by whatever name spelt) by the three Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja.
The Bofors case, as investigated by the CBI, is about criminal conspiracy, bribery, criminal misconduct by public servants, cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgery for the purpose of cheating and using as genuine a forged document in respect of the Bofors-India howitzer contract of March 24, 1986. The first charge-sheet, filed in October 1999, was against the former Defence Secretary, S.K. Bhatnagar, Ottavio Quattrocchi, W.N. Chadha, Martin Ardbo, M/s A.B. Bofors for various offences under the Indian Penal Code. The charge-sheet against G.P., S.P. and P.P. Hinduja alleges that they were "party to the criminal conspiracy with Martin Ardbo and others during the period 1985-1987 and thereafter and in pursuance thereof, they also received commissions from M/s AB Bofors"; that the Swedish arms manufacturer paid the three brothers, through the 'M...' corporation, SEK 80.80 million; that although the Government of India had laid down a requirement of no middlemen and no commissions in the howitzer deal and Bofors had agreed, "in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy, the accused persons dishonestly led the government to believe that there were no agents and induced the government to part with" an amount that included "commissions," thus cheating the government and putting it to "a wrongful loss."
The supplementary charge-sheet makes clear that in the CBI's professional judgment, there is abundant evidence linking the 'Arab-Tulip," "Lotus," and "Mont Blanc" coded payments (SEK 37.03 million, SEK 31.99 million and SEK 11.77 million) into three Hinduja Swiss bank accounts with the 1986 Bofors-India howitzer contract and the consequent payoffs. A CBI analysis of the nine discrete payments made by Bofors into the three coded Hinduja accounts between May and December 1986 showed that the payments were contingent on, and linked precisely to the advance paid to Bofors by the Government of India and the payments made on account of the actual delivery of the gun systems, ammunition and so on. The evidence is absolutely clear that these were 'commissions' in accordance with the 3 per cent of the total contract value laid down in a Moresco-Bofors contract, as revealed to the Government of India by the Bofors officials.
The CBI charge-sheet documents blocking maneuvers by the three Hinduja brothers in Switzerland, undertaken to prevent the Government of India receiving the legal assistance requested under the 'dual criminality' provision. It also calls attention to the significance of the change of nationality by G.P. Hinduja in June 1998 and by S.P. Hinduja in April 1999; it found a direct link between these events and "the stages of execution of the Letters Rogatory in Switzerland. The charge-sheet asserts that such conduct by the three Hinduja brothers "shows that they are also conspirators along with M/s A.B. Bofors." The three Hinduja brothers, two of whom have become U.K. nationals and the third has reportedly acquired Swiss nationality, have defied the CBI's summons and have, in effect, kept away from the law. They have been unable to come to India to attend to their substantial business interests and other matters because the CBI would, without doubt, have knocked at their door and takes whatever action, under the law of the land, that it considered appropriate in the interests of its investigation. However, they have cleverly put their fourth brother Ashok Hinduja to regulate the business interest in India. The CBI has also had a 'look-out' notice issued against the three Hinduja brothers which meant that had they landed in India; immigration would have alerted the CBI about their arrival. Once the charges are framed by the Special Judge and the action moves decisively to a trial, it could be a new and even more worrying ball-game for the brothers from the standpoint of both personal and business interests. After the charges are framed, the CBI's leverage in making the intransigent accused submit themselves to the law of the land will increase considerably - with summons, warrants, legal sanctions against properties and business assets and extradition proceedings becoming theoretical possibilities and there could be a high cost to staying away notwithstanding the influence in high political places the Hinduja brothers are reputed to enjoy. It was during UPA1 rule that Hindujas managed to kill the case in Delhi High court. The Hinduja Brothers had access everywhere from Congress to BJP, to even regional parties like Samajwadi Party, to many journalists who purposely obscured their specific role and wrote only about unreachable foreign brokers.
In nutshell, Indian journalists concentrated on hazy, inaccessible foreign brokers and shut their eyes to the easily traceable links of Hinduja Brothers and AC Muthaiah’s role. It was somewhat similar to highlighting the responsibility of unreachable US citizen Anderson in the Union Carbide case, while whitewashing the criminally negligent role of local Indian group in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. And, at last, CBI buried the Bofors case in 2008 by filing closure report when Ashwani Kumar was Director, who was close to Sonia Gandhi and died recently by committing suicide in mysterious circumstances. He was earlier Security In-charge of Sonia Gandhi when working in Special Protection Group (SPG). In 2008 Ashwani Kumar was brought in as CBI Director by Sonia Gandhi bypassing persons shortlisted for the post and having done his job, he got reward from his ultimate patron Sonia: the governorship of a state as a quid pro quo after retirement from CBI.
The subsequent behavior of successive Governments did indicate that while there is something to hide, they were not in agreement on what to hide. The Congress kept sheltering Quattrochi and the BJP was more intent on shielding the Hinduja brothers. The two roads crisscrossed and neither the truth prevailed nor did the law took its course. And to add the misery to the wound, the perpetrator has recently complained about the rotten system of India in an international magazine. It is clear that the middlemen have destroyed the transparency in governance and the system works according to the wimps and fancies of the “dalals”.
Opinion Express explained the players involved in the sabotages and why it is vital to expose middlemen and corporate Dalal’s and to delink politics from the subsequent investigation; it was an international conspiracy to desterilize the country via middlemen. The same practice is almost repeated in the Rafale fighter jet deal wherein the opponent pressed the accelerator to defame government and the middlemen continued to enjoy the cream.
The conspiracy, time line & Road Ahead:
The special investigation team has said that 'Rajiv Gandhi’s name appears not as a beneficiary but because as Prime Minister and defence minister, as he was involved in one of the swiftest government decisions ever of awarding a hefty defence contracts". One is at a loss to understand what was wrong in it. It was for the government and the defence ministry to decide how quickly they needed the equipment and simply because the government took a quick decision in clinching the deal, it does mean something was fishy about it. Generally, it is said that delay and the red tape leads to corruption but here SIT people strangely took a different view. R.C.Sharma who succeeded Joginder Singh as CBI chief has publicly remarked, there is no evidence to blame Rajiv to the Bofors pay-offs. The press has a view that Sharma was close to the Congress in general and Sonia in particular.
Especially in arms deals, agreements are signed between two countries but it is common practice that it is helped along the way by some individuals called middlemen or brokers who are generally expert negotiators. It was Rajiv Gandhi who insisted with the Bofors that no middlemen should be employed and Bofors issued the 'no middlemen' certificate to India. Rajiv earlier in his talk with Olaf Palme discussed the no middlemen condition with him and the Swedish Prime Minister gave his word on it. Later Olaf Palme was killed under mysterious circumstances and Rajiv went to Stockholm to attend the funeral of Palme. Then the new Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and told him that he had recorded his decision on the file approving the award of the contract for the Howitzer gun to Swedish company Bofors subject to certain certifications from the Swedish government regarding the financial terms of the contract. That all anybody received any money from Bofors, it was purely a legitimate business deal between that person and Bofors; and Rajiv was neither aware of it nor had he to do anything with it.
The Hindujas having a wide network of international business are also said to have a hand in the Bofors commission money. It was reported that the Swiss authorities have told CBI informally that the Hindujas made the mistake of channeling moneys from other deals through the same account into which the Bofors pay-offs was transferred. The Hindujas are worried that their Swiss account would expose many of their illegal gun deals in Iran and Contra Rebels. Therefore, since 1991, the Hindujas have been protecting their Bofors account by imposing legal hurdles in the form of appeals and so on.
From the maze of information available from the CBI investigations into Bofors scandal, one thing becomes clear that the Bofors paid money by way of commission or winding up charges to some intermediaries who had something to do professionally in such deals and the linking of Rajiv Gandhi's name in such transfer of money is a politically motivated attempt to tarnish his image and also to put hurdles in the purchase of necessary weaponry for the Indian Defence Services.
The Hindujas are among the alleged recipients of the pay-offs in the Bofors scam. The details of the Hinduja's Swiss account were released by the Swiss authorities in the second installment of papers but it was followed up with no action. AB Vajpayee was alleged to have close links with the Hinduja brothers, and it is said they have done intense international lobbying for Vajpayee to project his image. Vajpayee was the guest of honour at the inauguration in Mumbai of Indus-Ind Bank owned by the Hindujas. Earlier he had been a guest of honour at the Diwali banquet hosted by the Hinduja brothers in London. It was said Vajpayee often listens to Hindujas advice on the formulation of India's economic policy. No one seems to be worried about such connections but everybody linked Rajiv Gandhi with alleged receipt of money by Hinduja from Bofors. On the contrary, the probe should have also focused on Vajpayee Hinduja links to target Rajiv Gandhi. This relationship suited both: Vajpayee was politically rewarded and Hinduja got away from confirmed corruption case conviction. The Bofors scandal was a political ghost created by the international destabilisers of India. Later, some Indian politicians and a group of sensation mongering journalists gave it disproportionately demonic dimensions with a view to discredit Rajiv Gandhi. The final conclusion is emerging from the investigation that the middlemen in the deal were acting as the double agent; this is the conclusive outcome of the investigation. They certainly made money in the transaction and then conveniently shifted to other side to defame the political adversary by using selective leaks in the press from time to time and took business advantages from their new political masters.
Road ahead: Unlike the old Atal-Advani soft BJP, the present Narendra Modi led BJP government is relentless in dealing with white color criminals no matter how high and mighty. Apart from Ram Mandir movement, people’s anger on Bofors scandal and various scams of Congress era was significant factors for the surge of BJP. Given its unquestioned commitment to bringing about a corruption free India, it becomes the natural duty of this Government to undo the cover-ups in Bofors case. And the present government must think of setting up a SIT to investigate all the defence deals and purchases during UPA period 2004-2014 as the corruption was rampant during that time.
The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of CBI in 2018 (citing the Swedish investigator’s revelations) with an advice to club the petition with the pending Ajay Agarawal case. It is imperative for the present Government to investigate the matter without any political witch-hunting and delinking the name of the Rajiv Gandhi from the process to avoid giving political colors to the investigation. The Bofors Scandal was exposed 33 years ago and Swedish Police gave box full documents 23 years ago to CBI. The country has waited for over three decades to know the truth of the matter that has ruined the political life of many prominent leaders and in the process has established new alternative leadership based on the “Bofors politics”. Today, the sanctity of the four pillars of democracy is in crisis because the process that started with the Bofors scandal has vitiated our democracy and spawned so many subsequent frauds and scams. One can't help wondering as to how many subsequent cases of corruption would have been avoided had the Bofors scam not provided a veritable template to the Kalmadis and Rajas that followed. The pride of 1.3 billion countrymen, our defence forces and their valour, demands a just and definitive denouement to this protracted murky saga of treachery to the nation. It is high time that CBI intervened in Ajay Agrawal’s petition in Bofors case pending before the Supreme Court with complete details of documents in the box given by Swedish Police in 1997 to reinvestigate the case and bring guilty to books. India must eradicate and punish “Dalals” from the system to leap bound herself at the global level and lead the new world order. The onus is on the present Narendra Modi government and hyper active Supreme Court of the country to order reinvestigation in the case without any political overtone and present correct facts to undo the damage done by middlemen by giving them exemplary punishment for breaking the backbone of the vital institutions of this glorious country. It will act as a strong deterrent to the operating middlemen community and certainly, it will clean the toxic system.
By Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief of Opinion Express with India’s most well-known Investigative journalist J Gopikrishnan.
Taiwan is a part of the geographical area of operation of India’s Look East Policy (LEP). Although India does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state, its functional and people-to-people contacts with Taiwan are explainable under the LEP. Besides, India’s economic activities are on the rise in the vicinity of Taiwan. Though commercial in nature, India’s presence in the South China Sea, along with improvement in its bilateral relations with Asia-Pacific countries — especially in the realm of politics and defence cooperation — is of strategic significance. In the overall strategic context of the region, increasing functional ties with Taiwan without undermining the support to the one-China Policy would be a stiff challenge requiring clarity of vision and skilled diplomacy. Thus, it is imperative for India to have a much better understanding of Taiwan, and the Asia-Pacific region.
In the author’s view, functional ties/cooperation and people-to-people relations could make a separate category without attaching any diplomatic, political or strategic meanings. The main attributes of this category can be listed as below:
Its unique geographical location and political situation would also contribute to India’s understanding of the Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan is situated in the middle of the disputed waters of the South and the East China Seas. Considering the continued threat from the People Republic of China (PRC) to its national security, Taiwan not only has a natural interest in the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China-Japan tensions, and the dynamic of Sino-US relations, but also a natural expertise on them. Taiwan and China have historical and cultural affinity, but political and strategic distance. Strategically, Taiwan is close to the US and figures in Japan’s security considerations. It is obliquely mentioned in the US-Japan Defence Guidelines, 1997. But the US and Japan’s support for PRC’s One- China Policy has set a limit on their relations with Taiwan. Thus, Taiwan is not fully open to either of the major regional players. This situation leaves it marginalised and dissatisfied with every major power in the region and makes it a neutral interpreter of the region’s politics. India could tap into this consultative potential of Taiwan.
Functional cooperation with Taiwan is even more valuable. Taiwan is a thriving and industrialised economy that is closely integrated with the international economy. It is amongst the world’s leading exporting and importing countries. It is the leading producer and manufacturer in the world in foundries, IC packages, blank optical discs, mask ROMs, mobility scooters/powered wheelchairs and chlorella. If the products made by Taiwanese companies outside Taiwan are also taken into account, the list of products commanding a high share in the world is even longer. Notebooks, Tablets, LCD monitors, IC packages, motherboards (System & Pure MB), WLAN CPEs, cable modems, and digital blood-pressure monitors are a few examples. Apart from electronics, Taiwan’s agro-industries, particularly food-processing, maintain international standards. It also holds high rank in the international rating by agencies like the Institute for Management Development (IMD), Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Heritage Foundation. Its business environment, research and development, and innovation are recognised worldwide. (Data relating to all these is available in the tables at the end of this monograph). Further, Taiwan’s education system ranks quite high. For instance, fourteen Taiwanese universities in 30 disciplines are on the list—compiled by the QS World University of the UK—of the top 200 universities in the world.1 India could become an important destination for Taiwan’s new Go South policy for diversifying Taiwan’s trade and investment basket. India could also become an alternative to China for many Taiwanese companies in view of rising wages and costs in that country. In fact, a regulated flow of skilled labour from India can help overcome the problem of high costs in Taiwan itself. Taiwanese FDI can contribute to India’s manufacturing, infrastructure and other sectors. India and Taiwan make a case for mutual benefit by being substantial complementary economies, as India’s computer software industry complements Taiwan’s computer hardware capability. India’s demography, with a more than 300 million strong middle class, offers an economic opportunity for Taiwanese entrepreneurs. India is also one of the leading suppliers of natural resources. It can be a gateway to South Asia, and even West Asia, for Taiwanese companies. Further, like Taiwan, India too has a reasonably impressive record of achievements in science and technology. For instance, India has gained international recognition in the automobile, electronics and space science sectors. In education, India has internationally recognised institutes— like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Besides, there is sufficient space for co-operation between the two countries in the spheres of culture and tourism. This monograph deals with Taiwan as it exists in the world today. It does not deal with the legal question, whether Taiwan is an independent state or a Chinese province. Despite its ambiguous diplomatic status, Taiwan remains an important factor in the East Asian security scenario. In spite of the Cross-Strait relations in their best phase, the solution to the Cross-Strait conundrum remains elusive. Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have signed 19 agreements related to functional areas since 2008. However, a formal political dialogue or a peace agreement that the PRC is pushing hard for, is not in sight. Taiwan does not appear inclined to yield on the question of sovereignty. Any formula that would downgrade Taiwan’s international standing is unacceptable to both Taiwan’s political class and the common Taiwanese. Contrary to Chinese expectations, the prospects of economic cooperation and integration have not made the Taiwanese amenable to Chinese claims over Taiwan. Similarly, on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s unification with China continues to be a powerful reference point for Chinese nationalism. China still has its missiles deployed against Taiwan. Moreover, it is yet to renounce the use of force as an option to resolve the Cross-Strait problem. This rein-forces Taiwan’s perception of China as a threat to its security. Finally, the US, the security guarantor of Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) 1979, continues to maintain diplomatic ambiguity over the Cross-Strait issue. Therefore, any conflagration in the volatile waters of Taiwan Strait could result in a US-China face off.
Taiwan is also a part of problematic territorial claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Its claims overlap with those of China and are ignored by the other concerned parties. Taiwanese claims mostly address domestic constituency. It appears content with the practical arrangements for resource-sharing. A good example is its fishery pact with Japan in 2013. However, since these claims stoke popular sentiment in Taiwan, it is difficult for the Taiwanese government to ignore the public opinion on these issues. Therefore, overlooking Taiwan in the regional security map would bring pressure on the US alliance in the region, of which Taiwan is a part. Taiwan successfully drove this point during the standoffs between Japan and China in the East China Sea over the Senkaku/ Diao Yu islands in 2012-13 by its diplomatic maneuverings. In fact, the Japan-Taiwan fishery pact has effectively made the dispute tripartite, and implies that Taiwan is a player in the dispute. In May 2013, the government of Taiwan conveyed that diplomatic recognition or not, it is capable of taking care of its citizens when it flexed its economic muscle against the Philippines over the killing of a Taiwanese farmer-fisherman by the Philippines coastguard.
Finally, accelerated interaction and cooperation in functional areas between India and Taiwan would, in the long-term, also contribute to increased mutual awareness. The Cross-Strait unification would not be the only eventuality in the dialectics of Cross-Strait relations. Whether Taiwan would eventually unify with China, or the status quo would persist, or some other form of Cross-Strait relations would emerge, is difficult to predict. To study and engage Taiwan is important irrespective of the scenarios, because each scenario will shape the regional security dynamics in its own way.
India’s big corruption cases and its aftermaths
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, many ongoing major corruption cases are delayed and the Accused people might be relieved. Be it 2G case appeal in Delhi High Court or former Finance Minister P Chidambaram involved bribery cases in INX Media and Aircel-Maxis deals or politically sensitive National Herald case in trial courts and its linked appeal cases by the Accused persons Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Supreme Court on tax evasion and Herald House eviction. Now CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought daily hearing in the 2G case appeal in Delhi High Court citing the retirement of the current Judge Justice Brijesh Sethi on November 30.
In corruption cases, what we see generally the backdoor games in the trial stage, after the public attention fizzles out later. Classic example is the Bofors case. When you look at the timeline of the past 22 years, politicians from Congress and BJP wanted to save their preferred accused persons in Bofors case. Congress leadership wanted to save Ottavio Quattrocchi and BJP leadership of late 90s wanted to save Hinduja brothers. These two are the major kickback money distributors. Still the case filed by Adv. Ajay Agarwal (BJP’s candidate against Sonia Gandhi in 2014 Lok Sabha election in Rae Bareli) against the CBI closure report is pending in Supreme Court. Bofors scam was a turning point in Indian politics which smashed out Congress party’s single party regime in India. The scam linked to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s family collapsed the prospectus of Congress party which was having 425 MPs in Lok Sabha and got reduced to 195 MPs in the 1989 General Election, leading to the united Opposition from BJP to Socialists to Left parties led India’s first coalition Government.
Congress party’s downfall started with the exposes in Bofors scam from 1988. There were lot of twists and turns in Bofors case and Opposition lost steam on the matter after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, leading to the return of Congress party which remained in power up to 1996. Though BJP led Government came to power from 1998 to 2004, the situation has not changed. BJP’s Law Minister Ram Jethmalani became Advocate of Hinduja Brothers, who was part of the gang of middlemen in the Bofors deal. Next Law Minister Arun Jaitley was also not keen on the matter though he was the Additional Solicitor General in the case in 1989. Jaitley many times said publicly that he drafted the chargesheet in Bofors. Next Congress led UPA Government, simply forced CBI to close the case.
Still the main petitioner Ajay Agarwal’s appeal against CBI closure is pending in Supreme Court. In 2018, CBI made a curious petition in Supreme Court to revive the case on a flimsy angle. The flimsy angle was based on a revelation in 2018 by retired Swedish Police Officer in the newly launched Republic TV Channel. Fun is the same CBI filed closure and facing the appeal of Ajay Agarwal against closure in Supreme Court filing a petition based on a Republic TV saying that they are going to probe into the new angle aired in TV channel. Anyway Supreme Court trashed CBI’s new flimsy funny petition and still Ajay Agarwal’s petition is pending. Don’t know why Ajay Agarwal lost interest.
After Bofors Scam, Jain Hawala Dairy Scandal shook the Country. Actually this whole episode started with the arrest of a JNU student from Kashmir in connection with the money trail from terror linked outfits in late 1990 by Delhi Police. The money trails lead to the Hawala operators Jain brothers in Delhi and Police got a long list of names from diaries kept by them. Obviously case got frozen for 3-4 years due to the names in the dairy ranging from so many politicians. In 1994, the diary names were exposed in media, ranging from LK Advani to many politicians and Cabinet Ministers. Still people say names in diary were leaked by top leadership Congress and BJP to settle their internal rivalries. Activist and Journalist Vineet Narain, lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Prashant Bhushan approached Courts. Meanwhile as usual Ram Jethmalani switched the side to save Advani and became his Advocate and won the case. The Case got collapsed after Supreme Court said that mere naming in diaries can’t be treated as evidence. Though the case collapsed, the outcome was a landmark Judgment popularly known as Vineet Narain Judgment which changed the entire structure of CBI and ED and got the Supreme Court’s monitoring and strict norms for the appointment of officers in these probe agencies.
After Hawala Diary scandal, two corruption cases rocked the country. One was Tehelka Magazine’s sting operation on Defence deals. It collapsed then ruling BJP’s President Bangaru Laxman, who was caught on camera accepting few lakhs of rupees. He was convicted and later out on bail he is no more now. Recently in August 2020 another accused Jaya Jaitly, who was the companion of then Defence Minister George Fernandez was convicted by trial court along with former military officers. Somehow she was lucky to manage bail from Delhi High Court in the evening itself, while other accused are still languishing in jail. How she got bail on the same evening from High Court is a matter of debate. Sometimes justice is delivered on seeing face. Tehelka Magazine exposed how pliable are people in politics and bureaucracy, and army. The sting operation exposed how BJP first time landed in power pliable in deals. The Defence Minister’s companion and BJP President were caught for accepting money on the sting operation.
After this Tehelka’s reporter Aniruddha Bahal in 2006 exposed a big sting operation through his website Cobrapost. This sting operation actually shook the Parliament revealing how MPs were taking money for asking questions. This expose exposed how questions and matters were raised by MPs by taking money from Corporate Houses and their rivals. After an internal probe, Parliament expelled all the nine MPs caught in the sting operation. This was a black chapter in the Indian Parliament.
Mega scams rocks Congress led UPA Government
First major scam rocked the UPA Government was Commonwealth Games (CWG) scams from 2009. The CWG Scam started by a movement called India Against Corruption (IAC) which was essentially blessed by RSS, and supporters of spiritual leaders Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev. That time main Opposition party BJP was in shambles due to their electoral defeat in May 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Congress led UPA got rattled and shaken in 2G Scam followed by Coal Scam.
The CWG Scam was limited to the role of the Games Committee Chairman and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi. Actually then Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer was against Kalmadi and his displeasure letters leaked into media became the Scam. Interestingly, though the budget of the CWG was more than Rs.75,000 crore, the scam allegations were only limited to Suresh Kalmadi (might be his stars not correct that time) who had spending power of below Rs.1700 crore. He also picked fights with big media organizations on advertisement allotments in the Games. Anyway all jumped on him on purchases and CBI case was registered and was in jail for some months. The case is still on trial and expected to take more than 2-3-4 years to finish. That is our system in judicial process.
Interestingly two big cases related to CWG were later closed by CBI. One was regarding Rs.15,000 crore worth construction of flyovers in connection with the CWG in Delhi in 2010. The over expenditure in the construction of the flyovers (Barapullah Flyover) was pointing to none other than then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Second one was much bigger scam of about the Rs.35,000 crore spend on the construction of CWG Village. The builder MGF Group was so close to Sonia Gandhi’s family and case reached nowhere and ultimately CBI closed the case. Now CWG cases are limited only to Kalmadi and small cases against Municipal officers in the long trial stages.
The 2G Scam
The Congress led UPA Government collapsed because of the 2G Scam which was highlighted by “The Pioneer” newspaper through continuous series of 100s of reports from December 2008 leading to Telecom Minister A.Raja’s resignation in November 2010. This case changed my career prospects as a Journalist. I am always thankful to my Editor Chandan Mitra and Bureau Chief Navin Upadhyay for assigning this mega work, where God smiled at me. This was the first case where Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) fixed the role of Corporate Houses. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan deserves it the full credit for their legal fights which ultimately collapsed the mighty Sonia Gandhi controlled UPA regime.
So many good things happened in the Country due of the 2G Scam expose. The Supreme Court verdict of February 2012, cancelling all 122 licenses and subsequent Presidential Reference led to the auction of all natural resources. This Judgment also affected the Coal Scam cases and auction of Coal Mines. From auction of Telecom Spectrum alone, the Country during 2010-2016 earned Rs.3.6 lakh crores in the exchequer. The 2G Scam led CAG to find other scams like Telecom AGR hushed up revenues which now found the payment of Rs.1.65 lakh crore by telecom giants to the public exchequer.
However unfortunately criminal cases in 2G Scam collapsed in trial court. I am not commenting on the very very bad Judgment passed by the trial Judge OP saini. His Judgment acquitting the scamsters is so bad in law and laughable. Now CBI and ED have approached the Delhi High Court for speedy hearing in September 2020.
As the trial court Judge Bharat Parashar was a bold Judge many are convicted in the Coal Scam including the former Coal Secretary HC Gupta. However, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh escaped from the Scam, as CBI decided to shut his eyes. Manmohan Singh was summoned by the trial court but he managed a stay from another Bench of Supreme Court. Why CBI not challenged it? Certain things, you don’t have answers.
Niira Radia Tapes and CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s case
Controversial lobbyist Niira Radia’s conversations made tremors in many sectors. There were more than 6000 conversations, though only around 500 conversations landed in public domain. From Ratan Tata to who is who in industry, media, bureaucracy and politics got hit in the Radia Tapes expose. Supreme Court in late 2012 Ordered CBI to probe into 12 matters of corrupt practices mentioned in the tapes. However the case lost steam after CBI reported back to the Court that there was no criminality found in these conversations. The Court also did not pursue in the matter on findings submitted in sealed cover.
Another biggest shocking incident was in late 2014, the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was caught for meeting many 2G Scam and Coal Scam accused Corporate tycoons. This was exposed by certain good officers in CBI by verifying tainted Ranjit Sinha’s visitors’ book kept at his residence. Supreme Court’s 2G Bench had removed Sinha from the cases and Coal Scam Bench had ordered probe on Sinha’s dubious activities. Even after the Supreme Court indicted, Modi Government did not take any action against the tainted CBI Director. CBI has not yet filed FIR on this regard against its tainted former Director.
Cases against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram
After winning the 2G cases in Supreme Court, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy went ballistic. He got Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in National Herald case. His expose in Aircel-Maxis scam led to the fall of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who during the probe got trapped in another bribery case known as INX-Media case. All these cases are in the trial stages which are expected to take 2-3 years in judicial process. The Income Tax case in National Herald case and Herald House eviction cases are pending in Supreme Court. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi lost in all forums and their appeal is pending before the Supreme Court. Enforcement Directorate has attached the Mumbai and Panchkula properties in the National Herald case. Now we have to wait for the normal working of courts after the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled.
Lot of scams exposed during 2012-2014. One of the KG Basin loot where Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Group was caught. Another was the humongous scam in the Civil Aviation sector where main culprits were Jet Airways and Tata Group. Somehow Prashant Bhushan’s case against the illegalities in the Reliance Jio not became successful. The case ended with open tussle in Supreme Court between then Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Prashant Bhushan, who later walked out from the Court. The merits of the case lost in the war of words between the two. Certain high flying cases end up like this in mysterious way.
Corruption in Judiciary
For long time there are allegations of corruption in Judiciary and it reached nowhere. Simple reason for this is only action available against High Court Judge and above is possible only through Impeachment by Parliament. Only once a retired High Court Judge was arrested was in September 2017 in medical college scam. CBI took a bold step to arrest retired Judge IM Quddussi which ultimately led to the culmination of the controversial press conference by the senior most four judges of the Supreme Court in January 2018. Four senior most Judges Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Ranjan Gogoi conducted press conference expressing displeasure on the style of functioning of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Retired Justice Quddussi was caught fixing a case and handling bribery with a case involving a medical college listed in Supreme Court. Justice Chelameswar ordered for senior most five Judge to probe rather than probe by CBI. In his Order, Justice Chelameswar said how CBI officers capable to deal a case involving the role of certain Judges in Supreme Court. But next day, Chief Justice Dipak Misra took over the case illegally or not as per custom and diluted the matter. This was the trigger of the four Judges press conference against the Chief Justice of India. This incident shows the grey areas and rotten side in the Judiciary.
It is not easy to probe into the corruption in judiciary. It is not easy in lower level of judiciary also though Police is empowered to register cases. Once a district level Judge was arrested by CBI in a bribery case of allowing bail in Bellary mining case. Some Judges in District and subordinate level were punished by the High Courts and ended up in termination of their service.
In 2G case, the ED has come out with the report that a week before the controversial acquittal judgment, the stock prices of the companies owned by Accused persons were shot up in multiple times. Somehow no action was taken.
BJP and AAP became the beneficiaries in the anti-corruption movement started from December 2010. In politics so many twists and turns will be witnessed. In November 2013, AAP led Arvind Kejriwal came to power in Delhi State with the help of Congress party which they opposed for past two years. The AAP was formed against the corruption of Congress party and in 2015 and 2020 Delhi Assembly elections; it is a well known fact that AAP got support of Congress in sidelining BJP in Delhi.
BJP which came to power in May 2014 was not keen fixing the corruption cases to its logical conclusion. There happened many deals under the table. There were open attempts to derail the cases against Chidambaram and in 2G cases by certain people in power. Many Officers dealing corruption cases faced all kind of hardships. Subramanian Swamy was sidelined in BJP and Prashant Bhushan was removed from AAP. The worst was the dilution of the Prevention of Corruption Act by the BJP Government.
My experiences in studying and reporting corruption cases has taught me many lessons. Main thing is who ever come to power the Corporate Houses somehow control them. Politicians may lose jobs but the Corporate Houses, the bribe givers remain as the politicians we elect lack courage to tackle these buccaneers. What we need is the educated and vigilant public and fight against the corruption is not like an item which is like the items to be delivered immediately like in fast food counters. The fight against corruption is a long battle and one should not lose heart during the setbacks. We have to remember that at the end truth and only ultimate truth will win – Satyameva Jayate.
[J Gopikrishnan is a Journalist working with ‘The Pioneer’ newspaper]
Even before the Covid 19 catastrophe, Emperor Xi Jinping decided that 2020 is the year to establish the Chinese century. American think- tank predicts in 2019 the Chinese GDP was already larger than the USA’s GDP and by 2030 it could be up to 70% larger. As a share of Global output China would grow to 32% from 20% currently, as op- posed to the USA declining from 16% to 10%. In terms of Global Market capitalisation the Chinese would grow to 25% from 5% in 2019, whilst the USA would decline from 40% to 18%. China’s share of global exports would rise to 18% from 12% whilst the USA would be static at 8%. The above forecasts were supported by massive Chinese investments in Education in the fields of Mathematics, Science, Technology, Medicine and rapidly improving the quality of education. Starting with the 1980’S the Chinese had successfully got the world’s manufacturing supply chain to relocate to China, and was truly the “factory of the world”. From a pure labour arbitrage offering, they created world class infrastructure (Cities, Roads, Ports, Airports) to support it. The top 2500 corporates outside China all had a business presence in China. This aggressive export-led growth model allowed the Chinese to radically improve per capita income, and in the process also create a massive domestic consumption engine. A 40% domestic savings rate supported the huge developments that happened on their Eastern Seaboard. Till 2012 the Chinese government was sitting on Foreign Exchange Reserves of close to $5 Trillion. Over time Chinese labour had become a very skilled workforce, moved up the value chain and was no longer cheap. China now imported/consumed 45-50% of virtually every commodity in the world even though more than half of it was re-exported.
Chinese leaders till 2012 had made the country keep a low profile, hiding their strengths, whilst they relentlessly gained market share from the world. Asian growth engines Japan and South Korea had also felt compelled to move/make tangible manufacturing investments in China. The Chinese had mastered the skill of acquiring the world’s IPR ‘s by any means. Their Chinese Communist Party(CCP) command and control structure had also silently expanded their Foreign Ministry with requisite resources to create a Public Relations repository in every- major country, to manage the national discourse on any prickly subject in their favour. This three decade profile started changing with Xi Jinping’s ascension to Chairmanship in 2012.THE Chinese strategists now started believing that the Middle Kingdom deserved to rule the world. They changed the nomenclature of the 21st century being an Asian century to a Chinese century. They mapped that post 2008 Global Financial Institutions were weakened, substantially dysfunctional and lacking leadership. They unleashed a project of achieving complete Chinese dominance in the manpower of every multilateral agency and United Nations body in the world. Chinese students were encouraged to study overseas and many persuaded to join these organizations, and as so many FBI investigations are now showing made instruments of government policy.
The collapse of the USSR in the 1990’S and the profligacy of the US financial sector in 2008 had left a leadership vacuum in many areas. Xi Jinping moved rapidly to occupy the vacancies. China needed to secure its supply chain as it neither produced adequate food for its population, nor was endowed with manufacturing or energy raw materials. Chinese leadership wanted to avoid supply side shocks and created strategies to acquire assets surreptitiously. They moved rapidly to fund every country and project that the World Bank or rest of the world would not find viable. The Chinese wanted to eventually acquire the underlying asset and default was hence a preferred option for them. This juggernaut covered 150 countries and nearly $5 Trillion in loans/investments. The new Chairman had successfully overinvested the Chinese USD reserves, and left his country very vulnerable. They desperately needed their Dollar engine (Foreign Direct Investment, Foreign Portfolio Investment, and Foreign Currency Loans) to keep firing quickly to recoup their position, or alternately fast track their long term vision to get global trade out of the dollar and into the RMB.
Unluckily for the Chinese two things changed the landscape in 2017. President Trump had won the US election and was a wildcard that the Chinese read wrongly. Secondly the world economy started topping out, and growth started stalling. The Chinese engine was not designed to handle economic contraction. Fault lines in the domestic economy led by huge non performing loans in domestic state owned Enterprises. Ghost cities started appearing, as domestic demand stalled, whilst domestic real estate started going belly-up. The country was overbuilt and no more infrastructure spending was needed.
Trump started the trade war and insisted that the Chinese reduce the Trade surpluses. President Xi erred massively in not giving Trump a cheap victory, and getting the Americans riled. American strategists had clearly war-games that the days of the USD hegemony were numbered, and if their political dominance was to be extended, a war with China was not an option, the only question was timing. By a strange coincidence the two technology hardware giant’s USA and China were tangibly dependent on Taiwan for their Semiconductor underbelly. Taiwan has a dominant share in the Semiconductor foundries globally, and both the USA and China are dependent on them. The Americans had anticipated this and a JV with the Taiwanese would go operational in Arizona in 2023. Till then any military threat to Taiwan would be an attack on their technology dominance, an intolerable thought for them. Democrat Presidents had soft-pedaled on the one China policy, and the Chinese had succeeded in getting away with their wish-lists. The Americans had celebrated access to a large consumption market, but landed up creating a rival.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in manpower terms is the largest standing armed force on the globe. The PLA and CCP moved fast to upgrade weapon systems, stealing blueprints and buying where they could not, theoretically they are a lethal strike force. However the navy is their Achilles heel, and they lack best in class aircraft carriers and submarines. This limits their ability to protect their interests spanning 150 countries. 75% of Chinese oil still moves in tankers through the narrow Malacca Straits. To reach the Arabian sea by land they invested in a bankrupt Pakistan by constructing the CPEC which links Xinjiang to Gwadar Port and is a dedicated economic corridor. They also engaged east European and European countries to construct the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for creating dedicated freight corridors to 50 European cities. In the process they have de-risked their trade supply routes, but their oil buy routes lie exposed. The nightmare for China achieving dominance is that Indian land illegally occupied by Pakistan is being used by CPEC and India reacquiring PoK by use of military power could render their $66 Billion investment in Pakistan useless, blocking oil supply. The Chinese realized that economic sanctions against Iran had crippled the proud country with 15% of the world’s oil, needed investments, and so decided to bust sanctions on Iran imposed by the United Nations (they were party to imposing them). China and Iran signed a 25 year Trade and Military alliance in June 2020. China has bet on the USA exiting Afghanistan in 2020, and by using the Pakistani’s to install a puppet regime in Afghanistan, they could take a pipeline from Iran to Xinjiang. In turn the Chinese have to pump in the equivalent of $400 Billion into Iran’s development, which they can crank their RMB economy to deliver. Where does that leave the Pakistani’s?
In the interim President Xi got the CCP to appoint him as the leader for life and emerged as an emperor. The CCP decided that by its 100th anniversary in 2021, they would stamp themselves as “numero uno” in the world. A few pinpricks remained: Taiwan and Hong Kong as independent democracies was an eyesore, and raised aspirations of good life in mainland Chinese youth. They had to be acquired by coercion or force at the earliest. The South China Sea had $5 Trillion of supply chain that transited the route. China laid claims to territories/islands of all its neighbours and started constructing artificial islands as missile bases. They started bullying and humiliating Australia since 70% of Australian mining exports is bought by China. Singularly none of the Asian countries could take on China, but many could exact a heavy toll if it came to conflict. The Chinese flirted with conflict with all their neighbours using “wearing down” tactics.
The success of this gambit hinged on the continuity of their trade with the USA, heavily skewed in their favour. President Trump not getting an early trade war win, upped the ante, imposing a $250 Billion annual hit on China. Chinese perhaps felt that US corporations would not listen to their government and continue business as usual. They floated a trial balloon by abrogating the agreement with Hong Kong which would have lapsed in 2047, and suppressing protests with brute force. Then they ostensibly colluded/ manipulated the WHO and unleashed the Covid 19 pandemic on the world infecting every- country on the planet. This collapsed world economies and has created a very strong anti-China sentiment. It has resulted in fast tracking the creation of the Quad, an alliance of the USA, Japan, Australia and India to take on the Chinese. UK, France and Israel are openly in support of the Quad, whilst vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea have alerted their armed forces for battle readiness. In the Chinese camp are North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey with anti-India squeaks may emerge from Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
With China designated as world enemy number 1, even Joe Biden has ratcheted up the anti-China rhetoric, lest President Trump steal the thunder and a potentially lost election by a war with China before November this year. The Indian and Chinese armies are facing off across 3400 Km. border, and a tense peace prevails currently. The Middle East has so far stayed quiet, but by default will have to choose sides as a Shia Iran and a Sunni Pakistan and Turkey side with the Chinese. It is an uneasy time for the Saudi’s and the UAE. It is ironic that the OIC and its 54 member countries including the ”Turkish caliphate” maintain a studied silence on China incarcerating nearly 3 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The Koreans however had seen this coming two years earlier and Samsung had moved an $18 Billion annual capacity out of China to Vietnam. Japan has incentivized its corporations to exit China totally. USA and UK has banned Hauwei telecom with immediate effect to secure data for national security. India has banned Chinese Telecom equipment and Apps with immediate effect. There is a very strong anti-Chinese imports movement starting in India, and may set an example for the world to follow. China’s partners in BRI and in Africa are resenting the usurious conditions in their loan agreements. The Americans are shutting off access to their Capital markets to the Chinese, and cancellation of the Hong Kong treaty will kill the USD supply route to China. The Chinese Balance of payments is negative for the last few months, and days of surpluses are now a memory. They still need to buy food and oil and commodities.
Even nature seems to have conspired to ruin Emperor Xi’s timing. China is being ravaged by the worst ever floods in the last 100 years with 29 of its provinces impacted, and the survival of the showpiece three Gorges Dam under threat from heavy rain which could affect nearly 400 Million people as down- stream cities including Shanghai could be impacted. Scams like fake Gold collateral has shaken China’s $5 Trillion Shadow banking industry as the Kin- gold default is by a powerful former CCP member. It also puts a question mark on the credibility of China’s domestic gold production which is part of its National Reserves, as to how much of it is gold plated copper. Will anyone in the world now ever trust a Chinese certification of gold? This scandal has seriously damaged China’s plans of having a partial gold-backed alternate currency to replace the dollar.
The world now sits on a powder keg in the midst of the Covid crisis. Funnily it is China’s 150 debtor countries (especially Pakistan) that must be praying for a fall and dismemberment of their Lender, for them to escape losing their sovereignty which they have so negligently mortgaged. President Trump and Emperor Xi now have gone too far for either of them to back-down without losing their crowns. For Trump it’s just an election, but the world knows what happens to deposed Chinese dictators. The South Asian countries all want Tibet to regain its independence after being annexed by the Chinese in 1950 so that they all get their freshwater security back.
Meanwhile the domestic market collapse will force Emperor Xi to take few more hasty decisions. China’s banking regulator has advised domestic banks to be prepared for sharp rises in bad loans once the Covid moratorium period is over. It has guided banks to conserve capital by not paying dividends and bonuses. Three Chinese banks have collapsed in the last three years, and 15% of the financial sector is supposedly past a high risk stage. Tax revenues have grown under 5%, and budget deficits exceed 11%. The season of discontent for 1.4 Billion Chinese has arrived. China created the BRI to use the surplus capacity in its construction materials and equipment sector, and to keep Chinese labour occupied. Experts estimate that this project needs another $5Trillion over the next five years to complete it. The money given to 150 countries cannot be recalled. The Hong Kong door may be closed by the Americans if push comes to shove. The FDI and FPI flows post Covid may flow outwards. China’s $10 Trillion foreign debt is realistically supported by $2 Trillion of reserves. With Balance of Trade going negative, even diehard Chinese supporters are a highly nervous lot. If China’s trading partners do not agree to settlements denominated in the RMB, a run on the currency is highly possible.
It is a serious reason to worry for 1.3 billion Indians. Already, we were facing economic downtrend since last three years, the GDP growth rate is gradually slipping towards 5% mark and Covid 19 has destroyed the large section of economy permanently. Xi Jinping has taken Chinese virus as an opportunity to attack its neighbors to distract world’s attention from the pandemic. Now it is India’s turn to return the gesture to China. This crisis offers tremendous long term strategic advantage for policy makers to deal with Chinese threat permanently. India must immediately recognize Tibet and Taiwan as sovereign countries and allow them to run official embassies in India and vice versa, this will open floodgate for several countries to follow the footsteps of India in shaking up Chinese hegemony globally. Secondly, India must supplying subsidized arms and military technology to Vietnam and Philippines to create multiple fronts for China and its PLA in response to what China is doing by arming Pakistan to be used for India in a proxy war. Thirdly, India should take a lead in Indo pacific command with USA, Japan, and Australia to choke Chinese trade route; it will hurt PRC and its ambition to be a global economic leader. Fourth, India must use weapon and army on regular basis when it is spending billions of dollars on armed forces and weapon procurement. The country like Pakistan, Nepal and others must be fearful of the consequences, if they plan to go against the interest of India. Lastly, restrict Chinese import of non essential goods by imposing tariff and focus our attention in building formidable self reliant economy with a target of $10 trillion by 2030 to face hostile China, this threat is permanent and China should be treated as permanent adversary even when the times are good. India and the world must escalate the information warfare to ex- pose the draconian CCP and its oppressive regime working against the interest of native Chinese. The dilemma for the Xi led CCP is what do they tell their domestic audience. In the age of the internet, you can censor but not hide. News spreads like wildfire with every citizen carrying smart-phones. Do the Chinese need to beat the war-drums to transfer the blame for their miscalculations. The world scenario is evolving every week, and 2020 threatened to be a very long year indeed.
(Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief Opinion Express & Sanjit Paul Singh Managing Partner S&S associates)
A Myth carried forward by vested interest groups ignores historical facts
Who wants Khaistan? The native Indian Sikh community in Punjab has absolutely no interest even to discuss the subject in the routine life. Sikh Diaspora attached with the main land has no interest in the issue. But some disgruntle anti-national set of people prompted by the foreign funding are running a futile campaign to instigate the subject with no support from credible places. The sikh community in India is the most progressive and prosperous community of the country. It has proudly represented the highest offices of the country – the president and the prime minister, army general, top bureaucrat, technocrats, and state heads. Independent India with a majority 80% Hindu population size has showered tremendous love and respect to 2% Sikh community in every sphere of life. It can be a unique case study model anywhere in the world wherein the overwhelming population majority has voluntarily offered respect and position to the almost dismal population size group. Sikhs have completely justified the faith and they have reciprocated the gesture with full commitment in every sector that it has represented.
To watch video | Part 2 | English : Khalistan Referendum 2020 - A failed Pakistani propaganda
To watch video | Part 2 | Hindi : Khalistan Referendum 2020 - A failed Pakistani propaganda
Off course, there are differences of opinion and minute governance disputes within the family but the two communities have integrated well enough to be bifurcated by vested foreign interest. Desperate Pakistan led by ISI has put a lot of stakes in abetting the Khalistan movement since the operation blue star incident. There are western interest groups based in the USA, Canada, UK are putting up loop sided effort to flame the fire to keep the Indian progress in check and at the same time, they are keeping the Indian government in good humor to balance the new emerging world order. Frankly, the limited section of Sikh Diaspora aided by western powers and the rouge Pakistani ISI have wrongly evaluated the bond between the Hindu’s and Sikhs in India and surely one needs to spend time in India to understand the genuine cultural integration between the two communities.
Lately, the prominent countries where this mischief is played have decided to come up with clear policy of no support to Khalistan. Canada has rejected the idea of Khalistan. In a statement, it said: “ Canada respects the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India, and the Government of Canada will not recognize the referendum”. The Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that the categorical stand taken by the Justin Trudeau government on this issue is exemplary. He hopes other nations and governments should come out, and be against SFJ as well—which has been banned by India as a terrorist organization. The founder of SFJ, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, has been declared as a terrorist for actively promoting Pakistan-backed terror activities on Indian soil. The Chief Minister added that failing to oppose the separatist SFJ organisation could set a dangerous precedent for any country; this could be seen as covert support to an organisation that would freely be propagating secessionist activities. This was in the interest of global peace and security to reject forces, that are hell-bent on spreading terror, the Chief Minister added. Sikhs in Punjab had categorically rejected SFJ’s pro-Khalistan movement, which the outfit was spreading at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI, he concluded.
Dejected by the stand taken by the USA, Canada, EU countries to reject Khalistan, groups associated and funded by anti-India forces are desperate to fuel the unrest in Punjab, three ‘hardcore supporters of the ‘Khalistan movement’ were planning to execute targeted killings in several states of Northern India were arrested by Delhi police. on the KLF radar were several activists, politicians, and religious leaders, particularly from Punjab. During the interrogation of the three accused and further investigation, it was revealed that they were in contact with Pakistan ISI-sponsored Khalistan leader Gopal Singh Chawla and leaders of the banned Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), based in Pakistan and the US respectively. The dossier New Delhi shared with Islamabad about Khalistani anti-India propaganda led by Gopal Singh Chawla. Pakistani intelligence agency asset Go- pal Singh Chawla is the former General Secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee and President of Punjabi Sikh Sangat. Chawla is a well-known Khalistan element, who often spews venom against India in his speeches, and supports terrorism in Punjab. Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a lesser-known Khalistan group based in the US, which was banned by the Indian government in July 2019. SFJ has been involved in several recent anti-India protests in the US, UK and Canada, which have been indirectly sponsored by Pakistani agencies.
In October 2018, Gopal Singh Chawla,in a telephonic interview, had confessed to having knowledge of the role of Khalistan in the killing of RSS leaders in Punjab. “The killing of the RSS leaders will continue in Punjab. RSS leaders are our very first target. We don’t want any interference of RSS in our gurdwaras or in Punjab. The Indian government may do whatever it wants, but we won’t tolerate interference in Punjab in any way,” he had told this journalist. On being asked about the support of globally-designated terrorist and chief of terror group Lashkar- e-Tayyiba, Hafiz Saeed, Chawla said: “I have had relations with Hafiz Saeed and continue even now. Doesn’t mean we operate together. Hafiz Saeed is my ideal person. (sic).” While several ISI chiefs in the past have been vocal supporters of the Khalistan movement – including former Army General General Hamid Gul – the Pakistani deep state seems to have now embarked on the K2 (Kashmir and Khalistan) strategy with newfound hate and vengeance. A part of this hatred stems from the fact that diplomatically, Pakistan has failed to gather any global momentum against India. Post abrogation of article 370, the terror groups in Kashmir have been at their weakest in the last three decades, with Indian security forces killing about 116 terrorists in less than six months (including the top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen who acted as the ground assets for Pakistani terrorists infiltrating India through J&K).
Misguided section of Sikh Diaspora plans unofficial vote in 2020
Sikhs for Justice says poll to be organized in Punjab and 20 countries abroad to press for a legally binding referendum on India but India has categorically rejected the demand since it is Pakistan sponsored activity to disturb peace in Punjab.
Diaspora group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) argues Punjab is “currently occupied by India” and vows to organize a non-binding vote —both in Punjab and 20 countries abroad where Sikh diasporas exist on the issue of establishing an independent country, which they call Khalistan. The group believes that “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote” would “start the process through which we will eventually conduct an official legally binding referendum in Punjab thereby peacefully establishing Khalistan.” SFJ says it aims “to get 5 million votes in support of independence for Punjab” in the unofficial vote, the result then “presented to the United Nations with a request for them to intervene and negotiate an agreement between the Punjabi peoples and India for holding an independence referendum in Punjab,” a legally binding one this time.
The group has not disclosed how it will be able to organize the vote in Pun- jab in the face of Indian opposition to it. Analysts say support for independence is more popular among diaspora Sikhs than in Punjab itself. In Punjab, the government has been traditionally dominated by either the nation-wide Indian National Congress or the Shiromani Akali Dal —a conservative, Sikh- majority, pro-autonomy Punjabi party currently not striving for independence, despite the fact that in past times some of its leaders and factions had been secession proponents. And the current Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh of INC is the tallest nationalist leader having the support of the entire Punjab and Indian Sikh community so the so-called vote by SFJ remains a non century, however, Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent were more successful and saw the emergence of Islamic states over Hindu-majority populations.In the early 16th century, one such state was the Mughal Empire, founded by the successful king Babur in northern India. Meanwhile, in the later 15th century in the Punjab, Sikhism had been proclaimed by Guru Nanak as a new monotheistic religion that rejected both Hinduism and Islam, and rapidly gained followers. Perceiving the growth of the Sikhs as a threat, the Mughal authorities began to persecute them, and in 1606 Sikh leader Guru Arjan was executed by Mughal emperor Jahangir, starter in the mainland Punjab.
1947 partition to 1984 tragedy ignores history
The Khalistan independence movement decries Punjab partition between India and Pakistan in 1947. Still, SFJ is merely calling for independence from India, not Pakistan. Sikhs make up 58% of the population of the Indian state of Punjab, while they are a very tiny minority in Pakistan’s Punjab after most of them left the area at the time of partition while thousands were killed in inter-communal violence. Faced with the choice between India and Pakistan, most Sikhs went for the former. Yet blindfolded power-hungry traitors like Gopal Singh Chawla, Ranjeet Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Wadhawa Singh Babbar, Paramjit Singh with few of their followers are trying to defy the bare fact of the history by using the bluestar operation misadventure for political purpose and by forgetting the supreme sacrifices made by Sikh Guru’s fighting Mughal rulers for the protection of their religious rights.
Between the 7th and 11th centuries, Islamic armies conducted several campaigns into the Hindu-dominated Indian subcontinent, making conquests limited to present-day Pakistan and Punjab. From the 12th through the 16th apparently for helping prince Khusrau. Sikhism split into two movements: one led by Guru Arjan’s son Guru Hargobind began to regard Guru Arjan as a martyr, became more political and militaristic, and started organising armed rebellions against the Mughals; the other led by Guru Arjan’s older brother Prithi Chand focused on peace and nonviolence, and rejected uprisings. The Sikhs first raised their weapons against the Mughal Empire under Guru Hargobind. The tenth and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh organized Sikhs into a military sect called Khalsa (means “pure”), in 1699, against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Before his death in 1708, he sent Banda Bahadur to lead the Sikhs of Punjab. Banda Bahadur through his outstanding leadership skills weakened the Mughal grasp over the eastern Punjab. But he was later captured and beheaded in Delhi in 1716, during the reign of Farrukhsiyar. Thereafter, Sikhs became leaderless and were divided into Misls. Although their martial skills were enormous, their political disunity made them vulnerable to foreign attacks. In 1738, Nadir Shah of Iran, attacked India , looted Delhi and Mughals were never able to recover their power in Punjab. Later, Punjab was subject to constant invasions of Ahmad Shah Durrani of Afghanistan, who upon hearing of the persecution of Muslims of Punjab by the invading Sikhs, took it as his duty to protect the Muslims. Abdali tried many times to recover Lahore but ultimately had to return to Pashtun territories. After his final invasion of Punjab in 1767, he left Lahore which was when it was re-captured by the Sikhs. For more than three decades, Sikhs consolidated their power in areas of Punjab. But the decisive moment came in 1790, when Ranjit Singh of Sukerchakia misl became misldar. He started uniting misls and finally took Lahore in 1799. His coronation on 12 April 1801 marked the beginning of the Sikh Empire, which went on to conquer the whole Punjab, Kangra, parts of Kashmir and briefly, the city of Peshawar.
The tenth and the last guru of Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh organised themselves in jathas, who would see their first battle in 1621. The tenth Sikh Guru is remembered as the spiritual master, warrior, poet and philosopher. When his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, Guru Gobind Singh was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs at age nine, becoming the tenth Sikh Guru. His four sons died during his lifetime – two in battle, two executed by the Mughal army. Guru’s mother Mata Gujri and his two younger sons were captured by Wazir Khan, the Muslim governor of Sirhind. His youngest sons, aged 5 and 8, were tortured and then executed by burying them alive into a wall after they refused to convert to Islam, and Mata Gujri collapsed on hearing her grandsons’ death. Both his eldest sons, aged 13 and 17, also killed in the battle of December 1704 against the Mughal army. After several decades, small Sikh states known as misls combined to form the Sikh Confederacy in 1716, that jointly fought against Mughal power. In 1735, the jathas would be combined into a single army, the Dal Khalsa. Though successes varied, the Sikhs contributed to the decline of the Mughal Empire during the first half of the 18th century. By the 1750's, the neighbouring northwestern Islamic Durrani Empire and the southern Hindu Maratha Empire had all but destroyed the Mughal Empire, which retained a small territory around Delhi. This is a glorious factual chapter of Sikh history that certain so called Sikhs are completely ignores to serve their vested interest.
Foolishly, ISI back Chawla and nine designated terrorists namely Ranjeet Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization, “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Lakhbir Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “International Sikh youth Federation”, Wadhawa Singh Babbar Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “Babbar Khalsa International”, Paramjit Singh Pakistan based Chief of terrorist organization “Khalistan Commando Force”, Gurmeet Singh Bagga Germany based key member of terrorist organisation “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Bhupinder Singh Bhinda Germany based key member of terrorist organization “Khalistan Zindabad Force”, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun USA based key member of Unlawful Association, “Sikh for Justice”, Paramjit Singh United Kingdom-based Chief of terrorist organization “Babbar Khalsa International”, Hardeep Singh Nijjar Canada based Chief of “KhalistanTiger Force” have been declared terrorists under the provision of UAPA. All of them are blindfolded to read the script written by Pakistan to use them for destabilizing India. Likewise the confused Sikh Diaspora is affluent and well accomplished in the academics yet some of the anti-national community leaders are distorting the image of the community by their actions and ignoring the history of the great Khalsa Path. The tragedy of Sikhs is that they have not found a leader worthy of carrying forward the legacy of their illustrious Gurus since Maharaja Ranjit Singh The first work of Guru Nanak who is invariably referred to as the founder of Sikhism, maintained, propounded original teachings, established a new religion and gathered round himself a following drawn from both Hindu and Muslim. This continued for about a century till Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru whose period occupies most of the first half of seventeen century adopted the doctrine of ‘miripiri’ and resorted to an arm rebellion against the attempts made by Mughals to interfere and curb the religious rights of Non Muslims in India. He accordingly responded `to the Mughal threat of violent repression by arming his followers though nothing basic had, however, been changed. The tenth Guru Gobind Singh having observed the growing hostility of Mughal authorities reached a momentous decision to form a structured group of fighters to be named as Khalsa having military discipline.
Indian leaders blame SFJ over alleged links to Pakistan
Both the Indian and Punjab governments oppose referendum calls, claiming that SFJ is being helped by Pakistan to undermine the unity of its longtime regional foe. India CDS and Ex-Army Chief General Bipin Rawat referred to “external linkages” to “revive insurgency” in Punjab, as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh linked SFJ with Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. The row has reached Canada, the US, and the UK, where large Sikh communities live. The Indian intelligence agencies are on alert keening watching the overseas footprint of a group of foreign aided vested interest to fuel the movement and create unrest in the border state of India. It is a shame that Pakistan society is damaging temples, Gurudawaras, Churches with impunity having the full support of the establishment since it is a declared Islamic state yet traitors like Gopal Singh Chawla, Ranjeet Singh, Lakhbir Singh, Paramjit Singh are working against the overall interest of the Sikh community by collaborating with ISI and non-state players to hurt the Indian interest. Surely, they have virtually no support in Indian state of Punjab or in India but certain section of western supported Sikh Diaspora are fueling the fire by funding groups to weaken Indian state that is likely to be the most powerful nation in terms of military and economy in the next decade.
It is high time that his disgruntle group should shed the violence and anti-India activities by collaborating with overseas vested interest groups and seek pardon from the mighty Indian state so that they can be integrated with the mainstream Sikh community of the country that remains the pride of the country. The illusion of Khalistan completely ignores the history and it misrepresents the larger interest of the Sikh community. The glorious sacrifice made by the Sikh community for their motherland is unparallel in the recent past and contribution made the community in the nation-building remains second to none. Lastly, India is considered by many as a soft state till the narrative is altered by the current government of Narendra Modi hence it is highly advisable for the traitors working against the interest of the country to be on guard because Doval’s offensive-defensive strategy doctrine can really hurt them badly. As Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah has indicated to all the disgruntle elements to shun the violence and talk to government to secure peace on all ends, this is the only option left now.
By Prashant Tewari Editor in Chief with Prakhar Misra Political Editor: Opinion Express.
One fifth of humanity following Sanatan Dharma must secure its historical relevance to be the spiritual leader of the emerging new world order
Bharat (India) has been a battleground for the western civilisation for well over 2000 years now. Alexander was the first to come here on an expansion spree, followed by many Turks, Mongols, shun [saka], Kushan, and Huns who came to loot India’s wealth but were finally absorbed by our great Indic civilisation. Today one can’t identify those who came from ancient Greece, Persia, Mesopotamia, Mongolia etc. The plunder and loot continued unabated in the British rule for over two centuries and the native people of Bharat land lost its identity and significance completely.
With the advent of Semitic cults in the West Asia, its lust to spread its cult the world over was seen in the onslaught of first century with the emergence of Christianity. The Christians conquest for religious expansion had ruined the great Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilisations. The challenge was to accept their religion or perish. But the real menace came with the advent of Islam in the seventh century, when a dominant tribe Quresh leader Muhammad declared himself the prophet of a new cult called Islam. Later it spread over Europe, east of Asia and India. Earlier, the Muslims came in as looters, later they became invaders and finally became rulers of the Indian subcontinent. These alien rulers did not stop at invading and looting India. They used their swords to convert Hindus. They did forced conversion, destroyed Mandirs, and erected mosques over them. Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir was one of the chief centres of faith for all Sanatanis, including Buddhists and Sikhs along with Hindus at the time of Akhand Bharat from Kabul to Kanyakumari. Its conversion was a major achievement for the Islamist rulers of Delhi. Hindus were morally defeated by destroying the centre of faith and erecting mosque over it. The modern historians are misquoting this fact by comparing Islamic invasion with Ashok’s battle of Kalinga, which was purely for geographical expansion.
On August 5, 2020, five hundred years of struggle for reclamation of Janmabhoomi of the most revered historical figure and seventh incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu will come to an end. With reconstruction of the temple, the faith, patience, tolerance, faith on Constitution and perseverance of 100 crore Hindus worldwide will re-establish the values of Sanatan dharma. This is the time for our minorities to realise that their ancestors were all Hindus. Today Egyptians, Iraqis, Iranians and Indonesians have started taking pride in their pre-Islamic past. Even few Pakistanis now believe that their King Porus defeated Alexander. A section of literate Pakistanis now considers Gazani, Ghori and Babur as invaders who did not belong to Pakistan (then Bharat). It is time for Indian Muslims to introspect and try to join the main stream.
"With the advent of Semitic cults in the West Asia, its lust to spread its cult the world over was seen in the onslaught of first century with the emergence of Christianity. The Christians conquest for religious expansion had ruined the great Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilisations. The challenge was to accept their religion or perish."
According to renowned American Indic scholar Shri Nilesh Oak, the birth of King Dashrath, father of Bhagwan Ram, is 12300 years BCE, means 14320 years from now. Birthdate of Bhagwan Ram is November 29, 12240 BCE. Oak’s calculation is based on astronomical references given in the Valmiki Ramayan with reference to the birth of Bhagwan Ram, which are proven as per modern astronomy and science. Many historical structures are evident of Ram’s existence as a historical figure, which the Left historians have otherwise painted as a mythical character. In Sri Lanka, there are many places which are referred to as belonging to Ramayana periods like Ashok Vatika, or the place where Meghnad performed yagna etc.In south Gujarat, one Anavil Brahman community is believed to have performed yagna with Bhagwan Ram at Shabari’sKutia. The place is known as Anaval. Those who participated in the yagna are called Anavil Brahmans from that day onwards. But to oppose the reconstruction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the leftist historians tried their best to establish Ram as a mythological figure and Ramayan as fiction.
As per modern historians, Mir Baki (a lieutenant of first Mughal invader Babur) demolished the Ram Mandir and erected a mosque over it. But I am of the opinion, by going through memoirs of Persian, Chinese & British travelers, that there was a grand temple at the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram even after the period of Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan. Babur was a struggler when he conquered Delhi from Sikandar Lodhi. He was not in a position to do such heroic for the imposition of Islam in the early phase of his rule as that might have antagonised the Hindus against him. It was Aurangzeb who did this heinous crime as he was a habitual offender and cruel preacher of Islam and had done it with Kashi & Mathura & other forty thousand temples as well. Surely, the Kashi and Mathura needs to be liberated from the draconian clutches of historical mistakes.
There were several attempts made by Hindus to free the birthplace during slavery as well. As per the records available one, Md Salim had filed an FIR against a group of Nihang Sikhs who installed Trishul and painted Ram Naam inside the mosque and performed Yagna. In 1885 Mahant Raghubar das filed a suit in Faizabad (Now Ayodhya) district court to rebuild the temple but the court dismissed it. In 1934 under the leadership of Mahant Digvijay Nath ji of Gorakshpeeth Gorakhpur, Sadhus claimed a portion of the premise and started performing Puja but the Britisher rebuilt the damaged portion. The government seized the premise in 1949 after Hindus started performing Puja at the birthplace. The matter was then challenged in the court by Nirmohi Akhada.
The turning point was the famous Shah Bano case, where the Supreme Court awarded her alimony as per Indian laws applicable to all Indian citizens. This was opposed by conservative Muslim leadership of the country and the then government led by late Rajiv Gandhi, who enjoyed three fourth majority in the Parliament as he had won 1984 elections on a sympathy wave following the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, amended the Constitution to overrule the Supreme Court judgment given in favour of a helpless Muslim woman divorced illegally by her husband.
This case of shameless appeasement of Muslims by Congress party resulted in the consolidation of Hindu sentiments against such appeasement of minority. BJP, as the political party took full advantage of this growing Hindu alienation and eventually produced what is known as the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The principle architect were VHP Chief Ashok Singhal, BJP Leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi, Kalyan Singh with the core support of ideological master RSS and affiliates Bal Thakery. On December 6 1992, the disputed structure was demolished by karsevaks. The Nobel Prize-winning West Indies born Hindu author late VS Naipaul described this event as follows: “Pulling down the first Mughal emperor’s [masjid], is a marvellous idea. I think in years to come it will be seen as a great moment. … It would be a historical statement of India striving to regain her soul.”
The Supreme Court pronounced the verdict in favour of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir on October 27 2019, after 70 years of the legal battle in independent India that was perused religiously by Dr Subramanian Swamy and others. This is after the traumatic partisan of the country, Indian community in general and the tolerant Hindu society in specific must be complimented for having faith in the Constitution and legal system of the country.
The construction of the grand temple at Ayodhya must become a transformative event for Indian political discourse. It should be looked as the central place of cultural identity for millions of Hindus as Vatican is for Christians and Mecca is for Muslims. It should be the spiritual guiding place for the nation in the years to follow and subsequently it should be delinked from the politics. From now on, Indians must learn to treat religion as a personal affair of an individual and should never be brought up to score political points or to gain electoral victories. The hate for each other was growing louder day by day on the issue of Ram Mandir. A common Hindu feeling was that why Muslims stayed here in India if they wanted a mosque when we had given them a Pakistan? And the Muslims always feel insecure because they got Pakistan, Hindus think they are overstaying here. Both the feelings were not there originally, but the appeasement politics brought it in.
For over 70 years the Ayodhya Mandir issue was a bone of contention for all parties versus BJP. BJP was always accused of polarising the Hindu in the name of Mandir, Article 370, and Common Civil Code etc. These were the election issues as BJP could identify Congress with appeasing Muslims and Christians at the cost of Hindu culture and tradition by destroying them gradually. But pity is Congress never tried to solve these issues in 60 years of their rule. They rather used to call BJP as a communal party. Now that the BJP is in power for a successive term led by brilliant team of Narendra Modi and his man’s Friday Amit Shah, the controversial Article 370 has been abrogated. Ram Mandir is being reconstructed. The CAA has been enacted. Only issue pending as per its manifesto is the Uniform Civil Code. As momentous it was, the elevation of Yogi Adityanath was only the highlight and not the whole reel of the manner in which Modi Sarkar shifted the Overton Window of Indian politics towards a more Hindu oriented approach. With every of his, Narendra Modi made it perfectly acceptable to be ‘Hindu and Proud’ in mainstream political discourse.
We need to learn from modern Christian countries of Europe and North America. They are all Christian countries, their national flags carry symbols of the holy cross, they swear by the Bible, and yet they are liberal! If they are not afraid or ashamed to call themselves Christians, why can’t we call ourselves Hindus and swear by modernity and liberal values? The same holds true for the Muslims that they swear by the Kuran, use religious symbols on national flags and buildings. The Hindus were deliberately forced to sacrifice the pride because of the long history of overseas rule but this is an appropriate time in the history of the course correction.
Now all sections of the society are expecting a new era of “Ram-Rajya” with the reconstruction of Sri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. Without Ram, there cannot be ‘Ram-Rajya.” India embarks in its journey free from the baggage of slavery and distorted history to become the world leaders in the present century.
(The writer is a research scholar. Views are personal)
How China penetrated into India’s Telecom sector? Who were all behind this Chinese incursion?
Now after the violent clashes with India and China leading to death of soldiers, “Boycott Chinese Goods” clarion got momentum. How practical this is a big question. Recently, Department of Telecom (DoT) on July 1, 2020 directed PSUs BSNL and MTNL to avoid Chinese equipment’s from 4G network upgrading process. The DoT officials also said that private telecom operators would also directed to stop using Chinese equipment’s. Being a Journalist covered so many telecom scams and murky tales in the telecom sector, this newsflash has taken me to the history of Chinese entry in the Indian telecom sector.
Many Chinese products entered Indian market from mid 70s like cycles, automobile parts etc due to its low price and its more finishing touches compared to the then Indian products. Then came entry in pharmacy sector and hardware machinery sector and then in computers. But entry in telecom sector by 2007 (not individual mobile phones but in telecom networks) was controversial due to the inbuilt software (spywares) became problematic on country’s security point of view. But these concerns were gone to wind due to the corrupt political leadership, bureaucracy and many unscrupulous private telecom operators who just interested in money making, ignoring the security concerns.
India’s mobile phone sector witnessed a total change when Dhirubhai Ambani landed in Telecom sector by giving mobile phone and connection for just Rs.500 in mid-2002. That time Reliance mobile phone operations were headed by elder son Mukesh Ambani and later went to Anil Ambani after family partition in 2006. All the mobile phones given to pubic with just Rs.500 with connection were fully imported from China. Indian public that time paying around Rs.9,000 to Rs.15,000 average for a mobile phone with exorbitant call charges were overnight rallying in queue before Reliance shops to get a mobile phone and connection for Rs.500. After getting connection, Reliance used to charge the price of the mobile phone in installments along with monthly bill, which ultimately lead to lot of displeasure from customers on the hidden pricing. “Kar lo duniya mutti mein” was the Reliance advertisement for this package with smiling Dhirubhai Ambani’s photo. Actually, these Chinese phones were not durable ones like European, Korean and Japanese makes. But due to low pricing large number of public preferred Chinese due to its cheap price.
This great magic of pumping cheap Chinese phones by Reliance outsmarted other European mobile companies like Nokia, Siemens, Erickson, Motorola and Korean brand Samsung and Japanese brands like Sony, Mitsubishi along with other mobile operators like Airtel, Idea, Essar etc. So soon all the mobile operators were also forced to go for low cost Chinese phones while giving connection.
"Many Chinese products entered Indian market from mid 70s like cycles, automobile parts etc. due to its low price and its more finishing touches compared to the then Indian products."
Here come the typical Indian problems. Why India never thought of manufacturing mobile phone in India? Answer is simple. Our system is always slow in decision making process and we started manufacturing mobile phones only in 2005 by inviting Nokia to start a manufacturing unit in Chennai and within few years we created hell to them by taxation issues, leading to shut the shop. India allowed mobile phones in 1994, started mobile phone manufacturing only in 2005. That is 11 years later, allowing other countries to pump their phones here. That is India’s policy making whoever rule the country. Thankfully now Korean brand Samsung and Apple iPhones started manufacturing facility in India in 2018 and many firms have started mobile phone and accessories business. Still we have to go long way in archaic taxation to boost this sector.
Meanwhile by 2006, so many Chinese phones started manufacturing and assembling in India. There were fake Indian brands also like Micromax etc. They were just importing raw material and just assembling or importing with Indian names from China. But there was a problem in Chinese phones. These mobile phones, with internet connectivity and little known funny brand names, were sold at anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000 when established companies like Nokia, SonyEricsson, and Motorola were selling handsets between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000. Why the Chinese were allowed to sell handsets at such throw-away price remains mystery. Within three years, by 2009, more than five crore Chinese mobile phones were sold in Indian market. By 2009, Indian authorities found out that these phones were illegal because they were violating basic security norms.
This is the blatant violation: In 2003, in order to track mobile phones, the International Telecom Union (ITU), had insisted that all manufacturers provide a unique number for each mobile set called the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. Every mobile user can get this 15-17-digit IMEI number by pressing *#06# on his or her handset. According to the ITU, service providers must not provide connection to a mobile phone without this IMEI number because this number helps security agencies track a subscriber.
The question is: Why did the Commerce Ministry under Kamal Nath and his deputy Jairam Ramesh, back in 2006, allow illegal Chinese mobile phones, that clearly violated international standards, into the Indian market? Why Telecom Ministry that time headed by Dayanidhi Maran and A.Raja gave connection to these Chinese mobiles without IMEI number? Woken up in 2010 with a rude shock, Indian intelligence agencies, in a rather delayed intervention, alerted the Department of Telecom which then ordered service providers to disconnect all service to Chinese mobile phones operating without the IMEI number. The damage, however, had been done with more five crores unaccounted for Chinese handsets already out in the market. And more than Rs.25,000 crore had flown to China by this. All these mobile phones without IMEI numbers gone to dustbin.
Allowing Chinese companies into India’s telecom networks by 2007 was the worst. The political leadership, corrupt officials and certain uncouth mobile phone operating Corporates were behind this. It is intriguing that despite repeated alerts from the Government’s intelligence and technical units, Chinese telecom giants Huawei and Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) were allowed into the Indian telecom sector by 2007. That time India’s Telecom Minister was none other than controversial A.Raja. No need to say further on this.
It is still a mystery as to how, back in 2007, Huawei was entertained in India, when all knew that the company is headed by officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and that it was founded in 1987 by Brigadier Ren Zhengfei and other ex-PLA officers. In fact, much before R&AW and Intelligence Bureau raised an alarm over this company’s presence here, the credentials of Huawei were questioned by junior telecom officials at the Sanchar Bhawan.
"It is still a mystery as to how, back in 2007, Huawei was entertained in India, when all knew that the company is headed by officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and that it was founded in 1987 by Brigadier Ren Zhengfei and other ex-PLA officers. In fact, much before R&AW and Intelligence Bureau raised an alarm over this company’s presence here, the credentials of Huawei were questioned by junior telecom officials at the Sanchar Bhawan."
According to Indian telecom engineers familiar with the case, Huawei’s first presentation to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) for empaneling them as vendors, after they had crossed certain “political barriers,” sowed the first seeds of doubt. They say, “Huawei engineers boasted about having the unique advantage of a Remote Access Servicing System. When asked to explain, they said that their equipment, in case of any faults, can be repaired or serviced from their headquarters in China. Our engineers, out of curiosity, asked what kind of technology this was and how could they repair equipment installed in India by sitting in China.” Clearly unconvinced, India’s telecom engineers decided to probe further. “When we consulted our technical counterparts in the security agencies, they also found something fishy in this technology. Back then, the entire world was researching to decode the method behind this Chinese technology. Within days we found out that the company was installing some bugging software or chip in its equipment which enables the company’s Chinese headquarters to enter into our network without our knowledge,” say India’s smart telecom engineers. Despite the obvious seriousness of this alert, it was not entertained either by the DoT bureaucrats or their political masters; worse, those who raised these concerns were asked to keep quiet.
Huawei bagged several contracts in the BSNL’s southern networks, amounting to more than Rs 2000 crore during tainted A.Raja’s tenure. As R&AW and IB were putting pressures against Chinese equipment’s due to inbuilt spywares, the Indian political leadership came with a great compromise deal.
It soon became apparent that Chinese brokers had slowly but surely begun to dominate the power corridors in India, virtually kicking out existing European giants like Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens etc. It is an open secret now that most Chinese brokers in India are Hawala agents operating in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and whose instant and speedy delivery of strategies alongside their ability to please the bureaucracy and politicians outwitted the tactics employed by the European vendors. Fact is all gave kickbacks because India is big market. But Chinese give it smarter and faster ways.
Following Huawei, Indian authorities allowed yet another Chinese company, the ZTE, into the telecom sector in 2008. By that time Anil Ambani’s Reliance was mainly using ZTE and helping them to lobby in India. This company, founded in 1985, is a listed company in the Shanghai Stock Exchange and is a strategic partner to many Chinese defense establishments. In fact, a major stake in this company is still controlled by Chinese Government units connected with defense and aerospace. Between the two of them these telecom giants managed to corner plenty of business in the Indian telecom sector.
Huawei bagged several contracts in the BSNL’s southern networks, amounting to more than Rs 2000 crore during tainted A.Raja’s tenure. As R&AW and IB were putting pressures against Chinese equipment’s due to inbuilt spywares, the Indian political leadership came with a great compromise deal. The deal was don’t use Chinese equipment’s in North Indian telecom networks and decided to use in South Indian telecom networks. What an Idea!!!!
Given the stiff competition and the Chinese vendors’ cheap pricing policy, private mobile operators too started getting drawn to these companies. It is a well-known fact that the Chinese Government reimburses losses, in the form of subsidy, in several ways, to their companies for bagging international contracts. Things went largely undisturbed till Indian intelligence agencies alerted in 2010 by their American and British counterparts about the exact nature of the bugging software/chip hidden inside the Chinese telecom equipment.
“The bugging software or chip is now widely known as the Manchurian Micro Chip. This is an advanced, spy software developed by Chinese hackers with the help of the Call-Home Technology. As soon as anyone installs a Chinese equipment, it is reported to its master server in China. That means, at any given time they can infiltrate our network and jam it as and when they wish to. The technology also helps them enter our network and access sensitive data. Still, it took months for our Government to take action and ban them,” say telecom engineers.
The first official international alarm against Chinese telecom operators was sounded in September 2009 by the Australian intelligence agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) that officially started investigations into Chinese telecom equipment installed in their country. Following investigations, Huawei was promptly asked to replace all Chinese engineers in Australia and the ASIO ordered the insulation of their network by de-bugging the devilish Manchurian Micro Chip. Predictably, amid allegations pouring thick and fast against this bugging software, Chinese diplomats chose to term the entire matter, “American pulp fiction”. Playing the aggrieved party, they said investigations on Chinese cyber infiltrations worldwide amounted to denial of a level playing field. Back in India, the Telecom Ministry’s plan to grant a Rs 36,000 crore GSM line tender to Huawei in 2010 was cancelled by the Prime Minister’s Office after security agencies confirmed the presence of bugging software in their equipment. In a shocking move, however, the Telecom Ministry then under A.Raja, advocating Huawei’s cause, said that while border areas can be avoided, the company must be allowed access to the rest of the country. Fortunately, on the intervention of the Central Vigilance Commission and the Advisor to Prime Minister Sam Pitroda, cancellation of the entire tendering procedure was ordered. Then Huawei and ZTE used Indian media with tall claims about “huge investments and huge employment” they plan in India.
In ‘The Pioneer’ newspaper on May 16, 2010, I wrote a full-page article on this incident. The article was based on the mid 2010 fight between then Home Minister P Chidambaram and Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh on Chinese entry on India’s telecom networks. Jairam Ramesh was caught in a controversy for supporting Chinese companies and later Chidambaram flexed muscles and I feel after flexing muscles Chidambaram must have satisfied with Chinese after getting his pound of flesh in the battle. Those days Huawei and ZTE representatives and Chinese diplomats were always seen in the Home Ministry’s office corridors waiting for Chidambaram. Later ‘Mogambo khush hua.’ And Indian media too kept silence as Chinese telecom companies’ advertisements were pumped.
"The first official international alarm against Chinese telecom operators was sounded in September 2009 by the Australian intelligence agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) that officially started investigations into Chinese telecom equipment installed in their country. "
Now it is exposed that Anil Ambani’s Reliance was using full Chinese equipment’s and he had bagged Rs.15 billion dollar from Chinese Banks from 2008 to 2010. According to Chinese Banks’ cases (now with interest dues Chinese banks demand 18 billion dollar) filed before the London Court, this huge loan was given to install Chinese equipment’s in India’s telecom and power sectors. According to Aid Data’s research paper on China’s Global Footprints, in May 2008, first Reliance Communications got 750 Million Dollar to purchase Chinese telecom equipment from Huawei. This loan was given by China Development Bank when Anil Ambani’s Telecom firm bagged the controversial GSM license in November 2007 with blessing of then Telecom Minister A. Raja and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
In December 2010, the Chinese Development Bank with other Chinese banks’ consortium funded a big loan of 1.93 Billion Dollars to Anil Ambani’s now-defunct Reliance Communications. This was used for short term refinancing and to buy controversial Chinese equipment from Huawei and ZTE, which was always objected to by India’s Intelligence Bureau. Though IB sleuths objected, Anil Ambani always managed to get clearances from Home Ministry and Telecom Ministry, who was always seen in all Ministers’ offices or homes including Prime Minister’s office or home on every Wednesdays during Congress led UPA regime.
Now Anil Ambani is bankrupt and still getting favors from BJP Government also. On May 23, 2020, the London Court ordered to pay immediately 717 million dollars in 21 days in the demands raised by Chinese banks. As per the London Court’s Order, Anil Ambani was supposed to pay these 717 million dollars (Rs. 5400 crore) by June 13, 2020. As per the information this payment is not yet paid. How bankrupt Anil Ambani going to pay all these huge dues is a multi-billion-dollar question.
Now dear readers, what is the point in current propaganda of boycotting Chinese products? We have seen how our Intelligence agencies and telecom engineers’ warning were ignored by India’s political leadership, officials and certain Corporates. Now, the Department of Telecom directed PSUs BSNL and MTNL to avoid Chinese firms from telecom networks. The DoT officials say private telecom operators will also be directed to do so. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, which has already pumped Millions Chinese phones in Indian market and other operators too. Sensing the atmosphere, Mukesh Ambani declared that Chinese equipments are not used in his networks. Now he is in the good book of United States by avoiding Chinese equipments from network, while dumping all low-cost Chinese phones in India. Only time will tell on the changing market equations subject to changing geo-political equations and its ups and downs.
(Journalist working with ‘The Pioneer’ newspaper, credited for reporting many telecom scams.)
The entire world is witnessing a COVID19 pandemic due to the novel coronavirus the roots of which is believed to belong to the Chinese soil and therefore there are people who prefer to call the novel coronavirus as Chinese virus. Looking into the conduct of Chinese government it is quite clear that in the 21st century the Chinese have been involved in various kinds of treacherous activities be it an Anti-Satellite Test of 2007, aggressive outer space man oeuvres and stances, One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR, announced in 2013) or Chinese Debt Trap diplomacy. China is a big civilization like India and both the countries went through tough times of crisis due to foreign invasions.
The present-day China although appears to have a strong economy, it is still very much different from what it used to be. The ascent of China is considered as a serious threat because of its notorious activities, “Salami Slicing” tactics (strategies involving divide and conquer process of threats and alliances to overcome opposition and acquire new territories) and expansionist policies. Thus, it becomes imperative to fathom the Chinese mindset.
The territorial claims of People Republic of China (hereafter PRC or China) have engaged Chinese into persistent disputes with its neighbors and other countries. The aggressive policies of China aiming at expansion of its territory have been a major part of Chinese policy and upon examining the early modern history of China we find that several events in the past have been responsible for shaping the national mindset. Historically, China has been the center of global political power, having great influence in the present-day Asia, as a result, the Sino centric perception in the history has been of Cultural, Religious, Social and Political dominance. The olden days Chinese considered them to be the ‘Centre of Universe’ surrounded by foreign countries and communities whereas the foreign countries were regarded as “inferior” as well as “barbarian”, especially “culturally barbarian”. Chinese, during those times, considered the Chinese Confucianism as something that was much more superior ideology than any other system. However, the changing paradigms in the early modern history posed new challenges for China which the Chinese refused to accept and this led to humiliation and misery for the Chinese.
"The olden days Chinese considered them to be the ‘Centre of Universe’ surrounded by foreign countries and communities whereas the foreign countries were regarded as “inferior” as well as“barbarian”, especially “culturally barbarian”. Chinese, during those times, considered the Chinese Confucianism as something that was much more superior ideology than any other system"
What gives China a sense of being China? What gives Chinese the sense of what it is to be Chinese? China, unlike the western state, is shaped by its sense of Civilization. China is a Civilization state rather than a Nation state and its history of years of conquest, occupation, absorption, and assimilation have nurtured the Civilization state of China. China is a new kind of paradigm.
Going back in the 18th century, the Chinese goods were in great demand in the West. As a result, the demand for products like Chinese tea, silk and porcelain grew in London. Chinese however needed little the West could provide. The Chinese Qing government mandated that goods can only be traded for Silver and this resulted in drain of wealth for the British in the form of Silver. The British became fearful of too much precious coin leaving the country and in order to rectify the trade deficit with China, the British introduced Opium to Chinese consumers in exchange for Silver, the strategy worked for London and Opium gave the western powers a chance to enter into the Chinese market which has long been impenetrable.
The Chinese allowed British to open trading station at Canton in 1737 after its arrival on Chinese land in 1637. The British through East India Company (EIC) established a trading scheme; partially legal and partially illegal for smuggling Opium into China. They opened a triangular trade of Opium-smuggling Opium from the British India into China. The British marketed Opium aggressively after they took control of the main producing areas in British India. The British exports of Opium to China grew manifold and its trade deficit with China turned into trade surplus. The Chinese started accepting Opium in lieu of precious coins. Americans also entered the Opium trade. The British, the Americans, the Portuguese and other European nations took to Opium trade with China because of their chronic imbalance with China. Despite several decrees by the Chinese government the smuggling of processed (at Benares & Patna) Opium in China by EIC continued. Though the Chinese imposed ban on Opium import, opium exports from India grew from 77 metric ton (by 1775 AD) to 300 metric ton (by 1800 AD) and to 2500 metric ton (in 1839 AD). The Chinese delegation to International Opium Commission of Shanghai (in 1909 AD) reported a peak of 350000 metric ton of domestic production of Opium in 1906. The enormous production of 35000 metric ton in 1906 can be understood by comparing it with Afghanistan which produces almost 95% of Opium today. In 2007, it produced 9000 metric ton of Opium. The Chinese reserves have declined, the number of Opium addicts in the country increased and too many people were loafing around leading to decline in the Industrial output. Opium trade has long term implications for the Chinese government and the society. The Chinese emperor Daoguang imposed restrictions on Opium trade, the emperor’s step backfired, eventually London became angry and responded by sending its Navy to China demanding compensation. Conflict started and that led to the First Opium War between China and British.
"The British won the First Opium war which gave them more control over the Opium trade in China. The Chinese ports were opened for Opium trade and Hong Kong was given to Britain. The Chinese empire felt humiliated at the defeat by merely 44 British navy ships."
The British won the First Opium war which gave them more control over the Opium trade in China. The Chinese ports were opened for Opium trade and Hong Kong was given to Britain. The Chinese empire felt humiliated at the defeat by merely 44 British navy ships. The other world powers sought this as an opportunity to exploit the situation and enter the Opium market of China. The Second Opium war waged by British and French opened new ports for the British to trade Opium and ensured that the opium continues to generate wealth for the British Empire. It started when Chinese authorities seized a Chinese ship (for involvement in smuggling and piracy) bearing British flag. The British, the American and the French gained access to several trading ports allowing them expand through all of China. Chinese markets were flooded with Opium leading to rise in British India exports. The Chinese were forced to legalize Christianity and Opium. Furthermore, in 1887 the Chinese ceded the port city of Macau to the Portuguese.
The ruling emperor of China felt embarrassed at the unfavorable terms of surrender. European powers have formed a regional coalition in Asia threatening the Chinese historical superiority. The Chinese experienced a period of Social Unrest led by foreign encroachment and followed by Yellow river flood of 1887.In 1894-95 the Qing dynasty lost Korean peninsula and Taiwan to Japanese. The Japanese force of 240000 troops defeated strong Chinese army of 630000 troops. In 1899, the Qing dynasty empress Cixi along with Boxer Rebellions (a peasant uprising aimed at driving foreigners out of Chinese soil) declared war against United Kingdom, Russia, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Austria, Netherlands and United States of America. The nine nation coalition army defeated the Chinese imperial army and major cities were occupied and local people faced ruthless atrocities. The Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05 further weakened the Qing dynasty. The imperialist demand increased and the desire to see a unified China gave rise to revolutionary movements. The revolutionary groups intensified their activities in China. Qing dynasty witnessed frequent revolts demanding Constitutional Monarchy. In 1912 the Qing dynasty was overthrown in a revolution. China became a Democratic Republic. Sun Yat-Sen was declared the President of the new Republic. This was the first revolution for a complete change which China was to witness in 1949. Although the new government created the Republic of China it failed to create a unified China. The foreign countries remained neutral with the sole aim of protecting their interest gained through various treaties signed with the Qing dynasty. The United States was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the newly formed Republican government. It was soon followed by British, Japan and Russia. The absence of a central strong power led to the emergence of small provinces being governed by warlords. China witnessed mass unrest for the next thirty years. The 1925 Civil war forced the Chinese to focus inwards. Japanese and Russian forces invaded the Manchurian region in the 1930’s. In 1937 Japan again invaded China leading to continuous defeats for the Chinese. The Japanese killed lakhs of Chinese citizens and soldiers. The Japanese army committed mass murder and mass rape of the citizens of Nanjing (Nanjing Massacre), the then capital of China.
The 1940 witnessed an important event in the history of China. Widespread disparities existed between the wealthy coastal cities and eastern cities of China, and Mao Zedong, the then president of Communist Party took advantage of the disparity and raised an army. The poor peasants formed the majority of the army. They stood against the Japanese and it was after a long that Chinese were able to stand against a foreign aggressor. They drove Japan out of the mainland of China. Mao Zedong declared the People’s Republic of China. In 1958, Mao introduced the Great Leap Forward policy aiming at industrializing the agrarian societies. All private firms were placed under the care of the government and millions of people were moved from rural areas to work in industries. The Great Leap Forward policy of Mao failed because of the overstated estimates of production, pressure on the Communist officials to perform and exchange of crops for heavy machineries with the Soviet Union.
This resulted in famine during 1959 to 1961. The economic decline caused by the Great Leap Forward has lasting effect for the next twenty years. Although the true power lied with Mao, he took a backseat in the government. In 1966, with the aim of comeback and gaining power he launched the Cultural Revolution. He motivated the students, frustrated peasants and soldiers to denounce and challenge the authorities. Mao Zedong consolidated the power under the guise of Cultural Revolution. For most of the 20th century the China is shaped and designed according to the will of the Communist government. The Communist ideology has its roots in the post-Opium era which is a period of humiliation and disgrace for China. The period from 1839 to 1939 shaped the current geo-political mindset of China. The Chinese consider majority of the treaties signed during 1839-1939 as unfair.
Undoubtedly, the Chinese bloodsheds and humiliation of past have shaped the modern Chinese mindset, therefore, Chinese hardly trust on the international agencies and foreign nationals. In fact, for Chinese, the international agreements are aimed at keeping a check on its Chinese sovereignty. The present Chinese policy makers strongly believe that in the past they have been defeated because of their defensive strategies; therefore, the Chinese has sought the solution in in the aggressive policies towards the outside world and have adopted the ideology of ‘Developmental Nationalism’ and modern-day China has strong nationalistic system with the focus on becoming an economic power. As a result, the Chinese mindset and the growth cannot be simply understood with the conventional approach that is dominated by the western ideology. China is different, its past has been different and the future is going to be different and the modern Chinese mindset will mutate only when hell freezes over.
(Authors are experts on various Economic issues, Science & Technology, International Relations and Strategic Affairs. Dr.Siddharth Singh is working as Assistant Professor, Department of Economics in DAV, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India and Dr.Kunwar Alkendra Pratap Singh is an Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India)
An incisive look at the birth and journey of Tablighi Jamaat which is largely being held responsible for spiking Covid numbers in India
The Tablighi Jamaat (Society of Preachers) was founded by a Deobandi Islamic scholar Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in Mewat, India, in 1926 with the objective of establishing a group of dedicated preachers as a Muslim revivalist society, who could reclaim “true” Islam, which he felt was not being practiced by many Muslims. The slogan Al-Kandhlawi coined for his new organisation captured the essence of its activities — “O Muslims, become true Muslims”. By the mid-1930s, Tablighi Jamaat had a programme of belief, which included, beyond the five pillars of Islam and Islamic doctrinal tenets the following: Islamic education, modest Islamic dress and appearance, rejection of other religions, high regard for Muslims ( yet allowed to operate in India since 1947 ), propagating Islam, self-financing of Tablighi trips, lawful means of earning a living, and strict avoidance of divisive and sectarian issues. Tablighi Jamaat is often considered extremely orthodox in its interpretations, with the ability to convert Muslims into radical believers. The organisation grew fast in British India. In its annual conference held in November 1941, some 25,000 people attended.
After Partition, it grew stronger in Pakistan and East Pakistan (lately Bangladesh). Now, Tablighi’s largest national wing is in Bangladesh. The group has presence in 150 countries and millions of followers. Incidentally, it was our great Mahatma Gandhi who convinced Maulana Ilyas to stay back in India at the time of partition and India continues to pay a huge price for Mahatma’s sin. The Tablighi Jamaat members claim to be non-political but they tacitly support “secular” political parties in India to protect their interest after the partition of the country. They say the Prophet Mohammed has commanded all Muslims to convey the message of Allah, and the Tablighis take this as their duty. They divide themselves into small Jamaats (societies) and travel frequently across the world to spread the message of Islam to Muslim houses. During this travel, they stay in local mosques. This free spread has enabled them to meet vulnerable deprived section of Hindu population in India and backed up by the power of petrodollars & ISI dirty money machine including the vast network of Dawood Ibrahim and other anti-national entities, they have converted large section of population in the last 70 years with ease and without coercion with the tacit support of secular political outfits in India.
"The organisation grew fast in British India. In its annual conference held in November 1941, some 25,000 people attended. After Partition, it grew stronger in Pakistan and East Pakistan (lately Bangladesh)"
The group’s modus operandi is deceptively peaceful, so much so that it outsmarted even super cop Ajit Doval, now India’s National Security Adviser and a former intelligence boss, said in 2013 - “The movement was never viewed adversely by the government.” But the Tablighi Jamaat has been banned in some Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, whose governments see its puritanical preachings as extremist.
Radicalism and Role in Acts of Terror
Some TJ followers have worked as allies of Jihadi and sectarian organizations. However, once they joined the militant organizations, they cut off their links with the Tablighis. The terror groups have used the TJ congregations as recruitment camps. Tablighi Jamaat has been a sympathizer and supporter of jihadi organizations such as the Harkatul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihadal-Islami, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaishe-Mohammad, Al Qaeda and Taliban. “As per WikiLeaks, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, years ago”. According to Pakistani security analysts and Indian investigators, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) members, involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999, were members of Tablighi Jamaat.
The 2011 U.S investigation reports suggest that Tablighi Jamaat had supported members of Al Qaeda to get visa and funds to travel from Pakistan. Moreover, there are many more such cases from Kenya, Somalia and Pakistan. It leads us to the conclusion that Tablighi Jaamat is used as a conduit by Islamic terrorist organizations to facilitate travels for their members. The Tablighi Jamaat has become jihadi spotter as they exhort the Muslims to devote themselves to religion https://idsa.in/strategicanalysis/TabligheJamaatUndertheScannerofGermanIntelligence_armukhopadhyay_0405
One of the attackers in the 2017 London Bridge Attack, Youssef Zaghba, was associated with the Tablighi Jamaat. Mohammed Siddique Khan, leader of the 7th July London Bombings in 2005, was also a member of the Tablighi Jaamat.https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/tablighi-jamaat-indirect-lineterrorism
Saad - The new Khalifa
Born on May 10, 1965, Maulana Muhammad Saad is the Amir (chief) of the Tablighi Jamaat. He is the grandson of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, who founded Tablighi Jamaat*. Maulana Saad became the chief of the Tablighi Jamaat on November 16, 2015. He was a member of ‘Shura’ (central consultative council) of Tablighi Jamaat from 1995 to 2015. He studied Maulviyat from the madrasa Kashif-ul-Uloom located in a part of Markaz. Former head of the Tablighi Jamaat Inamul Hasan Kandhlawi had formed 10-member committee before his death in 1995 to look after the Tablighi Jamaat affairs and this committee (commonly shura) was in place until 2015. Most of the scholars in this group passed away during these 20 years including Zubair ul Hassan Kandhlawi. A meeting was held in Raiwind Markaz on 16 November 2015 to fill up the vacant spaces of the shura legislation and a new shura consisting of 13 members including Muhammad Abdul Wahhab was formed. Kandhlawi did not agree with this shura and declared himself as the head of Tablighi Jamaat, Kandhlawi leads the Nizamuddin Markaz faction of the Tablighi Jamaat. Some of the intemperate statements of Kandhlawi led the Deobandi scholars to issue fatwa against him.
Saad claims to have 100 crore followers in 214 countries; this includes almost 3-4 crore converts in western UP that his Jamaat has successfully targeted in the last 70 years in connivance with the so called secular political parties of India in general and UP specifically. Tablighi Jamaat has changed the religious landscape of UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Kerala and Maharashtra extensively by targeting vulnerable and marginalized section of Hindu population with the power of petrodollars aided by secular ruling elites of India by creating vote bank for secular parties and in return, converting millions of Hindus by exploiting weakness of Article 25(1) ( this article guarantees to every person, and not merely to the citizens of India, the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion).
Tablighi Jamaat used “not merely to the citizens of India” weapon extensively over the years under the nose of Indian state for the last 70 years by inviting many radical preachers and import of petrodollars to facilitate the growth of Muslim population from less than 7% In 1947 to 14.5% in 2011 to likely 16.8% in 2021 https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-spopulation-at-1-21-billion-hindus-79-8-muslims-14-2-115082600038_1.html . Furthermore, there are indeed some links between Tablighis and the world of jihadism. First, there is evidence of indirect connections between the group and the wider radical/extremist Deobandi nexus composed of anti-Shiite sectarian groups, Kashmiri militants and the Taliban. As per intelligence reports, Rohingyas residing in camps in different parts of the country, have a direct link with Tablighi Jamaat and they took part in a religious congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz. There are around 40,000 Rohingyas living in different parts of the country and only 17,000 have registered as refugees with the UNHCR. The government has repeatedly insisted that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, even those registered with the UN refugee agency, and would be deported. But Tablighi Jamaat and its Muslim Ummah (brotherhood) slogan is playing a dangerous game by offering means and ways to assist Rohingyas to secure ration cards, Aadhar cards, ID proof to facilitate permanent stay in India.
Coronavirus pandemic 2019-2020 Amid Coronavirus Lockdown, a number of patients from Nizamuddin were tested and found to be positive for coronavirus, which resulted in Kejriwal Delhi Government reluctantly registering an FIR against Kandhlawi for arranging a Tablighi Jamaat program despite restriction of such gatherings after March 16 at the Nizamuddin Markaz. The Tablighi Jamaat congregation took place between 13 and 15 March 2020. They had sought help from authorities for vacating the premises on March 25. On 31 March 2020, FIR was filed against Kandhlawi and others by Delhi Police Crime Branch under Section 3 (the penalty for offence) of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Sections 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) and 120b (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Later the police have slapped 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder): ED has filed a PMLA case and IT department is scanning the bank accounts and suspicious transactions of Tablighi Jamaat. Over 2,000 people, including foreigners with tourist visa and radical Indians from across the country, participated in the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin which violated lockdown guidelines and exposed many to COVID-19. Nizamuddin Markaz has been the international headquarters of the Jamaat for nearly 100 years. As per reports, over large number of attendee’s began showing symptoms of COVID19 after attending the congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz, acted with criminal intent to spread the virus across the country.
Why Tablighi Jamaat Antagonized their Defense?
Spitting and pelting stones have almost become weapons of war for the Tablighis. It makes one question as to what can be the reason for this kind of deplorable behaviour? According to some news reports, there have been protests against medical staff and resistance against going to hospitals is not related to Covid19. Some of the issues cited by them are CAA, NRC, Triple Talaq, Babri Masjid etc. Unfortunately, the community is still hanging on to the political matters with a focus on discrediting Narendra Modi government at any cost while the entire nation is combating the national health emergency. The country must take the threat of the Tablighis as an eye-opener for future planning that must include the complete ban on Tablighi Jamaat in India, seizers of entire assets base of Tablighi Jamaat, identify ancillary units of Tablighi Jamaat so that they can be stopped in operating under different names, punish the traitors of COVID 19, immediately amend Article 25(1) so that the money and preachers from outside the country can be restricted in their operations ( it is a national security threat ), set up expert committee to reexamine provisions under Article 25-30 in the Indian constitution and give additional power to the police in IPC & CRPC to identity and book the anti-national culprits. It is important that Deoband, Barelvi, Salafi ideologies managing the network of a mosque in India must be brought under government supervision and control as the temples of India are supervised under Religious endowment Act 1873. India is the only place on the earth where Hindus can claim as their own; it is the last chance for the Hindu community to save themselves from the onslaught of the ever-increasing threat of monotheistic cult.
But there are few questions that the nation would be keen to know from the government of the day: (a) the role of Indian foreign mission issuing tourist visas with impunity and without proper verification of the person travelling to India (b) the role of bureau of immigration staff at the international airport for allowing seamless entry of mentally and physically sick persons in India (c) the role of IB desk dealing with Tablighi Jaamat & other related similar organizations operating in India with zero restriction, here it is important to mention that Narendra Modi government is in its sixth year of existence (d) the role of Delhi government that failed comprehensively in allowing the assembly of over 3000 jokers at a single place despite there was an international red alert (e) the role of Delhi police under MHA for sleeping over a month till the situation became out of control and the country is paying a huge penalty for the incompetence of irresponsible government agencies.
Sounds hilarious to me too..!!
In recent times we have been hammered with the popular quote “Extraordinary situation demands extraordinary measures” but this quote is half the truth, the full truth is, that extraordinary measures leads to extraordinary consequences.
Lockdown was the most important extraordinary measure the Govt. could have taken. Lockdown was certainly not imposed to flatten the curve but tactically intended to delay the curve, to gain time, to enable the Govt. for preparation of such impending disaster. Thali and tali were tactically aimed to christen health workers as warriors with nationalist spirits and passion. This strategy worth a salutation. A great psychological move. Govt. needed health “warriors” to work on infrastructure it developed. Anti India forces could recognize this Govt. move and first attacked those warriors to flatten the morale.
Govt. has done, so far, a fabulous and commendable job with the support from health workers and police department across the India to an extent most of the citizen believed that
“Politicians work too and Police are honest too.”
Now coming to the Consequences part, for any incumbent government, in such situation, will definitely fail to satisfy the aspiration and expectation of the people. There will be a strong anti incumbency wave backed by disparity in society, Big- Becomes- bigger, situation will run the risk of igniting into a civil unrest. Flame of dissatisfaction, already though, slowly simmering and brewing in the political pot and then at the right time a skillful trigger will this turn into a fully blown explosion. Social media will come handy for this “cause” to do the final act. Once Corona tamed, in retrospective situation, it would be impossible for the government to convince and convey the people the logic of lock down, when death percentage is merely 3-5% and even in absolute terms even if it is 1 lac casualty. Opposition would then ask if the lock down was worth for mere 1 lac casualty and lot many theories would come on play, in retrospect.
Initial response to the lockdown of the Govt. was by and large, well received and accepted by General public and will continue to get the support for some time, may be even till 30th May. But thereafter how long, no one has answer and no one seems to have any clue. Goal post would keep changing and keep people confused, guessing and era of uncertainty sets in.
We must accept that Corona is here to stay till we don’t get anti -dote or vaccine which is still, at least, 9 months away.
In such situation, Govt. has two option either to lift the lock down preceded by formulation of strategy with the death percentage as acceptable devil and make this ratio as threshold reference to issue general health compliance and regulation and open the lock down and or leave it on the respective state government.
"In such situation, Govt. has two option either to lift the lock down preceded by formulation of strategy with the death percentage as acceptable devil and make this ratio as threshold reference to issue general health compliance and regulation and open the lock down and or leave it on the respective state government."
Lifting lockdown at this stage, may have its own fall out, eventhough it may look economically responsible and attractive:
I) There will still be a situation of self-imposed lockdown, workers would still wary to return from the villages to the cities and they would feel happy in their own shell back at home, even if they return workforce, for sure, will come at huge premium. Era of body shopper may set in, in lines of IT industry.
II) Govt. would find itself in difficult situation to politically convince the masses of the logic of imposition of lockdown when infected person were not even 500 and lifting of lockdown now when infected person is more than 40000 (a likely figure on 3rd May). A Sitting duck opportunity for opposition parties.
III) Any explosion of number of cases will crumble, under pressure, the two most vital pillars of the society health workers and enforcement institutions such as Police. This is what the opposition parties waiting for. It is a catch 22 situation.
Now the other options Govt. has, is to continue the lock down for indefinite period. Continuing the lockdown, is like riding the lion. If you get down from. Lions back, lion will suck u but then how long u can ride on lion back.
There are so many likely socio economic fall outs of continued lock down situation, some of them are:
• Civil unrest
• Civil disobedience (like ShaheenBagh)
• Run on banks
• Communal tension
• Breakdown of law and order
• Collapse of health infrastructure
So what Govt. at present strength and might may consider to impose national emergency and nationalise all banks as it’s instant measure and reset the entire economy.
The coming together of all 10 Asean heads as guests of honour for the Republic Day parade signals how regional powers like India have evolved to play a vital role in modern international architecture.
Regional organisations are increasingly becoming a vital feature of modern international architecture. The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which completed its golden jubilee recently in 2017, is a regional grouping of 10 separate nation-states - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was formed by five countries, which later extended to 10 members.
ASEAN also shares wide-ranging partnerships with various other regional organizations and countries, such as India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and United States. It is the most institutionalized regional association in Asia and a classic example of successful regional multilateralism. Most importantly, it has not remained a mere talk shop, but has embraced economic integration and has, thereby, slowly transformed a once-impoverished ASEAN region with some war-torn countries into a dynamic economic powerhouse.
The combined Asean Gross Domestic Product rose from $95 billion in 1970 to $2.55 trillion in 2016 and is expected to reach $6.4 trillion by 2027. If it were a single entity, ASEAN would be ranked as the sixth-largest economy in the world just behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, and the UK. France is also at about the same position. ASEAN is projected to emerge as the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2050, with some describing it as the growth engine of the world.
"Asean also shares wide ranging partnerships with various other regional organizations and countries, such as India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and United States. It is the most institutionalized regional association in Asia and a classic example of successful regional multilateralism."
All the first five ASEAN countries — Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore — which once suffered varying degrees of internal communist insurgencies, managed to surpass them. Asean’s success has resulted in the fundamental transformation of geopolitics and geoeconomics in Southeast Asia. Its diplomatic weight bears footprints not only in Southeast Asia and East Asia but also in the broader Indo-Pacific region and in the global arena.
India-Asean partnership: India and Asean share geographical proximity and a robust people-to-people relationship which is deeply rooted in history and culture. on seeing deep cultural imprints, Rabindranath Tagore, during his visit to Indonesia lamented, “I see India everywhere, but I do not recognize it.” Even today, in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, statues placed at major traffic intersections depict figures from the ramayana and the Mahabharata. Jeferysng, a former diplomat based in Bangkok and Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, in their jointly authored book, The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace, observe, “Many ordinary Southeast Asians are well acquainted with figures from, say, the ramayana and Mahabharata. Yet, they would be surprised to learn that these figures, which they consider to be part of their heritage, come from In- dia.”
"Perhaps no other country can match India’s long historical links with Southeast Asia. Ancient maritime trade routes had linked the Kalingas, Pallavas and the Cholas to Southeast Asia."
Perhaps no other country can match India’s long historical links with Southeast Asia. Ancient maritime trade routes had linked the Kalingas, Pallavas and the Cholas to Southeast Asia. Barring Vietnam and the Philippines, all other eight Asean countries share some sort of cultural roots in or exchanges with the Indian civilisation.
India’s Look East Policy, articulated during the Government of PV Narasimha Rao, has been re-phrased and energized as ‘Act East Policy’ by the incumbent Government and its being in full gear is visible from the republic Day invite to all Asean leaders. That India-Asean partnership is on the upward trajectory is evident from the fact that the partnership had graduated from Sectoral Dialogue Partnership in 1992 to Full Dialogue Partnership in 1996 to Summit Level Partnership in 2002 and then to Strategic Partnership in 2012. ASEAN is home to about seven million Indian diasporas. All ASEAN countries are among the list of countries to which India’s e-visa facility is available. India has set-up Asean-India Centre (AIC) in New Delhi in 2013 and a separate Asean diplomatic mission in Jakarta in 2015 in order to smoothly and speedily facilitate India’s engagements with ASEAN. Currently, 30 different dialogue mechanisms, focusing on a range of sectors are operational.
Mutually beneficial engagement: India-Asean relations are mutually advantageous and beneficial on economic, cultural and strategic fronts. India-Asean economic ties are gradually deepening. Statistics of 2016 show, Asean was India’s fourth-largest trading partner, accounting for 10 per cent of India’s total trade, whereas India was Asean’s seventh-largest trading partner. India’s production linkages with ASEAN countries, especially with Malaysia in electronics, with Thailand in automobiles, with Singapore in digital networks, are strengthening. There is rapid growth in India’s textile trade with Vietnam.
India’s mostly service-oriented economy has got potential to compliment the mostly manufacturing-based economy of ASEAN. India is a member of Asean led regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which when implemented, is likely to cover 40 per cent of the world’s population, 40 per cent of world trade and 33 per cent of global GDP. The Government of the State of Andhra Pradesh has availed support from Singapore in designing master plan of its upcoming new capital Amaravati and is also drawing collaboration with it for infrastructure development in its new capital city.
North-East India is looked at by some as being at the frontier of India at a remote corner. But if South Asia and Southeast Asia are taken as a continuum, which is a geographical reality, then North-East India is right at the middle of it. India needs to tap this advantage to its full potential. Whereas over three million Indian tourists go to Asean countries every year, only about seven lakh tourists from ASEAN come to India.
China and Japan are more preferred tourist destinations for ASEAN people. With improved connectivity, geared up infrastructure, enhanced awareness, North-East India, with its charming tourist destinations, should be able to attract a greater number of tourists from ASEAN countries. Potential for land-based international connectivity is the highest in North-East. Borders must be made vibrant with land ports and North-East must be evolved as a hub of healthcare and education facilities besides tourism.
Both India and Asean are rich with diversity and nurture a culture of tolerance and co-existence. Ecosystem of peace provided by ASEAN and its live illustration of the culture of co-existence may hopefully help moderate the aggressive impulses of China, which has got economic interests in ASEAN. India and Asean collaboration would be promising in securing trade routes, ensuring freedom of navigation and sustaining a rules-based order in the In- do-Pacific region in particular, which is vital for economic and security interests all stakeholders.
Republic Day invite to Asean: India has invited all heads of states of all 10 ASEAN countries to take part as chief guests in upcoming Republic Day parade on January 26. Except in 1956, 1968 and 1974, when India had two republic Day guests, in all other years since 1950, there was only one chief guest each year. Hosting 10 heads of states as Chief Guests on republic Day parade this year is a unique symbolic gesture, underlining the importance India attaches to further strengthening friendly relations with all ASEAN countries. New Delhi will also host an Asean-India commemorative summit on January 25, which marks the silver jubilee of the establishment of dialogue partnership between India and ASEAN. India-Asean partnership can play a vital role in shaping 21ST century as the Asian century.
(The writer is an advocate & Assistant Editor, India Foundation Journal. Views expressed are personal)